By Aarif Rasheed
My Journey to Arabic
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani himself had mentioned during the one of the introductory classes on the Ajrumiyya (a classical primer on Arabic) that one of the most important Bid’ahs (innovations) of our time is to learn the language of the Quran. As someone who had been memorising the Quran from a young age I have been making “on and off” efforts for many years to learn properly. Many will relate, that it is not uncommon for “Arabic classes” to be starting in our local communities, only for it to not quite get off the ground properly for one reason or another. Some of us have almost fantasised about that great opportunity to finally start a firm study of Arabic “once and for all” with that great Shaykh whom we are hoping we will one day somehow have access to.
The Seekers Arabic Excitement
Recently there has been the excitement for the launch of Arabic, because of the great teachers we have access to for the classes, and not least of course the great Shaykh Ali Hani.
Despite my limitations in Arabic, I was determined to be a part of this class, both to gain from the Shaykh on the subject itself as well as to gain from the exposure to such a great scholar and the many obvious benefits that would flow from that.
The first session has been scheduled last week but postponed due to connection issues and today my hope and anticipation was even greater of just being able to see Shaykh Ali Hani. I had the peace and quiet of the house being asleep (signing in from New Zealand).
The class covered the Fada’il (Merit) of the knowledge of the Arabic language and its grammar.
Shaykh Ali Hani
Having read Shaykh Ali Hani’s biography, I was imagining an overwhelming sight, heavy in voice reflecting both the gravity of the subject and the seniority of his scholarship in it. What greeted me as I signed in was the beautifully gentle and sweetly pleasant expression of the Shaykh.
I concentrated with exertion as I tried to ensure I grasped the main points with the Arabic that I have.
The lesson itself was an amazing survey of great examples and sayings regarding the great merit and importance of the sciences of Arabic Language and Grammar (and typically, sometimes with references to other sciences!)
It was also familiar in the sense of the mentioning of the great sayings of the companions (Allah be pleased with them) some more familiar such as Sayyidina Umar, and others from the early community, such as Ayub as-Sakhtiyani.
What continuously struck me is how the Shaykh spoke about the greatness of the science of Arabic and grammar, clearly such a heavy and foundational matter in our religion, in such a soft, sweet and welcoming manner.
Aside from the beauty and attractiveness of Shaykh Ali’s persona, his own eloquence and pronunciation was also striking, even while so finely and gently presenting the subject.
The answer was the typical outward-inward balance that we have come to know from scholars of the traditional sciences: the Shaykh referred to both the importance of understanding of Quran and the Sunnah, as well as to our relationship with Allah, that is entailed in knowing this great science.
I was greatly honoured to be a part of this first lesson. The Shaykh was equally warm to answering questions and was patiently calm as we briefly lost connection towards the end (perhaps another lesson for us in our world of instantaneity!).
This introduction to the great science with a great scholar, was a beautifully welcoming experience.