Thursday, January 21, 2010

Murakkab of My Mind *scowl*


The day was beyond horrible. And the worst bit is, that I had had such fun yesterday. Things started going downhill from last night, and they just hit rock bottom today. Let me begin.

I have joined a three-month (seh-maahi) course on Quran Fehmi. This course, I had assumed, would be like a class thing - the timings were 9 am to 1 pm everyday except Friday and Sunday. It sounded pretty much okay managed with Masters studies etcetera. In fact, I was quite quite apprehensive in the beginning regarding what's going to happen etc, but only in the first few days, things had looked promising. Even though the subjects were MANY, not one, as I had assumed earlier. Quran, Hadith, Fiqh, Arabic Grammar, Arabic Tajwid, Calligraphy (!!), Computer studies and if there was anything else, I'm forgetting. *wearily*

But the thing is, that I had joined the course on the basis of this that we spend a LOAD of time on acquiring knowlegde about the world... and very little time to learn about our deen. And informal learning of deen/Arabic is wayyy different, and wayyyyy more unstable than formal learning. Experience of teachers + the class environment + the competition... it all works towards making one learn and feel motivated enough to learn.

The downside of this course is that it's taught completely totally entirely in Urdu. And I'm ashamed to admit, my Urdu leaves a lot to be desired. I mean, I have problems regarding vocab. And when I stare in confusion at the teacher, she looks at me kindly and explains again (using the same words!) and again... thinking, I don't understand the concept.. while all the time, my vocab is the one thats getting me into trouble.

Well, not only the vocab! My memory TOO. HA! I just ........... cannot............... rote-learn! And the gardaanain (I have no idea whats that in English) is something that one HAS to learn. Now my Dad also studies Arabic online (from this nice teacher called Asif Meherally -- and that teacher sings out the gardaanain :D my dad was singing away too).. but here, it's complete and total, eyes-tightly-shut-body-swaying RATTA.

Hua, Huma, Hum --- Heeyaa, Humaa, Hunna (he, they both, them -- she, they both and them for female). Sighhhhhhhh.

Khair. The worst bit came today when Grammar teacher announced that she would be asking stuff that we have studied in the past few days. I stared at her in horror ... I had thought that she would just ask the gardanain, but apparently, the students had learnt up! And my humiliation was complete when she asked me 'Arbi grammar kee kitni aqsaam hain?' ... and I wasn't able to answer... (in grammar, that's like asking, tell me the spelling of grammar beta).. That simple!

Tajwid wasn't much better. I had painstaingly learned stuff. But I could only say it in my own words! AND I dunno what "taaiyyun" means! I just don't!.. and I always in my life thought "daarh" means the tooth! But apparently, it means the gums/root of teeth. **sniffles**... No wonder they all grinned and flashed their teeth. I'm somewhat of a joke in class. Not to mention, I was introduced to the new kid in class as "Aray, yeh to humari class kee angraiz hain" -- I've never been so embarrassed in my life. I have no excuse for not knowing Urdu.. (even though :D bless Mum... she indignantly said today that you should have said to the class that your parents both are non-Urdu speaking!).. and I was like Mum... we've always been spoken to in Urdu at home nah, .. but her reply was that :) you guys haven't been spoken to in real/salees Urdu!

In a nutshell, I have to endure this. I am learning, but it comes with a price. And it doesn't make sense to me to learn so much stuff (cram it all in and rote-learn) and forget all about it in a few weeks. My dad still recites the grammar (sings) :P.. because the methodology with which he was taught was designed to preserve learning. How I wish we can come up with learning/preserving methodologies as well.

I know I'm not going to remember this later on: See, there is something called "murakkab" (the teacher said after a long time that in english, we call is compound)... :S She could have said it earlier, and saved me eons of confusion ... Anyway, this murakkab thingie has 4 or 5 types. One of the types is called "Murakkab-e-Tauseefi" and this Murakkab-e-Tauseefi has four ways in which you can look at a word and recognize it as Murakkab-e-Tauseefi...(four identifiers kinda)..otherwise it's some other Murakkab...
I listened to this whole thing with disbelief... I'm not able to understand maybe...but I'm clueless as to the importance of studying this.. SAY, I read the Quran and look at a compound sentence and say heyyy this is a Murakkab! And heyy heyy heyyy heyyyy...four identifiers are there! So this is a Murakkab-e-Tauseefi!

