You are on page 1of 13

International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies

ISSN: 2308-5460

International Journal of English Language and Translation Studies

IJ-ELTS
e-ISSN: 2308-5460

Volume:1, Issue: 3
[October-December, 2013]
Editor-in-Chief
Mustafa Mubarak Pathan
Department of English Language & Translation Studies
The Faculty of Arts, the University of Sebha
Sebha, Libya
editor@eltsjournal.org

Senior Associate Editors


Dr Nicos C. Sifakis, Hellenic Open University, Greece
Dr. Anastasia Novoselova, Birmingham Metropolitan College, UK
Dr. Muhammad Abdel-Wahed Ali Darwish, Assiut University, Egypt
Dr. Abdurahman Ahmad Hamza, The University of Sebha, Libya
Dr. Firdevs KARAHAN, Sakarya University, Turkey
Dr. Sabria Salama Jawhar, King Saud bin Abdul Aziz University for Health Science, KSA
Dr. Claudia Porter, Oregon Health and Sciences University, Oregon, USA
Dr. Kuniyoshi Kataoka, Aichi University, Japan
Dr. Choudhary Zahid Javid, Taif University, KSA
Sayed Khaja Ahmad Moinuddin, MANUU, Hyderabad, India
Dr. M. Maniruzzaman, Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh
Dr. Nagamurali Eragamreddi, Faculty of Education, Traghen, Libya
Dr. Zaheer Khan, University of Benghazi, Libya
Dr. Mzenga A. Wanyama, Augsburg College, Minneapolis, USA
Mirza Sultan Beig, S. R. T. M. University, India
B. Somnath, VNGIASS, Nagpur, India
Dr. Hassen ZRIBA, University of Gafsa, Tunisia
Dr. Sana Akram Saqqa, Al-Jouf University, KSA
Mariam Mansoor, The University of Sebha, Libya
Safia Ahmed Mujtaba, The University of Sebha, Libya

Assistant Editors
Omran Ali Abdalla Akasha, The University of Sebha, Libya
Dr. Prashant Subhashrao Mothe, Adarsh College, Omerga, India
Elena Bolel, Maltepe University, Istanbul, Turkey
Noura Winis Ibrahim Saleh, The University of Sebha, Libya

Technical Assistant
Samir Musa Patel, India

Indexed in: DOAJ, Index Copernicus International, Islamic World Science Citation Center,
Linguistics Abstracts Online, Open J-gate

www.eltsjournal.org

International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies

ISSN: 2308-5460

The Sociolinguistic Status of Islamic English: A Register Approach


[PP: 195-205]

Zaidan Ali Jassem


Department of English Language and Translat ion
Qassim Universit y
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Abstract
This paper investigates the special use o f English by Muslim scho lars in different fields o f
enquiry, which has been termed Islamic English by so me. The data consists of severa l
pieces o f evidence fro m (i) different kinds o f publicat ions in the UK, KSA, Malaysia, and
South Africa, (ii) internat ional participant feedback in response to an earlier presentation
in a Greek Symposium about the same topic to which this paper is a fo llowup in essence,
and (iii) participant observat ions o f Muslims' conversations worldwide. The results
indicate that Islamic English is not only real as much as Biblical English is, but it is also a
continuum wit h several variet ies ranging fro m the light to the heavy. It has certain
universal features, including lexis, grammar, topic, st yle, audience, codeswitching, and
Arabicit y, thus, marking it as a register, variet y, or dialect of English which expresses their
social and cultural ident ity. In the conclusio n, the paper reco mmends teaching students
Islamic English fro m the perspect ive of social and cultural ident it y.
Keywords: Islamic English, discourse analysis, register,
TEFL/TESL/ESP

language variat ion,

Suggested Citation:
Jassem, Z. A. (2013). The Socio linguist ic Status of Islamic English: A Register Approach
. International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies Vol-1, Issue-3 , 195205. Retrived fro m http://www.eltsjournal.org

