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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.

Dealing with extremities.

hurricanenature_140×140.jpgal-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

There are certain noun forms in Arabic known as siyagh al-mubaalaghah (‘forms of intensification/hyperbolic forms’) that are used to put across a more intense meaning than the original noun form. For example, a liar ‘kaadhib كاذب may also be known as a kadhoob كذوب or a kadhdhaab كذّاب - all carrying the meaning of ‘liar’ but denoting different levels of intensity.

Allaah often uses these forms in the Qur’an, and thus we find that He refers to Himself as al-Ghaffaar الغفار (Ta-Ha verse 82) and al-Ghafoor الغفور (al-Burooj, verse 14).

Similarly, the slanderer has been referred to as a hammaaz هماز (al-Qalam, verse 11), and a humazah همزة (al-Humazah, verse 1).

Is there a difference between these forms of essentially the same word? Abu Hilal al-’Askari, author of al-Furooq al-Lughawiyyah, said that it is impossible for there to be two different words in Arabic that have exactly the same meaning, and that those who are unaware of the differences think that the different words are only different hyperbolic forms, whereas they also reflect different meanings. Continue reading

Best seen in context.

seencontext.jpgal-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

Many people who have set about to memorise the Qur’an, or portions of the Qur’an, will at some point have become confused when they come to a verse they have learnt elsewhere in the Qur’an, but with a slight change in wording or order. The key to overcoming this confusion, more often than not, lies in understanding two things: 1) the meaning of the words, 2) the context. So important is context that some linguists say that words only come to have a meaning once they are put in a context, otherwise what is to say that the meaning of ‘ayn عين is ‘eye’ and not ‘spring’?

To give an example, Allah says in Surah al-Baqarah, verse 86,

أُولَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوُاْ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا بِالآَخِرَةِ فَلاَ يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمُ الْعَذَابُ وَلاَ هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ
Those are the ones who have bought the life of this world [in exchange] for the Hereafter, so the punishment will not be lightened for them, nor will they be aided. (yunsaroon).

He later says in the same chapter (verse 162),

خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا لاَ يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمُ الْعَذَابُ وَلاَ هُمْ يُنظَرُونَ
Abiding eternally therein. The punishment will not be lightened for them, nor will they be reprieved. (yundharoon).

Just as He says in Surah Aal-‘Imraan, verse 88,

خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا لاَ يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمُ الْعَذَابُ وَلاَ هُمْ يُنظَرُونَ
Abiding eternally therein. The punishment will not be lightened for them, nor will they be reprieved. (yundharoon).

Thus He has used the word ‘yunsaroon’ in one context, but ‘yundharoon’ in two others. Continue reading

The Science of Language

phpoztwyzam.jpgal-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

Since the dawn of early Islam, and largely provoked by the doctrine of the miracle of the Qur’an’s linguistic inimitability, scholars of both Arab and non-Arab stock concerned themselves with studying the Arabic Language deeply and comprehensively. They were able to establish a range of sciences (‘uloom) into which the letters, words, and constructions of Arabic all fell. It is important to be aware of these sciences to fully understand the depth and breadth of the Arabic language, and the various angles through which it may be studied. These sciences may be divided into three main categories, each of which is further divided into sub-categories as follows:

Continue reading

Purity in corruption.

purity.jpgal-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

There is a long standing disagreement between supporters of classical Arabic الفصحى vs. supporters of colloquial Arabic العامية with regards which should prosper. The former group sought to avoid colloquial words at all cost, regardless of how correct they were or how well they expressed the intended meaning, while the latter group avoided unfamiliar and uncommon words claiming they were difficult to pronounce.

In reaction to this conflict there emerged a number of authors, led by Ibrāhīm ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Mazinī, who deemed it necessary to try and bring these two factions together, by employing in their writings many words that are commonly uttered by the colloquial tongue, but which are actually correct and classical words. Continue reading

Discover your roots.

Rootsal-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

A common phenomenon known to linguists is that of semantic shift, whereby a word acquires new shades of meaning over time. This phenomenon is also noticeable when we take a look at Islamic terminology, such as zakat, or Shari’ah, or the Names and Attributes of Allah, or words related to the prayer such as rukoo’, sujood, tashahhud; they all connote a meaning in an Islamic framework that was completely unknown to the pre-Islamic Arabs.

A number of Arabic scholars of the past researched this issue and recorded their findings in books, sometimes solely related to this topic. One of the best known sources in this regard was authored by Abu Hatim al-Razi (d. 322 Hijri) which he called, “al-Zeenah fee al-Kalimaat al-Islamiyyah al-‘Arabiyyah.” Continue reading

Down to the last letter.

alphabetal-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

Arabic linguists of the past examined the semantic connotations of Arabic alphabetical letters according to their position in a word, and were able to notice certain trends in meaning. Although the rules are by no means to be taken as absolute, they may be viewed within the larger phenomenon of ishtiqaaq and perhaps lend further insight into its mechanics.

Some of what was noticed was the following:

1. When the letter taa’ ت is the second root letter of a word, it affords the meaning of cutting or severance, for example:

batara al-yad بتر اليد means ‘he amputated the hand
atta al-habl بت الحبل means ‘he cut the rope’

2. When the letter thaa’ ث is the second root letter of a word, it affords the meaning of spreading or diffusion, for example:

nathara al-maa’ نثر الماء means ‘he sprinkled the water’
hathaa al-turaab حثا التراب means ‘he poured earth/soil [upon something]‘ Continue reading

Not all questions require an answer.


al-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

There is a rhetorical device in Arabic known as al-istikhbaar الاستخبار, which literally means ‘to seek information’; in practical form, it is to ask a question and seek to know the answer. Yet there is a fine line between the essence istikhbaar and the clothes of the interrogative (al-istifhaam – الاستفهام) that most people see it as wearing: the linguists say that the first time you ask a question seeking to know the answer, it is known as istikhbaar because you are seeking khabar - information. Once the questionee responds, you may not have fully understood the answer, so you ask again (with a slight change in wording or without), and this is known as istifhaam because you are seeking fahm - understanding and clarification.

But as in many languages, not every question is a real question in Arabic, and the form of istikhbaar can be used for many intents. It is especially important to regard these intents when reading the Qur’an, to fully grasp the precise meaning of Allaah’s words. Some examples of this are: Continue reading

Words are sounds of the heart.

al-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

I thought that my previous entry on Ishtiqaaq marked the end of the linguists’ theories on this phenomenon, but it turns out there is more.

Rather than looking at the roots as individual units, some scholars of Arabic viewed them according to their articulation points (makhaarij) or phonological characteristics (sifaat), and found that when the letters of some roots shared the same (or very close) makhaarij, or when the letters shared similar phonological characteristics, a link between their meanings could be found! One theory put forward in explanation of such a deep relationship between the sounds of words is that it could indicate that early communication was an accoustic expression of what was in a person’s heart and soul; as what comes from the heart reaches the heart, these accoustics were well understood by their recipient. Continue reading