Language and Religion: the Case of Arabic

Dr. Muhammad S. Eissa, independent scholar and president of Eissa & Associates, Inc., expounded upon the correlative and associative nature of language and religion in his seminar on April 21, 2017. Within this roundtable discussion, Dr. Eissa delved into the connection of faith to language in ritualistic practices and ceremonies, for instance the use of Latin in Catholic mass, Hebrew in Judaic services or Quran recitations in Arabic. When the revered/associated language is incorporated the religious experience and atmosphere is enhanced. A hierarchy is often established within the religious community among those able to speak and translate the language in question. Identity, in regard to language, can also be influenced and tethered nationalistically, as is the determination of the sociolinguistic field. The association between Arabic and the Islam faith is so strong that the two are almost indistinguishable in the eyes of modern society. While some have accounted the preservation of the Arabic language to Islam and its prevalence and essentiality within the religion, this assertion is not entirely accurate. Arabic cannot be confined within a single religious endeavor, however, it can be consolidated as such.

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