Language and Islam in the Asian Pacific: Introducing the special issue
If English is the lingua franca for business, science, and technology, Arabic is the undisputed lingua franca for Muslims. For Muslims, it is the language of the Quran, Prophet Muhammad, prayer, and paradise. Non-Arabic speaking Muslims must use Arabic to perform daily rituals, even if they do not fully understand the literal meaning of most of the Arabic recitations involved. Those who do understand Arabic scripture are looked at in awe by many non-Arabic speakers, particularly if Arabic is their second language. Indeed, as Watt and Fairfield (2008) succinctly put it, “authenticity tolls loudest when rung out by ancient syllables” (pp. 359–360). This faith-based motivation to learn a language other than English (or LOTE; Dörnyei & Al-Hoorie, 2017) is part and parcel of the different world religions, applying to varying degrees for example to Greek and Latin to Christianity, Hebrew in Judaism, Sanskrit in Hinduism, and Pali in Buddhism.