Author Archives: arabicgems

Arabic through the Qur’an – Now for brothers!

al-Salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullaah,

For the first time ever, the same unique and highly established online Qur’anic Arabic is now being offered for brothers!  The live classes will be taught by Dr Thanweer Farquhar, and Ola Shoubaki will offer forum support and assignment feedback.

About the teacher

Dr Thanweer is a medical doctor by profession who has spent many years studying arabic grammar and working in the Middle East as a doctor. Over the years he has spent much time researching studying methods which he has applied extensively in his own pursuit of knowledge, and through it has developed an extremely versatile approach to education and teaching. He was a valued member of Dr Bilal Phillips’ Arabic language faculty while in Qatar and contributed to the development of the arabic programme that is being taught in the islamic online institute’s arabic course.
From the inception of the ‘Arabic through the Qur’an’ course, Dr Thanweer has been extensively involved in designing and refining the curriculum and a valuable source of insight into developing a robust structure which has been fundamental to the success of the course so far.  He is an inspirational teacher who combines conceptual clarity with a mature teaching approach to facilitate a unique learning experience.

The brothers course will be conducted on Monday evenings at 8.30pm GMT, and will commence on 24th Feb, 2014.

 Find out more, including course content, fees and timings.

Places in the live class are limited, so secure your place today!

Let 2014 be the year you learn to understand the words of your Lord

Due to popular demand we have relaunched our amazing Arabic through the Qur’an course for a new batch of students in January.


But sisters, why study Arabic with Arabic Gems? From the words of our students, this is what makes Arabic Gems different:

  • Live lessons that are recorded to watch in your own time if you cannot make the live class
  • Tutorial session/office hours class during the week to further ask questions and practice what you have been taught
  • Handouts given of what is taught in class – minimises note-taking time so you can actually listen to the teacher
  • Weekly deadlines and testing to keep the student focused and motivated and to provide that bit of pressure that many students need
  • Constant support via our course forums, in which we can interact with other students and the teacher
  • Complete focus on the Qur’an – we love knowing that every word we are learning is going to help us understanding the Qur’an
  • The personal and general help available is quite unique
  • Teacher is highly motivational and more dedicated than any teacher I have ever seen
….and more that you really need to sign up to this course to experience for yourself! Limited spaces available, so make sure you dont miss out on the chance to make 2014 the year you learn to understand the word of your Lord.

Ask ArabicGems: The night and the day, the sun and the moon

In surah Anbiya Allah says:
” It is He who created night and day, the sun and the moon, revolving on its orbit. (33)”
Why does Allah mention night first  and day second, and after that sun first and moon second. Why isnt  moon mentioned before the sun, because night was mentioned before the day?
Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam wa rahmatullaah,

There are many instances in the Qur’an in which Allaah has actually mentioned the night and the day, the sun and moon – all in this order.   The reason that the night was mentioned before the day is that night signifies darkness and nothingness, and the mind associates darkness and nothingness with non-existence, so non-existence (darkness…the night) is mentioned first to allude to the logical order of creation (non-existence before existence, darkness before light, night before day).  In addition, all that is associated with darkness is something that people wonder about and question more than all that is associated with light. For example,  we would question and wonder about the reasons for blindness and deafness, where a person is in a state of no seeing and no hearing, more than we would wonder about why people see and hear. So Allaah has also placed first the night because people would wonder about it (“Why is there night?”) more than the daylight.

Why then was the sun mentioned before the moon? There are a number of reasons for this as well; just as people wonder about the night more than the day, so the people wonder about the sun more than the moon due to its size and brightness – hence you would find people worshipping the sun much more than the moon. In addition, it is more appropriate for the sun to be mentioned directly after the day because the sun is a mark of the day – it is only due to the sun that there is daylight, and it is only due to the sun that we can see the moon. So it is greater and more important in creation hence it was mentioned before the moon. [It has even been said that this order as mentioned in this ayah and others is a scientific miracle of the Quran, since the moon orbits around the sun thereby following it, as well as being lit up by the light of the sun].

And Allaah knows best.

Lord, have mercy.

This post is dedicated to my baby Rahma, the joy of my heart, light of my life, and queen of my kingdom,  owing to whom this site has not been updated for a while.

al-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

Undoubtedly the most oft-repeated names of Allāh are al-Rahmān الرحمن and al-Rahīm الرحيم, due to them being present in the basmala [1] which is mentioned before every chapter in the Qur’ān and which muslims are instructed to repeat before beginning any task.

For two names to so constantly be mentioned alongside the name of Allāh alludes to their status and importance within the Islamic creed, and thus it is important to gain a thorough understanding of their meaning and significance.

Both al-Rahmān and al-Rahīm are derived from the root rā’ – hā’ – mīm (ر-ح-م) and mean to treat or regard someone with mercy, compassion or tenderness. From the same root  stems the word al-rahim الرَّحِم (the womb) for the womb itself can be seen to behave in a tender and compassionate manner towards the fetus which it carries. Continue reading

We’re back – almost!

Arabic Gems is in the process of relaunching with all new content – watch this space!

