Learn Arabic to understand the Quran and Sunnah, and the words of the Salaf in the 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.
“Arabic is a part of the religion and learning it is obligatory, because comprehending the Qur’aan and the Sunnah is obligatory”
The following statements are from the kutbah “The Obligation of differing from the Disbeliever” by Shaykh Saalih Al-Fawzaan.
“Another example of imitating the disbelievers is speaking in their languages unnecessarily; this happens even among the native Arabs in their own countries. The reason why this is so disliked is that when a person speaks a foreign language, he becomes accustomed to this practice and deserts the Arabic tongue which is the symbol of Islaam. In fact, the language spoken is among the greatest of the symbols that define the culture and practices of any given group of people. Therefore, the majority of Islamic jurists are of the view that offering Du`aa’, or supplication, within Salaah, or prayers; and saying Dhikr, or the mentioning of Allaah’s names, in a language other than Arabic is Makrooh, or not recommended.
Allaah has glorified the Arabic language, revealed His Book in it and made it the native language of Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the last of His Prophets. So, being accustomed to speak in any language other than Arabic is Makrooh – if a person knows Arabic – for it leads to resembling non-Muslims, deserting the Arabic language, and replacing it by another language.
Arabic is a part of the religion and learning it is obligatory, because comprehending the Qur’aan and the Sunnah is obligatory; and they cannot be comprehended except by knowing Arabic. Therefore what is necessary for fulfilling an obligation also becomes obligatory.
As for learning foreign languages, Muslims are allowed to learn and speak in them, but only when necessary. If it is unnecessary, then speaking in them is Makrooh. However, it is very saddening to see that when you enter public buildings, such as hospitals and airports, in the Arab countries, you will find people communicating in foreign languages as if they were in Europe.
Learn Arabic derivation first
Below you will find comments on the benefit of learning sarf, concepts for learning a science, and a study about the conditions for studying arabic grammer which can be applied to learning sarf.
The benefit of Sarf: It is of great importance that the student engages in the science of Sarf in order to become familiar with the Arabic word and nuances of its meaning. This science is the foundation of a student first establishes in his quest for mastery of the Arabic language. With careful study, memorization and practice, a strong knowledge of the Arabic is an objective well within reach. With this foundation the study of Arabic grammar (Nahw) will be made easier. With these 2 branches (Sarf and Nahw), a student can gain a comprehensive knowledge of the Arabic language.
Sarf is a science
Before embarking on any science, you should know ten general concepts. It is extremely important to know at least one of these concepts because you have to have some idea about something before doing it. If you do something without knowing its subject or benefit or what it is about then you most probably will waste your time and not have any reward. You are going to fall into error when trying to imagine what issues that will be brought up when speaking on this certain science. To prevent you from making mistakes when learning a particular science, you have to know a general Idea about it – even if it is just one thing. The ten general concepts have been gathered into the following three verses of poetry:
إن مبادي كل فن عشره الحد و الموضوع ثم الثمره
و فضله ونسبة و الواضع و الاسم الاستمداد حكم الشارع
مسائل و البعض بالبعض اكتفى و من درى الجميع حاز الشرفا
Inna mabaadee kulli fannin `asharah * Al-haddu wal-mawdhuu`u thummath-thamarah
Wafadhluhu wanisbatun wal-waadhi` * Walismulistimdaadu hukmush-shaari`
Masaa’ilun wal-ba`dhu bil-ba`dhiktafaa * Waman daral-jamee`a haazash-sharrafaa
1. Al-Haddu (الْحَدُّ) – The definition of the science
2. Al-Mawdhoo`u (الْمَوْضُوعُ) – The subject of the science
3. Ath-Thamarah (الثَّمَرَة) – The fruit or benefit of the science
4. Al-Fadhlu (الْفَضْلُ) – The merit of the science
5. An-Nisbatu (النِّسْبَةُ) – The position it takes from other sciences
6. Al-Waadhi` (الْوَاضِع) – The one who invented the science
7. Alismu (الِاسْمُ) – The name of the science
8. Alistimdaada (الِاسْتِمْدَادُ) – The source of the science
9. Hukmush-Shaari` (حُكْمُ الشَّارِعْ) – The Islaamic ruling (This is most important. The One who gives the rulings is Allaah)
10. Al Masaa’il (المَسَائِلُ) – These are the issues of the science.
(do not be confused, the study is about Ajrumiyyah , a book about Arabic grammer, however the findings can be applied to Sarf )
In the first round, the student is required to memorise the text, is given a superficial
introduction and is expected to have grasped the main structure and the general outline of the contents. The second round consolidates the students knowledge by adding to the examples and by providing further forms of words such as the broken plural, e.g. in the first round only one or two examples are taught, yet in the second round all six are discussed, possibly with the patterns and the differing reasons for the patterns.
The key to prevent memory lapse seems to be in the memorisation element. Because the text is memorised the student has constant recourse to his skeleton of bones, the oral or written commentary which is not usually memorised serves as the flesh, resulting in the complete body. The clearest example of this may be drawn from the student who has memorised a portion of the Qur’an and the hears or reads its exegesis, will, inevitably retain more of it than the student who is hearing all the information afresh, and has no guide of the skeleton to aid him. The students in my experiment, were on the whole, not memorising and so had great difficulty in retaining previous chapters.
The actual system of presenting the grammar, where each chapter is a commentary on what precedes it, the very logical and systematic approach to the process and subdivisions of Inflection, culminating, in the chapter which re-presents the entire chapter of Inflection, is one to be commended. The repetition in style throughout the text is, in English somewhat cumbersome, however, for the the student, it is a system that does not distract the mind with new vocabulary and ideas as a method of catching the attention, it presents new ideas based on already acquired patterns. This familiarity with the pattern of presentation leaves the student with only the content to consider.
It is, therefore my conclusion that the Ajrumiyyah is only suitable as a first text for English
speakers who desire to learn Arabic grammar if the following conditions are met,
i. The lessons should be short and frequent, rather then lengthy and far apart
ii. A fair amount of vocabulary is vital for ease in grasping the processes of inflection and noun and verbal derivation based upon roots
iii. Memorisation should be stressed, as an aid to comprehension, retention and development
iv. Use of original terminology, this has the advantage in that students who progess
as they will already have an undersatnding of the Arabic technical terminology,
the drawback is that students who have already studied some form of grammar
would be assisted if English translations of the technical terms were used
v. Constant evaluation and assessment would help keep in the students’ mind the process of grammatical analysis.
If the above conditions are met, the Ajrumiyyah, in my opinion, is a not a difficult text for both students who have previous knowledge of grammar and those who don’t. It becomes, increasingly difficult in a context where the traditional one to one teaching cannot take place, where defined syllabus dictates the speed of progression through the text and not the ability of the students. It is beyond the scope of this work to suggest some form of amalgamation between classical and modern methods of instruction, however, it would be in our benefit to re-evaluate the classical methods and incorporate that which will benefit us into our current methods.
source: Towards instruction of the Arabic language to English speakers by adherence to the Ajrumiyyah p. 6-8, Translation by Abu Amina Afdhal