The reasons for studying the Quran & Tafseer

The reason for studying the Quran & its correct interpretation (the Tafseer) is obvious: the Quran is one of the two fundamental textual sources of Islamic knowledge. The other fundamental textual source is the Hadith literature which will discuss in the next chapter. Being the main source for knowledge it behooves us as Muslims and specially as students of knowledge to learn as much from the Quran and its authentic Tafseer or the correct interpretation as possible. For that end, learning Arabic is a fundamental requirement, as was discussed in the last chapter.

Learning the Quran has many aspects.

There are many areas of study when it comes to the Quran. Learning to read the Quran properly is from the knowledge of Tajweed (proper recitation with the correct pronunciation rules). Learning the meanings of words comes from the knowledge of the Arabic of the Quraish tribes in Mecca in Arabia at the time when the Quran was revealed. Learning the reasons of revelations is derived from the Hadith concerning the Asbaab un Nuzool to provide the correct historical context and the events that occurred at the time and the people that the verses may have been addressing and so on around the time of the revelation. Learning the true meanings and application of the text of the Quran comes from the many authentic traditions found in the Hadith where the Prophet (ﷺ) himself explained the meanings of the verses revealed to the companions who recorded, related and passed down the information to be collected later on in the Hadith collections. All of these areas of study serve to provide a complete understanding of the Quran. Failing to take any of these into account could potentially result in a deficient or partial or even incorrect understanding of the Quran.

And Allah knows best.

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Why is it necessary to learn Arabic

Learning Arabic is a necessity for Muslims. This is because the Quran and the Sunnah, which form two of the most fundamental sources of Islamic knowledge are in the Arabic language. Of course, these primary sources of Islamic knowledge have already been translated into virtually every language there is. But the reality is that you only get the full and correct understanding of Quran and Sunnah in the Arabic language. Translation loses its essence.

Therefore, in order to understand the religion properly, the Arabic language is a pre-requisite. In other words, a person’s understanding of Islam is not complete if they rely solely on translations. Not only does it not suffice to read the translation for a complete understanding, but it is very likely to misunderstand Islam when all of our knowledge base is based on translated text. This is specially true if the person who did the translation does not himself or herself know Arabic that well. So now you have a very twisted understanding from what was originally intended.

Most Muslims have taken this very lightly and think that it is totally optional to learn Arabic. We should realize that we are only limiting ourselves when we assume that learning Arabic for the purpose of understanding the Quran and Hadith is not required. Every able Muslim should make every possible effort to learn the Arabic language for the sake of seeking a more complete and authentic understanding of Islam.

There are many people teaching Arabic at various mosques or schools around the world. Concerned Muslims do find a way to organize Arabic classes in their locality if at all possible. Additionally, with the internet and social media, there are numerous resources for learning the Arabic language available online these days. Interested Muslims can and should take advantage of the many opportunities for learning Arabic online. If it’s important to you, you will find a way. Learning Arabic is the most important basic knowledge areas that every Muslim should invest in.

And Allah knows best.

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Arabic Learning Resources

So you’re finally convinced that you need to put some serious effort into learning Arabic for the purpose of understanding the Quran for the sake of Allah alone? Great, I’ve got just the resources for you to benefit from. Actually, links to resources you can readily download and start reaping the benefits from right away.

Learning Arabic isn’t super hard. It’s relatively easy. Particularly the Arabic you need to understand the Quran. The Arabic in the Quran is classical Arabic from the time of the Prophet (ﷺ). In the Quran, Allah says that He has made the Quran easy to understand. For everyone. Arabs, non-Arabs, Muslims, and non-Muslims alike. And this has exactly been my own experience. Once you put your mind to it, you can learn the Arabic that lets you grasp about 80% of the Quran fairly quickly. The somewhat more difficult passages/words are very few and do require some additional study and care, but it can be done within a short period of time, with the help of Allah.

Arabic language learning builds upon itself. Each level of study represents a building block. If you develop a good foundation in Arabic, inshaaAllah you will benefit from it the rest of your life. Spend enough time learning the Arabic alphabet from a qualified teacher. This will ensure you get the right pronunciation and recognize and articulate each letter properly.

Here’s my personal recommendation for the sequence of study for Arabic: if you’re an absolute beginner, start at the very beginning. If you can already read Arabic, skip to the next steps accordingly.

1) The Arabic Alphabet
2) How to join the letters to form words

These are the foundations of the Arabic language. Learn these well to build the rest of your Arabic language learning on a strong foundation. I recommend using Imam Zia’s Quran & Arabic for Absolute Beginners course (available on YouTube for FREE) for this purpose. It’s a good refresher even if you already know most of this material.

3) About the Sentence Structure and Grammar

The best course for learning Arabic, Grammar and Vocabulary, based on my experience, is the Madina Arabic Course which follows the famous books/workbooks etc. The best class for this course that is taught in English is on YouTube:

You can download the books here:

Courses

4) Learning to read with Tajweed

Tajweed is the proper way of reciting the Quran according to the correct rules. The Best course that I know of for learning Tajweed is available on YouTube:

5) The vocabulary of the Quran

There are some wonderful resources available for learning the words used in the Quran. Take a look at these:

http://kalamullah.com/word-for-word-meaning-of-quran.html

http://kalamullah.com/vocabulary-of-quran.html

http://kalamullah.com/language-of-quran.html

6) The meanings and Tafseer

Finally, bringing all of the above together, we strive to learn the meanings and the Tafseer of the Quran. One of the most accessible and best ones of the classical Tafseer is by Ibn Katheer Rahimahullah:

http://kalamullah.com/tafsir-ibn-kathir.html

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