بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[Okay, this series sure took a long time. This is the last part, alhamdulillah.]
11) Don’t be stagnant. Take the next step.
I’ve met many sisters who have told me that they can understand a lot of Arabic. Unfortunately, they don’t take advantage of this fact and attend ARABIC lectures.
[I’ve learned one thing after 2 years of attending mostly Arabic lectures: there is a huge difference in level between English and Arabic lectures.
If the English speakers knew just how much the difference was, they would have wept.]
I recall an advice that I read when I first started studying Arabic. The brother suggested cutting off all ties with English.
I finally understand why. If you stick to English (or whatever your language is), you will continue to depend on it. However, if you start to attend Arabic classes and read Arabic books, you will become dependent on the Arabic language.
It might be difficult at first but it gets easier. Pretty soon, you’ll find it easier to attend Arabic classes than English ones.
12) It’s a life long journey.
Arabic is a deep language. We won’t become experts at it overnight.
13) Turn learning Arabic into an act of worship.
Yes, you could learn this language for worldly matters but then you won’t get much out of it.
However, if you do it intending to earn the pleasure of Allah, you’ll get a lot, insha-Allah.
14) Do dua (supplication).
Do it again and again and again.
Don’t just ask Allah to help you learn Arabic. BEG Him.
To those of you who haven’t learnt much Arabic between last Ramadan and now, I say: Don’t give up. Start now and keep going until you get there.
I hope that this series was beneficial, insha-Allah.
May Allah make it easy for all of us to learn the language in which His Book was revealed.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
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.
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:
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:
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.
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…
[Sorry for taking so long with this series and the other series as well. This series has many more parts to come, insha-Allah.]
6) Understand that learning Arabic is a means of being steadfast in our religion.
The last Recover Ramadan post was about asking Allah to make our hearts steadfast on this religion.
Dua is one way to remain steadfast on the religion. (And we have to be steadfast on it. Who wants to go to Hell anyway???)
Seeking knowledge is another way to do so. Tawheed is the most important subject and is basically related to all the other subjects. (Yes, yes, yes. All the other Islamic sciences are related to tawheed.)
Learning Arabic is also part of seeking knowledge. In fact, it is one of the keys to seeking knowledge.
After all, where does the knowledge of Islam come from? The Quran and the Sunnah.
Which language are they in? Arabic, of course. Even their major commentaries are in Arabic!
So, in order to properly understand the Quran and the Sunnah, we have to learn Arabic.
Now, you might say “Hey, they’ve been translated.”
a) Do you know that the Quran is a literary miracle? The Pagan Arabs were the best poets of their time but they could not come up with something better than the Quran.
If they were the best poets of their time, it implies that they were excellent in the Arabic language, which implies that the Quran is an Arabic masterpiece.
Therefore, in order to understand the Quran PROPERLY and FULLY, we have to learn Arabic.
b) Also, the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said that he was sent with concise speech.
Which language did he use for this concise speech? Arabic, of course!
If you read the translation, you’ll have difficulty understanding how he is concise in speech.
c) Also, many of the people of innovation have used translations as a means of causing people to deviate.
For example, I was reading a statement of Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) about an issue of aqeedah (creed). The Arabic text was there and so was the translation. The translator was one of the people of innovation.
This liar translated the whole statement of Imam Abu Hanifah properly and in the end, he inserted a word in parenthesis.
Do you know what happened? THE WHOLE MEANING CHANGED.
Yes, he just added one extra word at the end of the translation and that was it. He ascribed a false statement to one of the Imams of Ahlus Sunnah.
[It’s ironic. Ahlul bidah (the people of innovation) always accuse Ahlus Sunnah of incorrectly translating things (“It’s a Wahhabi translation!”) but they are the ones who mess around with the translation!]
So, how would we know if something was correctly translated or not? We’d be at the mercy of the translator!
Another example is the issue of the command to wear the hijab. I’ve heard many women say “Where is it in the Quran? It only says put your clothes over your chest.” [Please check Surah An-Noor, Ayah No. 31]
They point to incorrect translations as a proof. Well, the proof is in the Arabic text itself as the word used is “khumurihinn”. That means “their khumur”.
Khumur is the plural of khimar. A khimar is something that covers the head and arms so this means that we need to cover our head!
