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Qur’an and the Arabic Language – Shaykh Ali Hani

As part of our Helpers program, Ahmad Ariffin interviewed Shaykh Ali Hani on seeking knowledge, the sciences of the Qur’an and the Arabic language, and their importance in today’s world.

 

Shaykh Ali Hani is a leading scholar of Arabic and Tafsir from Jordan. He has dedicated his life to Quran from a young age. He has memorized the Holy Qur’an and studied the Ten Canonical Recitations and studied Tafsir .He is also one of the experts in the Arabic language of our time. He graduated from the University of Jordan specializing in Tafsir from the Faculty of Islamic Principles. Under his tutelage, many of his students became scholars of the language and are now teaching it around the globe.

His Teachers

He studied from many scholars but there are few of them have a lasting effect on him. He memorized the Qur’an under the guidance of Shaykh. Abu Ayman and completed the memorization in two years. One of the things that Shaykh Abu Ayman taught him is that knowledge is fear.It means the more knowledge you gained the more fearful of you towards Allah Most high.

He also completed the reading of the Qur’an by the way of Imam Hafs under the tutelage of Shaykh Abu Yasir and he mastered the Seven Canonical Recitations under the guidance of Shaykh Mahmood al-Uraydhi.

At the University of Jordan, Shaykh Ali studied with Shaykh Fadl Abbas. After he completed his degree he traveled to Yemen at the city of Sana. He studied the Arabic language and its brances with Shaykh Qasim Bahr. A story that Shaykh Ali shared on Shaykh Qasim was that Shaykh Qasim would reject when a student gave him money and instead the Shaykh would give the students money for their daily usage and that Shaykh Qasim was a very humble man.

Shaykh Ali then made his way to tarim and learned from the scholars in Rubat Tarim. He also receive guidance from other scholars such as Shaykh Abu Bakar Belfaqih, Shaykh Abdullah al-Mehdhor, Shaykh Muhammad Amin al-Shinqiti and many more.

The Importance of studying Qur’anic Tafsir and the Arabic language

In the modern world that we are living in, Tafsir and Arabic language are very important for Muslims to know. With the uprising of the orientalist movement and atheism, more people are joining them and supporting them. We, as Muslims, ought to seek refuge from the movements and the way to seek refuge is by learning. To learn the Islamic sciences we need to learn the Arabic language as it is the key to understanding the sciences and their texts. Language is the bridge between our mind and the author’s mind particularly when you are reading the classic texts. Without language you would not be able to fully derive what the authors want for you. The most important reason why you need to study Arabic is that the Qur’an is in Arabic. Without knowing Arabic, you would not be able to fully indulge in the beauty of the Qur’an and you would not comprehend the inimitabililty of the Holy Qur’an. Although we have the translated version of the Qur’an in different languages, the true beauty of the Quran is in its pure language which is the Arabic language.

As for studying Tafsir, its importance comes into play when you want to further understand the Quran and the context of why it was sent down and to whom and the deeper meaning of the Ayat. Tafsir is also important to rebut the claims of those who tries to demean the great status of the Holy Qur’an and Islam. By learning Tafsir we are also learning the Qur’an. Also, the Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace be upon him, said in one of the narrations: “The best among you are those who learn the Qur‘an and teach it.”

Shaykh Ali’s Advice for  Seekers of Knowledge

  1. To follow the footsteps of the past scholars in seeking sacred knowledge which is to read the basics of that branch of Islamic science and and to be expert in it before reading more advanced books.
  2. To teach what you know as this will help your memory and will make it stronger.
  3. To buy books for references as buying books is considered half of the knowledge itself.
  4. To be humble always with your teachers and to accompany them as often as possible as this will invite blessing and divine openings.
  5. To read both classical and contemporary texts and never abandon one of them.
  6. To put great importance in seeking scholars who has chains of narrations in his path of seeking.

 


 

The Internet, Learning Arabic and Islam – Interview with Ustadh Abdullah Misra

Saad Razi Shaikh interviews Ustadh Abdullah Misra on the internet’s effect on the Umma today, being a student of knowledge, the problems facing reverts, and much more.

