Author: nadia-selim

Ibn Khaldun, Arabic and the Qur’an

In recent years, Muslim teachers and learners of Arabic, have become focused almost solely on the Holy Qur’an as a source of language learning. However, in doing so, rather than become more faithful to Islamic educational thought we seem to have strayed from the positions of well-known scholars such as Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406). Ibn Khaldun explained in the Muqaddimah that the Arabic of the Qur’an, being divine and inimitable, cannot be emulated by learners or indeed anyone else. Therefore, the increased focus on it as a means of acquiring language ability is impractical. Ibn Khaldun, having conducted ethnographic research on Arabic teaching and learning in the Islamic empire went onto explain that the Moroccan peoples (Maghreb) focused on the Qur’an alone and as a result could not develop a good command of the Arabic language, whereas the Spanish (Andalusia) grasp of the language was far superior because of their inclusion of other readings. He qualified this with a statement that the religious knowledge of the Spaniards was not as advanced but was sufficiently supported by their knowledge of Arabic, which gifted those who wished to pursue their religious study with the tools they needed to do so. In fact, Ibn Khaldun highlights that the Judge Ibn al-‘Araby preferred the Spanish (Andalusian) position which prioritized Arabic and poetry as he lamented the fact that many children were reading texts without...

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Learning Arabic: Are we going to remain indifferent?

Muslims have always identified with Arabic as a language of religion. However, research suggests that Arabic teaching remains challenged by a lack of resources, poor teaching approaches and a diminishing supply of suitably trained teachers. Academicians have brought these issues to the attention of educators through various conferences and workshops without effecting any significant change, both within Australia and without. It is as if we are locked in a vicious cycle. For instance, as far back as 1984 a workshop held in the South African district of KwaZulu-Natal, emphasized that inadequate teaching methods had been in use in secondary...

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Ibn Sahnun: visionary educator of the 9th century

In an increasingly polarised world, it is important to highlight Muslim achievements in various areas of scientific endeavour and their role in the European Renaissance. In the field of education, the work of the scholar Muhammad ibn Sahnun (or Ibn Sahnun), who lived in the 9th century (817 – 870 CE), is a shining example of the progressive nature of Islamic thought in the field of education. In 2006, Professor Sebastian Günther* explained that “Insufficient awareness of the educational achievements of the past bears the risk of not recognizing what is genuine progress in the field of education and...

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Make this Ramadan a time to Read!

Ramadan is a special time of year for Muslims around the world, a time of fasting, prayer and reflection and a cleanse both in the physical and spiritual sense that is awaited year on year. Ramadan is venerated and celebrated where millions anxiously await the announcement of the moon citing. Apart from the vast rewards that Muslims seek from Allah in partaking in the fast and prayer, Muslims acknowledge that this is the month in which the first verse of the Holy Qur’an was revealed. “Read in the name of your Lord who created” [96:1]. The first command issued...

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Living a translated Islam? Learn Arabic

Umar Ibn-ul-Khattab (ra) was to become renowned for his unfailing justice and asceticism.  The story of his acceptance of Islam is well known to Muslims. A powerful man both in physique and demeanor storms home enraged by the knowledge that his sister and brother-in-law have converted to Islam. Bellowing and thundering, he is stopped cold in his tracks by the power, beauty and excellence of the Qur’an. The verses had such power over him because he comprehended them. He was shaken to his core because he filtered what he perceived through a meshwork of a deep-seated knowledge of the...

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