BARRY’S BAY – When Muslims around the world, and here in the Madawaska Valley, celebrate one of their greatest feasts, it might be timely to reflect on some of the positive contributions Arab culture has made to the Western World, and to pause for a moment to learn more about the Muslim feast being celebrated.
Did you know for example that several English words come from Arabic? If an English word begins with the letters “al” then there is a good chance that it is of Arabic origin. The word “al” is the definite article “the.” Words like algebra, alchemy, alkaline, almanac and even alcohol all come from Arabic. Tariff, satin, cotton, coffee and many others besides also came to English from Arabic.
Many of the borrowed words reflect the fact that Arab culture has a long tradition of excellence in math, chemistry, geometry, philosophy, architecture, and commerce. English often borrowed Arabic words to describe products or concepts introduced, or reintroduced to the western world via Arabian trading routes.
The Greek and Roman empires developed impressive cultures that still influence western legal philosophical and architectural concepts but much of the knowledge developed by these cultures was lost during the Early Middle Ages. The period following the collapse of the Roman Empire wiped out the best of Roman culture from most of Europe.
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