Seeking Arabic from Auckland to Amman

By Aarif Rasheed

My Journey to Arabic

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani himself had mentioned during the one of the introductory classes on the Ajrumiyya (a classical primer on Arabic) that one of the most important Bid’ahs (innovations) of our time is to learn the language of the Quran. As someone who had been memorising the Quran from a young age I have been making “on and off” efforts for many years to learn properly. Many will relate, that it is not uncommon for “Arabic classes” to be starting in our local communities, only for it to not quite get off the ground properly for one reason or another. Some of us have almost fantasised about that great opportunity to finally start a firm study of  Arabic “once and for all” with that great Shaykh whom we are hoping we will one day somehow have access to.

The Seekers Arabic Excitement 

Recently there has been the excitement for the launch of Arabic, because of the great teachers we have access to for the classes, and not least of course the great Shaykh Ali Hani

The course is entitled An insight to the study of Arabic, and the first lesson was insightful indeed.

Despite my limitations in Arabic, I was determined to be a part of this class, both to gain from the Shaykh on the subject itself as well as to gain from the exposure to such a great scholar and the many obvious benefits that would flow from that.

Starting Up
The first session has been scheduled last week but postponed due to connection issues and today my hope and anticipation was even greater of just being able to see Shaykh Ali Hani. I had the peace and quiet of the house being asleep (signing in from New Zealand).

The class covered the Fada’il (Merit) of the knowledge of the Arabic language and its grammar.

Shaykh Ali Hani

Having read Shaykh Ali Hani’s biography, I was imagining an overwhelming sight, heavy in voice reflecting both the gravity of the subject and the seniority of his scholarship in it. What greeted me as I signed in was the beautifully gentle and sweetly pleasant expression of the Shaykh.

I concentrated with exertion as I tried to ensure I grasped the main points with the Arabic that I have.

The lesson itself was an amazing survey of great examples and sayings regarding the great merit and importance of the sciences of Arabic Language and Grammar (and typically, sometimes with references to other sciences!)

It was also familiar in the sense of the mentioning of the great sayings of the companions (Allah be pleased with them) some more familiar such as Sayyidina Umar, and others from the early community, such as Ayub as-Sakhtiyani.

What continuously struck me is how the Shaykh spoke about the greatness of the science of Arabic and grammar, clearly such a heavy and foundational matter in our religion, in such a soft, sweet and welcoming manner.

Aside from the beauty and attractiveness of Shaykh Ali’s persona, his own eloquence and pronunciation was also striking, even while so finely and gently presenting the subject.

SPR210Importance of Learning Arabic
After being thoroughly honoured in being present for the class, I also managed to squeeze in the last question for the lesson: what was the importance of knowing Arabic for those of us in the West? I asked this because my own understanding of why I was continuously trying to learn was clear but sometimes inconsistent, and also because I noticed that amongst many I know, there were certain “groups” of individuals who did observe their need to learn Arabic and were always very motivated, and then others who, for some reason, did not – they would be interested in many other subjects, but not in learning the Arabic language.

The answer was the typical outward-inward balance that we have come to know from scholars of the traditional sciences: the Shaykh referred to both the importance of understanding of Quran and the Sunnah, as well as to our relationship with Allah, that is entailed in knowing this great science.

I was greatly honoured to be a part of this first lesson. The Shaykh was equally warm to answering questions and was patiently calm as we briefly lost connection towards the end (perhaps another lesson for us in our world of instantaneity!).

This introduction to the great science with a great scholar, was a beautifully welcoming experience.

I acknowledge my debt to my Creator and that I am deeply indebted to those who have made such a truly unique opportunity possible, and to all those who assist it. This truly has been a blessed boost to my long-time efforts to learn Arabic, and I determined in – and hope and pray for – my own consistency and dedication to this course.