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QURANIC ARABIC CRISIS IN MUSLIM SCHOOLS: AN URGENT APPEAL
By Abdul Malik Mujahid
'Ihdinas Siratul Mustaqeem' (Guide us the Straight Way) is what we ask Allah in each Salat at least 4 times.
We repeat this over and over again, thereby stressing our constant need for guidance.
Guidance is right there - in the Quran, only if we can understand its language.
I mean not just comprehending a couple of verses of the Quran here and there. I mean knowing the Arabic of the Quran enough to realize what Allah is telling us when an imam is reciting the Quran or we are reading it.
Almost 80% of Muslims, who are non Arabs, face this challenge. If Muslims are directly connected with the guidance sent to them by Allah, their prayer of ihdinas Siratal Mustaqeem will be meaningful.
For this prayer to have any meaning, the hundreds of Sunday Islamic schools and full time Muslim schools in North America would have as a priority educational goal the task of task of getting children to understand the Quran.
NOT ONLY A REFUGE FROM TEMPTATION
It is not without some relief and pride that many parents watch their kids graduate from Islamic schools.
The relief often comes from the knowledge that their kids have passed through probably the worst years of their lives (their teens) in a more Islamic environment than any public school can offer.
The pride (I'm referring to a healthy pride and thankfulness to Allah, not arrogance) comes from knowing their child has more knowledge of Islam than if they had attended a public school.
But on this point, they are often dead wrong.
It is unfortunately true to say that most kids who graduate from an Islamic school in North America cannot understand Quranic Arabic. And this is after years of study.
Oh sure, they may know how to read the Message of Allah fast and beautifully. But do they know what they are reading? And do we care?
A 'SOFT CLASS'
It is very sad to know that 'Understanding Quranic Arabic' in many Islamic schools is seen as a 'soft' class. In other words, it's like the easy classes you take in college to boost your G.P.A. while you concentrate on the more difficult courses. It's an easy A.
Because the teachers will pass you so easily, it will make no difference whether you can understand Quranic Arabic or not. You might fail math, you might fail English, but Quranic Arabic, most likely not.
Contrast this with college students who, with no prior exposure to Arabic, have taken the language as a year or semester-long course and can read and understand an Arabic newspaper, and even converse in Arabic. These students often have a better understanding of Arabic vocabulary and grammar than bright and energetic students of Islamic schools who have been attending Arabic classes for years.
Something is definitely not right. There is a big problem and those concerned need to be looking at ways to solve it.
Sending our kids to Muslim schools must not only be a way to protect them from sex, drugs, alcohol and the many other trials and temptations present in public schools.
Those well meaning Muslims who are doing the jihad of establishing and running the Islamic school know how difficult it is to raise funds for it.
Muslim parents and educators must emphasize that Muslim schools need to go beyond teaching the Alif, Baa, Taa's of Arabic and Islam to something more meaningful and worthy of the Quran itself.
Quranic Arabic needs to be put back on the agenda.
Parents and educators need to set clearly defined goals and academic objectives.
Appropriate syllabuses need to be developed to cater for the needs of non-Arabic speaking students in particular.
More intensive courses need to be developed – especially from grades six to twelve, to ensure better concentration and focus.
A more credible system of testing and evaluating and promoting students need to be put in place. Students need to have end-of-year targets as they are obliged to in topics like math and science.
Schools need to ensure that competent language teachers are employed and a system of teacher training developed and implemented to ensure that effective and professional methods of language teaching find their way into the classroom.
We need more open discussion of this major problem and detailed suggestions on each of the above.
LOSING THE MEANING OF THE MESSAGE
Quranic Arabic must be taken more seriously by all, students, parents, teachers, school administrators and Muslims in general. Allah has blessed us with guidance not for it to be memorized and ignored, but to be understood and implemented.
Otherwise, how many of the hearts of our Muslim children will be left like that of Joseph Abraham: dry like a desert, and seemingly endless and hopeless?
[DISCUSS ISLAMIC SCHOOLS]
[DISCUSS: TEACHER TO TEACHER]
[PARENT TO PARENT]
Jenny, Lexington -
wrote on 9/14/2010 6:11:57 AM
Comment: The problem is a lack of standardized curricula and proper testing procedures to support the curricula. It is NOT the parents responsibility to teach them the quranic recitation at home - what if the parents don't speak arabic? How do children learn french, spanish, and german in the U.S.? Not because anyone at home teaches them. It is the school's responsibility to teach the subject matter. I have personal experience with this and have children that took recitation in a school and have gained nothing from it other than a pronounciation of words they don't comprehend. Recitation is nice, but that is not a measure of one's knowledge of the faith, and knowledge is the tool used to effectively practice the faith. Effective Arabic language classes must accompany Quranic recitation classes. Arabic language classes with a curriculum like any other foreign language.
