10 Comments

Why don’t YOU learn Arabic?

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 )]

***

‎’Umar ibn al-Khattaab RA:

 “Teach others the Arabic language because it is a part of your religion.”

[Iqtidaa us-Siraat-il-Mustaqeem [2/207] by Ibn Taymiyyah]

***

Al Hafith Ibn Battah mentioned concerning Imam Ahmad:

Saleh ibn Ahmed narrated:

‘A man that was present (during the trials and debates of Imam Ahmed about the Quran being created or not) informed me: I followed him for three days of trials and debates while they were debating with him and speaking to him. He never made a mistake in Arabic grammar! I never thought a person could possess such strength and a strong heart.’

Ibn Battah continued to write, on the authority of Abu Bakr Al Marruthi, he said:

Abu Abdullah (Ahmed bin Hanbal) would not make grammatical mistakes. I was informed that while he was being debated with in front of the ruler, he did not make a grammatical mistake!

Abu Bakr Al Marruthi also said,Ibn Abee Hassan -the scribe- mentioned to me:

While Abu Abdullah was incarcerated he requested from me (to borrow) the book of Hamzah (a book on Arabic grammar). I gave it to him and he read/reviewed it before being questioned and debated. [Al Ibaanah 2/249 and on]

***

 Shaykh ul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) 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)]

Shaykh ul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) also said:

The Salaf would admonish their children for making Arabic grammatical mistakes. Due to this, we are ordered, whether it be an obligation or a recommendation, to preserve the Arabic (grammatical) laws, and to correct the tongues that have deviated from the correct speech. By doing so, we preserve the methodology of understanding the Quran and the Sunnah. We also preserve the following of the Arab in their manner of (correct) speech. If people were left with their grammatical mistakes, this would be considered a great deficiency and despicable mistake.

[Majmoo’ Al Fatawa 32/252]

In Iqtidaa‘us-Siraatil-Mustaqeem, Shaykh ul Islam (rahimahullah) also mentioned a statement of Imam Ash Shafi’ee (rahimahullah), he said:

…this is because the (language) that Allah choose is Arabic. He revealed His glorious book (The Quran) in this language and He made it the tongue of His final and last prophet, Muhammed -sallahu alahi wa salem. Therefore, we say: it is befitting for everyone that has the ability to learn this language to do so, this is because it should be the most desired language to learn. At the same time, it is not forbidden for people to speak with other than the Arabic language. [ 1/521]

Elsewhere:

As for becoming accustomed to talking to one another in a language other than Arabic, which is the symbol of Islâm and the language of the Qur‘ân, so that this becomes a habit in the land, with one’s family and household members, with one’s friends, in the marketplace, when addressing government representatives or authority figures or when speaking to people of knowledge, undoubtedly this is makrooh (disliked), because it involves being like the non-Arabs, which is makrooh, as stated previously.

Hence when the early Muslims went to live in Syria and Egypt, where the people spoke Byzantine Greek, and in ’Iraaq and Khurasaan, where the people spoke Persian, and North Africa (al-Maghrib) where the people spoke Berber, they taught the people of those countries to speak Arabic, so that Arabic became the prevalent language in those lands, and! all the people, Muslim and kaafir alike, spoke Arabic. Such was also the case in Khurasaan in the past, then they became lax with regard to the language and got used to speaking Farsee until it became prevalent and Arabic was forgotten by most of them. Undoubtedly this is disliked.

The best way is to become accustomed to speaking Arabic so that the young people will learn it in their homes and schools, so that the symbol of Islâm and its people will prevail. This will make it easier for the people of Islâm to understand the Qur‘ân and Sunnah, and the words of the Salaf, unlike a person who gets used to speaking one language, then wants to learn another, and finds it difficult.

Know that being used to using a language has a clear and strong effect on one’s thinking, behaviour and religious commitment. It also has an effect on making one resemble the early generations of this Ummah, the Companions and the Taabi’een. Being like them improves one’s thinking, ! religious commitment and behaviour.