Vol-1, Issue-3 October-December, 2013

www.eltsjournal.org

195

International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies

ISSN: 2308-5460

1. Introduction
Is Islamic English real? Does it ever exist? Do Muslims use English differently fro m
its mainstream users? One might be sceptical, no wonder. At the 9th Socio linguist ic
Symposium o f Theoretical and Applied Linguis tics, held at the Universit y o f Aristotles,
Greece, 3-5 April 1995, Dr. Paul Tench o f the Universit y o f Wales at Cardiff, was init ially
and openly doubt ful about it. He said: "Is there such a thing as Islamic English? Can we
say that there is Christian English, for example?" I said: "Yes, definitely. There is such a
thing as Islamic English and it is real. Also there is such a thing as Christian and Jewish
English, for which the the generic term Biblical English was used in Crystal and Davids
(1969) invest igat ion o f st yle in English, in which one chapter was dedicated to biblica l
English st yle. To this Dr Tench agreed with a big, drawnout, resounding "yes".
So what is Islamic English exact ly? Islamic English was first used by the late AlFaruqi (1986), the then Comparative Religio n Professor at Temple Universit y, USA, to
express (or transliterate more precisely) so me 60 unique Islamic concepts and notions of
fait h such as God and His qualit ies, worship rituals and customs, and cultural ideals and
norms. As it was difficult to find precise and exact equivalents for such terms in English,
he suggested they should be used as transliterations in English, for example, Allah instead
of God. He defined it as the use of English by Muslims in nat ive English-speaking
countries- the USA, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. In short, Al-Faruqi's work is no
more than transliteration in essence. As a linguistics professor at International Islamic
Universit y Malaysia which openly adopted this model, Jassem (1995) examined the notion
fro m an applied linguist ic perspect ive, offering a detailed linguist ic analys is phonet ically,
morphologically, syntactically, lexically, and discoursally. He concluded that Islamic
English was dist inguished by o ne or two features, which were lexis in t he main and
grammar to a lesser extent, which mark it as a register in Hallidayan terms (for a survey,
see Paltridge 2006; Hamilton et al 2003).
A number of studies examined and emphasized the ever-increasing, int imate
relat ionship between English and Islam, regardless of any historical biases and prejudices.
Dazdarevic (2010) examined the clo se and int imate relat ionship between Islam and
English in the Balkans, particularly Bosnia, at the phono logical level. Mahboob (2009)
stressed that English in Pakistan is an Islamic language which should be dissociated fro m
any co lonial overtones. In Malays ia, Jassem (1993a, 1994b) reported a similar situat ion
earlier. Furthermore, Jassem (1995b, 1996) showed how English became indigenized in
Malaysia at the level o f lexis, culture, and change. On a much deeper, etymo logical level,
Jassem (2012b, 2013) showed the inextricably clo se genetic relat ionship between Arabic,
English, German, French, and all Indo-European languages to such an extent that they are
all dialects of the same language, which has far-reaching consequences for language
learning and teaching and acculturation.
Other studies were concerned wit h the pedagoical aspects of Islamic English. Hussein
(1996) tried to utilize the notion fro m an ESP perspect ive in a Malays ian setting. Jasse m
(2004) showed how Islamic ideals, which were derived fro m Quranic translat ion, can be
incorporated into English language learning and teaching.