A runaway slave

al-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

The Story of Prophet Yunus in the Qur’an is told only briefly in Surah al-Anbiya and Surah Saffat, although he is referred to elsewhere, such as al-Qalam. In brief, he was sent to a people whose unresponsiveness to him and his message led to him leaving them in frustration. In Saffat (37:139-140), the most high describes his departure by saying:

و إن يونس لمن المرسلين. إذ أبق إلى الفلك المشحون.
And Yunus was one of the Messengers; when he ran to the laden ship.”

In explaining the word ( أبق ), some exegetes gloss it as ( تباعد ) ‘to move away’; ( فزع ) ‘to flee’; or most commonly, ( هرب ) ‘to run away’. In my translation above, I rendered it simply as “ran”.

But the words given as estimates for ( أبق ) are simply that: an estimation of the approximate meaning. They do not allow us an understanding of the intricacy of this instance of word choice and usage in the Qur’an. ( أبق ) is not merely to flee; it is used for the ( آبق ), a slave who escapes and runs away from his master. Continue reading

The secret of happiness

al-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

So important is the concept of ‘happiness’ in our lives that many people – even dating back to the days of the Greek philosophers – considered its pursuit to be the very purpose of existence.

Indeed, the Qur’an itself speaks of happiness as being one of the rewards of those whom Allah chooses to admit to Paradise. He says of the martyrs in Aal-’Imraan, verse 170,

فَرِحِينَ بِمَا آَتَاهُمُ اللَّهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ
They rejoice in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His Bounty

And of the reward of the pious believers [al-Insaan, verse 11],

فَوَقَاهُمُ اللَّهُ شَرَّ ذَلِكَ الْيَوْمِ وَلَقَّاهُمْ نَضْرَةً وَسُرُورًا
So, Allah saved them from the evil of that Day and gave them a light of beauty and joy.

What becomes immediately apparent upon reading the Arabic text (but once again obscured in the translation) is that two very different words have been used to convey the idea of happiness: فَرِحِينَ fariheena, which is conjugated from the noun فَرَح farah, and سُرُور suroor, and this is prevalent throughout the Qur’an. This is because there are two very different types of happiness being referred to. Continue reading

He’s my brother.

This post is dedicated to my brother. May Allaah protect you and have mercy upon you always habibee…ameen.

al-Salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullaah,

One of the first concepts encountered by those who decide to submit themselves to their Creator and accept Islam as their creed and way of life, is that a Muslim is the brother of his fellow Muslim, and that the bonds of faith are stronger than the bonds of blood. Thus one of the first words learnt by the new Muslim are akhee أخي (‘my brother’) and ukhtee أختي (‘my sister’), and in some cases these become the very words most frequented by the tongue of the Muslim.

Oftentimes though, a Muslim may feel disappointed or let down by his brother, the very feeling of which is a contradiction of what a brother represents to the Muslim and the Arabs, as told in part by the etymology of the word itself. Continue reading

How the horse got his name.

horseal-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

The verb خالَ khaala has two different forms that also differ in pattern and meaning.

The first is the verb خال khaala (perfect tense) يَخُولُ yakhoolu (imperfect tense), خَولا khawlan (verbal noun), and it means ‘to do proficiently’ or ‘to perfect’. One may use it in the phrase خَوَّلَهُ اللهُ نِعمةً مِنْ عِنْدِهِ khawwalahu Allaahu ni3matan min 3indihi to mean ‘Allaah [proficiently] bestowed upon him blessings from Himself.’

This meaning also allows us to recognise the importance and status of the maternal uncle and aunt, and indeed our obligations as maternal aunts and uncles, who are called the خَالٌ khaal and the خالَةٌ khaalah because they are supposed to ‘take care proficiently’ of their family. And this may be one reason why the maternal aunt in Islam is afforded the status of the mother when the mother is absent. Continue reading

Swallow more than your pride.

*Post edited and corrected on 28-10-08


al-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

It has been narrated that a major scholar of the past [1] used to try and fault the Qur’an by searching for flaws in its language. His attempts and studies lasted months, during which time a group of men would frequent his house and ask him whether he had found anything yet. Eventually, he smashed his ink pot and broke his pen, and replied, “None can dispute that this is the Speech of Allah!” He then left the house and passed by a mosque, from which he heard the voice of a young boy reciting the verse,

وَقِيلَ يَا أَرْضُ ابْلَعِي مَاءكِ وَيَا سَمَاء أَقْلِعِي وَغِيضَ الْمَاء وَقُضِيَ الأَمْرُ وَاسْتَوَتْ عَلَى الْجُودِيِّ وَقِيلَ بُعْداً لِّلْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ
And it was said, “O earth, swallow your water, and O sky, withhold [your rain].” And the water subsided, and the matter was accomplished, and the ship came to rest on the [mountain of] Judiyy. And it was said, “Away with the wrongdoing people.” (Hood, verse 44)

to which the man remarked, “It is not possible that a human could produce such words.”

The verse in question is one of the most beautiful, eloquent, rhetorical verses of the Qur’an, as the scholars of Arabic balaaghah (rhetoric) identified within it more than twenty-five different rhetorical devices (fann balaaghee) within just 17 words! [2] Continue reading