Ustadh Abdullah Anik Misra was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, into a Hindu family of North Indian heritage. He became Muslim at the age of 18, graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Business Administration, worked briefly in marketing, and then went abroad with his wife to seek religious knowledge full-time, first in Tarim, then in the West Indies, and finally in Amman, Jordan, where he has focussed his traditional studies on the sciences of Sacred Law (fiqh), hadith, Islamic belief, tajwid, and sira. In this interview, he speaks about the challenges reverts face today, the experience of teaching the Islamic sciences online, the traits a student should look for in a teacher, and the checklist a student needs to run through before setting out to seek knowledge. Excerpts from the interview:

What is the effect of the internet on the Umma today?

The effect of the Internet on the Umma today can only be seen in the context of the effect of the Internet on humanity in general. The Internet has brought many benefits and good things to human civilization. But there have been many great harms as well to society. So obviously the benefits are the greater and faster communication, it’s easier now to convey ideas from one part of the world to the other. Finding solutions to problems, finding answers to questions, and finding advice is possible through it. Knowledge has become democratized in a sense. Now everyone has a lot more access to knowledge. Certain points of discussions can be had, dialogues are possible now in a way that never existed before. All of these things are general benefits to mankind that the Internet has bought.

But there have been downsides too, for example, the addictions that the Internet has brought, the convenience of horrible ideas like pornography and violence. The spreading of wrong ideas become easier now. Misleading people has become easier now with stuff like fake news. There is also the dumbing down of people, that has become easier on the internet. The level of social interaction has dropped.

In the greater context, we can say that all the benefits and the harms that have happened to society at large have also occurred to the Muslim Umma. There are things that have specifically affected the Umma because there are certain things that Muslims are not supposed to be doing, on or off the Internet. Certain things like pornography are now easier for Muslims to access and fall into, for example. That’s one thing. The Umma specifically has now become more exposed to disobedience than it was before. The other thing that has happened is that corrupt ideas pop up, non-experts speaking to people, you know, everybody kind of saying what they think about an issue. This has also caused a little bit of confusion in many people.

Also, just from a spiritual perspective, the amount of ghiba that a person reads and engages in, for example, backbiting people on the Internet, has actually increased exponentially. So whereas before backbiting used to be something you tell one person, now you put it on a blog and a person’s sins multiply exponentially by everyone who reads it.

Are there good effects of the internet as well? Of course there are, without a doubt, SeekersHub itself. Then the Dawa a potential that the Internet has. How many people became Muslim through reading something on the internet or discovered or came back to a worshiping Allah Most High, came back to religiosity, came back to a sense of faith? People who were confused and had questions have found answers to their questions. Learning has become possible. Now there are people, for example, I know one girl, in a remote village somewhere in South America, who through the internet came to learn about Islam, embraced Islam and then began learning about Islam. She doesn’t have much of a support system around her. So now she finds support online. So there have been a lot of opportunities of good as well on the Internet, but its harms need to be pointed out so that we as an Umma can intelligently navigate the ocean of the Internet and take what is good and avoid what is bad.

You have worked for a long time for the SeekersHub Answers service in the past. What are some themes, some constant issues you see being asked?

Of the constant themes, number one is OCD; people having waswasa or obsessive compulsive disorder. The teaching of religion online, especially fiqh and aqida tends to be a kind of a honeypot to attract people who are susceptible to obsessive compulsive disorder. The issue is, they are seeing their religion as a source of worry and problems rather than using their religion as a source of solace and guidance to help them in their lives.

And so this is a problem of self study sometimes, having misplaced priorities and inordinate fear over hope when it comes to religion. So part of the thing SeekersHub answer service, and SeekersHub in general tries to do is help with this. If you notice, all the scholars that are related to it are trying to bring people out from looking at religion as something that is primarily based on fear, threat, haram and halal, and does and don’ts; and bringing them into a more enlightened, more fulfilling and more spiritual way of looking at their religion. This is in terms of bringing them closer to their Maker and using that relationship of love and mercy to walk in the rest of their religious journey, carrying that knowledge of Allah’s mercy with them.

So that’s one of the themes that comes up, that people have been viewing their religion in a negative light all too often. They are actually trapped and burdened by these issues. Our job would then be to encourage people to see their religion in the balanced way that it’s supposed to be. And help them use the religion to come out of their problems in their lives and find greater meaning for themselves.

Other constant issues are, I would say, family issues. These are things that are very common. Intricacies and disputes within the family, questions about adjusting to societal norms, the demands of society when it seems to clash with a one’s religious principles, and so on.

You’ve traveled to Yemen, the Caribbean and finally to Jordan for the study of sacred knowledge. Before setting out to seek knowledge, is there a checklist (of goals and needs) that a student must run through?