Vol-1, Issue-3 October-December, 2013

www.eltsjournal.org

196

International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies

ISSN: 2308-5460

Now what is the exact status of Islamic English? Is it a register (ESP) or variet y (dialect)?
To answer this quest ion properly, one needs to clarify the differences betweem such terms.
A dialect (variet y) is more general such as Brit ish English is a dialect and so are American
English and Australian English. A register is a narrower, specialised variet y o f language,
with every field having its own unique register such as business Englsih register, legal
English register, medical English register, literary English register, and so on. It may also
be called ESP, genre, or style. A register can be distinguished by five criteria: topic, lexis,
grammar, st yle, and audience (Jassem 1995). The topic, theme or subject-matter may be
any topic such as econo mics, business, literature, cooking, carpentry, textiles, and so on.
The lexis is defined by the topic itself where an economic text requires econo mic lexis and
vocabulary, for instance. The grammar is linked to the topics in the sense that some tend to
favour certain t ypes and tenses o f verbs, adject ives, nouns and so on like the passive vo ice
in scient ific and technical English. The st yle may be enumerative, descriptive,
argumentative, illustrative and so on according to the nature of the topic at hand. Finally,
the audience is essent ial, where every variet y or discourse targets a particular group of
listeners, learners who co mpose its audience. Any text meet ing these condit ions can
qualify to be termed register. The main uses o f register were in the field o f English for
Special Purposes (ESP). In the light of the above, it seems that Islamic English is both a
register and dialect, depending on context.
This paper is a fo llow-up to Jassem (1995), which provides addit ional conclusive
textual evidence on the existence of Islamic English. It contends that Muslim speakers of
English, whether nat ive speakers or foreigners, use English in an int imately special and
colourfully rich way. The remainder o f this paper consists o f four sections: methodology,
results, discussio n, and conclusio n.
2. Research Methodology
2.1 The Data
The data has been co llected from ho mes, shops, grocery stores, bookshops, mosques,
and universit ies in Malaysia, the U.K., and KSA over a lo ng period of t ime, extending
fro m as far back as January 1994 unt il now. It was exclusively derived fro m written
materials o f various forms, which included (i) translat ions and interpretations of the
meanings of the Holy Quran, (ii) the sayings (hadiths) of the Holy Prophet (peace and
blessings be upon him (cf. Jassem 2012b)), (iii) contemporary writ ings in English by
Muslims from around the glo be in the form of books, pamphlets, newsletters, and
admininstrative letters, and (iv) participant observat ions o f Muslims' discourse or
conversations.
2.2 The Analysis
The theoretical framework to be used in data analys is is broadly socio linguit ic or
variat ionist (e.g., Labov 1994, 2001, 2010; Jassem 1993b, 1994b). More precisley, it
utilizes the register approach introduced above, an integral co mponent of the wider
discourse analys is (Paltridge 2006; Hamilton et al 2003; Jassem 1995), a branch o f
sociolinguist ics (Herk 2012; Faso ld 1986, 1990; Holmes 1992).
Due to space limitat ions, the analysis will be confined to a few written texts: (i) a
UK/KSA Ho ly Quran translat ion, (ii) a South African English text, and (iii) a Malaysian

Vol-1, Issue-3 October-December, 2013

www.eltsjournal.org

197

International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies

ISSN: 2308-5460

English text. It will, furthermore, be qualitative rather than quant itative in the sense that
the data will be analysed and described at all relevant levels o f linguist ic analysis without
using statistical measurements.
3. The Results
The results below are meant to provide conclusive evidence on the existence and
realit y o f Isalmic English as a register and variet y of English.
3.1 Evidence from A Translation of the Holy Quran
There are many translat ions of the Holy Quran, all of which share certain st ylist ic and
linguist ic features (Jassem 2001a-b, 2015). Some of these translations bear close linguist ic
or stylist ic similarit ies to Biblical English, which is grounded in 16th-18th century English,
especially the language or works of Marlowe, Shakespeare, Milton, John Donne, John
Dryden, and so on, in which the same st ylist ic devices were used such as the o ld, obso lete
forms of pronouns and verb endings. The fo llowing example is taken fro m Ali's (1989)
renowned translat ion of the Holy Quran.
Text 1 (Ali's (1989) Translation of the Holy Quran)
Beho ld, thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth." They said:
"Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- Whilst we
do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy ho ly (name)?" He said: "I know what ye know
not." (Holy Quran II (The Cow): 30)
St ylist ically speaking, Ali's treanslat ion has a really Biblical English language and
style in particular. This is not strange as the translator himself was a literary scho lar of
English, who deliberately imitated and modelled his work on the translat ions o f the Bible
into English in which archaic English is used as manifested in lexical cho ice (e.g.,
beho ld), pronominal (e.g., thou, thy) and syntact ic usage (e.g., wilt, know not). The style is
archaically majest ic, poetic, and grand but the usage is certainly obso lete which relates to
the distant past and not the immediate present. There are differences, of course, which
pertain to the content and message of the Quran and the Bible, especially in the idea o f
Divine Unit y or abso lute Oneness or Monotheism in Islam. As theo logical matters fall
beyo nd the scope of linguist ic analysis, they can be skipped here altogether.
Therefore, the above Quranic translat ion st yle can be easily termed Biblical English,
which co mpares very well with 16th century Shakespearean st yle, where the same
linguist ic and st ylist ic devices were used. The fo llowing example fro m one of
Shakespeare's summer love sonnets illustrates that:
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
No, thou art more beaut iful. (Underlines mine.)
One can readily notice the huge similarit ies between Shakespeare's st yle and Ali's
translat ion, where the same forms o f pronouns and verbs are used; again all relate to
matters of language and st yle.
3.2 Evidence from Islamic Writings
Contemporary Islamic writ ings vary, covering all areas o f knowledge and intellectual
pursuit ranging fro m religio n and shariah (Islamic law) to philosophy, econo mics and
polit ics, literature, science, engineering, and medicine. The language and st yle of these
writings vary: so me are in standard English with litt le or no difference fro m internat ional

