Archive for September, 2008

Where do I start?

As-salamu ‘alaykum warahmatullaahi wabarakatuh, 

There are so many brothers and sisters who want to persue the path of learning arabic but where to start always seems to be the obstacle. What books shall I use? Which institute is best? Can I teach myself? How long does it take to learn arabic? These questions are so vital yet it seems that there aren’t enough people to answer our questions and satisfy our thirst. There is so much information on arabic language that it has just reached a super overload. Everything is there yet nothing is there. Inshaa’Allaah, with this article I hope to shed some light on the various books you can use to start off your arabic studies. I will state the advantages and disadvantages and I hope by the end of it that you have some idea on what book will suit you. 
I will go through the books in no particular order:

Kitaabul Asaasi

These books consist of the three volumes. The first two volumes have arabic-english dictonary at the back to help you with clarification of any arabic words that you don’t understand or possibly have misunderstood. The first volume focuses on introducing the arabic language to you and your vocabulary is boosted by the numerous coversations. Your writing skills are also given a run for their money due to the amount of exercises you’re required to cover in correlation to the conversation you have studied.

Grammar is introduced in volume one. Nonetheless, there isn’t a major need for you to understand the gammatic state or its essense. Rather all that is required is that you’re able to use the grammar when needed. It is in Vol two that you start doing ‘Iraab and go into the nitty gritty of grammar and how to use arabic dictonary. But it is in Vol three that things start to get spicy, the doors to the gems of arabic are opened and they are yours to enjoy. You look at arabic literature, tafseer, fiqh, history and poetry to mention a few.  

However, there is alot of conversation to go through espically in Vol one and can seem absouletly tedious and pointless to someone who wants to dive into being able to benefit from Islaamic texts. You spend alot of time building on vocabulary and grammar is prosponed for a later stage when the student is deemed to be more capable of grasping it. In addition if you’re persuing the arabic language so that you may understand the Qur’aan and islaamic texts then you may have to wait abit longer. With these books, patience is definately the key. Furthermore, it is geared towards generally being able to speak arabic and not merely about religious matters. Some may consider this a negative aspect but if you want to master arabic then it is a gem worth capturing.


Madinah books
The madinah books consist of three books. Covering a wide spectrum of grammar with the religion being its base. These books are great for combaining references from the Qur’aan and Sunnah while teaching arabic. In contract to Kitaabul Asaasi, you’re introduced grammar from an early stage. In book three you will notice that special attention is given in quoting Qur’aanic ayaat (pl. ayah) and ahadeeth (pl.hadeeth) to illustrate the rule (s) being discussed in a dialogue form in each lesson.
As these books were designed with English speakers in mind, it is a must-have for pretty much all english speakers who take on the journey to learn arabic. However, these books are never sufficient to get someone to a high level in the arabic language. Although you may know more Islaamic oriented terminologies and have the upper hand over someone who may be in Vol one of Kitaabul Asaasi, it is a brief moment. In the end, your knowledge will be of a lower standard when you finish all three books in comparison to someone who has studied all three volumes of kitaabul asaasi. In addition the systemisation is poor, it moves from easy and hard too fast in my opinion and there is no gradual build up. Also grammar is introduced straight away which can be overwhelming and not necessarily beneficial in the long run.
Al-‘Arabiyya Bayna Yadayk
Al-‘Arabiyyah bayna yadayk series comes in three books. The great thing about these books is as though they have tried to deal with the problems of Kitaabul Asaasi and Madinah books (though that was never the purpose of it!). It covers alot of vocabulary and introduces the students to grammar later and gradually rather than pushing them at the deep end before they can swim.
Much like Madinah books it is more Islaamic inclined and fulfills the desire for the student of knowledge to learn the language of the Qur’aan.

However, much like Madinah books, it does not go into much depth and you will find that in majority cases that students who have completed all three books will move onto the third volume of Kitaabul Asaasi to reach a higher competency.


