بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Language: The Main Vehicle Of Contemplation
by Malik Badri
Despite the complexity of this problem, research in cognitive psychology has become familiar with many secrets of human internal intellectual and mental activities and their precise relation with language. With the help of modern computer, it has been possible to set up simplified programs to clarify some of the methods followed by the human mind in classifying information. It has been found, for instance, that language is not only a human being's means of address and communication, but also the basic system used in thinking. Without the laws that control the way in which tangible and abstract meanings are conveyed through word symbols, human beings cannot develop abstract concepts. They cannot use either their sensory perception or their ability to imagine and remember in dealing with various types of experiences they underwent in the past, so that they can relate them to the present and deduce from them possible solutions to p.roblems they are facing. Thinking, in fact, is using such symbols through cognitive processes.
Some researchers, like Whorf who formulated the 'linguistic relativity' hypothesis, consider the characteristics of the language spoken by a certain group of people to be the factor that denoted how they think and how they visualize the realities they live. The structure and other aspects of language are therefore considered to be basic factors in the way a given society visualizes the world.
Let us take a closer look at this idea of the importance of language. If it were wholly or even partly true, it would be most appropriate for us to consider the characteristics of the Arabic language, its impact on the Arabs and the reasons for the divine choice of this language as the means to reveal the Qur'an and convey the message of Islam to the whole of humanity. God says in the Qur'an: "We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and we will assuredly guard it" (15:9). This means that He guards Revelation and, consequently, also the Arabic language. In this connection, the Egyptian scholar, `Abbas Mahmud al-`Aqqad, discusses some aspects of the Arabic language: its vocabulary, phonetic and phonemic aspects:
The human speech system is a superb musical instrument which no ancient or modern nation has used as perfectly as the Arab nation, as they have used the entire phonetic range in the distribution of its alphabet. Therefore, it is these qualities of the Arabic language that made Arabic poetry a perfect art, independent of other arts. [`Abbas Muhammad al-`Aqqad, al-Lughah Al-Sha`irah (Cairo: Maktabat Gharib, n.d.)]
According to al-`Aqqad, these qualities are not found in any other language, for "Arabic eloquence has taken the human speech organs to the highest point ever reached by man in expressing himself by letters and words." [Ibid., p. 70.]
In Al-Fusha: Lughat a/-Qur'an (Classical Arabic: The Language of the Qur'an), Anwar al-Jundi mentions the qualities of the Arabic language and its importance in propagating Islam:
It is most astonishing to see this robust language (Arabic) growing and reaching a stage of perfection in the midst of the desert, and in a nation of nomads. The language has superseded other languages by its wealth of vocabulary, precise meanings and perfect structure. This language was unknown to other nations. But when it came to be known, it appeared to us in such perfection that it hardly underwent any change ever since. Of the stages of life, that language had neither childhood nor old age. We hardly know anything about that language beyond its unmatched conquests and victories. We cannot find any similar language that appeared to scholars so complete, and without gradation, keeping a structure so pure and flawless. The spread of the Arabic language covered the largest areas and remotest countries. [Anwar al Jundi, Al-Fusha:Lughat a/-Qur'an (Beirut: Dar Al-Kitab Al-Lubnani, 1982), p.27]
Arabic - The Language of the Qur’ân
by Shaykh Ahmed ibn ‘Abdullah al-Baatilee
Courtesy Of: SunnahOnline.com
The Praise is for Allâh, the one who has honoured us with the Qur’ân, and chosen for us the noblest of languages, and the peace and the blessings be upon the best one of the ones who articulated themselves in Arabic, and the most-preferred from the servants of Allâh, Our Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), and his family and his distinguished companions.
The Arabic language is the language of the Noble Qur’ân, and with it, the Qur’ân was revealed upon the seal of the Messengers, so attention to the Arabic language is to have attention to the Book of Allâh the Most High and the studying and the practising of it helps in the understanding of the Noble Book of Allâh and the narration of the master of the Prophets, Muhammad (Peace be upon him). It is also the language of our esteemed Islamic law (As-Sharee’ah), so when we defend it we are not proceeding on a path of nationalism or racism or culturalism, but in fact we are defending the language of our religion (way of life) and it is the cloak of our Islamic Civilisation.