Vol-1, Issue-3 October-December, 2013

www.eltsjournal.org

198

International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies

ISSN: 2308-5460

standard English norms; so me are markedly different in relying on Arabic and Islamic
expressio ns. Four examples are given below: one fro m South African English, one fro m
Malaysian English, one from Saudi English, and one fro m Palest inian American English.
3.2.1 A South African English Example
South African English is considered a nat ive variet y o f English despite interference
fro m local languages. Muslim users there emplo y it in their own specific ways, especially
when talking about Islam. Here is an example about ritual washing for prayer.
Text 2 (South African English)
There are 13 Sunnats in Wudhu.
If a SUNNAT is left out, the wudhu is co mplete but the full sawaab o f wudhu is not
gained.
1. Niyyat (intention)
2. Reciting o f BISMILLAH
3. Washing of the hands thrice upto the wrists
4. Brushing the teeth by Miswak
5. Gargling three times
6. Passing water into the nostrils thrice
7. Khilal, ie to pass wet fingers into the beard
8. Khilal of the fingers and toes
9. Washing each part three times
10. Masah of the whole head once
11. Masah of both the ears once
12. Wudhu done systemat ically
13. Washing of each part one after the other without pause, so no part dries up before the
wudhu is co mpleted.
(Desai 1987: 44) (Italics mine for highlighting.)
The above text, written by a South African Muslim, uses modern standard English.
However, it departs fro m it in the usage o f Islamic or Arabic lexis: i.e., words used by
Muslims to describe the set of act ivit ies invo lved in ritual washing for prayer purposes.
The head word, which is almo st in every single case Islamic or Arabic, is so met imes given
an explanat ion in plain English. The total number of Islamic words in the text is 15, two
of which occur more than once (ie, wudhu = 5; sunnat = 2). This is done to suit and best
describe Islamic ideals, concepts and practices for which no adequate English equivalents
can be found. Moreover, the phrase Bismillah (short for In the name of Allah, the
Benificent, the Merciful) is a discoursal feature with which every Muslim begins any
activit y of his to ask for barakah or blessing. Finally, citations in Arabic and Urdu were
included also, which have been deliberately cut out from the above text. This is actually
what makes this English Islamic.
3.2.3 A Malaysian English Example
Malays ian English is being indigenized or nat ivized (Jassem 1993a, 1994a). As
Malaysia is proud of Islam, Arabic, and English at the same time, there is a strong
tendency to present Islam in English. Abundant literature in Islamic English is available

Vol-1, Issue-3 October-December, 2013

www.eltsjournal.org

199

International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies

ISSN: 2308-5460

everywhere especially in those sectors concerned with Islamic affairs such as the Prime
Minister's Department for Islamic Affairs. Here is an example.
Text 3 (Malaysian Englsih)
Bismillahi r-Rahmani r-Raheem (in Arabic script)
Islam and Al-Khamr
Introduction
The wisdo m behind all the teachings, rules and the ahkam of the shari'ah aims at the
promotion of the well-being and protection o f five categories. Three of these categories
relevant to our theme are: al'aql the human mind, albadan the human body, and walmal
the sources of wealth which Allah ta'ala has made abundant for the sustenance of all
mankind. The other two categories are: religio n and descent. Everything should be done to
promote the welfare of these categories and to protect them against harm. (Noor 1986: 1)
What are those specific features that make the above text Islamic English? There are two
discourse features which are Basmalah (see belo w) and Allah ta'ala- a respect term o f
address for "God on high", similar to Hallelujah with Halle being All(a/e)h 'God' in
reverse (for detail, see Jassem 2012b). The text includes the usage of Islamic vocabulary
for intoxicants (al-khamr 'the-wine') and matters of belief. The total number o f words is
13, some of which are given in Arabic script also except for Bismillahi 'in the name of
God' which is in Arabic script only. The text, moreover, has a peculiarly Islamic tone and
spirit about the little goods and huge evils o f intoxicants; no other culture denigrates
alcohol 'al-khamr' as much as Islam does, in fact, because it is a slow, sweet, sleepy,
creepy, snoozy, silent killer and burner of the soul, mind, body, honour, and money. To
live long, healt hy, and peacefully as much as possible, intoxicants are to be avo ided out of
one's own free will- i.e., without coercion, of course.
3.2.4 A Saudi/Pakistani English Example
Al-Hilali and Khan (1999) did a jo int translat ion of the Holy Quran, while working in
KSA as expatriates, the former a Tunisian German-educated Islamist and the latter a
Pakistani/Afghani medical doctor. In literary and linguist ic terms, it is the radical opposite
of Ali's translat ion above. It is prosaic, literal, and awkward. A full account and crit ical
evaluat ion is given in Jassem (2014).
3.2.5 An American English Example
Arab American scho lars fro m all persuasio ns and religious backgrounds use Englis h
to introduce and disseminate Islamic and Arabic culture and heritage in their different
fields of specializat ion in American inst itutions of higher learning. Some of them are
literary masters and geniuses indeed such as Ismail R. Al-Faruqi and Edward Saeed. AlFaruqi was such an ideal example, who wrote in very beaut iful and capt ivat ing English
tens of books about almost all aspects of Islam and Arabic culture. In fact, it is thanks to
him that the term Islamic English was first introduced into the literature (see above).
Alt hough he called for the use of about sixty Islamic and Arabic terms in discussing
Islamic matters, he did not always abide by that in his own writ ings. His books and
writings are in plain and beaut iful English in the main, e.g., his book Islam (1984).
3.2.6 Participant Observations in the UK, Malaysia, & KSA