Moreover, the Arabic language itself is part of Islâm, and knowing Arabic is an obligatory duty. If it is a duty to understand the Qur‘ân and Sunnah, and they cannot be understood without knowing Arabic, then the means that is needed to fulfil the duty is also obligatory.

There are things which are obligatory on all individuals (fard ’ayn), and others which are obligatory on the community or Ummah (fard kifaayah, i.e., if some people fulfill them the rest are relieved of the obligation).

This is the meaning of the report narrated by Aboo Bakr Ibn Abee Shaybah who said: ’Eesa Ibn Yoonus told us from Thawr from ’Umar Ibn Yazeed that ’Umar wrote to Aboo Moosa al-Ash’aree radiallaahu ’anhu and said: “Learn the Sunnah and learn Arabic; learn the Qur‘ân in Arabic for it is Arabic.”

According to another hadeeth narrated from ’Umar radiyallaahu ’anhu, he said: “Learn Arabic for it is part of your Religion, and learn how the estate of the deceased should be divided (faraa‘id) for these are part of your Religion.”

This command of ’Umar, to learn Arabic and the Sharee’ah combines the things that are needed, for Religion involves understanding words and actions. Understanding Arabic is the way to understand the words of Islâm, and understanding the Sunnah is the way to understand the actions of Islâm…” [Iqtidaa‘us-Siraatil-Mustaqeem (2/207)]

***

Imam Adh Dhahabee (rahimahullah) mentioned:

That which a scholar needs to be is:

-Taqiyan (have taqwah)

-Thakiyah (have intelligence)

-Nahwiyan (firm in Arabic grammar)

-Lugawiyan (firm in Arabic language)

-Zakiyan (pure in action and/or intentions)

-Hayiyan (shy)

-Salafiyan (follow the way of the Salaf As Saleh)….

[Siyar ‘Alam An Nubalah 13/380]

Imam Adh Dhahabee (rahimahullah) also mentioned the following story:

On the authority of Al Mughirah bin Abdur Rahman, he said: Abdul Azeez Ad Darawirdee accompanied a group of people to visit my father for the purpose of reading a book to him. Ad Darawirdee read the book for them but he possessed a poor (Arabic) tongue and made many despicable mistakes. My father said to him: Woe be to you oh Darawirdee! You are in need of correcting your tongue before looking into this affair (hadeeth), more so than anything else.

[Siyar ‘Alam An Nubalah 8/368]

***

Shaykh Hammad Al Ansari (rahimahullah) said:

When a Muwahid (person implementing Tawheed) makes a mistake in Arabic grammar, he is accused of not understanding (his religion).

The Shaykh’s son commented:

Meaning: It is befitting for a person upon the Sunnah to learn the sciences of the Arabic language in order not to make grammatical mistakes.

[Al Mejm’oo 2/557]

***

Shaykh Muhammed bin Saleh Al Uthaymeen (rahimahullah) said:

From the benefits of learning the Arabic language is correction of the tongue with the Arabic tongue which the speech of Allah was revealed in. Because of this, understanding the Arabic language is extremely important. But the sciences of the Arabic language are difficult in the beginning and become easy thereafter. It is the example of a house made of cane (the likes of sugar cane), but its door is made of steel. Meaning, it is difficult for one to enter, but once one does, is then made easy. Due to this, I encourage the student to learn the foundations of the language in order to make the rest easy for him/her.

[Sharh Al Ajromiyah pp.9]

The aforementioned speech of Ibn Taymiyyah reminds us of the statement of Umm Abdellah Al Wadie’yah concerning her father, the beloved Shaykh Muqbil bin Hadee Al Wadi’ee.

She wrote:

My father would admonish us (her and her older sister) if we made a mistake in Arabic grammar. He would say: Don’t be like the people of Sa’daa, they learn Arabic for several years until they reach the level of ‘Al Mugnee al Labeeb’ (famous book in Arabic grammar), yet they continue to speak similar to the normal layman.

[Nubtha Muktesirah pp.52]

***

Shaykh Muqbil (rahimahullah) also mentioned:

The sciences of the Arabic language (nahoo) are from the important forms of knowledge that are incumbent upon the Muslims to focus on. This is because the enemies of Islam seek to divert the Muslims away from the language of their religion and busy them with what has less importance in their religion. And Allah is the Helper.