As such, Shaykh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: “The Arabic Language is from the Religion, and the knowledge of it is an obligation. For surely the understanding of the Qur’ân and the Sunnah is an obligation, and these two are not understood except with the understanding of the Arabic Language, and whatever obligation is not fulfilled except by certain steps then those steps themselves become obligatory (to fulfil the initial obligation)” [The Necessity Of The Straight Path by Ibn Taymiyyah ( 1/470)]
So then the knowledge of the Arabic language is essential for every Muslim so that he can perform his religious acts of worship and he can be proficient in the recitation of the Noble Qur’ân. Allâh says in His Book (which means):
“Verily we have sent it down as an Arabic Qur’ân in order that you may understand” (Soorah Yusuf: 2)
And likewise the Most-Glorious said (which means):
“And thus We have inspired unto you (O Muhammad) an Arabic Qur’ân that you may warn the mother of the towns (Makkah) and all around it” (Soorah ash-Shura: 7)
And The Exalted said (which means):
“And truly this (the Qur’ân) is a revelation from the Lord of the 'Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists), which the trustworthy Ruh (Jibreel) has brought down upon your heart (O Muhammad) that you may be (one) of the warners, in the plain Arabic language” (Soorah ash-Shura: 192-195)
And He the Most High also said (which means):
“A Book whereof the verses are explained in detail, a Qur’ân in Arabic for people who know” (Soorah Fussilat: 3)
So from these verses we see why the Arabic Language has reached its station due to the fact that Allâh has guaranteed its protection when He undertook upon Himself the preservation of this Noble Qur’ân since it is the language of that Book.
The Most Merciful said (which means):
“Verily! It is We who have sent down the Reminder (i.e. the Qur’ân) and surely We will guard it (from corruption)” (Soorah Hijr: 9)
Despite this, many of the Muslims are content by spending their whole lives reading a translation of the Qur’ân and so depriving themselves of the miracle of the Speech Of Allâh. Also a translation implies a human factor, which goes against the very essence of the Book of Allâh. Also, the person who does not know Arabic, will have added difficulty in his concentration during his prayers and also in his understanding of the Sunnah. This is because a language is just not a collection of words which can readily be translated into another language but is a whole way of thinking.
Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali (Translator of the Noble Qur’ân) writes:
“It is a pity that many nations are only satisfied in the translated meaning of the Qur’ân and Prophet's Sunnah instead of studying the (true) Arabic text of the Qur’ân and Prophet’s Sunnah. For this reason they are divided into various sects (due to the lack of knowledge about the religion of Islam) e.g. as regards to the ways of religious education, etc. so they are plunged in differences, which was prohibited by Allâh. If the translation of the meaning of the Qur’ân is meant for the above said purpose then it is a real mischief-doing, and an evil action and is against what was brought by Allâh’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) and also against the opinions of the early present day religious scholars. All the religious scholars unanimously agree that the Qur’ân and the Sunnah should be taught in the language of the Qur’ân (i.e. Arabic Language). So did the early religious scholars of the Muslim nation when they conquered different countries.
Translations are mainly meant for informing the people who have not yet embraced Islam to make clear to them the principles of Islam and the teachings of Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and to know its exact facts. When they reach this state and Allâh has blessed them with Islam, they must take the Qur’ânic and the Messenger’s Language (i.e. Arabic) as the only language to understand Islam. May Allâh's mercy be on Shaykh 'Umar Uzbak, a great Turkish man, who strove for Islam in Uzbakistan under the Russian government, after his long fight against the enemies of Islam with fire (iron) and tongue (speech), he took refuge in Afghanistan at Kabul, where the government honoured him. I met him there in 1352 A.H. (approx. 1932 CE) i.e. nearly 40 years ago, and he had vowed to Allâh that he will never speak to a relative or anybody else except in the Qur’ânic and Messenger's (Arabic) language. His wife sent a man for me to intercede for her to him that he should speak with her and her children in the Turkish language even for an hour everyday. So when I spoke to him about it, he said: 'Russians had compelled us to learn perfectly the Russian language (by force), so we learnt it. And unless they knew that the learning of the Russian language will make the person who learns it, follow their ways of thinking, characters, and their traditions, they would not have forced anybody to learn it.' He further said to me, 'I have vowed to Allâh long ago not to speak except in the language of the Qur’ân and Sunnah (i.e. Arabic) and I do that only for Allâh's sake. If my wife and children desire to enjoy speaking with me, they should learn the language of the Qur’ân and of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) (i.e. Arabic) and I am ready to teach them the Qur’ânic language whenever they desire that” [The Noble Quran in the english language by Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al- Hilali & Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan , page xxiv ( 1994 edition )]
Faith has a Language
by Muhammad Alshareef
While attending a month long Dawah course when I was a teenager, one of our Islamic studies instructors, Dr. Mahmood Ghaazi, from Islamabad, Pakistan, told us about an official trip he had taken to the Vatican. His delegation met with a group of high priests. Dr. Ghazi asked one of them, "Do you have any words that you know for certain, 100%, that were spoken by Jesus Christ?" The priest felt a little ashamed, but he replied honestly that there were no words that could be traced authentically to Jesus - the language he spoke had been forever lost.