Vol-1, Issue-3 October-December, 2013

www.eltsjournal.org

200

International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies

ISSN: 2308-5460

In their everyday conversat ions, English-speaking Muslims spice up their language


with characterist ically Islamic expressio ns and phrases in all corners o f the glo be. These
include persoanl names, greet ing and farewell terms and forms, invocat ions, prayers, and
so on. An example is the greet ing assalamu alaikum 'peace to you' when meet ing people
and bismillah 'in God's (Hallelujah's) name' upon starting any act ion for the sake of
blessing and facilitat ion. A fuller invest igat ion into this area is badly needed in the future.
4. Discussion
A careful examinat ion of the above and similar other texts shows that Muslims use
English different ly and variably. Therefore, Islamic English is not homogeneous but rather
heterogeneous; it is a dialectal cont inuum wit h many variet ies or registers, ranging fro m
the light to the heavy. So me are more Islamic than others; so me are really
indist inguishable fro m standard English. Light Islamic English uses a few Islamic and
Arabic terms; heavy Islamic English emplo ys more and more o f such terms wit h hardly a
line wit hout such an occurrence; intermediate Islamic English every now and then. In
every case, the criterion is the audience. A wider audience requires the light end of the
continuum; a limited audience the heavier end. The writer or speaker is the judge and
arbiter in this respect who knows their audience best and, consequent ly, adapt their
speeches or writ ings, and design their st yles to suit.
As a register or variet y, Islamic English may be characterised by the fo llowing set of
linguist ic and discourse criteria. As to the linguist ic criteria, they relate to:
1. lexis where Islamic Arabic vocabulary is emplo yed in all walks o f life and enquiry,
some of which have beco me part and parcel o f standard English usage and dict ionaries
such as Allah, Muhammad, Quran, shariah, fiqh, fatwa, hajj, jihad, etc. Usually these
words are given their English equivalents as well as their Arabic spelling or
transliterat ion such as Iman 'faith' and
2. grammar where standard English syntax is usually used. This means that standard
Islamic English is the norm.
concerning the discourse criteria, they pertain to:
3. topic, which is often Islamic in essence;
4. style, which differs according to text type; it may be descript ive, enumerative,
argumentative, and so on;
5. discourse features, which may include such expressio ns as basmallah 'saying in the
name o f Allah 'Halle o f Hallelujah in reverse' or God', doa 'supplicat ion', and salam
'welco me (via reordering and turning /s/ into /k/); greeting, peace' (Jassem 2012b);
6. audience, where Islamic English is addressed to or targets English-speaking Muslims
in the main;
7. heavy reliance on the primary and secondary sources o f Islamic heritage. The former
refer to the Quran (the Holy Book of Islam, Gods Words revealed to Prophet
Muhammad [peace and blessings be upon him] through the Archangel Gabriel) and the
Sunnah (sayings and acts of the Prophet Muhammad [peace and blessings be upon
him]) whilst the latter refer to the works of Muslim scho lars in all walks of life. Such
sources are often quoted in text;