The three types of books mentioned above are the most famous and most used around the world in teaching the arabic language. These books have advantages and disadvantages and each institute will have adopted certain books to use for various reasons. Which institute to go to will depend on what books you want to study. Do you want to know sufficient arabic to allow you to know the basic or do you want to master the arabic language?




The matn of ajroomiyyah is excellent, it goes through grammar in the form of poetry. It teaches the student all that he/she requires in digesting arabic grammar. However anything else is out of the window. Just because you can go through the ‘Iraab of any sentence does not mean it will aid you with reading books. This book is good for someone who knows arabic and wants to drill grammar properly but for the English beginner, it usually does not benefit them much. They tend to be left scared and demoralised because it is ‘too hard’. Having said that, you can study the Ajroomiyyah and still reach a good level but it will require you to learn other texts such as Alfiyyah Ibn Malik, Qadr An-Nada and so forth.


Nahw Waadih

You can get this book in 3 small books or in one book that has three ajzaa (pl. Juz). It is great for Nahw. The great thing about this book is the fact that it has summary of each grammar rule and then you have exercises to go through. However, much like Ajroomiyyah, your vocabulary will lack and you will need to study other texts to further your studies. It does not stand alone.

Ajroomiyyah and Nahw Waadih are the skeleton, you need flesh and skin to adorn it with. The skeleton alone can not stand, though beneficial, alone it defeats its benefits.

Ibn Saud Text

I don’t know a great deal about this curriculum. However, brother ubaydullaah shared the following informations:

Regarding the Ibn Saud Texts, The books are separated into 4 levels. If one was to complete all four levels, they would have a strong grasp on all subjects in Arabic. Each level is put into three sections; al-`uloom al-Deeniyyah, al-lughah-al-Arabiyyah and Kutub al-Musaahabah. Also, Each subject has it’s own book. The subjects are as follows:

(Level 1) – Duroos minal-Qur`aanil-Kareem (Tafseer), Kitabus-Suwar (limarhalatil-Istima`), al-qira’a wal-Kitabah, at-Ta`beer, Kurraasatul-Khatt, al-Mu`jam (Dictionary for all the subjects in the level) and daleel al-mu’allim (Book for teachers).

(Level 2) – Duroos minal-Qur`aanil-Kareem (Tafseer), al-Hadeeth ash-Shareef, al-Qira`ah, at-Ta`beer, al-Kitabah, an-Nahw, as-Sarf, Kurraasatul-Khatt, al-Mu`jam (Dictionary for all the subjects in the level) and daleel al-mu’allim (Book for teachers).

(Level 3) – al-Fiqh, at-Tawheed, Duroos minal-Qur`aanil-Kareem (Tafseer), al-Hadeeth ash-Shareef, al-ADAB, al-Qira`ah, at-Ta`beer, al-Kitabah, an-Nahw, as-Sarf, Kurraasatul-Khatt, al-Mu`jam (Dictionary for all the subjects in the level) and daleel al-mu’allim (Book for teachers).

(Level 4) – at-Taareekh al-Islamiy, al-Fiqh, at-Tawheed, Duroos minal-Qur`aanil-Kareem (Tafseer), al-Hadeeth ash-Shareef, al-BALAGHAH wan-NAQD, al-ADAB, al-Qira`ah, at-Ta`beer, al-Kitabah, an-Nahw, as-Sarf, Kurraasatul-Khatt, al-Mu`jam (Dictionary for all the subjects in the level) and daleel al-mu’allim (Book for teachers).

Unfortubately, these books aren’t available for purchase but I heard if you contact the University, they will send it to you, otherwise you can purchase the books from some Maktabaat I know in Cairo or can be downloaded from kalamullaah.

I have stated briefly above about several books, by no means does this mean that these are the only books, as a matter of fact, I’ve only scratched the surface. There are numerous books out there that are speficially designed in teaching the arabic language. This article was merely a taster on the various arabic books that you may wish to study from. I hope this was of benefit and that you can take one step forward in fulfilling your dreams in studying the arabic language! If you have any questions please feel free to ask and if I can help then Inshaa’Allaah I will not hesitate in assisting you.
Wabillaahi tawfeeq.