Then the priest picked up, "What about Muslims? Do you have any words that you know for certain, 100%, that were spoken by Muhammad?" Dr. Ghazi smiled (as I'm sure you are smiling too). He replied, "Not only do we have libraries of books of words we know without doubt were spoken by our Prophet (sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam), we have a science called Tajweed. The study of Tajweed is to teach the student how to pronounce every syllable and vowel exactly the way Prophet Muhammad (sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam) said it!" Indeed all praise is due to Allah, who protected our Deen in such a way.
But, brothers and sisters, have each of us done our part in protecting those words of Allah and his messenger? Rasul Allah (sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "Ballighu (notify, transmit, tell others) about me, if only with one Ayah." How do we do that if we ourselves do not understand the Ayaat that were revealed? How can we presume to know a text when we don't even understand the very language in which it was revealed? In order to fulfill the mission Allah and His Messenger (sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam) have sent us on, it is imperative that we become literate in the language of Islam.
The task of teaching others about Islam - for passing on that one Ayah at a time - is too important for us to waste yet another generation. Literacy and education of our Deen has to flood our communities in order for us to advance as a guiding nation.
The Qur'an is Allah's way of communicating with us, of directly guiding us on his path. But has that communication actually occurred? Look at any college level "Communications" textbook, and it will tell you that the definition of "communication" is that a message is sent, and that message is received with the understanding that the sender intended. If I say something and you can't hear me because my microphone isn't working, or you have gotten bored and are daydreaming, or you don't understand the language I'm speaking, then true communication has not occurred. To quote one "Communications" textbook, "If my meaning was not conveyed, I question if communication has occurred.. Language may be engaged in; words have transpired. But not an act of communication." http://www.regent.edu/acad/schcom/p...7/def_com.html. The same is true for the words of Allah and his messenger. Have we really allowed Allah to communicate with us, if we have not received the meaning of His words?
Just because we understand a watered down, weakened English translation of the Qur'an doesn't mean we fully understand the Qur'an. There is so much subtlety and nuance within every language that simply can not be translated.
If Rasul Allah (sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam) spoke to you directly today - and naturally he would speak to us in Arabic - would you understand what he was saying? Or would you need a translator? You would want to capture every moment, understand every piece of advice he was giving you, but instead, you might be standing there helplessly, unable to communicate with him, or to understand his wisdom.
Those before us who did have that chance were changed by it. Shortly after the first Muslim migration to Habasha, Rasul Allah (sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam) recited Surah Najm at the Ka'bah. As he recited, everyone - Muslims and non-believers - listened in rapture to these Arabic verses.
He came to the final verses: [Do ye then wonder at this recital? / And will ye laugh and not weep / Wasting your time in vanities? / But fall ye down in prostration to Allah, and adore (Him)!]
At that moment, Rasul Allah (sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam) fell to the ground in prostration to Allah. The Muslims followed him, all of them falling in Sajdah to Allah.
Now, I want you to picture what happened next … every disbeliever in the gathering, every one of them, also fell in Sajdah to Allah! They were so moved by the beauty and complexity of the Qur'an, that they couldn't deny the message contained within.
[Verily we sent it down as an Arabic Qur'an so that you may understand] - Surah Yusuf, 2
Here's just one example of the impossibility of truly translating the Qur'an:
In Surah 'Abasa 80/33, Allah ta'ala says of the Day of Judgment: [At length when there comes the deafening noise…] The Arabic word for this deafening noise is Saakhah - the blowing of the trumpet -that will announce the resurrection and humanity's repayment for its deeds on earth. It will be an unbelievably overwhelming moment.
