Islamic Terminology for English Speakers


Even though the first example is presented as “Islamo-babble,” the fact that the sentence “has an English structure and conjunctions” is also acknowledged. The divorcing of adopted Arabic words from their grammar and the imposition of the adopting language’s grammar and lexical formation is an example of what Banjo (1971, as cited by McKay, 2002: 58) refers to as a “mesolect” that has very little syntactical variation from Standard British English (SBE), and the adoption of a Hybrid English (Mesthrie and Bhatt 2008, as cited by Jenkins, 2010: 98). According to McKay (2002: 61), the difference between standard SBE and ME is lexical rather than grammatical variation, which is less crucial to mutual intelligibility in International English Languages (EILs) than grammatical changes. However, even in translation, would a Christian or Secularist necessarily understand “The Prophet” as referring to Muhammad, may Allah praise him, or “sermon” to refer to the moral teaching that the ‘Imam’ gives in a two section speech before the performance of Friday Prayer? Would they be able to understand from the phrase “Friday Prayer” that it consists of two ‘rakahs’ only in congregation at noon on Friday, not the customary four (if they understood what “rakah” referred to in the first place) on other days? Finally, what on earth is a “reported tradition”? It is still jargon that obfuscates unless one has already been introduced to the concepts earlier, so why not use the adopted anglicized Arabic terms which make the reference denotational rather than connotational and context bound? Besides, what Blackhirst is advocating is the language used by Muslims when addressing non-Muslims, whether the purpose is to function normally in society or propagate the religion, and is not specifically about how Muslims should communicate with one another except when teaching a new convert about the religion.

Is Blackhirst right to try and prescribe how Muslims talk to each other and non-Muslims in the West?  Is it not better to observe the language used by Muslims living in the west and build a corpus of the language they actually use?

Read On: Salah


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