Vol-1, Issue-3 October-December, 2013

www.eltsjournal.org

201

International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies

ISSN: 2308-5460

8. codeswitching or codemixing where the writer mixes English and Arabic in the same
situation, paragraph, or sentence; and
9. incorporating Arabic text where words, phrases, and even passages are included in
their original Arabic script. These are often fo llo wed by transliterations, translations
and interpretations.
It is worth ment ioning that so me o f these features are more salient than others. Lexis
is perhaps the most noticeable and is a co mmo n thread running through all other features.
In light of the above, lexis and topic alo ne make Islamic English a register just like
business English is a register with its own vocabulary and theme; however, it is a variet y
by means of all the criteria co mbined. Whatever the classification maybe, Islamic English
is a linguist ic realit y, indeed. Furthermore, one does not have to be a Muslim to write in
Islamic English; any specialist in the Islamic and Arabic field is one by default,
computationally speaking.
The above descript ion has interest ing implicatio ns for language learning and teaching
in ESL, EFL, and ESP contexts. In fact, some scho lars and inst itutions tried to integrate
Islamic English as a carrier o f their social and cultural identit y into their ESL, EFL, and
ESP curricula, especially at tertiary inst itutions (see Jassem 1993a: Ch. 7; Hussein 1996).
According to them, there is a need for Muslims to adapt and enrich English, their new
language of internat ional co mmunication, by using Islamic expressio ns and concepts
because Islam is part and parcel o f students' culture around which all their lives revo lve. It
should not be surprising, therefore, to encourage teachers and students alike to use it and
develop it further. This enables them to talk and communicate more freely and copiously
in English about topics and concepts they ho ld dear to their hearts and know more about.
Peirce (1995) termed this cultural or social ident it y, which should be drawn upon in
second/foreign language learning and teaching and co mmunicat ion. In learning a new
language, one should not be afraid or shy to talk about his own identit y or those things that
he knows and ident ifies with such as one's name, background, history, culture, likes and
dislikes, hobbies, aspirations, ideals, models, and so on. Things you do not ident ify wit h,
ignore and know nothing or very litt le about such as cartoon characters, social and
polit ical histories, foreign habits and ways o f life lead to minimal communication on the
part of EFL/ESL learners. More often one feels humiliated and disadvantaged for lack of
knowledge and inabilit y to contribute something of significance to communicat ions and
interact ions in such situat ions. Talking about one's identit y certainly saves face, enriches
dialogue, and reaps rewards- i.e., higher marks in exams and greater esteem in people's
eyes. People like to be differen; it is in their nature; it is inst inct ive; they were born so.
Therefore, materials writers and textbook authors for Muslim students need to consider the
very important role that cultural and social identity plays in one's life and organize their
textbooks in a manner that mirrors it (see Jassem 2004). Hussein (1996: 323-330)
provided a modest attempt in this direct ion, offering useful suggest ions fro m an ESP
perspective; however, much work still needs to be done. Actually, many co mmercial
Brit ish and American English language teaching textbooks have started to do just that, a
feat really co mmendable.
5. Conclusion and Recommendations

Vol-1, Issue-3 October-December, 2013

www.eltsjournal.org

202

International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies

ISSN: 2308-5460

The above survey has provided conclusive evidence fro m various countries and
various sources of literature on the realit y o f Islamic English which indicates that there
are certain universals governing the usage of Islamic concepts/terms in English by Muslim
scho lars. The main arguments of this paper can be summed up as fo llows:
I. Islamic English is o ld, real, and heterogeneous. It has different variet ies and/or
registers ranged alo ng a continuum or scale fro m light to heavy. So met imes it is
synonymous with Biblical English as in Ali's translat ion; in so me cases it is
indist inguishable from standard English as in Faruqi's works; in so me cases, it is
heavy especially when the target audience is Muslim in t he main as in t he South
African, Malays ian, and KSA examples; it is light or nil when the target audience
is the wider humanit y as in Faruqi's case again. In short, it is an o ld realit y that has
been in pract ice since probably the first Muslims spoke and wrote in English,
expressing their socio-cultural ident it y as a means of indigenizing the language.
II. As a register, Islamic English is dist inguished by certain linguist ic and socia l
features, including a) lexis, b) grammar, c) topic, d) style, e) discourse features, f)
codeswitching, and g) audience. The first five features mark it as a register;
altogether as a socio linguist ic variet y, a dialect.
III. Future research is needed into all theoretical and practical aspects of using Islamic
English as a carrier and embodiment of social and cultural ident it y. Areas such as
the methodology of teaching students how to handle this variet y in their writ ing
and speaking co me to the fore; examining their attitudes are equally important.
Also the methodology for research into Islamic English needs to be refined.
Acknowledgements
Thanks are due to International Islamic Universit y Malays ia for sponsoring an earlier,
though totally revised, presentation of this paper at the ESP International Conference
1995, (Innovations and Future Directions in English for Specific Purposes ESP),
Universit i Tekno logi Malaysia, Johor
14-16 November 1995. I wish to thank Prof.
Mamadou Salif Diallo for feedback.
About the Author:
Zaidan Ali Jassem serves as a Professor of English Linguist ics and ELT in the Qassim
Universit y, KSA. He ho lds PhD in Linguist ics (Socio linguist ics) from Durham Universit y,
UK and has wide experience o f teaching in Syrian, Brit ish, Malays ian, and Saudi
universit ies. He has part icipated in many national and internat ional conferences and has
also published many books and papers on English language, linguist ics, socio linguist ics,
ELT, and translation which also form the major areas of his research interests.