SO what?!!!

What does that gain me!!??

If somebody understands rules of Grammar, please enlighten me!

Tajwid is another disaster ... Huroof-e-Halqi, Huroof-e-Shafwiaa, Huroof-e-Lahaatia, Huroof-e-Haafia etc etc etc you got to know the alphabets that fall under these categories, and their makhaarij (from what part of your face will you pronounce them)!! And dare you explain them in your own words :(... the class stares in amusement, and teacher pronounces "Aagay peechay bola hay, ooncha neecha hay laikin chal jayy gaa" .... *deep sigh*

The Calligraphy thing was okay...had never used a cut-pen before :D... I mean, I suck at drawing, but I didn't think I was that bad at "Khush-Khatti" :P... until I went to the teacher, and showed my stuff. The response was "Yeh jeem sahee say nahi bana hua need to practise lots!" ...

So long!

My not so great attempts :D


Knowledge seeker said...

Hey Mashallah, atleast you put your anxiety a side and when ahead..Inshallah it will get handy..pactice makes it better..
but it sounds hard thou..:( lol i'm afraid now, but i won't take a lot classes..Inshallah..

yeah so true islamic knowledge is important.
Not be embarrassed, you will get there too..:)

Ahmar said...

since its a 3 months course, you should take it as a challenge and learn with enjoyement :P...
nice khush khati...

Uni said...

@Knowledge seeker
I sounded grumpy :P.. but it's not really THAT big a deal..

You can always take a short course of ONE subject :).. it can really work alongside studies...

Yeah but its sometimes too much of a challenge.. :P easy to say that !

And lol.. thanks.

Thanks both for dropping by!

yousuf said...

use a squared paper for calligraphy .. :). it will help you a lot :). thats what my dad did when teaching me calligraphy.

Uni said...

thanks so much for the tip!
Nice you know calligraphy.. it sounds very cool! But i think it's for artistic people :S:S..

Thanks for dropping by!

kino said...

"Taaiyyun" means to gauge, determine or measure and I have usually seen girdaan translated as "conjugation chart".

About the grammar part, I admit that is not the best way to learn. But it is the most "time-effective" way of imparting a working knowledge of the language to adults. And believe me it works, I know this from personal experience.

Your apprehensions about forgetting all of it might come true. In fact, you can make them come true if you do not try to use everything you learn in everything you get to read of Arabic. In the beginning it does feel impossibly difficult to proficiently figure all this out in a passage. But it all gets internalized as you proceed further into advance topics building upon the fundamental ones provided again that you constantly keep practicing them. There was a time when I could reproduce all of the rules from memory but only able to understand Quran with difficulty. And now I honestly do not know the answer to the question your teacher asked about categories of Arabic grammar and yet I am able to understand Arabic script fluently, alhumdulillah.

By the way, do make sure that you are working with some of the better titles available in the market on Arabic grammar. My aunt recently showed me the one she was studying with in a class and it was utterly horrible compared to what I worked with. It is true that you will have to rote a lot of grammar but a little discretion goes a long way in helping the student by not exhausting his/her abilities with non-essential things in an introductory course. The purpose of this activity is to make people functional in Arabic and not an expert of its grammar.

So just try to hang in there even if you do not see results soon. I admit it is a slightly looney path in the beginning and some people do drop out owing to frustration. But if you persist patiently that part in the beginning then it does pay off, insha Allah. The only grammar class I attended had a line written on its flier: "Determination is the only pre-requisite". And it turned out to be perfectly true.

All the best!

Uni said...

First of all, jazakAllah loads and loads for such an encouraging comment.

I really hope this thing works out... if its your personal experience, then I should stop being such a pessimist, and just close my eyes and rote learn it all. But basically, I am looking to read the Quran and understand it.. not only words (vocabulary) but also the connectives (grammar) .. :) And i know the only way to achieve THAT (impossible) goal, is to take care of my grammar even though its crazy.

