Is It Important to Learn Arabic?

For the Quranist, studying Arabic for the purpose of understanding the Quran is a major one. Some Quranists feel that the Quran simply has been mistranslated in order to subvert its true purpose. Others feel that Arabic has far deeper meanings than any translation can convey. Whatever the case, the study of Arabic is never far from the Quranist mind.

Can we understand the Quran without knowing Arabic though? It is absurd to think we would not have some measure of understanding from translation. Have a read of any translation available. Does it say that there actually two gods and that we should divide our worship between these two? Of course not. The core of the message ( which is, I would argue, ‘God and Good’) remains the same. What may change with knowing Arabic are concepts related to this.

What can we get when we study Arabic? For a start, we would get to see the true links of the words. Take translations of Ar-Rahmaan and Ar-Raheem which usually ‘merciful’ and ‘merciable’ (whatever that means!). Does it occur to anyone that the meaning has a relation to the womb? Not off-hand surely but in Arabic, the link is obvious. The word for ‘womb’ is ‘rahm’ and is closely linked with Rahmaan and Raheem (say it aloud and you will see!) and even ‘rahmah’ (also translated as ‘mercy’). This shows a very tangible and practical understanding of these words. An understanding that would be missing without the aid of footnotes at the very least.

So lets study Arabic and accept everything about it! No no, its also not that simple. Arabic is a human language and like any human language, it contains a huge variety in the range of meanings in each word and various opinions on what constitutes correct grammar. Ask any literate Arab and you will see for yourself. It’s simply not good enough to learn Arabic and expect to understand the Quran. Traditional scholars have argued over meanings and grammatical correctness for centuries.

And what about politics and philosophy? Is any language divorced from political events? We only need to look in the last ten years with the War to uphold ‘democracy’ (and democracy being used to invade sovereign nations!). Language is an effective tool to justify one’s agenda. Firaun himself called musa a ‘kafir’! Philosophically speaking, we need to question if the lexicographer and grammarian of Arabic is aware of the philosophical implications of the meanings he inferred. If he is philosophically sterile, it might be possible that his inferences lack depth.

Where does that leave us then? If we can’t rely on Arabic, then can we never plumb the depths of the Quran? Of course we can! What we need to do is to use our own reason and intuition. Through interacting with chosen resources, we can effectively come to meanings which will prove useful. And that is the key point – usefulness. Are we practising what we know? If we’re not, Arabic or not, philosophy or not, there is simply no point to our study.

Why roots are super-awesome

This is a rant. This post is angry. If you’re a happy unicorn folk, go away. Shoo!

Why are roots of the Arabic/Quranic language so super-awesome? Simply because they are the foundation of that language we’re supposed to know about in order to understand the Quran. I’m not saying you need to know Arabic to read Quran, but I’m saying you need the REAL Arabic to read Quran, whether you can actually read/speak Classical Arabic language or not.

Actually, the “Qurano-Arabic” language is dead easy and 100% consistent. We just don’t see it that way because it hasn’t been fully documented although many scholars and researchers wrote so much about the Quranic language. Now, now, don’t turn your back! If you want to read the Quran, you’ll need logic, a clean heart, and yes, you will need to know what words mean.

You want to trust the words in translations? Well, these words were transformed into other meanings thanks to HADITH, your biggest enemy yet again. (Wow, it keeps striking back like in a Comic! Darn!)

No, you don’t need to take Arabic lessons. I know so many who study the Quran without being able to speak Arabic, but rather to speak “Quran-ic”, this is because Arabic itself does not even fit in the Quran.

So before you mock our need to re-evaluate the “Qurano-Arabic” language, please go get a life and then maybe re-consider your decision. We’re not trying to ruin the Quran, we’re trying to reestablish a sane method of reading it. Now, is that so bad?

You can go whore for your translators all you want. It will never be REAL Arabic, just fake, hadith-based sad and pathetic Arabic.

Again, we, oh so humbly, apologize for trying to understand the Quran in an alternative way. Oh, so sorry! But we’re not going to stop, so get over it and buy a puppy or something.

Rajeem & Kareem

The other day during a conversation with Farouk, I mentioned how “rajeem” is exactly in the same format as “raheem”, “kareem”, “saqeem”, “samee'” and many other words. The traditional understanding roughly translates or presents the word rajeem as to mean “the accursed, the banished” which would mean that kareem must be “the one we are compassionate with” and samee’ would be “the one heard” which is utter blasphemy.

