The gap between Arabic and the dialects is where people left studying the language...

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by Abull-Abbaas Al-Rumi, Sep 11, 2006.

  1. Abull-Abbaas Al-Rumi New Member

    English UK
    and treating it in a a strict manner.

    For the Muslims we have many examples of how the 2nd Caliph 'Umar ibnul-Khattaab RAA would for instance pass some Arab Muslim archers whom had badly missed their targets in an archery exercise and upon scolding them they answered him with some grammatical mistakes. Upon hearing this the Caliph said

    "Indeed the errors in your language are graver than those in your archery"

    It is even reported the great Islamic Scholar Imam Ahmad ibnu Hanbal (an non arab himself) would 'punish' his daughter for grammatical mistakes.

    Where many of the Arabs and Arab speakers in the Muslim world became more lax towards their religion and therefore paid less attention to its sciences (e.g Arabic language, morpholgy and grammer) their became a decline not just in the language but all affairs (which is another issue e.g Medicine/At-Tibb, Astronmy, Mathematics/Ar-Riyadhiyaat Science/al-'Uloom etc)."

    This is one opinion I came across please give your feedback.

    ...maybe this is the reason more-so today, that whilst many of the Arabs are not pursuing 'Islamic Knowldge' or 'al-Ilmu ashara'ee' and therefore studying the language's intricates they are ineveitably in their current state of weakness towards this language.

    Another contrast could be the non-muslim non-arab 'Orientalists' (who have studied the classical arabic grammer/sarf books such as Al-aajurroomeyah and al-alfeeyah ibn Maalik) are so competant in the language, due to their relentless pursuit of it and those connected islamic subjects.
  2. Heba

    Heba Senior Member

    Coventry, England
    Egypt, Arabic
    :) Hello Abull-Abbaas Al-Rumi and welcome to the forum.

    I do not know how you made this generalization that many Arabs have abandoned studying Arabic and the Shari'a sciences and that they are in a state of weakness towards their language (by the way, would you please clarify what you exactly mean by ''the state of weakness towards their language)?.

    In Egypt, we still learn Arabic grammar , rhetoric and Arabic literature at school, even at the majority of bilingual schools. The Arabic test is extremely important, and a high mark is alocated for it. At Al-Azhar, many students learn Arabic grammar, rhetoric, literature and the diferent Shari'a sciences in addition to other subjects.

    I can say the same about Saudi Arabia where I spent 5 years (intermediate and high-school years). There, I studdied Arabic literature and grammar (at which I was really clever). I also studdied Ulom El-sharia (Feqh, Tawheed, Hadeeth and Tagweed Al-Quraan El-Kareem).

    After high school, we specialize in different majors. Some decide to choose Arabic literature and the Arabic language as their major, and the majority study other things like medicine, pharmacy, engineering, sociology, forign languages and literature, psycology, etc . Of course,the fact that the latter do not pursue studying Arabic at college does notmean that there is a decline in their Standard Arabic (which we encounter on a daily basis in newspapers, magazines and on tv).

    I think that I can safely say that the same happens everywhere, and that native speakers of English, French or any other language do not have to pursue the studies of their language after high-school, and that this does not necessarily mean that they have abandoned it or that their linguistic skills are affected by entering other fileds of study.

    Again, I insist that there is no decline in the Arabic language. Yes, we use the different dialects in our everyday life, but if we want to use the MSA, we can do this perfectly well.

    As an Egyptian, I will talk about the situation in my country. I believe that the Egyptian faculties of Medicine, Engineering and Science (and others) are crammed with some of the most brilliant minds on this planet, but the lack of financial support does not give them the opportunity to shine, to give their maximum or to do what they could have done had they been given enough financial support. When they get the opportunity, their achievements become known to the whole world, and they make a difference in their fields of study and work. Unfortunately, they find this financial support in other countries, especially in the USA. Examples of some well-known Egyptian geniuses are Ahmad Zwail( who recieved the noble prize in chemistry for his studies of the transition states of chemical reactions using femtosecond spectroscopy), Dr. Faouq El Baz (scientist who worked with NASA training astronauts in lunar observations) and Magdy Yaqoob (a well-known medical doctor and a Professor of Nephrology and Lead Consultant renal Physician and Unit training Director for the Department of Clinical Nephrology and Transplantation at Barts and the Royal London NHS Trust).

    In a nutshell, the fact that a country like Egypt cannot benifit from the skills of its sons and daughters has nothing to do with Arabic or with the attitude towards it; it has to do with money.


    It is quite normal that any one who tries hard and does his best to master a certain language can achieve a high level of competency in it, but this does not mean that he or she can ever be linguistically better than the native speakers whose knowledge of the language (the MLA here) is combined with a linguistic sense or intuition which they aquire from their environment while still young.

