Five Reasons to Learn Arabic This Summer
Summer is just around the corner, and with it comes the time everyone in school and at work looks forward to: vacation. As this season approaches, many people look for creative ways to fill their vacation time with a sense of refreshment and broadened horizons. So why not learn a language? Learning a language opens up new worlds, and learning one while discovering a foreign country offers a deep-dive experience into another culture and way of life that may be completely different to your own.
If you do want to learn a language, Muslim scholars highly recommend pursuing Arabic. But of all the languages out there, why focus on Arabic? And why even study Arabic when there are so many other important things to learn, like the seerah or Imam al-Ghazali’s works on purifying the heart?
Below we have five reasons why taking the time to learn Arabic this summer is an experience you don’t want to miss out on:
Arabic is the master key to unlocking Islamic knowledge.
Scholars categorize Arabic as one of the ‘instrumental sciences’ (al-ulum al-aliyya), meaning that it is the tool that helps people have a sound understanding of the various fields of knowledge within Islam. Being the language in which Allah (swt) sent His final revelation, the scholars of this faith wrote down much of their knowledge in this language, and you cannot go very far in your study of tafsir, fiqh, and other sciences without at least a cursory understanding of Arabic. For those wanting to take their knowledge further, the lack of a deep study of Arabic would mean that their understanding of the Islamic sciences will not be on solid ground, their expression of that knowledge will not be sound, and their Islamic knowledge will ultimately not be truly trustworthy.
Arabic helps your relationship with the Quran grow and flourish.
Knowing proper Arabic helps you learn and maintain the sound recitation of the Quran, which is critical to your worship. Once you understand Arabic grammar, you will easily know why certain words are pronounced with specific endings and why other words are read in a specific order. A sound knowledge Arabic also takes your relationship with the Quran to the next level, as an advanced study of Arabic inevitably involves the study of eloquence in the Arabic language, known as balagha. The Quran is lauded as the most beautiful recitation in the world, and when read it leaves even non-Arabic speakers in awe. Studying the beauty of the Arabic language, however, helps you move beyond being awed to understanding why you’re being awed. Once you have an appreciation for the music of the Arabic language, the raw power and beauty of the Quran will unveil itself to you in ways you never imagined.
A deep understanding of Arabic helps you understand the nuances of Islamic scholarship.
Arabic is the clearest of languages, but it is also the deepest of languages. Even those who already have a basic understanding of the language must continue their study to move beyond the basics. One problem that students of Islamic knowledge today face is a shallow exploration of the Arabic language, which results when students jump to studying other sciences as soon as they begin to function in Arabic. This is problematic, as sound understanding is not just to understand the basics of what is being said, but to understand it with its nuances; with the fullness of what is being expressed and indicated by the words being said. Islamic scholarship is often extremely nuanced, and you cannot grasp its nuances without a deep knowledge of the Arabic language.
Arabic helps you authentically transmit Islamic knowledge.
The transmission of Islamic knowledge is a weighty responsibility, and the scholars of the past were extremely careful that their knowledge of Arabic was sound enough to transmit what they learned from their teachers. Scholars used to say, for example, that one who did not have a solid understanding of Arabic grammar should stay away from transmitting hadith in order to not fall under the Prophet’s warning about those who attribute false speech to him in the hadith, “Whoever ascribes false speech to me, let them prepare their seat in Hellfire.” Shaykh Faraz explains that a lie is not necessarily deception or falsification, it is merely saying something that is untrue, which can happen when someone transmitting the Prophet’s words misunderstands something because he does not have a proper foundation in Arabic.
Studying Arabic with the correct intention and means can put you on the path to Paradise.
Although knowledge can be fascinating, it is a means to a higher goal, not an end in itself. Knowledge is found on the right path, but the purpose of that path is to draw near Allah. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Whoever properly pursues a trodden path, soundly seeking in it knowledge, Allah will facilitate for such a person a path to Paradise.” Correct knowledge taken from authentic teachers shows you the way to get to Allah and gives you the tools to get there. If you follow that knowledge with correct action, then you are – God willing – on a path that leads to the most beautiful and most desirable of ends.
Convinced? Well, then we have a suggestion for you. Join the Madarik Summer Arabic Intensive, an eight-week immersive language program in the ancient and vibrant city of Amman, Jordan. Highly endorsed by SeekersGuidance founder Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, this program offers an in-depth exploration of the Arabic language that is difficult to find anywhere else.