[ Ershad Thawil Fitan pp.65]

He likewise said:

If a student becomes strong in the Arabic language, this will make learning other subjects easy for him.

[ Intro. to Al Hilal Adh Dhahabiya pp.8]

***

‘Abdullah b. Zayd Al-Numayrî reports that Al-Hasan Al-Basrî said:

 They (the heretics) were destroyed by their inability in Arabic (al-‘ujmah).

[Al-Bukhârî, Al-Târîkh Al-Kabîr ,Vol.5, pp.99.]

And Imâm Al-Shâfi’î said:

 People didn’t become ignorant and didn’t differ amongst themselves except because they left Arabic and leaned towards the language of Aristotle.

[Quoted by Al-Suyûtî in Sawn Al-Mantiq , pp.15.]

He said on pp. 22:

 I have found Salaf before Al- Shâfi’î indicate what he did: that the cause of heresy (al-ibtidâ’) is ignorance of Arabic language.

***

One of the reported instructions ‘Umar wrote to Abû Mûsâ Al-Ash’arî and those under his governance during the former’s Caliphate was,

“Seek knowledge and understanding of (fiqh) the Sunnah and seek knowledge and understanding of Arabic.”

[Ibn Abî Shaybah, Al-Musannaf Vol.6 p126.]

It is reported that he said,

“Learn Arabic, for it strengthens the intelligence and increases one’s noble conduct (al-murû`ah).”

[Al-Bayhaqî, Shu’ab Al-Îmân Vol.4 p187.]

It is also reported that he said,

“Do not learn the language of the non-Arabs, and do not enter upon them in their churches on their festivals, for indeed wrath descends upon them.”

[‘Abd Al-Razzâq Al-San’ânî, Al-Musannaf Vol.1 p411.]

It is also reported that he was once circumambulating the Ka’bah when he heard two men speaking in a language other than Arabic behind him. He turned to them and said,

“Find some way to learn Arabic.”

[‘Abd Al-Razzâq Al-San’ânî, Al-Musannaf Vol.5 p496.]

It is reported that Ubay b. Ka’b – Allâh be pleased with him – said,

“Learn Arabic just as you learn to memorize the Qurân.”

[Ibn Abî Shaybah, Al-Musannaf Vol.7 p150.]

It is reported that Ibn ‘Umar – Allâh be pleased with them – used to hit his children for making language errors.

[Tahdhîb Al-Tahdhîb Vol.9 p292.]

It is reported that Shu’bah – Allâh have mercy on him – said,

“Learn Arabic, for it increases the intelligence.”

[Tahdhîb Al-Tahdhîb Vol.4 p303.]

It is reported that ‘Attâ b. Abî Rabâh – Allâh have mercy on him – said,

“I wish I were fluent in Arabic,” when he was ninety years old.

[Al-Dhahabî, Siyar A’lâm Al-Nubalâ`, in his biography of ‘Attâ b. Abî Rabâh.]

It is reported that Ibn Shubrumah – Allâh have mercy on him – said,

“Men have never worn a garment more beautiful than Arabic.”

[Al-Bayhaqî, Shu’ab Al-Îmân Vol.4 p197.]

10 comments on “Why don’t YOU learn Arabic?

  1. Asalamualaykum wr wb
    What steps do you recommend for one who wishes to learn Arabic?

    • Walaykumasalam warahmatullahi wabarakatuh Dearest Sister,

      Very Good question and I hope I can answer in a manner that’s beneficial for you. My answer is based on my personal observations and experience and this advice is by no means comprehensive.

      (1) Find a good teacher in your local community and enroll in a class. Why? Everyone has that initial enthusiasm to learn but it can wear off if one doesn’t have a teacher to guide/give a pep talk and remind you of the benefits of studying Arabic. Plus when you have someone monitoring you and making you accountable, you are less likely to slack off. I strongly suggest not registering for free classes but rather in classes in which you have to pay some amount of tuition fee. It will ‘lock you in’ and although it may seem a superficial reason, it will make you value what you’re learning and not take it for granted.

