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    a project of
    Islamic Organization of North America (IONA)
     

    Upcoming Course:

     
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    Basics of Qur’anic Arabic

    A Two-weekend Course for Beginners

     

    Introduction
     

    As the Word of God, the Qur’an is the most powerful means to connect with the Divine. To receive the full impact of the divine Word demands that it is read in its original language. However, it is most unfortunate that the majority of Muslims today do not know the language of the Qur’an. Consequently, we deprive ourselves of the most powerful and profound blessings of the Holy Book: the direct psycho-spiritual impact of the divine speech on the heart. The Basics of Qur’anic Arabic course is the first step in that direction. This course introduces students to the fundamental building blocks of Qur’anic language. It thus enables the students to comprehend the underlying structure of the Qur’anic language, paving the way toward understanding the divine Word directly.

    Goals  

    The goals of the Basics of Qur'anic Arabic include:

    • Building the grammatical foundation of Qur’anic Arabic in order to lay bare its underlying structure and logic.
    • Preparing the students for a basic ability in translating the Qur’an into English, and for an intermediate level of instruction in grammar.
    Disclaimer: This course does not instruct in Arabic conversation or the modern dialect.

    Methodology

    The course is designed to teach the structure of the Arabic language to an English-speaking audience. For this reason, we do not insist that students learn the Arabic terminology. For the most part, our focus remains on the English terminology. In addition, we have reduced the flood of jargon that accompanies the learning of a new language. As our main focus will be to read and understand the Qur’an, we neither teach nor expect students to write in Arabic. Finally, as opposed to long hours of rote memorization, our method emphasizes concepts and analysis.

    Pre-requisite

    The only prerequisite for this course is that the student should be able to read the Qur’an in Arabic, even if with difficulty.

    Materials

    There are no books required for this course. All course materials are in the form of notes and homework assignments. These are distributed to the students via email.

    Syllabus

    Click Here
     

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    Intermediate Qur’anic Arabic

    The Intermediate Qura’nic Arabic course builds on the foundation of the Basics of Qur’anic Arabic course. In the Basics, we first covered the four dimensions of a noun, namely, range, gender, number, and ending form. We then learned how to recognize and translate noun combinations, such as adjectives, jarr compounds (prepositional phrase), possessions (idafah), pointer compound (isharah), and nounal sentences. We ended the Basics course with an introduction to verbs. The Intermediate course begins basically focuses on verbs and their various forms. Our goal will be to gain competency in recognizing different verb patterns, their inherent meanings, and different changes that verbs undergo in different contexts.

    Pre-requisite

    The pre-requisite for Intermediate course requires that the student to be versed in the material covered in the Basics course.

    Materials

    No books are required for this course. All course materials are distributed to the students via email.

    Syllabus

    Click here

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    adnanInstructor, Adnan Rehman:

    Adnan Rehman is a graduate of the Qur’an Academy Lahore, where he learned Arabic, and earned a diploma in Islamic Studies. In addition, he has a Master’s degree in Islamic Thought from the Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He has also attended the Intensive Arabic Program at the prestigious Al-Azhar University. Adnan is currently pursuing a second Master’s degree in Theology and Philosophy from Drew University, New Jersey. He intends to continue with doctoral studies in the area of Philosophy and Religion.

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    Asif Rashid
    Warren, MI

    I am glad I took your course even though I'm still in the process of learning how to read Arabic. I was able to follow most of the material in the classes although it will take some time for me to memorize the various charts and all. I liked how you broke everything down and gave it to us little by little and also did a bit of review in each class. I really do appreciate you taking the time to teach us. The class improved my appreciation of the Arabic language and the necessity behind learning the actual language rather than relying on translations. May Allah reward you and grant you good in this life and good in the hereafter.

    Azeeza Mohamed
    Warren, MI

    MI Excellent presentation, slides, ability to demonstrate/explain using the latest technology, masha'Allah (not stuck to a white board anymore). Good command of the material, Masha'Allah Able to say, "I don't know." This and accepting feedback about small typing errors on your slides sets an excellent example of Islamic adab, Masha'Allah. Able to insert interesting tafsir, hadith, Islamic history, etc., into presentations.

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    Arabic@ionoanline.org

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Modesty and Hijab

The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (PBUH), has said, “Modesty and faith are interlinked, if either of them is lacking, the other is lacking too.” There was a time in America when a woman did not go out in public with unrelated men, when men lowered their gaze to women, and when women and men alike dressed tastefully with dignity and humility. Today, not only is it acceptable for women to dress provocatively, it is encouraged, particularly by the men who look on with no shame. It is easy to understand how the lack of modesty has evolved in the West in general, and in America in particular, as virtuous ideals and morals are now scoffed at in the name of secularism. As the Prophet (PBUH) said, without faith, there is no modesty. As our society loses its faith, so goes our modesty.

Over a thousand years ago, Islam sought to change the surrounding society that knew the word haya, roughly translated as modesty, bashfulness, and shame, but did not understand its meaning. Nudity was not only common in every day life, it was even part of religious rituals. Islam changed the society in such a way that haya became one of its most cherished values. Today, we continue to celebrate this value and adhere to the teachings of modesty revealed by God and exemplified by the Prophet (PBUH).

Before one can speak of outward modesty, one has to be cognizant of inward modesty as a means for truly acquiring the former. The old adage rings true, “Modesty begins with the heart, not the hemline.” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Every religion has its characteristic, and the characteristic of Islam is modesty.” Being modest is not only reflected in the way we dress, nor does it only pertain to women. Modesty is reflected in our speech and conduct. It includes feeling shy to disobey our Lord and feeling shame if one sins or acts inappropriately, whether in public or private. It includes looking away when we see sinful acts on television or in movies, and feeling shy to say lewd things or talk about private matters. Being modest is inherent in the things we say, the way we act, and the things we look at.

