I am a teacher of the Arabic language, but I find it difficult to speak and write in classical Arabic. What is the best way to master the classical Arabic? May Allah reward you!
Our dear sister, we thank you for your trust in Al Alukah Website, as we appreciate your interest and your keenness to develop yourself, and the improvement of your skills and abilities.
There is no doubt that mastering speaking and writing of classical Arabic is very important for the Arabs in general and for the Arabic specialists in particular. It is not proper to find that our students and our children are not fluent in speaking and writing the classical Arabic that all people must take from their own parents.
I shall mention some matters as a preface:
• A person will not be a proficient in any language unless he masters the four skills: reading, writing, speaking, and understanding.
• The teachers of the Arabic language are supposed to be role models for their students in eloquence of the tongue and the ability of expression. If it is not suitable for the teachers of material sciences to teach their students with non-classical Arabic, it will be more inappropriate for the Arabic Language teachers to teach their students the Arabic language with non-classical Arabic!
• At the same time, I give some excuses to the people who cannot speak the classical Arabic fluently because, as Arabs, we have been grown up in an environment in which the slang had spread, therefore we acquired slang instead of our classical language which we use in religion, heritage, history, and culture.
• It was supposed that we have at least one subject dealing with (conversation in classical Arabic). In school lessons, students get used to practice and speak in classical Arabic because teaching classical Arabic and grammar are not enough. It is also weird to find out that conversation in classic Arabic is missing in the university study. That means: our graduates who are specialists in classical Arabic leave universities without having enough practice to conversation even for one hour, whereas if one of us is to join an institute for teaching foreign languages, he will find a special course on "conversation" is being taught along with grammar.
• It is said: A person who misses something cannot teach it. If we do not get enough practice for the proper usage of Arabic, how can we demand others to teach others the classical Arabic?No doubt it is a problem, but we cannot - and it is not permissible for us - to accept this reality nor to surrender to it.
• Some people think that the study of grammar and rules is enough to correct the tongue; this is not true because learning grammar alone does not teach the language. Anyone wants to improve his language, he should find out its beauties not reading grammar and viewing its examples! "The perfection of the language is gained from reciting the Qur'an, the Hadith, the methodology of eloquence, the divan of Zuhayr, Jarir, Al Farazdaq, Al Akhtal, Bash-shar,, Abu Al 'Atahiyah, Abu Tammam, Al Buhtury Al Mutanaby, Al Jahizh. I hope you could read the books of Al Jahizh because they are an endless fountain of language and literature. You should keep to Al Aghany book because it is a school of vocabularies and strong structures. You can extract the beauties of these books and literature and memorize them by heart as you memorize your name. As for grammar, it teaches you grammar as well as some rules." [Adopted from the introduction of Al Kafaf Book of Yusuf As Sidawy p. 55-56].
• The great scholar Ibn Khaldoun has mentioned in his famous introduction the ways of acquiring knowledge. He said: "Let it be known that the pure tongue of Mudar had been corrupted in this time, but since languages are one of the skills that a person can acquire, it is possible to learn them easily. The proper way to learn this skill is to memorize the old expressions that were mentioned in the Qur'an, in the Sunnah, in the speech of the Predecessors, in the letters of the Arab in their poetry and prose, and in the words of the people who make up new words according to their times and new sciences. And until he reaches a high standard of language because of the words, expressions, and structures a person memorizes of their speech then he acts and expresses what he has to say from their statements and expressions, so he will get that skill by memorizing their words and expressions and will be more proficient by using them." [The Introduction of Ibn Khaldun 3/1285-1286].
• Dr. Muhammad Hassan Al-Tayyan, the correspondent member of the Arabic Language Academy in Damascus said: "Eloquence is suffering and practice in which all senses and preceptors involve. It starts with listening and passes by reading and ends with writing and eloquent speech. It is a continuous work for the ears, the eyes, the hands, and the tongue because it is a practice and training that follow acquiring. Acquiring will not replace practice or training, but it takes place by gathering these skills together. Perhaps, the impact of practice is greater than training because of the importance of improving the language and supporting its pillars. The more a person uses his tongue by uttering eloquent words and expressions, the more eloquent his tongue will be and his statement will be more explanatory."
From the above mentioned, we understand that the skill of acquiring a language comes as a result of exerting efforts, memorizing more words and expressions, and giving more practice for the tongue to speak the classical Arabic.
Therefore, I would like to advise you, our dear sister, to follow the following steps: 1 - You should make up your mind to master classic Arabic, and with will and determination, everything will be easy.
2 - You should train your tongue to the sound speech by reading the good books of strong structure and diacritics with loud voice. Of the books that I propose to you are the following: Suwar Min Hayat Al Sahabah (Types of the Companions' lives), Suwar Min Hayat Al Tabi`in (Types of the Followers' lives) of `Abdul-Rahman Ra'fat Pasha (Dar Al Adab Al Islamy print edition). Al Nadharat wal `Ibrat of Mustafa Lutfy Al Manfaluty (the edition that was taken care of by Bassam Al Jaby). Moreover, the school texts of Literature are enough to achieve this purpose as well.
3 - After reading the diacritic texts with loud voice, start reading the articles and stories that are non-diacritic to a friend to follow your reading and underline the words that you misspelled. When you finish, she reviews your mistakes and you repeat the sentences that you read incorrectly again in order to settle the correct reading in your mind.
4 - When you find yourself reading the non-diacritic texts correctly, move to the next step which is narrating a story, a topic or short lessons to a well-versed friend. Stick to reading the words with diacritics, especially the end of words. Your friend should write down all the sentences you have misspelled and when you finish, she will review your mistakes to correct them.
5 - After these stages of training, start to accustom your tongue to speak to your friends in classical Arabic, especially the Arabic language teachers, stick to it as much as you can inside classrooms and when communicating with your female students, make the Arabic language beloved to them, gradually take their hands to master conversation, and fix some classes to start dialogues with them in classical Arabic.
6 - Make books your constant friend, assign a time to read, and select of the best books and stories. I recommend to you some of the modern leaders' books, such as: Mustafa Sadiq Ar-Rafi`y, Ahmad Hassan Al Zayyat, Ali Al Tantawy, Mahmoud Muhammad Shakir, and Mahmoud Al Tanahy. And before all that, you should refer to the Glorious Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) because they contain all good.
7 - I advise you to join one of the training sessions that are set by Dr. `Abdullah Al Dannan, the leader of teaching classical Arabic in the Arab world by nature and practice, or one of his accredited instructors in your country.
This is for mastering the speech, but as for mastering writing, the matter will need more practice and training. The first steps to achieve this is through reading much books of good writers who are characterized by strong structure and style. Then exerting efforts to write down ideas and feelings then reviewing the written materials to some of the writers who master writing to view their notes and comments on them.
You may choose one of the subjects that the well-versed writers wrote about then you compare the text you wrote to the original text.
When you achieve these steps, you will find that you have promoted your skills and have become able to speak eloquently with classical Arabic as well as you become capable of expressing yourself better.
We thank you for communicating with Al Alukah.We ask Allah to help you achieve what you desire. Praise be to Allah in the beginning and at the end.