      (2) If you can’t find a teacher in your community, then don’t waste time for things to be served to you in a platter like most brothers and sisters do. Go for online courses which are widely available and successful.

      (3) You must focus on Classical Arabic and not colloquial Arabic. Classical Arabic will unlock your understanding for the Quraan, somewhat Hadith and works of scholars. Understanding the Quraan at a basic level is obligatory upon every Muslim and so you must seek to fulfill that obligation first. As for colloquial then you can always learn that but I think if you plan to live in the West, you must not concern yourself with it. Unless of course if you plan to move to an Arabic-speaking world where only Arabic is the business/official language then that’s a different issue altogether. Nowadays learning colloquial Arabic has become ‘popular’ and while it may help in understanding classical Arabic, it is really fluff (with all the dialects) because slang will always remain slang and the language of Quraan is pure.

      (4) Get your basics right because they are your obligations. It may challenge one’s ego but one must acquaint oneself with the Arabic alphabets as the Arabs know it (and not Pakistanis etc.). Get your Makharij right. I’m still working on that and my Ustadh (who wasn’t even a Desi) used to say that we have to keep working on our reading skills because if one’s out of practice, they become rusty. One must be humble enough to admit one’s incompetency and work from there even if that puts one at a level of a first grader. And I can’t tell you how world of a difference that acceptance and humility does to your productivity in learning.

      (5) Purify your intentions painstakingly. I can assure you that anyone who has an ‘impure’ intention or lacks sincerity will not be able to go far. You finish the day’s study and just about when you feel you can relax, the next day’s work/study is waiting in line to drain you down. Classical Arabic is not a joke. It requires reviewing, seriousness and diligence. So you have to be crystal clear why you’re doing it. With me, I have to take 3-5 minutes every time before I begin my study, to clearly make myself accountable as to why I’m studying what I’m studying. Because whenever I don’t purify my intention, the work/study becomes burdensome and the results are weak. And any time spend (even seeking knowledge) not making Allah SWT’s Pleasure as your primary goal, then know it will not be of benefit in this dunia or Akhira. In a nutshell, make duaa that Allah SWT grants you *beneficial* knowledge.

      (6) Not only be patient but persevere in your patience (istiqamah). Studying Arabic is time-taking and may require a year or two at least if you want to do it right. As an adult, certain life’s events might increase your responsibilities, so you must learn to be patient with people around you (family) and with your limitations as a human being. You cannot expect to retain everything a 100% every time and you cannot always have a perfect & easy lifestyle in which everyone is supportive of your goals. You may not have the right circumstances all the time and so you have to still keep on going. You must stand up for yourself and be determined enough for yourself. And this only comes when one is clear in their head that even though trials will come in the process of learning, it doesn’t mean that you are a failure or that they come from Allah SWT to pull you down. One has to be emotionally strong. It is only Allah SWT testing your sincerity towards what you pursue…and to be honest Arabic is only the first step towards knowledge. I won’t even call it the first step but that’s just me. You must have a very strong motivation and keep motivational reminders nearby. This blog is somewhat dedicated to such reminders by the way in the category of ‘Advice to Talibul ‘Ilm wannabe’. Also, there are many weblinks related to learning Arabic on the blogroll which may be of use.

      (7) Focus on Nahw (grammar) & Sarf (morphology) first. Then the exciting sciences such as Balagha and so on. There are 13 Sciences of Arabic and if you really want to become a true Arabic student then know it’s a goal of a life-time :) but everyone has their own goals and they know how far they want to go. However, aim for excellence in whatever you study. Excellence (Ihsaan) doesn’t mean that you aim for becoming a perfect student but rather a student who puts in max. effort within her circumstances, capabilities and capacity.

      (8) Feel privileged that Allah SWT gave you the awareness of studying Arabic language which will inshaa’Allah ultimately enhance your understanding of the Speech of Allah SWT…and increase your Eeman/motivation to reach His Pleasure.