In conclusion, rajeem must be “the one who banishes” instead of being the object.

A detailed description coming up, i’A. 🙂


I have been thinking about why some people are averse to undertaking a deeper study of the Quranic Arabic. After all, it would seem to me that a better understanding of the language in which a text you are studying would be something to aspire to. There seem to be various reasons for this, and I can understand why some people may be intimidated by the notion of having to learn a new language, but I am at a loss as to why there is at times such a strong push against pursuing any kind of in depth study of Arabic roots.

I would be very interested to know from those who marginalise the study of Arabic and its roots when studying the Quran, why they feel it is not an important part of such study.

There are those out there who would like to study Arabic roots but feel it is beyond them, and this is what I would like to address here. The most concise way that I can address this is by saying: “Don’t shy away from studying the Arabic of the Quran because you feel that it is difficult or you don’t have the credentials”. It is much easier than you may think.

We sometimes see people discussing things (any subject), and feel out of our depth, forgetting that they started somewhere, at a beginning and developed stage by stage as much as they put in to it.

I am not an Arab, nor do I have no formal tertiary Arabic training, but I think that it is important to learn the Arabic of the Quran and would like to create a friendly, easy environment for those who want learn some of the basics of studying Arabic roots. For this, I have started a facebook group called QuranRoots. It hasn’t been active because I have been trying to figure the best way to move forward with it. I’ve finally decided how I would like to approach this.

The discussion group will utilise the chat function in a kind of class environment at a set time, when any members interested can join the “class”. This group will be focussed on QuranRoots and will not put too much emphasis on the grammar aspects. It will require volunteers who are willing to share their methodologies for studying Arabic root words. These volunteers would “lead” the class by taking people through the process of examining a particular root, which could extend over a few sessions. Once the root has been explored this way, further discussions on the root can take place on the forum.

Would anyone be interested in this, especially volunteering to share your methodologies for exploring the roots? Once we have a few volunteers I will post it on Quranology group and others.

Stepping Stones

I believe that each person has their own spiritual journey. Not all of us were born into “Islam”. I didn’t even know what the Quran was until 2006. Still I believe my personal journey guided by Allah led me to circumstances which led me to finding out about the Quran. Then people tried to obscure my understanding of the Quran by telling me about the Hadith collections and making things complicated, and diverting me from the Quran. Then part of my personal journey led me to finding out that the Quran explains the Quran, not Hadith explains the Quran. This idea was suggested to me by a website. It gave me the Quran references so I knew where to look, then I checked the Quran references and found it out to be true. At this point… Was I using the Quran by itself or Quran plus website or Quran plus translation? I think I was using Quran plus website plus translation.

Suppose I said, as a new convert: “Even though I have no idea how to read, speak or understand a word of Arabic, I am only going to look at the original Arabic Quran and keep staring at the words until they make sense to me”. Allah is able to do anything. I do believe in miracles. When I was a new convert, I didn’t try to read the Quran in Arabic though. Maybe upon reflection my own faith was flawed from the outset by not doing so?  The natural thing to do for me was reach for an English translation of course. I do believe that God did give us stepping stones on our journey of spiritual enlightenment. Tools to facilitate. All good is from God. His blessings are too numerous to count. He does not wish hardship for us. I could be sick and wait for a miracle recovery, refusing all medical treatment, when the blessing is right there:  a hospital with trained, qualified doctors that can give you the medicine you need. It is not the doctor you worship, or the medicine. It is God for providing the blessing.

Stepping along in my journey, I soon found out that not all translations are the same. I started comparing translations and getting into using word-by-word Quran, slowly increasing my understanding of which Arabic words were commonly translated as either this, that or the other. I started to notice discrepancies. Why had one translator used this word, and two others had used another, and then comparing some of the verses (which were at larger variance with each other) in up to 19 online translations – Praise God for modern technology – this would have taken a lifetime without the internet.  I noticed the same translator used a different word for the exact same word he’d translated differently previously in the text. The consistency seemed off. That’s why I am trying to see the inconsistencies as I go along, comparing the words, doing individual word studies. So that’s just the words! As time has gone by, some of the words I have come to know from standard Arabic Quran glossaries just don’t seem to have much backing from the Quran. More on Primary Usage of Words in the Quran

Where will I find the next stepping stone on my journey of spiritual enlightenment? Only God truly knows.