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Interview with Siddique Abdullah (Part II)

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Part II of our 2-part Interview with Siddique Abdullah.  
...continued from Interview with Siddique Abdullah, Part I...

1) Why do you like to teach Arabic?
It’s a way to preserve it within myself and the best way actually to learn Arabic is to take what you know and to teach it because it demonstrates a certain level of mastery, even if it’s at the basics. And that’s why I do it.

2) So how important do you think it is to know Arabic to understand the Deen?
I will quote Imam al-Shafii in his Al-Risala where he mentions that he believes it’s obligatory upon every Muslim to learn from the tongue of the Arabs to the extent of his ability to do so. I firmly take that position because I know what it was to understand the Deen before it, and how my understanding has improved afterwards; and it’s like night and day.

3) And what would your advice be for anyone learning Arabic or wanting to learn Arabic?
To start slow and to remember this is a marathon and not a sprint.  The fruits and the benefits are just unending, and it will improve your native language.  If you’re a native English speaker, a native German speaker, or French speaker, it’s just going to serve to improve your knowledge of your own language.  My knowledge of English grammar has increased as a result of studying Arabic.

4) What are some qualities that a teacher must possess?
You have to be merciful and you have to have a good knowledge of the students you’re teaching first.  Find out what it really is they desire and try to meet that to the best of your abilities.

5) Where was it that you started to learn Arabic?
My first journey was to Egypt in 1998 when I had an opportunity to study in Markez Fajr and Markez Nil;  two Arabic centers there.  I studied for about two summers there and then I was blessed to go to study in Damascus, Syria where I was able to complete the Imam training courses in the year 2000.  I returned to continue my studies with shuyook around the universities but not in the universities.

6) What would your advice be for someone who is not able to study Arabic in an Arab country? How can they learn?
It can be done.  I have numerous friends that have done it.  But you’re going to have to saturate your environment with Arabic.  Which means that in your home, when you go to your grocery store, your friends, wherever you are, wherever your eyes come across, you should attempt to learn how to say those things in Arabic.  If they’re nouns, learn how to say them in their singular and plurals.  If they’re verbs, learn how to say it in twelve different ways so you learn how to conjugate it.  So it’s just a matter of starting simple and then building from that.  But the idea is to saturate your environment as much as possible.

7) What are other things someone can do to help improve their Arabic?
Write letters to those who you know speak the language and try to get responses back to them that you can read.  Get your hands on as many magazines and audibles, the news paper if you can.  Though the Arabic TV isn’t exactly the quality some might hope it to be, there are some good programs like IQRA that can certainly help.

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