Looking at the word Saakhah, you would assume that it's pronounced in two syllables, or beats. But in Arabic, the word Saakhah is recited in a 6 count prolongation. Listen to it being recited. It is as if the recitation of the word itself is like a trumpet being blown. In English, we can not prolong the words 'deafening noise,' so we don't get the full strength of meaning that Allah intended for us. Only someone who understands the language can pick up the power of each word Allah has so carefully and profoundly chosen to give us.
Here's another example. If you, as an English speaker, overheard a master telling his servant, "Get me water," you would understand that the master wants the water right away, not two hours from now. It doesn't say that anywhere. But it's implicit. It's part of the nuance of the language.
When someone says, 'the Arabic language is foreign to me', that translates into 'the understanding of the Qur'an is foreign to me'. When the Arabic language is foreign to someone, that translates into 'the Sunnah of AlMustafa (sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam) is foreign to me.'
Whoever loves Allah must, by virtue of that true love, love Rasul Allah (sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam). And whoever loves Allah and His Messenger must, by virtue of that true love, love the Arabic language chosen by Allah.
It is the language spoken by the greatest book. It is the language spoken by the greatest human. It is the entry way to understanding all of the other Islamic sciences. Someone who never learns Arabic, can never fully understand the Qur'an and Sunnah.
What does learning Arabic do for us?
One: It molds our character. As Ibn Taymiyyah - rahimahullah - said, "Using a language has a profound effect on one's thinking, behavior and religious commitment. It also affects one's resemblance to the early generations of this Ummah, the Companions and the Taabi'een. Trying to emulate them refines one's thinking, religious commitment and behavior."
Two: It is our bridge to the culture of Islam. Undoubtedly, with the teaching of language comes the teaching of ways to think and behave, through understanding of the culture that speaks that language.
As a summer job one year, I taught English in a Muslim country and ashamedly had to skip the numerous pages that spoke of alcohol, dating, and lewdness. This is the culture of the English language. Imagine the blessed culture and knowledge awaiting those who would learn Arabic.
At the University of Madinah, I had the chance to go to school with Muslims from the UK, US and Australia. At the end of those years, as students amongst ourselves, we would discuss what we were going to do when we went home to Europe and America. Some of the students stayed behind, accepting jobs of teaching English just so they could stay in Madinah. A graduating brother beautifully rejected this when he said, "Why would I teach Muslim Arab children English, when I have the chance to go to Europe and teach Muslim European children Arabic?"
One of the main Arabic teachers at AlHuda School in Maryland (www.alhuda.org) started his career teaching English to Muslims in Arab countries. He saw how serviced the English language was and how much money was being spent to teach and study it. He thought to himself that Arabic, the language chosen by Allah, is more worthy of such wealth, effort and time. He changed his career path and in his graduate studies took on the task of teaching Arabic to native English speakers. As immigrants or children of immigrants, most of us speak two languages. We convinced ourselves, "we must learn English so we can get ahead in this world." Now, we must remind ourselves, "we must learn Arabic, so we can get ahead in the next world."
Let no Muslim think that Arabic is not their people's tongue. It is the language of our Deen. Calling people to this language is not a nationalistic call, it is a call to the Muslim to raise his or her head and say, 'My faith has a language, it's called Arabic!'
The Golden Advice Regarding The Proper Manner Of Learning The Arabic Language
by Abu 'Umar al-Jurjaani
النصيحة الذهبية في كيفية تعلم اللغة العربية
An-Naseehah adh-Dhahabiyyah fee Kayfiyati Ta'allumil-lughatil-arabiyyah
The Golden Advice Regarding The Proper Manner Of Learning The Arabic Language
Orignal article By Abu Umar al-Jurjani
All praise is for Allah. We praise him and seek his assistance. May the salah and salam be upon the messenger of Allah and all those who follow the prophetic path until the last day. Amma ba’d: Many brothers have asked me about learning the Arabic language and the best way to arrive at an understanding of the qur’an and sunnah. In response to these brothers I put this small essay together. May Allah grant us ikhlaas and sucsess in our efforts. Some of the salaf used to say, “man dakhala fil ilm jumlatan, kharaja minhu jumlatan.” “Whoever entered into knowledge all at once, it shall leave him all at once.” It is binding upon the student of any subject to gain an understanding and basic conception of what exactly he/she is studying. In Arabic this is called ‘tasawwur’. The lack of a proper ‘tasawwur’ concerning the method of learning Arabic is perhaps the biggest problem facing those that attempt to learn Arabic in the west. One simply has to look at the many numerous books on the Arabic language that are currently on the market in the west. With all of these books available, it would seem like everyone in the Muslim community would know Arabic by now but that is not the case. The reason for this lack of learning despite the presence of many decent books is built upon my previous statement about the lack of ‘tasawwur’. As for those who have no desire to learn Arabic or only claim that they want to learn while expending no efforts in that path I ask allah to give them tawfeeq and desire to understand the language of the qur’an and sunnah.
