Saturday, 5 July 2008

Day 8: Arabic

Today we had our first Qur'an class, and I realized I was actually really looking forward to it. It's incredible how your environment influences you—back home my Qur'an sits for so long on my bedside table it might as well not be there. And when I do recite, it's hurriedly and without tajweed (rules of recitation). Here though, I found myself wanting to take a corner and really recite and contemplate what I was reading. I realized that I had missed the Qur'an though I wasn't aware of it. Subhan Allah.

The class also got me really thinking about Arabic.

Remember the little blue eyed American girl I just mentioned a couple of posts ago? She speaks better Arabic than I do—I heard her speak to her mother in fluent classical Arabic.

Arabic is a sore point with me. A student from the Arabic Dowra joined us for a morning class yesterday, and asked me why I was on the English Dowra. And all the students on the English Dowra who realize that I speak Arabic have to comment on how lucky I am to be able to.

But seeing them in the Qur'an class today, I felt really ashamed of myself. They all wish so much that they could speak and read Arabic, and here I was with it. And not only do I not appreciate the blessing, I gave it up voluntarily when I was in middle school.

I understand why non-Arab Muslims can't speak and/or read Arabic, they have a legitimate excuse. But what's my excuse for having semi-good Arabic skills? I speak Arabic fluently, but I read it not so fluently and understand classical Arabic even less. That's part of the reason I'm on an English Dowra—I probably wouldn't fare well in an all-Arabic one.

The school I was in didn't really teach us Arabic. So I used to have a Qur'an and Arabic teacher at home. But, as is the case with children, I didn't see what an amazing opportunity it was, and instead missed as many classes as I could. I eventually gave up both Arabic and Qur'an when I was around 13. Now I wish I had continued, instead of being stuck in this limbo state.

I'm kind of the odd one out in the Dowra; I'm literally the only non-westerner in the group. But in life that's really how it is. I'm not a westerner or a totally Arab citizen, and that's mainly due to the way I was raised: in completely western schools in a completely Middle Eastern country. I'm not really stuck in the middle since both my parents are Egyptian and I was raised in Egypt but neither am I firmly on either side of the fence. Arabic is the best example I can give about my neither/nor status—It's my native tongue and yet not, if that makes sense.

But I've made it one of my resolutions here to improve my Arabic skills, even choosing to listen to the lectures of Habib Umar in Arabic, though the material is difficult enough to digest in English. I know it sounds impossible to say after such a small period of time, but I honestly feel that my Arabic is getting better and than I'm understanding more and more of the lecture each day. May Allah make it easier for me.

Today's Quote: There are people who, like bats, see light as darkness, and are blind to the light. Habib Umar

No comments: