Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Al Khwarizmi


Arabic is one of the five most spoken languages in the world, with some 400 million users.

It’s also one of the most ancient, varied and beautifully scripted languages in existence.

Its influence on Spanish since the time of the Moors is well known, but what’s less well known is how many commonly used English words were actually taken from Arabic.

Here are just thirteen.

1. Alcohol

One of the most important words in the English language actually comes from the Arabic al-kuhl, (the kohl) which is a form of eyeliner.

Because the cosmetic was made via an extraction process from a mineral, European chemists began to refer to anything involving extraction / distillation as alcohol.

And that’s how the “alcohol of wine” (i.e. the spirit you get from distilling wine) got its name.

2. Algebra

From the Arabic al-jabr, which describes a reunion of broken parts, the use of the term came from a 9th century Arabic treatise on math.

The author’s name was al-Khwarizmi, which became the mathematical term algorithm. (Softwares are mostly algorithms)

3. Artichoke

The classical Arabic word, al-harshafa, became al-karshufa in Arabic-speaking Spain.

It has been adopted into French as artichaut, Italian as carciofo, Spanish as alcachofa, and English as artichoke.

4. Candy

Qand refers to crystallised juice of sugar cane, which is where Americans derive their word candy.

It originally came from Sanksrit, and was adopted into Arabic via the Persian language.

5. Coffee

Arabia originally got coffee from eastern Africa and called it qahwah.

Then it went to Turkey – kahve.

Then the Italians – caffè. 

And finally, it arrived in Britain as coffee.

6. Cotton

This plant is originally native to India and Central/South America,

7. Magazine

This word is derived from the Arabic makzin, which means storehouse.

We got it from the French (magasin, meaning shop), who got it from the Italians (magazzino), who got it from the Arabic.

8. Mattress

Sleeping on cushions was actually an Arabic invention.

Were it not for Arabic matrah, a place where the cushions were thrown down, the Europeans would never have adopted materacium / materatium (Latin) which passed through Italian into English as mattress.

9. Orange

Originally from South and East Asia, oranges were known in Sanskrit as naranga.

This became the Persian narang, which became the Arabic naranj.

Arabic traders brought oranges to Spain, which led to the Spanish naranja.

Then it went into old French as un norenge, then new French as une orenge.

Then we took it from the French and it became orange.

10. Safari

Safari is the Swahili word for an expedition, which is how it has become so associated with African bush and game tourism.

However, that Swahili word came from the Arabic safar, which means journey.

11. Sofa

The Arabic word suffa referred to a raised, carpeted platform on which people sat.

The word passed through the Turkish language to join English as sofa.

12. Sugar

Arabic traders brought sugar to Western Europe, calling it sukkar (originally from teh Sanskrit sharkara).

And last but not least…

13. Zero

Italian mathematician Fibonacci introduced the concept of zero to the Europeans in the 13th century.

He grew up in North Africa, and learned the Arabic word sifr, which means empty or nothing.

He Latinised it to zephrum, which became the Italian zero.

Because Roman numerals couldn’t express zero, he borrowed the number from Arabic.

Now, all our digits are known as Arabic numerals. 

Who is slaughtering Hope for a better future in the Near East?


The Middle East is home to many great civilisations in the world.

One of the latest and greatest and most everlasting is the Arab civilization.

Mohamed Gohary posted: 


Throughout history, the hallmark of the Middle East has been its diversity and prosperity.

From the scientific discoveries of Ibn Toulon and Al Khwarizmi, to the medical discoveries of Ibn Sina.

The Middle East has always been a prosperous region of the world with its vast and fertile agricultural lands, rich natural endowments, and its diverse people living in harmony.

Fast forward to the year 2014, go and sit in any coffee shop in Cairo, Beirut, Damascus, or Marrakesh.

You will meet many young educated people, ones filled with aspirations and burning with a drive for success.

All they have in common is their desire to leave the Middle East at the first possible opportunity.

This issue is not specific to any particular Middle Eastern country; it is an epidemic facing the entire region.

The educated youth are simply leaving and their countries are left neglected. The obvious question would be why?

Why is everyone leaving once they get the chance?

The answer is the loss of hope.

It may be acceptable for a country to go through certain economic, social, or political problems every now and then. It happens to all countries with no exception.

However, the case in the Middle East is different, whereby the youth’s aspirations were raised to a very high level with the onset of the Arab spring in 2011.

Most people were hopeful about a better future. Remember that we are talking about a region where young people comprise an average of 30% of the population if not more, (45% in Gaza) with youth unemployment rates of about 30% as well.

All those frustrated youth started growing up and demanding jobs, health care, and a normal life like their peers in the rest of the world. Instead, they had to face oppressive regimes that only knew the language of autocracy and violence.

Even with the initial success of some of the revolutions of the Middle East, they were soon to be hijacked by those whom I personally consider to be the most backwards-thinking forces in society: religious fundamentalists.

Those youth ended up facing one of two choices; either accept things to go back as they were before the revolutions, or accept extreme religious ideologies that want to dictate how they should live their lives.

This duality of either autocracy or religious fundamentalism is not the product of the Arab spring; it has existed since the end of the First World War and due to the creation of the many artificial states that exist in the Middle East today as a result of the Sykes–Picot agreement.

Neither choices would satisfy the youth’s demands for a better future and a normal life.

As if that is not enough, at the time of the writing of this blog post, there are 6 military conflicts simultaneously taking place in the Middle East, two of which threaten the very existence of three of its states (Syria,Iraq and Libya).

The implications of these wars goes much beyond their immediate scope in this period.

War means more children are not going to school, more people are losing their jobs, more infrastructure is being destroyed.

Faced with a choice between stability plus dictatorship or chaos plus religious extremism, the choice was inevitable: Stability over chaos.

The general feeling in the Middle East right now is that everyone is stuck in this vicious cycle with no way out.

The reason is: These conflicts are not just political, they are also religious, sectarian, and communal conflicts, which makes the prospects of solving them in the near future almost impossible.

I personally believe that the Middle East is currently going through a period similar to that which Europe has been through in its dark ages.

The lack of education, the static state of societies, the negative role religion played in politics, the spread of military conflicts, and the barbaric images of slaughter and torture all support my belief.

The only difference is that there is no renaissance coming anytime soon because this is still in the beginning.

Many say the conflict in the Middle East is about God, I say the “Good God” has left the Middle East.

The people who revoke the principles of justice, fairness, and opportunities to a better future are the very ones who are killing the spirit of God.

Mohamed Gohary, Regional Intern at World Youth Alliance Middle East.




March 2023

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