This is a very good question and it’s much easier to answer this question in retrospect than when you’re in the situation. Part of what helps a student go abroad is that when they’re young, they’re idealistic and they have fewer responsibilities. I was in my early mid-twenties when I left Canada. I think a part of not having the complete picture of responsibilities and being a bit more adventurous actually helps. It’s a wisdom of Allah to get young people out without considering too many things.

But there is a checklist that one needs to know. First of all, what’s my goal? At the end of the day, what do I want to do? This can actually develop and change as a student matures and grows older, and they begin to realize that their intention itself develops and grows deeper and deeper. So this is something that they should know, that they will change on their journey. In the beginning it’s good to ask yourself, why are you going abroad? What do you want to achieve from this? What do you want to do for yourself in the future? And then there are practical questions: where am I going? Am I likely to achieve my goals? How long do I plan to go for? How do I plan to support myself? Is it safe to be there?

Is it a place where I can adjust? What type of ideas will I come across? Is the environment that I’m going to study in conducive to a balanced learning of mainstream traditional Islam? So these are different questions that one has to ask oneself. They should also ask, have they consulted with the scholars and other students of knowledge who have gone to the same places and come back or still there regarding their advice? And then also, why am I going abroad and what am I leaving behind? Am I leaving things behind in a responsible way, or am I running away? Am I undertaking this to seek Allah’s pleasure or for religious tourism?

So there are different things that people should ask themselves before they go abroad. But sometimes, and most of the time, many people who enter abroad, they didn’t ask themselves these questions, but through the journey Allah taught them what they should be doing and how they should be looking at their purpose in life. So many people would come back from the journey without having achieved their goals, but having matured in different ways and finding their place back in society again. And some would go for a long time and achieve their goals. I think part of that has to do with continuously running through their purposes and their intentions, and developing the idea of what they want to do with the knowledge they gain.

What are some challenges that reverts face today?

Some of the challenges that reverts face today, I think are the fact that there are a lot of voices claiming to represent Islam. It’s not as simple as reading an introductory book on Islam and then start practicing basic religion anymore. Before, you might have found at most two or three groups in the masjid that calling you towards different things. No matter which one you join, you will become religious anyway. That’s how it was in the past, when I became Muslim. Now, I think there is a lot more confusion because certain basic principles on the Internet are challenged and questioned by those who do not have sufficient qualification or understanding and training in religion.

So this becomes very confusing for the reverts. The other thing is that because the Internet is the primary way of interacting with one’s religious search, they come across many things that dissuade them, and untruth as well. So they have to navigate through a lot more false hope to get to the truth. Another challenge that reverts face today is the level of indoctrination that they are coming from, from their own societies, and the paradigms that have to sometimes be shifted in order to settle into their new religious outlook and way of life. That is more challenging today because the world has gotten further and further away from a natural, wholesome, holistic lifestyle that is good for mankind in general from the fitra.

For example, family life is breaking down in many places. Consumerism, materialism is increasing. It’s the age of anger where shouting and insulting becomes a norm over a rational dialogue, discussion, and mutual respect. A lot of people are coming with that baggage into the truth. It takes some time to basically cleanse that out of one’s system, and become wholesome and natural in the way of living life again.

Today via the internet, learning Arabic has become much easier. Is it recommended to study Arabic online, for the purpose of understanding the Qur’an better, or is it necessary that one studies Qur’anic Arabic only in the company of a scholar?

First of all, I think one should study Arabic as a tool and then apply it to one’s understanding of Qur’an, Hadith and whatever else one wants to do with Arabic. You can study Arabic only to understand the Qur’an, but what happens is that the person’s understanding of Arabic becomes shallower than if they understand Arabic as a full-fledged, a beautiful language that it is, and then approach the Qur’an and understand what it’s saying. In our time, I don’t think there’s any one way that a person has to learn Arabic. I think the main thing is that one should take any means possible at all times and continuously apply oneself to try different means.

People often take intensive crash courses. That’s good. But the way to retain that or the way to grow is to gradually a study it over a longer period of time, right? To consolidate. Even if you do something intensive, you have to give some time every week to keep up with it. That’s one thing. The second thing is to be persistent. If one avenue doesn’t work, try another. I found that the biggest obstacle is that people usually try to study Arabic in two or three or more ways before they actually succeed in getting a modicum of Arabic language down just to understand the classical texts. The problem is every time a person tries one way and fails, they usually stop studying Arabic for a while. It could be months or even years. And then go back to it again and revisit it later on.

