Languages of major Muslim groups
However, there is no single "Muslim language" per se, as the faith of Muslims (that is, Islam) is shared by people of many different ethnicities and languages:
- Iranians speak Farsi
- Afghanistan has three major languages, Pashtu, Dari and also Farsi, each belonging to ethnic groups (tribes) with the same names.
- The most populous "Muslim country" in the world is Indonesia. The CIA World Factbook 2000 lists languages as: [Bahasa Indonesia]? (official, modified form of Malay?), English, Dutch, local dialects, the most widely spoken of which is Javanese.
- Turkish people speak Turkish, a language from a very different language group than Arabic.
- Morocco: Besides the official Classical Arabic being used by official bodies, as is the case in most Arabic-speaking countries, Moroccan-Arabic is the 'language of the street'. It is gramatically simpler, and has a less voluminous vocabulary than Classical Arabic. As in Algeria, most Moroccan-Arabs live in the north of the country. Other Moroccan languages are Berber (Rif-Berber, spoken by people from the Rif-mountains and Tiffanagh, spoken by the Touareg-people.
- Tiffanagh can also be heard in Algeria, as well as Kabyl, spoken by the Kabyl-Berbers in the north-east of Algeria. (Note: historically speaking the Kabyl people are christians). Another Algerian language is Chaoui, spoken by the Chaoui, south-west of the Kabyl region.
- Nigeria: languages of the Yoruba and Ibo tribes
- Pakistan: Urdu
- Malaysia: Malaysian
- Albania: Albanian, or Shkiptar (English spelling?)
The Arabic language has many different 'branches'. Whether these are to be considered mere dialects or separate languages is a question of debate. The fact is, that it is not self-evident that all Arabic-speaking people understand each other when they speak. Each Arab country has developed it's own variant of Arabic:
- The Arabic spoken in Egypt is very well understood by most Arabic-speaking people. One of the reasons for this is the flourishing Egyptian film industry. Their films are watched by millions of people in the Arabic-speaking world. Another reason may be the leading rôle of the Al-Ahzar University in Cairo in theological issues and in the intellectual world.
- However, this does not mean an Egyptian will easily understand for instance an Arabic-speaking Moroccan. Not only are there many idiomatic differences, but in pronunciation and spelling as well. Egyptian Arabic is closer to Classical Arabic than is the case with Moroccan-Arabic.
- Bible translations in several Arabic dialects/languages are in progress. This may eventually help decide the dialect/language matter.