What is the Arabic language?
a) The Arabic language is a Semitic language that is primarily based upon three letter root words. For example we say ‘madh’hab’, this word comes from the root- dhaal-haa’-baa’. This word is derived from the root verb dha’haba. It is expected that those reading this already know this.
b) The Arabic language is composed of different sciences. When someone learns Arabic he/she must understand that he is in fact learning three sciences. Realizing this separation between the various sciences assist the student of Arabic in grasping the language. With this he will know where the language begins and where it ends. It is indeed unfortunate that most modern books of Arabic language instruction fail to even mention this. See what I mean when I spoke about the lack of ‘tasawwur’?
The sciences of Arabic are in fact twelve in number. However the sciences that are the most important for the understanding of the qur’an and sunnah are three:
I. Nahw: It is most often translated as ‘grammar’. Nahw is a study of the language and the various rules governing the words as they appear in a sentence. For example I will now mention to you three sentences and discuss the difference between them please pay close attention.
1. ‘la tashrubil-laban wa ta’kulu as-samak’
2. ‘la tashrubil-laban wa ta’kulis-samak’
3. ‘la tashrubil-laban wa ta’kula as-samak’
What is the difference between these three in meaning? The difference between them is in the ending of the verb ‘ta’kul’ which means to eat. In the first sentence ‘ta’kul’ ends with a dummah. In the second sentence the verb ‘ta’kul ends with a sukuun. In the third sentence however, the last letter of ‘ta’kul’ ends with a fathah.the difference occurs because of the different usages for the ‘waw’. In the first sentence the ‘waw’ is the ‘waw’ signifying a separation. It means, “Do not drink the milk (but no problem) and your eating fish. In the second sentence the ‘waw’ is the ‘waw’ of joining. The sentence means, “do not drink the milk or eat the fish.” In the third sentence the ‘waw’ signifies a unity of action (ma’aiyah). This sentence means, “do not drink the milk and eat the fish at the same time.” All of these changes in meaning took place due to the type of ‘waw’ used. The changes were not only in the actual structure of the harakaat in the words, but also in the meaning of the sentences.
II. Sarf: It is often translated as ‘morphology’. The actual meaning of sarf is “the metamorphosing or changing of the ‘asl (base/root word) to many different examples so as to achieve meanings that could not otherwise be achieved” The science of sarf is mostly relegated to verbs and that which derives from them. This change is done to stretch the meaning and to also make pronunciation easy upon the toque. An example of changing the meaning through sarf is manipulating the verb ‘nasara’. From ‘nasara’ we may derive the following: Nasara Nas’sara Naasara tanaasara anassara istansara mansar naasir munasar mansoor . All of these words come from one root verb - nasara. As for making it easy upon the tonque I will provide one example. Let us take the word ‘scale in Arabic. It is called ‘meezaan’. This word comes from the root verb ‘wazana’ which means to weigh. According to a principle of sarf the thing which is used to do this action will sound like ‘mif’aal’. If we were to apply this principle here the item used for the act of weighing would be ‘meewzaan’. Due to the difficulty found in pronouncing that upon the tonque we replace the ‘waw’ with a ‘yaa’ to make it easier. This simplification is broken down into set principles known in sarf. Properly applying principles of sarf can sometimes spell the difference between imaan and kufr. For example Allah said about himself in the Qur’an that he is ‘al-musaawir’-the fashioner. If someone was to pronounce the ‘waw’ with a fathah instead of a kasrah the word would mean ‘al-musaawar’-the fashioned one (the one fashioned by another). Of course the ignorant one making this mistake would be excused but this simply shows you the importance of sarf in the Arabic language.