Vol-1, Issue-3 October-December, 2013

www.eltsjournal.org

203

International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies

ISSN: 2308-5460

Works Cited:
Al-Faruqi, I. R. 1986. Toward Islamic English. Virginia: International Inst itute of Islamic
Thought.
________ . 1984. Islam. Brentwood, Maryland: International Graphics.
Ali, Abdullah Yusuf, 1989. The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary.
Brentwood, Maryland, USA: Amana Corporation.
Al-Hilali, T. and Khan, M. 1417/1996. The Noble Quran: English Translat ion of the
Meaningsand Co mmentary. Madinah: King Fahd Co mplex for the
Print ing of the Holy Quran.
Crystal, D. and D. David. 1969. Investigating English Style. London: Longman.
Dazdarevic, Samina. 2010. Pronunciation and transphonemizat ion of Arabisms in the
Islamic English language. 2nd International Symposium of Sustainable
Development, June 8-9, 2010, Sarajevo, 52- 60.
Desai, Shabir Ahmed E. (Soofi), 1987. Taleemul Haq: An Authentic Compilation of the
Five Fundamentals of Islam, (6th edn). Bradford, UK: Islamic Culture Centre.
Faso ld, R. 1984. The Sociolinguistics of Society. Oxford: Blackwell.
Faso ld, R. 1990. The Sociolinguistics of Language. Oxford: Blackwell.
Hamilton, Heidi. E., Deborah Tannen, & Deborah Schiffrin, (eds.). 2003. The handbook
of Discourse analysis. Wiley.
Herk, G. V. 2012. What is Sociolinguistics. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Holmes, J. 1992. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. London: Longman.
Hussein, A. H. 1996. ESP Materials Development: The Case of Islamic ESP. In Khan, J.
U. and A. Hare, eds. English and Islam: Creative Encounters 96. Kuala
Lumpur: Internat ional Islamic Universit y Malays ia, 323-330.
Jassem, Zaidan Ali. 1993a. On Malaysian English: Its Implications for TESL/TEFL.
Kuala Lumpur: Pustaka Antara.
______. 1993b. Impact of the Arab-Israeli Wars on Language and Social Change in the
Arab World: The Case of Syrian Arabic. Kuala Lumpur: Pustaka Antara.
______. 1994a. Malaysian English: A Sociolinguistic and TESL/TEFL Perspective.
Kuala Lumpur: Pustaka Antara.
______. 1994b. Lectures in English and Arabic Sociolinguistics, 2 vols. Kuala Lumpur:
Pustaka Antara.
______. 1995a. Islamic English: An applied linguist ic perspect ive. Proceedings of the 9th
International Symposium of Theoretical
and Applied Linguistics,
Aristotles Universit y, Thessalo niki, Greece. 269-276.
______. 1995b. Lexis, Culture and Change: An ESL Perspective. Proceedings of the 3rd
International Conference of the Malaysian English Language Teaching
Association MELTA) (Innovations in Approaches to the Teaching and
Learning of English). Kuala Lumpur, Malays ia, May 23-25, 1995. 119-129.
______. 1996.
Belief and Lexical Usage: The Case o f English and Arabic. Journal of
the Malaysian Modern Language Association 1, 65-72.
______. 2001a. The role of King Fahd Complex in Quranic Translat ion. International
Conference on King Fahd 20th Anniversary: His Achievements. King Saud

Vol-1, Issue-3 October-December, 2013

www.eltsjournal.org

204

International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies

ISSN: 2308-5460

Universit y at Riyad, Saudi Arabia 26-28 Shaaban 1422.


