Blogging from A to Z Day 26: The Misleading Z

Z is for Z


This is probably the biggest injustice English-speakers have done to the Arabic language.

Hafiz. Zabiha. Zuhr. Zikr.

People. These words don’t actually have Zs in them.

This is where transliteration totally gets it wrong. So many Arabic words that we Muslims use in English are pronounced the wrong way. I suspect this comes from the the Urdu accent that my South Asian peeps brought in, but for some reason the majority of English-speaking Muslims, who have no accent whatsoever, pronounce these words with a “z” rather than the correct pronunciation, which should be a “dh” (ظ or ذ). For you non-Arabic speakers, that would be the same “th” sound as in “the.”

Hafidh. Dhabiha. Dhuhr. Dhikr.

Even Wikipedia knows!


When I found out that “zabiha” is really pronounced “dhabiha,” I felt so betrayed.

How can we expect non-Muslims to say “Muss-lim” instead of “Muzz-lum” when we can’t properly pronounce Dhuhr, one of our five daily prayers?

I know, this isn’t the biggest deal in the world, but come on. I just don’t understand how this has become such a universal mistake.

Now, will I stop saying Zabiha and start saying Dhabiha? Maybe… if I’m talking to an Arab. Hey, 20+ years of pronouncing a word the wrong way takes time to undo.


That’s it for this month! I did it! Even despite having finals this week!

Thank you all so much for keeping up with my posts. I loved having conversations with you all in the comments. 🙂 Especially to those of you who came from the A to Z challenge, thank you so much for giving my blog a chance!

As for the future, I will try to post something before Ramadan (which is less than two months away!). I still have a bunch of ayahs from the Qur’an bookmarked from two Ramadans ago that I never got to talk about. I’m toying with the idea of doing some kind of series leading up to Ramadan, but we’ll see. Like I said, I’m in the middle of finals week so my mind hasn’t really thought past this weekend yet.

AND I WILL FINISH THE MUHAMMAD BOOK! I PROMISE! Just give me a week or so. 😉