[Also, the part about putting the khimar over one’s chest can be understood when we see the history of the pagan Arabs. The women used to wear the khimar but would not cover their chests properly, hence showing their cleavage. So Allah ordered them to cover properly.]
So, when we understand Arabic, we no longer have to rely on translations, we can go back and check the main text.
7) What about those who have struggled with Arabic for years and have still gotten nowhere, you ask?
Wait, who said that they got nowhere?
What is the reason that we are learning Arabic? It’s to understand the Quran and the Sunnah.
WHY do we want to understand them? So that we can ponder over their meanings and apply them.
So, our goal is to learn how to worship Allah and to worship Him in the right way.
Isn’t seeking knowledge an act of worship? Therefore, isn’t struggling to learn Arabic an act of worship?
If our ultimate aim is to worship Allah and please Him, then we can attain that goal by struggling to learn Arabic, even if we don’t reach the target of actually learning Arabic.
So, if we struggle, we remain in an act of worship and we are doing something that is pleasing to Allah.
If we stop studying Arabic, we are no longer doing this act of worship.
People always compare their level of Arabic to others.
Why bother? Does it matter?
Perhaps there is a person struggling to learn Arabic and is unable to do so. However, this person fails to really learn Arabic. Perhaps this struggle of his will please Allah and He will grant him Paradise as a result of it.
And perhaps there is a person who finds Arabic very easy and becomes a scholar of the language. However, he is arrogant or does not follow tawheed or has improper intentions. So, it may be that he angers Allah with his actions which causes him to be thrown into the Hellfire although he mastered Arabic!
So, think of the real goal and don’t give up.
[To be continued…]
5) Try to use your strongest language to learn Arabic.
Okay, there are two key words here: “use” and “strongest”.
Let’s take the second word first.
a) What is a person’s strongest language?
It’s what is known as the “native language”. And just for your information, according to many people, that is exactly the same thing as one’s mother tongue.
People seem to think that the language that you speak at home with your parents is your native language. It doesn’t have to be.
If you’re confused as to what your native language is (and I’ve met many people who are), ask yourself this simple question: What language do you think in?
People generally think in just one language.
[By the way, judging by some of the conversations that I’ve had, it seems that the language that you think in can change, if you use another language for a long time. For example, a German sister pointed out to me how she had started to think in English because she used it far more than she used German.]
Okay, so why should we use one’s strongest language? Well, I’m assuming that everyone thinks like me. See, if someone asked me to translate from French to Arabic, then I wouldn’t be able to do it without first translating from French to English and then from English to Arabic. From what I understand, this is the case with most people.
Also, there is the little issue of “getting lost in translation”. You lose so much by going from one language to another. Imagine what would happen if you went through more than one language!
Now someone might say “Eh? Doesn’t everyone use their native language when learning a new one?”
Erm no, which is why I felt the need to write all the above.
[I’m still waiting for more comments on this post before deciding on which option to go for for.]
In Part 1, I mentioned 2 things that we needed to do to learn Arabic, insha-Allah. Here are some more:
[Look, I’m not an expert (and Arabic is not my native language either). These are just my personal views. I could be wrong. ]
3) You need to figure out why you are learning Arabic.
This one might have confused you. Let me explain.
There are 3 different types of Arabic:
a) Classical Arabic (used in the Quran and the ahadeeth).
b) Modern Standard Arabic (used in newspapers, books, and err…even in cartoons).
c) The Dialects – Yes, there are loads of them. There’s the Khaleeji (Gulf) dialect (“Agullich!”), the Sham (Levantine) dialect (“Shoo biddik?”), the Egyptian dialect (“Aiyi haaga!”), the Northern African dialects (nobody understands what they’re saying so don’t worry about these) and some others. Of course, you have sub-dialects amongst these dialects so…
The first two use the same grammar but have a different vocabulary set.
The third one……..that’s a long story. They’re a hotch-potch. However, they’ve all branched out from the fus-ha (the proper Arabic).
[No, it’s not confusing. Remember what I said about English in Part 1?]
So, what do you want to do?
– Go to Egypt and order some Kushari?
Well then, learning Classical Arabic will not really help. The waiter will say “Haaga thaanee?” and you’ll say: “Aaid, min fadhlik”. And then you might get a glare from the waiter because he’ll think you used the feminine form to talk to him whereas you were actually using fus-ha but the poor boy doesn’t know that.
[This is a bit of a rant, so beware. Don’t say that you weren’t warned.]