So many people who I see who are studying Arabic will tell me they tried this and they tried that over the years. The thing to be aware of is that if one thing doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean that you’re bad. It just means that this is not the way that you need to learn it. Just because one way of learning didn’t work for you, you shouldn’t be dissuaded from learning altogether, whether it’s online, or in the company of a scholar.

Arabic is a tool science. It need not be studied in a religious setting necessarily or under an Islamic scholar. Arabic is a tool science, meaning it’s something you need to understand the texts. Some people try to seek their spiritual and religious experience and knowledge experience through the study of language itself. And unless you’re planning to enroll in a madrasah for a number of years, I find that it’s much more effective to just look at which program is most effectively going to teach you the Arabic. Once you have the Arabic, you can then go to get your religious experience after that, once you have the tools to understand classical texts and sit in the company of scholars.

Teaching the Islamic sciences via the internet has seen a rise in the past couple of years. As a teacher at SeekersHub Global, what have been some key takeaways from your experiences?

The key takeaway is that teaching via the Internet has made it possible for us to connect with people that we never would’ve been able to connect with or know because they’re just too far apart, and too scattered, too disconnected. Allah has made a way of connecting believers to each other and to Him in a time of disconnectedness. That’s one thing. Number two, because communities have actually broken down, Allah made another way for Muslims to hang on to their tradition and their religion. So it’s a great mercy. The takeaway though is that this should transition at some point into personal, actual, on the ground interactions with teachers and scholars in order to create a healthy exchange from heart to heart.

So I think the introductory phases are okay online. But at some point in time, travelling or finding local scholars must be done. The traditional way is the best way to observe what Islam looks like when it’s actually practiced in a balanced and beautiful way. Otherwise the person runs the risk of not knowing how to balance the theory of what they learned with an actual lived example. To express things like good character, mercy, consideration for others, which are not necessarily always encoded, but that require a spiritual state and a broader understanding in order to display and demonstrate. That aspect should come into play. It shouldn’t remain on the Internet. The Internet should be a tool to connect people to each other and to use to the extent that is necessary.

This becomes possible by the Internet because now scholars can get in touch with different communities and travel to those communities or advertise, for example, when they have retreats. People can travel to that. That’s a way of connecting. Then go back to where you live and continue through the Internet. So it’s a blend. You also learn, you also meet other seekers, fellow seekers whom you can form friendships with, where people can rely on each other for spiritual support.

In seeking guidance, both online and offline, what are some traits a student should look for in a teacher?

This is a very good question. I think the number one thing is that the teacher should have a pedigree to qualified traditional scholars who themselves are a representative of the tradition, in its most balanced and beautiful way.

What does the teacher believe? Where are they coming from? The other thing the student should look for is, do the teacher’s mannerisms and inner state correspond with what they’re saying and what they’re teaching on the outward? A teacher should not just be one who knows a lot of facts or is able to memorize the most. Now that does sometimes impress people. But even if they have a lesser amount of knowledge that they reliably know but carry that with a higher level of character and a deeper spiritual understanding of the beauty of Islam, that’s better for a student in the beginning. And even later on. Someone who has a lot of knowledge, but is devoid of the prophetic example, that’s something that a student should look out for. The other thing is that there should be an understanding of the realities of what the student goes through, the modern world, the society where the student comes from. This is important as well for the student to get answers and guidance relevant to the way that they see things.

Another thing is that the teacher should not be overly polemical or partisan to the extent that their teaching becomes more about debating. Debating people and argumentation takes away the baraka from studying the religion, unless people are at a specialized level. That’s different. But for a beginning student, they should avoid a teachers that try to impose a polemical identity on them, rather than to teach them the basics of how to know, worship, and come closer to their Lord.

In the modern age, many “reformers” insisted on returning to a “pure” form of Islam, by purging it of what they saw as theological, spiritual excesses. Adherents of such an outlook continue today, rallying for it on the internet and other forums. How does such a thinking sit with the centuries-old mainstream consensus?

We have to consider the trauma the Umma went through in the last few centuries, especially in the colonial and postcolonial period. There are reforms from all different types of groups, not just for example, those who are literalist, but also those coming from what you might call the spiritual camps as well. Many different groups that insisted they’re trying to solve the question of how did we get into this situation, and many of them are speculating on the reasons as to why, what deficiency was it, what should we have been focused on and what was everyone doing wrong that got us into this position in the first place? To answer this question, they seem to focus on certain things that they believe are priorities in the religion and picked on things, or highlighted things that they felt were the causes of the problems that the Muslim world is in today.