      (9) Never expect things to be easy. Like my Ustadh used to say, once you make the intention of seeking knowledge of any sort, you should essentially think that you have landed in a battlefield. Trials are going to pour on you, Shaytan’s going to provoke people against you and create waswasa. But always remember as Allah SWT has said in the Quraan, he cannot harm a sincere slave of Allah SWT. Keyword: ‘sincere’.

      (10) Enjoy it and keep your eyes on the rewards in this dunia and Akhira! Your love for the Quraan will increase exponentially and the speech of Allah SWT will leave you asking for more…and more…and more. No other pleasure is measurable to such immense pleasure. That in of itself is a miracle of the Quraan and a great incentive. It leaves a person speechless and wanting more! I think it is the only enjoyment of this world which will never ‘bore’ you and fill the void within any human being. It will heal you by the Help of Allah SWT spiritually and will have greater impact on your Qalb to bring out Taqwa inshaa’Allah.
      And Allah Knows Best.

      Please feel free to ask any other q’s inshaa’Allah!

      Best wishes,
      -UmmS.

  2. MashaAllah!loved all your points,Also would like to suggest ,to start memorizing Quran(under a teacher ) ,while studying arabic.It really builds up your vocabulary,and helps to love the Book of Allah swt more and more,It opens up our heart to guidance. In turn also motivates you to learn Arabic more.Jazakillahu khairan again for your wonderful reminders,May Allah swt reward you abundantly in this duniya and Akhirah,Ameen

    • Awesome advice. Agree with it a 100%!
      BarakAllahu feeki sister. It’s always a pleasure to read your thoughts and comments! Please continue to share with us inshaa’Allah.
      Many duaas for your success in this dunia and Akhira.
      Wasalamu ‘alaykum warahmatullah,
      -UmmS.

  3. Assalamu Alaikum.

    Dear sister,
    I like this compilation of yours in the service of Arabic language.
    I want to have this published in my Quran blog.
    Do I have permission to do so?
    I am asking this because this is not in the form of a post, its a page!
    Secondly, I feel like making this into a pdf file for convenient reading by all.
    Can i do this as well. Of course, credit will be given to you :)
    Jazakillah Khayr.
    Vassalam.

    • Walaykumasalam warahmatullah Respected Brother,

      JazakAllahu khayran for seeking permission. These words are not mine and you have full right to spread them in whatever form you like without my consent and knowledge. In fact I’d be honored if I am an indirect part of any khayr. As a general rule, even my personal contribution is not ‘copyright’ unless my work’s been posted/published by some Islamic organization under their name (and that’ll be evident when I post) in which case it’d be the property of that organization & not mine even then…so permission would be sought from them and not me.

      Please, I would prefer no credit given to me inshaa’Allah. However, if you’re creating a pdf, a small note could be added in the end that ‘pls make duaa for the ones who were part of it and their families’ – which could be for me, the people I collected from and of course also you akhi inshaa’Allah. A collective duaa for everyone of some sort. Just an idea. It’s totally upto you.

      BarakAllahu feekum,
      -UmmS.

  4. Assalamu Alaikum.
    Dear sister, the work is done today, alhamdulillah.
    http://yassarnalquran.wordpress.com/2012/04/04/why-dont-you-learn-arabic/
    Jazakillah Khayr for permitting me to do the same.
    Barakallah Feek.

  5. […] ⦁     Learn a new language – how about learning Arabic? […]

  6. Assalamualaykum, I teach Fusha/ MSA ( Modern Standard Arabic/) online. Lessons are delivered through skype using screen sharing technology. By learning MSA you are able to communicate all Arabs as MSA is understood in Arab countries) read news papers , magazines etc . You can also understand news and other programs on Tv . I also teach classical Arabic which enables you to understand The Holy Quran ,Hadis (sayings of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and other classical texts. .I give my students complete understanding of Arabic grammar (words formation ,verbs conjugations , pronouns ,sentence formation and how vowel variations at the end of words change their meanings, etc) so that they are able to speak and write correctly. I make them capable of using Arabic dictionary which is one of the difficult aspect of learning Arabic. So, I can help you learn Arabic, reading Quran with tajweed, understanding Quran, and other Islamic knowledges.
    for more info:
    Email: shoaib_mh(at)yahoo.com
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