[*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, just how did you envision yourself after Ramadan?
Think about the following things (or better yet, write them down):
1) What were your goals for Ramadan? Did you achieve them? Why or why not?
2) How different are you from your pre-Ramadan self? Have you improved? If so, then in what areas? Why?
3) How many things have you managed to continue doing after Ramadan? For example, do you still pray Tahajjud (even if it is just 1 rakaah)?
4) What were the reasons that caused you to continue or discontinue what you were doing during Ramadan?
5) How do you see yourself next Shaban?
6) How do you envision spending next Ramadan?
Go to a quiet room and spend an hour just thinking about the above questions.
The reason that we never seem to improve (or improve at a snail’s pace) is because we don’t set a plan or follow a plan that we did set.
Also, we seem to be dependent on Ramadan to change us but that shouldn’t be the case. We can change at any time. We just need to do dua and then push ourselves to act.
Before you know it, it’ll be Ramadan again (assuming that we are blessed to still be alive) and we’ll go through the same steps again i.e. listen to a few lectures in Shaban, have high hopes for Ramadan, do nothing much in Ramadan and then flounder in Shawwal*.
[*Okay, this doesn’t happen to everybody, alhamdulillah but sadly it seems to happen to most of us.]
This time, I think we should start thinking differently. We need to:
1) Keep the next Ramadan as a deadline to achieving our goals.
2) Aim to improve ourselves even further during it so that we can achieve even bigger goals after it finishes.
I would suggest that we all listen to those pre-Ramadan lectures again. Also, please read this post. It’s very useful indeed, masha-Allah. I did that last year and that’s where I got the idea for this post from.
Lastly, please don’t get defeated before you even begin. Have good thoughts about Allah and ask Him to make you a great servant of His. Then, make a plan to achieve that.
Even if you die without having accomplished all your goals, you’ll at least have sincerely intended it, and perhaps Allah will reward you solely for those intentions.
Erm, “duaing”, you ask? Surely that was a typo, right?
Nope. It’s a term that I invented (unless someone has already beaten me to it, of course).
What is “duaing” exactly?
Umm Muawiyah’s Dictionary of Self-Invented Words lists the definition as follows:
Duaing (pronounced doo-aa-ing): Repeatedly doing dua without bothering to follow through with any action that will result in getting the dua accepted.
N.B. This term does not refer to repeatedly doing dua without taking action in the cases where one is unable to take any action.
A few examples will help you understand further:
Example # 1:
Brother A does constant dua to get a job. Every day, he wakes up expecting the phone to ring with an interview call.
There’s just one problem. He doesn’t do anything except dua. He doesn’t send his CV to different companies, doesn’t sign up with any recruitment agencies, doesn’t ask people he knows for any information, doesn’t read the classifieds, etc.
He just does dua to get a job.
Example # 2:
Sister B does constant dua for her temper to cool down. She has serious issues with anger management. Every day, she wakes up expecting her temper to have miraculously gone away.
Hmmm….you’ve heard this tip before, you say?
Of course, you have. Right here.
What was the whole point of Ramadan? To make us more conscious of Allah.
And why did Allah prescribe fasting……?
So, in order to continue with our increased consciousness of Allah, we need to fast.
You’ll notice that I mentioned two things:
1) Start fasting
As soon as possible.
Otherwise, you’ll get lazy.
Note: If you have missed fasts, make those up first. Then, you can do the Shawwal fasts.
2) Continue fasting
Yes, because fasting was not just prescribed for Ramadan and Shawwal. It’s a deed that can (and should) be done throughout the year e.g. Mondays, Thursdays, Arafah, Ashoorah, etc.
Insha-Allah, I’ll explain the above points in more detail in our first Remember Ramadan post.
Last bit of advice: Brothers and Sisters, I would also advise you to encourage your children to fast as well.
Yes, yes, I know. You might think that they’ll get tired with all the fasting.
Erm…you know, children and teens are not like us oldies. They can starve all day and still have energy at night.
I remember my days in uni. I wouldn’t eat anything until 5pm (because I was too busy). Yet, I had energy to do all my work.
And no, I’m not asking you to do this! [It’s terrible for one’s health.] I’m just pointing out that Shaytan (the devil) might stop you from encouraging your children from fasting under the guide of “parental concern”.
So, don’t worry about them getting tired because they won’t, insha-Allah.