The centuries old mainstream consensus that you’re asking about was much more balanced. It balanced fiqh, it balanced hadith, it balanced logic, it balanced aqida, it balanced politics and ethics. It balanced a spirituality, a mysticism, teaching, and philosophy.

So the previous age was an age of balance in which the Muslim Umma would balance itself out because it was at the liberty to pursue this knowledge in a safe space, and allow the free flow of knowledge between scholars in the Umma. Now because of the breakdown in the authority structures in the circles of knowledge, the institutions of knowledge, what’s happened is that different people (not just reformers, there are many groups; I don’t think we should pick on any one group necessarily) are trying to figure out what happened. What needs to be done, I believe, is that we need to go back to looking at how the Umma had its balance and how it viewed different forms of worship within Islam, within different subjects, different knowledges and sciences, the different responsibilities and prerogatives of the Umma.

We have to go back to viewing these things in a balance, rather than-a-one-size-fits-all-solution. We need to go back and invest in the things that will stabilize our communities, first at the individual, then the family, then the community level. We have to pay attention to the inward and the outward of religion, to the physical, the mental and the spiritual. We need to try to regain that sense of balance and get on an even keel before we start. What this will help us do is to express things in a balanced way, right? So then when we study, when we teach, when we call people to the religion, and we live life, we will be without theological and spiritual excesses, and deficiencies as well.


Saad Razi Shaikh is a journalist based in Mumbai. He writes on popular culture and community initiatives. He can be reached on Twitter @writweeter


Can I Pray in English and Arabic During the Prayer?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum

Can I pray in English and Arabic during the prayer?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

No, you cannot pray in English because there is no need to do so when you, minimally, have a single verse memorised in Arabic.

The reason for this is because reciting a single verse in Arabic during the prayer is sufficient to validate it. Allah Most High says, “So recite as much of the Qur’an as is easy for you.” [73:20]

But there are a number of necessary (wajib) actions, relating to recitation, which must also be performed. You can learn about them by taking the following free course: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Basic Hanafi Jurisprudence (STEP)
The only case in which a person would recite in English [or their mother tongue] is if they are unable to recite a single verse in Arabic. The shortest verse which will validate a prayer is “thumma nazar.” [74:21]

Yet, if a person is unable to recite this, it would be obligatory for them to learn how to recite it, and subsequently memorise it in order that they can validate their prayer.

As you are striving to learn the outward laws of the prayer, and its requisites, I’d also recommend learning the inward aspects and the meanings of the prayer so you can move from mere ritualistic movements to spiritual experiences.

[Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah with Tahtawi’s Gloss (1.308); Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar `ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar (1.360)]

Please also see: Are My Prayers Invalid If I Don’t Understand Arabic? and:Supplicating in Prostration

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

wassalam,
[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.

How Important Is It to Learn Arabic? [Video]

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalamu alaykum

How important is it to learn Arabic?

Answer: Wa’leykum Salam,

Here is a video answer by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani to this question:

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is a scholar and researcher of Islamic law and Executive Director of SeekersHub Global After ten years overseas, Shaykh Faraz returned to Canada in the Summer of 2007. In May 2008 he founded SeekersHub Global to deal with the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge—both online and on the ground—in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He has been repeatedly listed as one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims (The Muslim500).

How Can I Achieve the Benefit of Reading the Qur’an When I Can’t Read Arabic?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalamu alaykum

I would like to read Surat Al Baqara for a specific reason but I cannot read Arabic. What are my options? Do I listen to a reading of it? Can I read a translation of it? Should I try the transliteration?

Answer: Walaikum assalam,

I hope you’re doing well, insha’Allah.

The scholars deduce from various verses of the Qur’an that listening to the Qur’an is as rewarding as reciting it oneself. [Itr, Ulum al-Qur’an]

Allah Most High says, “When the Qur’an is recited, listen to it and be attentive—so that you may be granted Mercy.” [Qur’an, 7.204]

If you can, follow along by looking at a copy of the Qur’an. This is easy on digital devices, as they tend to highlight the verse being recited.