Modesty is an intrinsic quality in humans that manifests itself, for instance, in a natural human urge to cover one’s private parts. According to the Qur’an, when Adam and Hawa’ (Eve) ate from the forbidden tree, they became aware their private parts were exposed and began to cover themselves with the leaves of the garden, as a natural result of their modesty. This inherent modesty is a quality that distinguishes human beings from animals. Animals follow their instincts without feeling any shame or a sense of right or wrong. As the Prophet (PBUH) said, “If you have no modesty, do as you wish.”

Islam has mandated certain legislations that induce this sense of modesty within humans. These legislations range from seeking permission before entering any room and isolating oneself when changing clothes, to mandating certain manners of dress for men and women alike. There is clear and decisive scholarly consensus on the mandating of hijab for women. In the Qur’an, Allah (SWT)[1] states,

“Say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty – they shouldn’t display their beauty and ornaments except what [must ordinarily] appear thereof and they should draw their headcovering over their bosoms, and not reveal their adornment.”(24:31)

Allah (SWT) commands the Prophet (PBUH) to tell the believing women to take a series of steps: 1) to lower their gaze, which is mandated for both women and men alike; 2) to guard their chastity or sexuality; and 3) to conceal their natural beauty, which scholars have interpreted to mean the whole body except for the face and hands.

The word “headcovering” or “khimar” more familiar in our times as hijab, refers to the cloth that covers the head. Women at the time of the revelation wore their headcovers tied back behind their necks, leaving the front of the neck and opening at the top of the dress exposed. The revelation confirmed the practice of covering the head, and directed women to tie the headcover in front and let it drape down to conceal the throat and dress opening at the top.

In addition to the headcovering, modest dress includes opaque, loose fitting clothing that does not reveal a woman’s shape. Make-up and perfume would defeat the purpose of dressing modestly as it attracts negative attention from the opposite sex and exploits one’s sexuality.

The decision to wear hijab may be one of the most important decisions a woman ever makes. Consequently, this decision should come about as a result of reflection, remembrance of Allah (SWT), and one’s own personal volition. Unfortunately, when sisters cover by force, the desire to please Allah (SWT) is inundated by the pressure to appease others rather than to please Allah (SWT).

Muslim women have been blessed with the highest honor and distinction by Allah (SWT) as He states in the Qur’an,

“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their

outer garments around them [when in public]. That will be better, so they may be recognized and not harassed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (33:59)

A Muslim woman is recognized as a chaste, God-fearing woman and her distinction is emphasized as a believing woman, which any decent man would be motivated to protect, rather than abuse. Here, God explicitly refers to modestly dressed Muslim women as a sign of purity and dignity. He highlights the woman as chaste and sets her apart from the immoral behavior associated with women who dress immodestly.

Indeed the headcovering pre-dates Islam as Christians and Jews have long recognized the headcovering not only in the house of God but in public as well. It is said that some Jewish women kept themselves covered at all times. In public, they not only covered their heads, but the lower part of their faces as well. This was a matter of moral and religious duty for Jewish women, not merely a matter of culture or convenience.[2] Christian women maintained the practice of covering their head up to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They acted in obedience to the verse in 1st Corinthians, which states,

“But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.” (11:5-6).

In today’s times, dressing immodestly and even provocatively is a norm that is no longer looked down upon, rather encouraged in our society. Wearing the hijab and dressing modestly may seem like an ancient tradition that has no place in today’s modern world. On the contrary, as Nobel Peace Laureate Tawakkul Karman stated when journalists implied her hijab was not proportionate with her level of intellect and education, she replied,

“Man in early times was almost naked, and as his intellect evolved he started wearing clothes. What I am today and what I’m wearing represents the highest level of thought and civilization that man has achieved, and is not regressive. It’s the removal of clothes again that is regressive back to ancient times.”

Oftentimes, when modesty is discussed within our communities, the discussion almost always exclusively revolves around the modesty of Muslim women. However, the Prophet (PBUH) places the greater responsibility upon men when discussing communal modesty as he states, “Be kind to your parents, and your children will be kind to you; be chaste, and your women will be chaste.” A greater focus needs to be put on men as contributors to the decline of modesty within the community. If men lose their sense of modesty, their immorality will negatively influence women within society. If one takes a moment to reflect on the way this has plagued our society, its truth will manifest. When Muslim males gawk at half-naked women (whether in public, on television, or on the internet), act and speak lewdly, and show a greater appreciation for provocatively dressed women, the message this sends to Muslim women who attempt to maintain their dignity inwardly and outwardly is a loss of hope in their male counterparts.

The fact of the matter is that we live in a hyper-sexualized world obsessed with appearances, and this presents severe challenges upon the Muslim spiritual psyche. We are bombarded with immodest images (oftentimes against our will) of the human body that affect us consciously and unconsciously, making it an uphill battle to be chaste and modest. Nevertheless, the burden lies on men and women alike to preserve the sanctity of modesty by focusing inwardly in order to manifest it outwardly. Indeed, modesty begins with the heart, not the hemline.

Melanie Elturk, Esq.



1. The abbreviation (SWT) has been used to represent the Arabic expression ( سبحانه وتعالى   Subhanahu Wa-Ta’ala), which may be translated in English as, “Glorified and Exalted be He.”

2. Joachim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1969), pp. 359-360.