III. Balaghah: It is a science dealing with the eloquence of the Arabic language and how to convey proper meanings according to the situation. Balaghah also deals with the meanings of words and they take shape in their different usage. Balaghah is essential in fully understanding the I’jaaz (miraculous) nature of the quran. An example of balaghah may be taken from the Qur’an. Allah the most high said in surah al ankabut, “alif laam meem. Do people think that they will be left alone saying,” we believe” and will not be tested with fitnah? Certainly those before them were tested with fitnah-so that Allah may make it known those were truthful and make it known who are the liars." In this noble ayah allah said “so that allah may make it known those who were truthful” in this part of the ayah allah used the past tense verb ‘sadaquu’ which indicates that they were truthful in the past so the test and trial only made apparent that which was already there In the past-truthfulness. Allah then said, “and to make it known those who are liars” in this part of the ayah Allah speaks about those who didn’t pass the test as being liars. Here he used the word’ kaadhibeen’. In the science of balaghah we learn that this descriptive word-or sifah implies an established state of the person who is described with this quality. Allah spoke about the Jews and how they disbelieved in some of the prophets and some they even killed. This was mentioned in the past tense in surah al baqarah. However when we look at the ayah we see a special rule of balaghah that gives us more meaning that what is found in the English translation. Allah said about them, “fa fareeqan kadh’dhabtum wa fareeqan taq’tuluun.” “So a group of them you denied and a group of them you killed.” Allah spoke about them saying that they denied a group of the prophets. He used the past tense verb kadh’dhabtum. However we find in the end of the ayah he said that some of them they killed by using the PRESENT TENSE verb ‘taq’tuluun’. In the science of balaghah we learn that if a present tense verb is used in a past tense context it then signifies what is called ‘istimraar’ or continuance. Therefore the meaning of this ayah in the context of balaghah is that the jews used to deny and kill the prophets and that they will continue to kill-in this case killing the followers of the prophets way and true path. This is mentioned in tafseer of al aluusee and in tafseer ibn sa’uud.
Learning Arabic-were do I start?
This depends on you. What do you wish to do with your knowledge of Arabic? A boxer will do a workout of a boxer to prepare for a fight. A runner will do a workout that enables him to win his race. If a runner does the workout of a boxer he will not achieve his goal of winning a race. And likewise the boxer who does the workout of a runner will not have the strength to win his fight. So looking at it with this view you must ask yourself, what do I want to do with Arabic? If you wish to read the paper only perhaps the advises listed here will not be a big benefit to you. And likewise the same for the one who only wishes to become a doctor or chemist in an Arabic speaking country. If your reason for learning Arabic is to understand the words of your creator and words of your prophet (saw) and the knowledge that comes from the books and tongues of the ulema then this advice should be of some benefit in sha’ allah.
Listed below are some concepts to ponder upon ·
You must understand Arabic in Arabic being a self-translator is not the goal ·
There is no ‘one book ‘ that will teach you all of what you need to know of Arabic.
Non-Arabs have been learning Arabic for over 1,400 years from Africa to Indonesia so it is incorrect to assume that we cant learn as they did in the past.
The traditional method of learning Arabic is tried and true and we are in no need of new ways to learn the language. That involves complex systems and tests.
You will not learn Arabic by simply taking one part of the plan. What I mean is that if you learn grammar only you will not know Arabic. And if you learn new vocabulary only you will not really know Arabic. Rather you must take all of it.
Where to begin, that is the question?
The reality is that it is very difficult to learn Arabic in the west without a good teacher, determination, time, Arabs or Arabic speaking brothers to mix with and learn from association. It is my personal opinion that one should begin with a basic lesson in sarf from the book ‘binaa al-afa’aal’. Learning sarf in the beginning is the best thing for non-Arabs. In fact this is way Arabic is still taught in turkey, India, and Pakistan and other non Arab Muslim countries. Learning basic sarf will assist the person in utilizing his dictionary properly, which in this time of learning he will have as his constant companion. (Note: the best dictionary in Arabic to English is Hans wehr without argument) the student should learn the basic verb patterns and basic skills in using the dictionary. After this, he will be ready to learn more and look up words with relative ease.
