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September 22, 2010


Post-Ramadan Teensie-Weensie Tip #5: Start learning Arabic (if you haven’t already) – Part 1

by Umm Muawiyah

Assalamu Alaikum.

[This is a bit of a rant, so beware. Don’t say that you weren’t warned.]

Previously, I’ve written* about spending time with the Quran and keeping a Quran journal. If one wants to attain piety, we need to read the Quran on a daily basis.

[*I suppose I could say “blogged” but I’m more of a writer than a blogger. (Feel free to disagree.)]

One of the mistakes that many people make is to read the Quran without understanding it. Unfortunately, they only realise this little fact (i.e. that they can’t understand a word) when it’s time for Taraweeh in Ramadan. That’s when posts like this one become a super hit*.

[*No, I’m not joking. It seems to have reached all parts of the globe.]

So, what should the one who cannot understand the Quran do?

Well, learn Arabic of course.

Isn’t that what many people promise themselves every Ramadan? “Next Ramadan, I’ll be able to understand what the Imam is reciting!”

And did they? Well, judging by the super hit post, most people didn’t keep this promise to themselves.

So, what do you need to do?

1) Make the firm intention to learn Arabic before Shaban 2011.

2) Ignore all those silly articles that say that learning Arabic is difficult. They were not inspired by anybody except Shaytan (the devil).

Everyone has realised this by now, right?

The Quran is the Speech of Allah. Keeping in touch with it only increases our iman which he doesn’t like.

Therefore, he has taken many steps to ensure that we stay unaffected by the Quran. The main way is by stopping us from understanding the Quran. Hey, you can read and read and read but if you don’t understand what’s going on, you won’t get affected by the message, and he knows that all too well.

So, what does he do? He inspires people to think that Arabic is a very difficult language. Once this has been firmly stamped into everyone’s minds, he has succeeded in defeating them before they even start.

How can learning Arabic be difficult when Allah says:

“And We have indeed made the Quran easy to understand and remember, then is there any that will remember (or receive admonition)?” [Surah Al-Qamar (54) :17]

I’ve read the most ridiculous articles pertaining to the “difficulty” of the Arabic language. One of the best (worst?) reasons provided was:

Learning Arabic is so difficult because there are so many types of Arabic: there’s the classical one (Quranic Arabic), the modern standard one (the one used in newspapers and books) and then of course you have the dialects (Gulf, Levant Region (used by those in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine), Egyptian, Algerian, Moroccan, etc).

For example, there are so many ways of saying “How are you”: Kayfa Haluka, Keef haalak, Keefak, Izaayak, cheef haalach, etc.


Okay, let me try my hand at this:

Learning English is so difficult because there are so many types of English: there’s the classical one (used for rubbish like Shakespeare, whose books are highly recommended for insomniacs), the modern standard one (used for newspapers, although this too is divided into British and American English, both of which are spelled/spelt differently), and then of course you have the dialects (American (the yankees and confederates sound they’re like from two different galaxies) and British (which should really be called England’s English, because Wales, Ireland and Scotland have their own dialects) as mentioned previously, as well as Australian (fair dinkum, mate) South African, Nigerian, etc.

For example, there are so many different ways of saying “How are you”: How ya doin, howdie, wassup, etc.

See? English is a difficult language to learn, isn’t it?

Oh wait, you disagree? Could it be because we are always told that “English is so easy to learn!”

English is my first language so the above statement never mattered to me anyway. By the way, I love English (but nowhere near as much as I love Arabic) because it’s part of me and makes me who I am (I think in English, I dream in English, I do dua to Allah in English, etc), but this ridiculous tattle, about how easy English is and how difficult Arabic is, really gets on my nerves.

On top of this, I see so many Arabs rushing to learn English (ditching their beautiful deep language for my stupid basic one). I say to them what Musa (alaihissalam) said to Banu Israil when they asked for their stupid vegetables despite the fact that Allah had sent Manna and Salwa down for them:

“He (Musa) said, “Would you exchange that which is better for that which is lower?” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 61]

Better = Arabic.

