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How to learn Arabic?

We all want to learn Arabic. We all want to understand the Quran and the Sunnah. The big question is HOW? How to learn Arabic? What’s the best way to learn the Arabic language? In this post, In Sha Allah (God Willing) we will explain the best practices to learn Arabic.

There are thousands of courses guaranteeing results. How do you know which one is going to work for you? There are a few fundamentals about language learning that you should keep in mind before you make your decision. It took me many years to realise this, so I hope it will help you by saving your time, effort and money.

1. Correct your intention

As Muslims, we have to know the language of the Quran. Our sole purpose in life is to worship our Creator [Quran 51:56]. Obviously, the reason for us to learn Arabic is to understand the Quran and the Sunnah so that we can worship Him in a manner that He intended. But how do we know if our worship is accepted or not? It’s only when He is pleased with us. Therefore, our main intention for learning Arabic should be to please Allah alone. Nothing else.

We should learn Arabic because we love Allah (SWT) and would like to follow His commandments in the best way possible. Sheik Muhammad Al-Shareef from Canada said, “Whoever loves Allah must, by the virtue of that true love, love Rasul-ul-Allah (SAW). 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 Quran and Sunnah.”

2. Speak the langauge

For many years, I didn’t focus much on speaking Arabic. I kept it at the end of my list. I thought I just needed to understand the Quran and the Hadith, so reading and comprehension would suffice. However, one can spend many years trying to learn Arabic grammar (Nahw) and morphology (Sarf), and still not feel confident enough to say that you know Arabic. Just focusing on grammar might soon get exhausting and you may give up learning the Arabic langauge all together.

To be able to speak Arabic is the only way one can gain confidence in the langauge. This confidence is important to move forward in your language learning journey. You have to be living the language – using it everyday, wherever possible. Learning to speak the langauge doesn’t require you to focus on the grammar details. Just have fun speaking the language. Make mistakes. Embarass yourself! That’s the only way you can overcome one of the biggest obstacles in learning any new language – the fear of making mistakes.

3. Learn Arabic grammar as a separate science

Just like we study physics, chemistry and biology as different subjects in school, even though they are all considered science, we have to separate the streams of the Arabic language.

Learning Arabic language has three main streams: Conversation, Arabic Grammar (Nahw) and Morphology (Sarf). Nahw literally means “way” or “manner” in which the language is used. It is the study of word formation and rules at a setence level (Eg. Subject + Predicate = Simple sentence), whereas Sarf is the study of root letters and common word patterns and the effect they have on the meaning of the words. It is a study of the word itself (Eg. Singular, Dual or Plural). Unfortunately most institutes and madrasas mix them all up and teach them in a very ineffective and painful way. It doesn’t have to be that way – there is a better way!

When you separate the streams and learn them separately, the journey of learning Arabic becomes a lot easier and enjoyable. When you’re learning conversation, just enjoy speaking the language – don’t worry too much about the grammar rules. Then, when you learn the grammar, just focus on the grammar, and so on. At some point, they will all come together.

Arabic grammar is one of the most fascinating subjects you can learn. The way it’s structured and designed is truly from Allah (SWT). Arabic language itself is an art which is appealing to the intellect and senses. And the best part is, to learn the grammar, you don’t even need Arabic! You can learn Arabic grammar in English. However, conversation has to be learnt purely in Arabic. No English should be used after the initial few hours of any Arabic course. This provides you with a safe environment to practice what you learn and helps you gain confidence.

4. Read the Quran daily

All the grammar rules of Arabic are derived from the Quran. Prior to the revelation of the Quran, Arabic grammar rules didn’t exist. It was only after the Quran was revealed that the grammar rules were formed for the Arabic langauge. Hence, it makes sense to read the Quran daily to increase your understanding of the language – even if you don’t understand anything in the beginning.

When you learn Arabic, make sure you read the Quran everyday. Compare the Arabic text with the translation and try to make the connection between the words. Also, look for any grammar concepts that you may have learnt during your Arabic class/course. It’s truly an overwhelming experience when you start identifying what you’ve learnt, while reading the Quran.

5. Use technology

The Sahabahs never hesitated to use the latest tools and technologies to their benefit. Muslim forces installed “Manjaneeq” (Stone cannons) during the Siege of Ta’if, which they learnt by copying the Byzantine trebuchets (a type of siege engine which uses a swinging arm to throw a projectile at the enemy) and was never-before used by the Arabs. At the Battle of the Trench, it was Salman Al-Farsi who suggested to The Prophet (SAW) to dig a defensive trench at the battle front, and it was done. These innovative tools and strategies were applied by the early generation Muslims because it proved to be effective and helped them achieve their objective.

Today, we can use technology in so many ways to achieve our goal of language learning. Yet, most institutes and madrasas are hesitent to use them. There are so many language learning and digital flash card apps that can aid us. We should readily use them and benefit from them. I’m not a tech-freak, however, I use it as per my requirement to increase my productivity; not as an addictive-slave to technology. We should take the good of everything and leave out the bad.

We have posted a few articles on how to use technology and apps to help us in our langauge learning journey. Make sure you read them and use them to your benefit.

I hope this post has been helpful, and will aid you in learning Arabic better. May Allah make the journey of learning Arabic easy on all Muslims and grant us all the understanding of His Deen. Ameen.

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