Arwi or Arabic-Tamil (ل س ا ن ا ل أ ر و ي lisā n-ul-arwī அ ர ப ு -த ம ி ழ ் arabu-tamil) is an Arabic-influenced dialect of the Tamil language written with an extension of the Arabic alphabet, with extensive lexical and phonetic influences from the Arabic language. Arwi was used extensively by the Muslim minority of Tamil Nadu state ofIndia and Sri Lanka. As a spoken language it is extinct, though a few madrasas still teach the basics of the language as part of their curricula.
Arwi is an outcome of the cultural synthesis between seafaring Arabs and Tamil-speaking Muslims of Tamil Nadu. Arwi has a rich body of work of which little has been preserved. There are historical records of the prevalence of Arwi in far Eastern countries, such asIndonesia and Thailand, up until the 1970s. Even today, there are Arwi schools functioning in Malaysia, Myanmar and Pakistan.
The strength of Arwi as a language is exemplified by the literature that has been produced in, for example, jurisprudence, sufism, law, medicine, and sexology. Arwi was also used as a bridge language for Tamil Muslims to learn Arabic Many authentic hadith manuscripts have also been found. Most of the Fiqh books, particularly those of Imaam Shaafi and Imaam Abu Hanifa have also been found in Arwi. There was even a translation of the Bible into Arwi in 1926. The Arwi language contributed immensely to the education and progression of Muslim women in South India and Sri Lanka. The Arwi educated women were active participants in the social fabric of society playing vital roles in education, medicine and even politics. The decline of Arwi in the latter half of the 20th century has seen a steady decline of the education of Muslim women in that region.