mariam, manchester -
wrote on 6/7/2010 4:39:21 PM
Comment: i 100% agree with you i my self is a quran teacher in islamic school but alhamdulillah i have this understanding that pupils should understand Quran when they read it or if they listen to it i myself was a simple muslim by name only use to read quran without knowing what allah says in it and without implementing it in my life but alhamdulillah with the help of my teacher madam nighat hashmi founder of alnoor international (www.alnoorpk.com) who taught me quran through teaching quranic arabic and teaching its meaning and implementing it in my life alhmadulilllah by grace of Allah i know importance of knowing quranic arabic and it is definitely quran teachers responsibility to teach quranic arabic to pupils but one thing that i m struggling at the moment is i dnt have set syllabus i ask u to guide me in this matter specially a syllabus that does make pupils pressurised and at the same time in an easy way may Allah HELP U if we start spreading awareness now i hope inshallah in near future all muslim schools may start to take this into account and will do something about it
zahir Saidi, Oklahoma -
wrote on 5/27/2004 2:15:05 AM
Comment: I just have a little comment on the article. I agree that most islamic schools fail to teach the Arabic language effectively. The question is whose fault is it? Is it the teachers'? the school's
Not at all.
The primary responsible for this failure is the parents who do not provide their children with practicing opportunities either by conducting conversations in the target lnguage with their children or providing them with audio visual materials. I can tell you that most of them do not have even a copy of the Quran at home. They do not take the pain to subscribe with an arabic magazine or purchase books in Arabic to encourage their children and motivate them to read.
The students re another side to blame. Born in America, they think that Arabic is not a language that's worth learning. They call it the upside-down language. What we have to do is change our children's attitude towards Arabic language before we send them to acquire it. And believe me 3 or 4 hours a week can do nothing to teach a kid a language as complicated as Arabic.
May Allah help us altogether to raise a good genaration of Muslims who care about the language and the religion and who go to islamic schools in spite of their deficiecies.
Ahmad Abd Raffur, Oklahoma City -
wrote on 5/12/2004 9:42:22 AM
Comment: Honestly, that's what I've been trying to advocate when I attend conferences on Islamic Schools, namely the MAS (Muslim American Society)Council of Islamic School conferences.
Arabic program, IMHO in many Islamic schools have failed. These programs are there just to attract Arab speaking parents to send their kids and to clear their guilty conscience because they can't teach their kids their language. These parents want their kids to be able to read and write Arabic but many of them, don't even speak the proper Arabic.
I once attended a meeting for Islamic schools and the speaker told the audience, there's no such thing as Quranic Arabic. Well, of course, I beg to differ. If, all the Arabs speak the Arabic used in the Quran, believe me, they'll understand Al Quran better and if you understand things better, with the guidance of Allah, you'll have the strength to practice it.
One note, if Arabic program in any school is not used to understand the Quran, then it will be devoid of any benefit. Arabic program will just be another foreign language program.
If any Islamic School teacher is reading this note, kindly respond and see whether you have a non-arab descent student who reads Al Quran with tajweed and speaks Arabic.
Many Arabs speak the language but stinks in reading Al Quran, and you will be surprised, in all the conferences that I attended, none had a workshop on How To Teach Students Al Quran.
Al Quran is a specific science. It's not an art that you may read it at your whims and fancy and to my astonishment, most schools have Arabic teacher teaching Al Quran. Maybe because they speak the language, they are assumed to be able to teach it? If a teacher does not go through the necessary training to teach Al Quran, they will teach students the wrong thing.
Many schools's have "to be able to speak Arabic" as their primary goal or one of the goals of Arabic program. This goal, while noble, is flawed and should be revamped.
Why is it necessary to speak Arabic? Because it's the language of Quran? Believe me, the Arabic that many Arabs speak right now is not even close to the Quran, so brothers who don't speak Arabic, don't count yourselves as bad muslims yet.There's hope.
Many cite the opinion of Shaikhul Islam ibn Taimiyah who has the opinion that to learn Arabic language is obligated upon muslims. Hmm, let us figure out why.
Duh..because to understand the Quran you have to know the language that the Quran has been revealed in, ie Arabic (I must stress this "quranic arabic" is definitely different). Not, only that, the science of reading Al Quran is obligatory on all muslims. It's a fact that, Al Quran not only the most superior in the choice of words but also in its grammar.
Bottom line, unless all islamic schools put Al Quran first then Arabic second, and accept the fact that their goal is to understand Al Quran rather than speaking the language, Arabic programs in islamic schools are a joke.
wrote on 10/23/2003 4:08:36 AM
Comment: i recon it had great infomation in it
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Creator of the heavens and the earth! Knower of the hidden and the exposed! Rubb of everything and every one. I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped but You. I seek Your Protection from the evil of my own self from the evil of Satan and from the evil of Shirk to which he calls.