A Note on Language

Because of our decision to use Arabic vocabulary for identifying culturally important terms that relate to Islam and pre-Islamic concepts, we need to address the issue of Arabic being written with the Arabic alphabet.  Transliteration is the system for rendering Arabic sounds, which are normally written in the Arabic alphabet, into the Latin alphabet which is used by most European languages (and modern Turkish). There is a lot of local variation in how these are actually pronounced.  However, as mentioned above, we have chosen to present Arabic words according to their pronunciation in Classical Arabic for the sake of clarity and consistency.

Romanization Chart:

Chart of the ALA Library of Congress Transliteration System used in this book.

Chart of the ALA Library of Congress Transliteration System used in this book. Chart By Tyler Parker. C.C.0 1.0

For the system we use to represent Arabic sounds in the Latin alphabet, please see the Romanization chart above, based on the American Library Association’s system. This chart is based on pronunciation of classical Arabic.  Despite our choice of classical Arabic pronunciations, there are many classical pronunciations, that in reality are quite rare in the Middle East, even in Arab countries.  Dh, for example: in some Arabic-speaking countries the dh pronunciation remains similar to classical, but it is usually pronounced zh.  Thus, Ramadhan becomes Ramazhan in many local contexts.