Rafed English

Hawza Subjects - Lugha

Lugha (Language Studies)

Arabic is the language of the Qur'an and hadith. No amount of English translation will help you truly appreciate the Qur'an and hadith. They simply have to be read and understood in their original language, if they are to be fully appreciated. So while it is very tempting for the non-native-Arabic-speaking student to take shortcuts in this science, it is not advisable. The more time one invests in learning the Arabic language (especially classic Arabic grammar and vocabulary), the faster one can progress in their Hawza studies of other Islamic sciences.

Studying the Arabic language will usually consist of:
1. Grammar (Nahw)
2. Syntax/Morphology (Sarf)
3. Rhetoric (Balagha)
4. Vocabulary Building

Popular grammar works used at hawzas are the al-Hidayah fi al-Nahw, Sharh Ibn Aqil, and al-Nahw al-Wadih.

For Arabic morphology (sarf), there is the Mabadi al-'Arabiyyah and Kitab al-Tasreef. And for Rhetoric, al-Balagha al-Wadihah is used. At advanced levels, the Nahjul Balagha (sermons, letters and sayings of Imam Ali [a] compiled by Sayyid ar-Radhi) is used.

Students whose primary language is English may want to consider the following texts as well (all of which can be purchased easily from Amazon and other online booksellers):

1. Al-Kitaab Fi Ta'allum al-'Arabiyya: A Textbook for Beginning Arabic (3 volumes with DVDs) by Kristen Brustad, Mahmoud Al-Batal and Abbas Al-Tonsi

2. An Introduction to Koranic and Classical Arabic: An Elementary Grammar of the Language by Wheeler M. Thackston

3. A New Arabic Grammar of the Written Language by Haywood and Nahmad

Vocabulary building comes with time. Get yourself a good Arabic-English dictionary and learn how to look up words based on their root verb. The best dictionary for English-speakers is A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic by Hans Wehr.

This subject is one where having a teacher is highly recommended. Finally, keep in mind that you need to study Classic Arabic. This is the Arabic used in the Qur'an and Hadith and is somewhat different from the literally Arabic that many language schools and universities teach.

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