Um, about the book. We have no book. The teacher believes that books do not help. We have to write down everything she dictates in class... and then hunt in the Quran for examples. SO far, it seems to be working out for most of the students. I'm just still lost in the words... I wish my Urdu grammar was better too. I wouldn't have been so confused as to what ism-e-ishara is and what ism-e-zameer is...etc

Masha Allah you're able to understand the Arabic script ....*very envious*... I hope to achieve that target in my lifetime IA. Thank you for the valuable suggestions and pointers.

kino said...

Reading your reply now makes me wonder why I didn't rejoin back then. Anyhow, I just remembered this out of the blue and thought about inquiring. Did the method of learning by rules work out for you to any useful level?

Uni said...

And it was a shock for me to (re)discover this post and recall what I went through in those three months. Well, after April (when the three months were over), I got busy in other stuff and continued to understand the Holy Quran only as much as I had learnt in class, if not less. This is highly embarrassing since 4+ years have gone by since this post and up till now, I should have said, "You know, those initial hiccups were just hiccups, and I am fluent in reading the Arabic script."

But, SubhanAllah, it didn't happen this way. And now, only last year, I began this 'aalim' course online which has in its first year "Arabic Intensive program" and this basically means that they start from scratch and bring you to a point where you can now learn completely in arabic in the 3rd, 4th and 5th years.

Right now, it's only been six months, and Alhamdulillah, this formula is working out. It's like 8-11 pm every single day (except weekends) and this method of learning (a little every day but for a longer period of time) has been very effective. Now, we can translate a mini-paragraph of Arabic into English [and that's a pretty simple paragraph mind you].

So I feel better about the fact that I started again, but not so great about the fact that 4 years later, I'm not really fluent. Just a little better off and not complainy about the deen education.

Of course, the biggest challenge is to manage it with PhD and that's where I'm not sure how this whole deal will turn out in the future.

JazakAllah for the reminder.

kino said...

I don't have words to emphasize how extraordinarily brave a step it is to do an Alim course together with PhD! Wish you sincerely all the success.

I should say there is no need to feel disappointed with not getting much out of your activity four years ago. In my experience so far, these short courses are helpful for people who are rather content with developing a mild understanding of the language so as to be better able to follow Quranic lectures, taraweeh, etc. Those who are used to learning things through should always sign up for intensive programs and study with proper books (cannot stress more). This way at least one gets a sense of direction on how to continue learning and make up whatever shortcomings that might remain.

Would you like to mention your program or any other proper arabic course online that you know to be useful? I have seen friends organizing arabic circles by soliciting a native speaker which never last long for one reason or the other. When it happens, everyone quickly go back to ground zero because they never go to a point where they could carry on their own. It would be better if I could suggest something well-organized to hang on to.

Uni said...


JazakAllah for the encouraging words. I'm pretty much afraid all the time whether it's going to work out or not, but have realized that our focus should be effort-centric, rather than result-centric. Result is in Allah's Hands, not ours. Effort, however, is something we have control over.

I'm enrolled in Darul uloom Online [darululoomonline dot org] and this is a 5-year program. It starts with the foundational Arabic Intensive year where the main focus is getting used to Arabic language and vocabulary. Currently, we have these subjects:
1. Nahw [Arabic Syntax]
2. Sarf [Arabic Morphology]
3. Usul ul Fiqh [Islamic Jurisprudence]
4. ATI [Arabic speech and composition]
5. TRQ [Tarjumat ul Quran]

So we do Nahw every single day [Mon to Fri 1 hour class], the rest are held twice a week. Since this is all online, people from many parts of the world are enrolled. It's not a free program, there is a semester fee.

This program is associated with IIE (Institute of Islamic Education) in Chicago and many scholars who teach there are our teachers too.

Alhamdulillah, this venture is turning out to be very very useful. It forces a person to utilize the early morning/afternoon time since one knows that there is a commitment at 8 pm so everything follows a schedule.

kino said...

Jazkillah for sharing the details. Seems like a great opportunity to learn. May Allah bless you with all it takes to manage things successfully till the very end, ameen.