    Perhaps some natives make grammatical mistakes in Standard Arabic, and perhaps that leads you to believe that there is a decline or a weak attitude towards the language, but this happens everywhere. Many native speakers of the English language make grammatical mistakes; some are not even familiar with the vocabulary of their mother tongue. My professor told me that he once aroused the anger of an African American because he used the word niggardly (or niggler-I do not remember which one of these two words). The latter was offended because he thought that the word meant something like the n-word (of course, both words do not!). He also once met a well-educated American girl who did not know what ''ubiquitous'' actually means. Does this indicate that there is a decline in the English language or in the attitude of its speakers towards it? I do not think so.
  3. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Ahlan Abul Abbaas,
    While agreeing with what Heba said, I'd like to add something:
    Why do you infer that studying "Islamic knowledge" is intrinstic with studying Arabic language ?! The most eloquent Arabic poets where thos in the Jahiliyya, they were not muslims, and their language was an instinctive talent they had. The pope of the Coptic church (in Egypt) is excellent at fus7a, he even writes some poetry (and needless to repeat he's Christian).
    On the other side, we spoke in another thread about Turkish muslims scholars, who are excellent at al-3uluum ash-shar3iyya, but they're not half as good at Arabic.

    To sum up my opinion, there is no evident or inevitable relation between Islamic sciences and Arabic languages. And my opinion here is based on what I see, almost all the time, in many places.
  4. Abu Bishr Senior Member

    Afrikaans, South Africa
    Communicating in Arabic versus Communicating about Arabic

    Not everyone who can communicate scientifically and academically about Arabic and about Islamic sciences in Arabic can necessarily communicate fluently and proficiently in Arabic. Likewise, not everyone who can communicate fluently and proficiently in Arabic can communicate scienyifically and academically about Arabic and about Islamic sciences in Arabic. Examples of the first group abound in places where Arabic and Islamic sciences are studied to a very high degree but by non-Arabs and in languages other than Arabic. Many orientalists cannot or could not commincate in Arabic but could communicate about Arabic but in their own native tongues. The famous Arabic Professor RA Nicholson never travelled once to an Arab country, I was told. Currently, modern western scholars have been travelling to the Middle East to acquire more communicative competence and proficiency in Arabic. Also, believe or not the most famous Arabic grammarian, Sibaway (my-all-time-favourite), who wrote a book unrivalled up to today in Arabic grammar, had an 'ajami tongue (i.e. a foreign tongue) because he was Persian rather than Arab. However, that "foreignness" did not take away from his vast knowledge of Arabic grammar. Anyhow, I think my point is clear on this issue.

    The ideal situation is to join between Arabic communicative competence and a scientific or academic knowledge of Arabic. A lot of non-Arabic speaking learners of Arabic either decide to go for the Arabic immersion route which focuses on communicative Arabic whilst a much larger group (I think) go for the explicit grammar teaching approach which focuses almost exclusively on one's explicit grammar knowledge of Arabic rather than the four basic language skills (speaking, reading, writing & listening). These students often do become proficient in reading though but reading that focuses more on a grammatical analysis rather than on the communicative aspect. Depending on the purpose, if it is Islamic, for example, the content is often that of classical Islamic texts and so on.

    Obviously, the best approach is to combine between an immersion style approach and a explicit grammar study approach for then you have the best of both worlds. This they call a "holistic Arabic approach" (منهج متكامل).

    As for the Islamic sciences, this concerns mostly Muslims or those non-Muslims who have taken an interest in studying Islam as an orientalist or otherwise. No doubt, studying these sciences does provide a very strong incentive for Muslims to want to master Arabic and become familiar with its grammatical, rhetorical, stylistical, literary fineties and subtleties as many a classical Islamic book makes mention of these issues. This is especially the case with Tafsir literature. Again for a Muslim, the ideal is to combine this knowledge and Arabic communicative competence, and I've seen a slow but growing trend in nonnative Arabic students of the Islamic sciences travelling to Arab countries after their local Islamic studies to brush up on their communicative Arabic. Often these students far exceed the average Arab in their explicit grammar knowledge of Arabic but when it comes to Arabic communication the result is almost zero.

    Finally, I know of situations of Arabs growing up in non-Arab countries finding it extremely difficult to get around Arab grammar. So what do you do when you have at an Arabic institution foreigners knowing Arabic grammar but lacking the ability to communicate and Arabs raised in non-Arab countries knowing how to communicate in colloquial Arabic but lacking Arabic grammar? An ingeneous method develop by one institution that I know separated between Arabic skills on the one hand and Arabic sciences on the other hand. Each of the two streams comprises five levels. So foreigner familiar with grammar gets placed maybe in level three for Arabic Sciences and level one for Arabic skills, and the Arab raised in a non-Arab country vice versa. Moreover, the Arabic sciences get taught initially in English and only after the student has completed level one of the Arabic skills so as to give him or her a foundation to start aplying his or her grammatical knowledge to.

    Sorry once again for my long posts.
  5. suma Senior Member

    English, USA
    With all due respect and not to belittle the achievements of some of the Orientalists, but their work in Arabic philology, linguistics, and Islamic studies is greatly over blown.

    I once took a course in الاستشراق which is the interesting study of the Orientalists' study of the Arab/Muslim world.
    I.E. the Muslims' study of the Western field of study known as Orientalism which focuses on the study of Arabic language, Islam, culture, religion, etc. of the Muslim world.

    In brief many of the highly touted Orientalists,such as Goldziegher, Margolioth, and others (forgive the spelling of surnames) committed gross errors in their understanding of Arabic and Islamic sciences, which would call into question just how fluent in Arabic they truly were?

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