Arabic is a Central Semitic language that was first spoken in Iron Age northwestern Arabia and is now the lingua franca of the Arab world. Arabic is also the language of 1.7 billion Muslims. It is one of six languages of the United Nations. The modern written language is derived from the language of the Quran and it is widely taught in schools and universities, and is used to varying degrees in workplaces, government, and the media. The two formal varieties are grouped together as Literary Arabic, which is the language of 26 states. Modern Standard Arabic largely follows the standards of Quranic Arabic. Much of the new vocabulary is used to denote concepts that have arisen in the post-Quranic era, Arabic has influenced many languages around the globe throughout its history. During the Middle Ages, Literary Arabic was a vehicle of culture in Europe, especially in science, mathematics. As a result, many European languages have borrowed many words from it. Many words of Arabic origin are found in ancient languages like Latin. Balkan languages, including Greek, have acquired a significant number of Arabic words through contact with Ottoman Turkish. Arabic has also borrowed words from languages including Greek and Persian in medieval times. Arabic is a Central Semitic language, closely related to the Northwest Semitic languages, the Ancient South Arabian languages, the Semitic languages changed a great deal between Proto-Semitic and the establishment of the Central Semitic languages, particularly in grammar. Innovations of the Central Semitic languages—all maintained in Arabic—include, The conversion of the suffix-conjugated stative formation into a past tense, the conversion of the prefix-conjugated preterite-tense formation into a present tense. The elimination of other prefix-conjugated mood/aspect forms in favor of new moods formed by endings attached to the prefix-conjugation forms, the development of an internal passive. These features are evidence of descent from a hypothetical ancestor. In the southwest, various Central Semitic languages both belonging to and outside of the Ancient South Arabian family were spoken and it is also believed that the ancestors of the Modern South Arabian languages were also spoken in southern Arabia at this time. To the north, in the oases of northern Hijaz, Dadanitic and Taymanitic held some prestige as inscriptional languages, in Najd and parts of western Arabia, a language known to scholars as Thamudic C is attested
Islamic calligraphy written by a Malay Muslim in Malaysia. The calligrapher is making a rough draft.
In Bahrain, Arabic is largely used in educational settings.