Lower = English.

In case you’re wondering why a post about learning Arabic become a rant about the Arabs’ love for English, let me explain once more:

– Don’t believe everything that you read. Learning Arabic is easy.

– Many of you might have learnt English in your adulthood. What is stopping you from learning Arabic the same way that you learnt English?

– I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with learning English. However, when learning English is placed above learning Arabic, then we have a serious problem on our hands.

– Part of the reason learning English is so attractive is because it’s the lingua franca of the world. For a short period of time (during the spread of the Islamic Empire), Arabic was the lingua franca.

And you know what? If the Arabs stopped running after English, and the Muslims made sure to teach their kids Arabic, then Arabic could become the ligua franca in a few generations, insha-Allah.

And Shaytan would just hate that.

To be Continued….

PS. I told you that it was a rant.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Faiza
    Sep 23 2010

    What a great post! You are absolutely correct about the articles on Arabic being hard rubbish. Every language has its difficulties and every language has its dialects. However it does become difficult to learn as you get older. I tried this past year but couldn’t remember anything. I was not successful but that was me. I think the best way to learn a lanuage, for me, is to hear it spoken to interact with those that speak it, I have not been able to do that in Dubai becasue the ladies who speak Arabic don’t want anything to do with me because I can’t communicate with them. Where do I go now? Also what happend to our Arabic class at AlSamad masjid? No news about the Koran classes either. It is very coincidental that you sent out this message today as I was just in a meeting where 4 out of the 6 people were speaking in Arabic, and I said to myself, I wish I could understand- sometimes I think you can read my mind even though you are not present. Do you have any clue about our classes, lots of women keep texting me asking as I was such an advocate over the past few months. Thanks

    • Umm Muawiyah
      Sep 23 2010

      Assalamu Alaikum.

      Jazakillahu kheira (and welcome back).

      Yes, it’s always more difficult when you’re older, especially with languages.

      Insha-Allah, in the next part, I’ll provide some tips.

      Strange you should say that the Arabs wouldn’t want anything to do with you. Even when I was unable to speak in Arabic, I would communicate to them in sign language. I’ve always found Arabs very accommodating and wonderful – my favourite people on this planet by far.

      I afraid that I have no idea about the Arabic or the Quran classes (I’m not involved). You need to call Dar Al Ber for more information.The number of the Ladies Branch is 04-3446072.

      Hope that helps, insha-Allah.

  2. Shireen
    Jan 21 2011

    How I love *thou* post!

    I love your points! It’s like once I was sitting with my arab friends and was talking about my desire to learn classical Arabic and they sorta discouraged me cause they said classical Arabic is so difficult to understand that they themselves donno much about it *inshort, leave alone a non Arab learning it*

    do you happen to have some info about the plces where Arabic is taught?

    • Umm Muawiyah
      Feb 16 2011

      Assalamu Alaikum.

      Actually, thou meant to say “How I love thy post” but that’s another story of course…

      I’m glad that thy liketh the posts.

      I think that it is very dangerous to discourage others from learning Arabic because it means one is, in essence, enjoining evil and forbidding evil.

      Places in Dubai?

      Well, there are quite a few:

      1) Kalemah

      2) Jumeirah Islamic Learning Centre

      Brother Fahad Al-Tahiri (from the UAE) teaches online as well.

      What type of class are you looking for?

  3. sheepoo
    Jun 20 2011

    Do you mind adding my blog to your blog list? My blog is also about learning Arabic.

    *Link removed*

    Jazak Allah!

    • Umm Muawiyah
      Jun 26 2011

      Assalamu Alaikum Sister.

      Yes, I have visited your blog before and it has a lot of useful information, masha-Allah.

      However, my blog roll only consists of my own blogs (due to specific reasons – too much love for myself NOT being one of them!).

      I removed the link to your blog as you have many links on it that I strongly disagree with. It’s nothing personal. It’s just that I am very particular about links as I have to answer to Allah about everything I write or link to.

      Jazakillahu kheira.


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