The student should now learn basic grammar. The best book in this area for beginners is the book ‘al-ajrumiyyah’. It is a small book outlining the fundamentals of grammar that are indispensable in understanding Arabic. There are some brothers that have learned ‘al-ajrumiyyah’ and grasped concepts that the 3rd year college student studying Arabic couldn’t. One should study this book with a good teacher who will make him understand the fundamentals of the book without going into detailed discussions of grammar issues. As we said earlier, learning grammar is not enough, so you must also learn how to pick up words to increase your vocabulary. This part is the most time consuming, sometimes taking years to develop. Here are some practical advises in this regard:
You must read as much as you can. Start by reading small books on different issues in Arabic. Take a notepad and write the new words down. When you look up a word in the dictionary, underline it with a pencil. If you look up the word again in the future and see that you marked it with your pencil, you must memorize that word, as you will more than likely see it again and again. Don’t write the meanings of the words in English down in your book that you are reading. That is because you only read the meaning and not the actual word in Arabic this way.
You must also learn through listening. In this way you learn how Arabic is spoken and how certain ideas are conveyed. The best thing is to listen and act as if you understand everything you hear. If you cant find a speaker giving a talk then buy some tapes of the ulema and tulaab ul ilm. Some of the clearest speakers are Shaykh Muhammad al-Uthaymin, shaykh al albani , shaykh Muhammad mukhtar ash-shinqiti, and shaykh Saalih aal ash-shaykh. It is also advisable to listen to tapes of those who are not so clear to gain mastery in listening skills. Some of the best ones for that are shaykh Abdul-Aziz ibn Baz and shaykh Jibreen & Shaykh A'id al-Qarni (Abu Mujaahid: This is the opinion of the original writer..as for me then I don't advise hearing from Saalih, Qarnee & co)
Listen to the quran attempting to understand.
Try to understand the Arabic language in Arabic. Don’t be like some people who only wish to translate everything into their own native tongue. This will take time but it is very important and will cause you to understand Arabic as it is.
Talk as much as you can to those Arabs who will correct you and help you in learning.
The most important thing is to always read. If you don’t read you will not gain mastery over the language. You must read even if you don’t want to. Reading will give you a glimpse into the various sciences of the deen and increase your vocabulary
In the beginning make your primary focus understanding. Most of us will know more words that we can even think to mention in a conversation with an Arab. The same goes for English.
In learning Arabic, try to test yourself by gauging your progress.
Level 1/ reading and understanding the book qisas an-nabiyyeen first three months
Level 2/ reading and understanding the book al aqeedah as-saheehah wa ma yudaduha by shaykh bin baz rahimahullah second three-month period
Level 3/ reading and understanding tafseer ibn katheer third three month period.
Level 4/ reading and understanding fath al majeed sharh kitab at-tawheed. Forth three month period.
Level 5/ reading and understanding al-fawa’id by ibn al qayyim. Fifth three month period
Level 6/ reading and understanding hilyah taalibil-ilm by shaykh bakr abu zaid. Sixth three month period. Many may disagree with the books listed in each level but I firmly believe that a person can understand these books (except some vocabulary) after 18 months.
Stay away from English books and lectures. Cutting your ties with them will give you more determination to learn. Advanced study As for an advanced study of Arabic, one must traverse the following path
In grammar - Start with the book ‘at-tuhfah as-sanniyyah bi sharhil-muqqadimatil- ajrumiyyah’. This book is perhaps the best explanation of al-ajrumiyyah. After this book, learn the book, ‘ sharh qatr an-nada’ by ibn hishaam. After that if one likes he may study alfiyyah ibn maalik. Another good book to read is ‘jaami’ duroos al arabiyyah’
In sarf - Start with the book ‘binaa’ al af’aal’. After that, move on to the book, ‘al maqsood’. For more advanced study, learn the poem in sarf entitled, ‘laamiyah al af’aal’by ibn maalik.
In balaghah - Start with the book ‘al-balaghah al-waadihah’. After that one may study ‘uqood az-zimaam’ by as-suyooti. Perhaps the best books to read after the book of Allah - to gain strength in the language are the books of ibn al qayyim and ibn Rajab al hambali. Don’t rely on any one book to learn Arabic. The madinah books are not enough in my opinion. Take this advice and seek the tawfeeq of Allah, you should see some progress in sha Allah.
Allah knows Best
الخميس، يناير 12، 2006
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