Tonight I did something for the first time ever! I cut a pineapple! I love pineapple... and I cut it... decently, I suppose. Hm..k
What's the Arabic word for pineapple, anyone?
I've been "studying" Arabic for a little while now, mostly so I can read and understand al-Qur'an but the ability to converse in Arabic is gaining priority as I hope to be moving to Saudi Arabia soon inshaaAllah. By "studying" I mean I learned how to read and have tried to pick up a few words here and there. My "studies" have gone something like this:
First, I made myself flashcards to learn the letters. I found a page online and copied them... yet I wrote the letters left-to-write in typical European style. After a few weeks I had the letters down, wondering all the same why there were two T's, two D's, two Dh's, two H's, and two S's and what exactly a "hamza" was supposed to sound like.
Then, I began taking a weekly class in Arabic primarily for new muslim sisters offered at the masjid. I was a little "ahead" of the class by being able to recognize the letters in principle before she taught them, but I was still learning to write them properly and pronounce them properly. (Which, of course, explained why there were "duplicate" letters...)
But before that class even finished, I had the opportunity to take a 10-day Arabic intensive... that was actually grammar. In order to take this class, though, we were supposed to be able to read Arabic easily and quickly--faster than I could. But I didn't want to miss the opportunity so I purchased a small book in reading Arabic to help me learn to read even faster, and during my Spring Break this year I would spend extra time "studying" and practicing to read. I didn't get as fast as I probably should have for the class, but I took it anyway.
And alhamdulillah. The class was in grammar and I learned so much, right away. I really loved it and decided then that I really wanted to learn Arabic, and study Arabic, very seriously. I kept taking that weekly class, finishing out the year to learn really how to write the letters correctly more than anything else. I started taking the monthly seminars which were a follow-up to the initial intensive course. But that's when I started to fall behind. Over the summer I was taking two engineering courses and still working two jobs, and studying Arabic on top of that... I really couldn't keep up. The second set of seminars is supposed to resume next month, in November, but I don't think I'll be there. I hate to leave the study of Arabic but I feel that if I can't keep up and if most of the information is going over my head, then it's not really worth it. I have other objections about the instructor, but that's neither here nor there.
This year inshaaAllah I'll taking the second course the masjid offers for sisters in Arabic, with the same instructor. I've sort of jumped ahead of the class in that sense, now that I've been taking grammar classes and all. Tonight I was over at the sister's house, and she wanted to sort of "show off" me, as her student, to her friend... hehe... she pulled out a book and had me read a part of it... "haadha baab" "haadha kitaab" etc., kind of amusing. And I laugh now but truly I want to learn Arabic, I want to be fluent in it and I make this du'a constantly.
And I encourage everyone to do the same. Not to be a scholar or anything like that but just to be able to understand the Qur'an. For one thing, you can begin to read the Qur'an in Arabic. Even if you've just learned how to pronounce the letters, you can at least read it (without comprehension) and if you don't see value in that alone, let me tell you that since I am able to read now I am able to memorize so much faster. And if you can learn some grammar and vocabulary, you can memorize even faster. And everything you memorize is more speech of Allah that you can hear in your prayer. The more Arabic you can understand the more speech of Allah you can listen to when praying in jama'at, any congregation and not just taraweeh.
For anyone who wants to gain more concentration and benefit in their salaat--learn Arabic!! If you want to have more khushoo' in your taraweeh next Ramadan, learn Arabic!! Learn whatever you can, little by little. 'Umar ibn al-Khattab (2nd khalifah) said to learn Arabic, because it is part of your deen. Ibn 'Abbas (a Companion and well-known commentator of the Qur'an) said that when Surat al-Baqara is describing the Children of Israel not knowing their book it's because they only know it by memorization and recitation, having lost the language. The Qur'an is meant to be in Arabic, and it is possible to learn Arabic.
And if you're thinking that Arabic is hard, and you're about to press that comment link to tell me that Arabic is too hard to learn... I'm happy to refute you with the Qur'an:
And We have indeed made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember: then is there any that will receive admonition?
This ayah is repeated in Surat al-Qamar--four times you find it in that surah. Four times! Allah swt says that the Qur'an is easy to understand and remember, so if we learn Arabic with the intention of understanding and remembering the Qur'an... it is easy.