_____. 2001b. Abdullah Yusuf Alis Translat ion of the Quran: An Evaluat ion. Issues in
Education 24: 29-52. (Kuala Lumpur: Universit y of Malaya, Malays ia)
______. 2003. Translat ion, Culture and Educatio n: Using Quranic Tanslat ion in ELT. In
Hassan, Abullah (ed.), Terjemahan dalam Bidang Pendidikan (Translation in Education).
Universit i Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI), Malaysia, 2003.
______. 2012b. The Arabic origins of co mmo n religious terms in English and European
languages: A lexical root theory approach. International Journal of Applied
Linguistics and English Literature 4/3, 50-64.
______. 2013. The Arabic origins of lo ve and sexual terms in English and European
languages: A lexical root theory approach. International Journal of Language
and Linguistics 4/3, 75- 89
______. 2014. The Noble Quran: A Crit ical Evaluat ion of Al-Hilali and Khans
Translat ion. Sayyab Translation Studies 5.
Labov, W. 1994. Principles of Linguistic Change: Internal Factors. Oxford: Blackwell.
______. 2001. Principles of Linguistic Change: Social Factors. Oxford: Blackwell.
______. 2010. Principles of Linguistic Change: Cognitive and Cultural Factors. Oxford:
Blackwell.
Mahboob, Ahmar. 2009. English as an Islamic Language: A case study o f Pakistanic
English. World Englishes 28/2: 175-89.
Nor, Dato Dr Mohd Yosuf. 1986. Al-Risalah: Islam and Al-Khamr. Kuala Lumpur:
Islamic Affair Divisio n, Prime Minister's Department.
Paltridge, B. 2006. Discourse Analysis: An introduction. London: Continuum.
Peirce, B.N. 1995. Social ident it y, invest ment, and language learning. TESOL Quarterly
29: 9-31.

Vol-1, Issue-3 October-December, 2013

www.eltsjournal.org

205

International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies

ISSN: 2308-5460

Table of Contents
Sr.
No

Paper Title / Author(s) / Country

Pages

1
2

Editorial
A Crit ical Study of Iranian EFL Environment
-Arezoo Molavi Vardanjani, Iran
Adaptable Analyt ical Vistas Illumine a Touchstone: Langston Hughes
as Minor Author/Poet
-Mzenga A. Wanyama, USA
An Explorat ion of English Language Teaching Pedagogy in
Secondary Yemeni Educat ion: A Case Study
-Yehia Ahmed Y. Al-Sohbani, Yemen
Applied ELT: A Paradigm Just ifying Co mplex Adaptive System of
Language Teaching?
-Masoud Mahmoodzadeh, Iran
Brit ishness and Co mmunit y Cohesio n in Muslim News Online
-Hassen ZRIBA, Tunisia
Building an EFL Curriculum for Young Learners: A Brazilian
experience
-Telma Gimenez & Juliana Reichert Assuno Tonelli, Brazil
Communicat ion Strategies between Chinese Employers and their
Basotho Emplo yees
-Ko lobe Mabo leba, Lesotho
Cross-cultural Co mparison of Non-native Speakers' Refusal Strategies
in English
-Mehmet ASMALI, Turkey
Cross-Linguist ic Influence in Third Language Acquisit io n:
Acquis it ion of syntactic structures by students Bilingual in PersianAzerbaijani, Persian-Armenia, and Persian-Gilaki
-Farzaneh Khodabandeh, Iran
Invest igat ing the Difficult ies and Problems Faced by the English
Language Students of Al Quds Open Universit y in Legal Translation
Process
-Ahmed Maher Mahmoud Al-Nakhalah, Palestine
Teaching English Accept ing Mult iple Intelligence Types through Arts
Ivana CIMERMANOV, Slovakia
The Poet as Translator: The Poetic Vision of John Betjeman
-Wisam Khalid Abdul Jabbar, Canada
The Socio linguist ic Status of Islamic English: A Register Approach
-Zaidan Ali Jassem, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Tragic Richness in the Major Novels of Tho mas Hardy
-V. Sudhakar Naidu, Libya

03
04- 19

6
7

10

11

12
13
14
15

Vol-1, Issue-3 October-December, 2013

www.eltsjournal.org

20- 39

40- 55

56- 71

72- 87
88- 97

98- 105

106- 128

129- 156

157- 175

176- 183
184- 194
195- 205
206- 216