And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.

wassalam,

Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is a scholar and researcher of Islamic law and Executive Director of SeekersHub Global After ten years overseas, Shaykh Faraz returned to Canada in the Summer of 2007. In May 2008 he founded SeekersHub Global to deal with the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge—both online and on the ground—in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He has been repeatedly listed as one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims (The Muslim500).

Five Reasons to Learn Arabic This Summer

learn arabic

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.

learn arabicA 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.
learn arabic
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 SeekersHub founder Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, this program offers an in-depth exploration of the Arabic language that is difficult to find anywhere else.

For more information on studying Arabic this summer, click here to learn more about the Madarik Summer Arabic Intensive. We hope to see you there!

Are My Prayers Invalid If I Don’t Understand Arabic?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam ‘aleykum

If someone is taught how to pray in Arabic but does not understand Arabic would his prayers be invalid?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

No, your prayers are valid even if you do not understand Arabic because understanding what you are saying is not a condition of validity.

But once you have learnt how to pray soundly, you can look into learning the meanings of the prayer– both literally and spiritually.

Please consider taking the following free class at SeekersHub: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Basic Hanafi Jurisprudence (STEP)

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam,
Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Why Can’t I Supplicate in English During My Prayer? (Shafi’i)

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam alaykum,

I was told I cannot make personal dua in English during prostration in the last cycle of prayer.

I find this a great loss because beseeching Allah when prostrating seems better, and to do it in Arabic would limit what I can say. What do you think?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

Supplications in Prostration

Supplicating during prostration, as you’ve mentioned, in a highly beneficial act. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The closest a servant is to his Lord is when he is prostrating, so make plenty of supplications in it” [Muslim].

Reciting a Supplication in another Language

In the Shāfiʿī school, extemporizing or making up a supplication in prayer in one’s own words, in a language other than Arabic, renders the prayer invalid.

If one were unable to recite in Arabic the transmitted Prophetic supplications for prayer, they would recite them in their prayer in another language, without it invalidating the prayer. If they were able to recite it in Arabic, it would invalidate their prayer.

Is this Necessarily a Negative Result?

While this may seem like a great loss, scholarship defines the praiseworthy and blameworthy as hinging upon doing what is commanded and staying away from what is prohibited.

In this regard, the school considers the obligation to be to carry out the prayer in Arabic, and the prohibition to be staying away from reciting something that is not Arabic. Therefore, it sees refraining from reciting supplications in a language other than Arabic as the superior thing to do, even though it might seem to an individual that doing otherwise is beneficial.

Suggested Supplication to Learn for Prostration

One can and should supplicate following the prayer in any language one is comfortable with.

One can also learn some simple supplications in Arabic if one wishes to recite something extra during prostration. Many can be found in the Qur’an, authentic narrations of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and the works of later scholars.

The Qur’an speaks glowingly [2.212] about those who offer the following comprehensive supplication:

رَبَّنَا آتِنَا في الدُّنيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ

Rabbanā ʾĀtinā fid-Dunyā Ḥasanatan wa fi’l ʾĀkhirati Ḥasanatan wa Qinā ʿAdhāban Nār

‘Our Lord, give us good in this world and in the hereafter, and protect us from the torment of the fire.’

Source: al-Majmūʿ; Hāshiyat Qalyūbī; Hāshiyat al-Jamal
Shuaib Ally

Can I Make Dua In My Own Language and Not In Arabic?

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani was asked if we may supplicate to Allah in a language other than Arabic, particularly as many are not fluent in the Arabic language.

His answer may surprise you – he says not only may we make dua in any language we are comfortable with, in fact, we should.

Could You Recommend Useful Dictionaries and Quranic Explanations for a Beginner in Arabic?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Asalaamu alaykum,

1) Could you please mention what dictionary to have for Islamic studies?

2) Could you recommend any authentic tafseer of the Qur’an with “Arabic novice” in mind?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

(1) It depends on the specific subject as the recommendations would differ. In general, however, Fayyumi’s Misbah al-Munir is excellent, particularly for students of law; and similarly Nasafi’s Tilbat al-Talaba and Razi’s Mukhtar al-Sahah. Other general, useful works include Jurjani’s Ta`rifat and Munawi’s al-Tawqif `ala Muhimmat al-Ta`arif.

(2) Sabuni’s work is useful for a beginner, as is Tantawi’s Tafsir al-Wasit. The latter is far more detailed, and useful for even intermediate or advanced students, even if only for reference, but is written in an easy to read format.

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani