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Languages Using Arabic Scripts [Past and Present] Posted by on Mar 27, 2018 in Culture, History

The spread of Islam during the 650-900 AD in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and in South East Asia between 1200 and 1500 AD was inevitably accompanied by the need to be able to read and understand the Book of Islam, the Quran. Around the same time, the Turks and Africans who embraced Islam had similar needs. For these religious and other political reasons, Arabic had great influence on other languages. Apart from borrowing from the Arabic lexicon, most languages in those parts of the world adopt the Arabic writing system with slight modifications and diacritical additions to accommodate variations in sound systems.

Until the first quarter of the past century, over thirty languages used and some still do use the Arabic scripts in Europe, namely the former Soviet Union, Asia and Africa. Following is a list of thirty-three languages that employed or has been employing the Arabic Alphabet for their writing systems:

1)  Afghan:

Afghan language which includes Dari and Pashto has been written in Arabic scripts. Pashto is spoken in Afghanistan and Pakistan, while Dari is spoken in Afghanistan and some neighboring regions of Iran.

2)  Arwi:

Arwi is spoken in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu and some parts of Sri Lanka and is written in Arabic scripts especially among Muslims in these regions.

3)  Azerbaijani:

Azerbaijani or Azeri was written in Arabic scripts until the 1920s. It is spoken in Azerbaijan, Dagestan, and Iran. In Iran, it uses the Persian alphabet.

4)  Bahasa Melayu:

Bahasa Melayu (Malay) which is spoken in Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia is written primarily in Roman Alphabet but Arabic-Javi scripts are still used.

5)  Balochi:

Balochi language which is spoken in parts of Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan is still written in Arabic scripts nowadays.

6)  Brahui:

Brahui a regional language which is spoken in some parks of Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, and uses two writing systems: Arabic scripts and Roman alphabet.

7)  Dogri:

Dogri is spoken by around 4 million speakers in parts of Pakistan and India, namely Jammu, Punjab, and Himachal Pradesh. It is written in Arabic scripts.

8)  Fula:

Fula which is spoken in many countries in west and central Africa and is written in Arabic scripts in Cameroon and Guinea.

9)  Hausa:

Hausa which is spoken in northern Nigeria and Niger is written in Ajami Arabic-based scripts.

10)  Hindustani:

Hindustani which is spoken in Northern India is still written in Arabic scripts with a sprinkle of Urdu character given the similarities in the sound system between the two languages.

11)  Iranian:

Iranian, Persian, or Farsi which is spoken in the Islamic Republic of Iran and parts of Afghanistan uses Arabic scripts.

12)  Javanese:

Javanese which is spoken in Java island in Indonesia and was written fully in Arabic until the 1920s, nowadays Pegon scripts which are based on Arabic are sometimes used instead of Roman alphabet.

13)  Kashgari:

Kashgari / Uyghur which is spoken in the district of Kashgar in the province of Xinjiang in northwestern China is written in Arabic scripts.

14)  Kashmiri:

Kashmiri which is spoken in the State of Kashmir Jammu in India and some parts of Pakistan is still written in Arabic scripts especially among Kashmiri Muslims.

15)  Kazanian:

Kazanian which was spoken in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan that is currently part of the Russian Federation, was written in Arabic scripts until the 1920s. Thereafter, it’s been written in Latin alphabet.

16)  Kirghiz:

Kirghiz which is spoken in Kyrgyzstan and Xinjiang province of China was written in Arabic scripts until the 1920s, but is still written in Arabic in Xinjiang until today.

17)  Kumyk:

Kumyk language which is spoken in the Northern Caucasus was written in Arabic scripts until late 1920s.

18)  Lahndi:

Lahndi which is spoken in the Punjab territory of Pakistan and the neighboring areas in India uses Arabic scripts.

19)  Malayalam:

Malayalam which is spoken in Kerala State in India is written in Arabi-Malayalam scripts especially among Muslims.

20)  NakhoDagestanian:

Nakho-Dagestanian which is spoken in the Caucasus was written in Arabic scripts until the 1920s.

21)  Punjabi:

Punjabi which is spoken in the province of Punjab in Pakistan and the State of Punjab in India is written in Arabic scripts particularly among Muslims.

22)  Saraiki:

Saraiki (and Multani, a dialect of Saraiki) which is spoken in some parts of the Punjab province of Pakistan is written in Arabic scripts with the addition of seven diacritically modified letters to represent the extra sound features of the language.

23)  Shina:

Shina which is spoken in the Pakistani region of Baltistan and some parts of India is still written in Arabic scripts.

24)  Sindhi:

Sindhi which is spoken in the province of Sindh in Pakistan and the neighboring areas in India is still written in Arabic scrips among the Sindhi Pakistanis.

25)  Somali:

Somali which is spoken in Somalia and is officially written in Latin alphabet, but an Arabic-based script called wadaad writing is also used, especially for religious purposes.

26)  Sorani Kurdish:

Sorani Kurdish is a variety of Kurdish language that is spoken Kurdistan territory of Iraq. It is written in Arabic scripts.

27)  Sundanese:

Sundanese which is spoken in Java island in Indonesia was written in Arabic scripts until the 1920s; at present it uses Pegon-Arabic scripts especially for religious purposes.

28)  Swahili:

Swahili which is spoken in Tanzania, Kenya, and other countries in central Africa has two writing systems: Arabic-Swahili scripts and Roman-Swahili alphabet.

29)  Tausug:

Tausug which is spoken in Sulu Province in the Philippines is written in Arabic script as well as Latin-based Malay alphabet.

30)  Turkish:

Turkish which is spoken in Tukey was written in Arabic scripts until it was abolished by Ataturk in the late 1920s and replace by the Latin alphabet.

31)  Turkmen:

Turkmen which is spoken in Turkmenistan, the north of Iran, and the north of Afghanistan was written in Arabic scripts until the 1920s.

32)  Urdu:

Urdu which is the official language of Pakistan and is spoken in some parts of India is written in Arabic scripts.

33)  Uzbek:

Uzbek language which is spoken in Uzbekistan was written in Arabic scripts until the 1920s.

34)  Wolof:

Wolof which is spoken in Senegal is written in Wolofal which is Arabic-based writing system, but the Roman-based alphabet is more widespread.

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About the Author:Ibnulyemen اِبْنُ اليَمَن

Marhaban! I am from Yemen. I am a language teacher. I teach English and Arabic. In this blog, I will be leading you through Arabic language learning in a sequential fashion. I will focus on Modern Standard Arabic. To learn more, you can also visit my website Ibnulyemen Arabic or my facebook page.