Not too long ago, one of my teachers Sh. Abdul Wahab Saleem posted the following online, “Grammar, morphology, vocabulary and rhetoric are necessary subjects for the student of Islamic studies. However, a very few pay serious attention to this. For this reason, Islamic studies circles continue to regurgitate accessible and simple information as beyond that requires better literacy.” The reality in this is probably at the heart of many of our issues within the Muslim world today. The layperson like myself doesn’t understand the Quran and many don’t bother to learn of its richness and the beauty of the word of God. Then, you have the student of knowledge of which we all hope to become that goes to learn this beautiful faith but, instead of putting in the time needed to truly conquer the language, they get the bare minimum needed to move on to other categories of study. It’s important to mention that theology (Aqeedah), Law (Fiqh), Exegesis (Tafsir) and the assortment of other studies are all vital to the preservation and continuation of this great tradition. The issue is when these students don’t put in the required time needed to conquer the language. The reality is that when one conquers the Arabic language, they are better able to understand the various sciences of Islam, but when they are weak in their Arabic, they will always remain weak in the sciences. It’s like a tree with a weak trunk, any storm can blow it over.
As my Quran teacher here says in just about every Quran class, “This is very, very, very important.” He’s right. But just for a moment, let me give you the flip side, because I’m sure you’re reading this thinking, “You’re definitely right, but you should definitely be studying other sciences as well. Your time is limited!”
So, here I am sitting in Arabic class at Studio Arabiya 5 days a week, and then I leave campus to attend local classes on the biography of the Prophet ﷺ (Seerah), a class on his attributes (Shamaail), Theology and then Islamic Law of the Maliki School. All of these classes no doubt take up hours of my time (about an additional 2-3 hours a day to be exact) between attending and studying for them. I didn’t neglect Arabic, but I definitely didn’t change my schedule in order to give it more priority over everything else. So this past week when I came to Quran class with only half of my memorization done, the teacher decided it was time for a sit down. So I told him all of the extracurricular classes I currently had on my schedule and that I need to be honest with myself and drop a few from my schedule so I am better able to focus. He disagreed, he reminded me that I came to this beautiful country in order to learn the Arabic language and to understand the book of God and that those two things should be at the forefront of my study but that these other studies are also beneficial. The issue is not one of having too much on my plate but an issue of not prioritizing and properly managing my time. The reality is that I was not taking on too much but that when I was home, what was I doing? Did I have a schedule? Was I on social media talking to folks back home? Was I adding superfluous dreams and goals to my life goals for when I eventually go back home? Though it’s great to be thinking of the community, my role is as a student right now. My job is to study, to absorb all that I am able and to be fruitful in it. Most importantly, my goal needs to be drawing closer to God. This is very, very, very important.
Needless to say that after this talk I completely revamped my study habits. I’m now going to all of the classes I was attending before but now when I return home I immediately go to my Arabic homework, complete it, review my notes from the day until I am able to go through the rules and verb conjugations without my notes, review my Quran and then I go to sleep. When I wake up, I get to my memorization, eat breakfast and go over the lesson we will cover in class. This is truly the basics of being a student but sometimes we are so spoiled and so accustomed to knowledge being given to us that we forget there will be tears involved and a lack of sleep. Trust me when I say I’ve had my fair share of tears while here. You just have to put in the work. Being married isn’t an excuse either, your spouse has their rights and you need to learn how to fulfill those as well as maintaining your vigor in your studies. Definitely don’t be the person that gives your all to your studies and only half to your spouse. This language isn’t going to come easy, you’ll want to give up a lot, but when you’re standing in prayer and you absentmindedly translate the verse that the Imam is reading in your head and become instantly connected to the prayer. . .that’s when you realize that every tear, every moment of feeling weak, it was worth it. And this my dear friend is very, very, very important.
May God bless us with knowledge of His book.