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May 25, 2011

4

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

by Umm Muawiyah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Here are Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. Please excuse me for taking so long with this series.]

8) In order to learn Arabic, you need to learn grammar and vocabulary.

[Okay, I mean in order to learn simple Arabic. You need to learn much more than just grammar and vocabulary to go deep into the Arabic language!]

By grammar, I mean two things: sarf and nahu.

To use an example I heard, sarf involves word construction and nahu involves sentence construction.

a) Sarf

Studying sarf is what really broke open the code of Arabic for me.

What is sarf exactly? Well, it is sort of like verb conjugation but it’s more than that. I think it would be pointless of me to explain because you won’t understand until you start studying it.

Arabic verb conjugation is something that will amaze you due to its simplicity – unlike in French where some verbs drive you crazy (devoir, pouvoir and vouloir, I’m talking to YOU).

For a quick way to learn some Sarf before Ramadan, I would suggest:

1) Understand Quran

2) Ustadh Fahd Al-Tahiri’s classes

b) Nahu

That’s basically learning about nouns, prepositions, etc. There’s no point in explaining this either because you need to study a bit of nahu before you understand how wonderful it is.

Both sarf and nahu can be tough in the beginning (especially if you are monolingual) but be patient and you’ll reap the rewards, insha-Allah.

A good place to start learning nahu would be the Madinah books. There are two websites where this book is explained:

1) Madinah Arabic

2) LQ Toronto

The second site has basic to advanced nahu lessons. However, a little warning: In the Madina series videos, the instructor mentions the names of  some deviant speakers and recommends their lectures (according to what I read on a website). If so, then please be careful.

Okay, what about the vocabulary?

Well, actually when you learn sarf, you’ll learn new vocabulary faster. See, each word in the Arabic language has some “root letters” so when you know the meaning of a set of root letters, you can figure out the meanings of all the words that are derived from it.

Let me give you an example from English (all these come from Latin):

Trans means “across, through, over, beyond, to or on the other side of, outside of”.

So, based on the above, can you guess what the following words mean?

Transform, transfer, transatlantic, translate, transition, etc.

Yes, to some degree, you’d have a general idea of what they meant.

Another example:

Circum means “around, about, surrounding, on all sides”.

So, based on the above, can you guess what the following words mean?

Circumvent, circumference, circumstance, etc.

Now, you might have known what  these words meant already but knowing the meaning of “circum” might have given you a deeper look into these words, thereby leading you to understanding their meanings better.

9) There are different vocabulary sets depending on what you want to understand.

If you want to understand the Quran, that’s one vocabulary set. The ahadeeth have another vocabulary set. Islamic literature has another vocabulary set (and each subject matter has it’s own vocabulary set).

If you want to study something else in Arabic, like IT or cooking, that has another vocabulary set altogether.

Of course, the above all refers to the standard Arabic. Each colloquial dialect have their own vocabulary sets as well.

Scared? Why? Isn’t this the case in every language? Think about it.

Generally speaking, sarf will help you with most of them (not the colloquial though). However, you would also need to start learning the vocabulary separately for each subject.

The first thing that you should focus on is the vocabulary of the Quran. The rest of them can come later, insha-Allah.

How can you improve on this?

Well, I can suggest three short ways before Ramadan:

– The Understand Quran courses also teach Quranic vocabulary.

– Using the dictionary of the Quran on the Understand Quran website which gives the translations of each new word, juz by juz.

– Reading the Word-to-Word translation of the Quran on a daily basis. I would recommend the Darussalam version due to its authenticity. However, the others are acceptable as well.

10) So, what will your Arabic schedule look like before Ramadan?

Well, assuming that you know how to read the Arabic letters, do not understand any Arabic at all and have not registered for any course, I would suggest:

a) Starting with the Understand Quran Short Course.

Dedicate 15 minutes in the morning to doing the course and another 15 minutes in the night to reviewing it.

b) Read at least one page of the Word-to-Word translation every day.

Write down all the new vocabulary that you’ve learnt in a notebook and keep reviewing them.

c) You could also keep listening to the Quranic recitation along with its meaning.

Here’s one with Shaikh Abdullah Basfar’s recitation (excellent tajweed).

d) After you finish all the Understand Quran lessons, you can then move on to the Madinah Arabic lessons.

Again, I should point out, that these are all suggestions. It’s okay if you don’t follow all of them. I’m just try to give you an idea of what you can start with.

Remember: The more you push yourself, the more Quran you will be able to understand in Ramadan and the more khushoo (humility) you’ll feel in the taraweeh prayers (and all the other prayers for that matter).

To be continued…

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aliya
    May 26 2011

    Asalaam alaikum

    This post came just at the right point – Allhumdulillah.

    I have over the last week been looking at the Understand Quran webiste as you mentioned and some of the initial content. It looks well structured and planned, warm welcoming for beginners and answers some common questions.

    However, I got the link from another site: http://www.quranforbusypeople.com

    Just a quick question: I wondered whether you knew if http://www.quranforbusypeople.com is part of the UnderstandQuran set up?

    Jazzkillahu kheria

    Reply
    • Umm Muawiyah
      May 30 2011

      Wa Alaikum Assalam.

      Alhamdulillah. Allah is Al-Hakeem after all.

      Yes, the UQ course is great, masha-Allah.

      As far as I know, the Quran for busy people are not associated with UQ. Allahu Alam.

      Reply
  2. Umm Zakariyya
    May 28 2011

    Uhibbuki fillaah!

    Wa ‘alaykumu-s-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh.

    Reply
    • Umm Muawiyah
      May 30 2011

      Assalamu Alaikum.

      May He, for whose sake you love me, love you.

      [You know, I think I liked it better when you confined that sentence to MSN chats, emails and SMS messages…]

      Reply

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