by Ummu Aamina Nadiya Johnson
Many years ago, I moved to Egypt and attended an Arabic language school called the Fajr Center. At that time, I was one in a large group of American Muslims who moved to Misr (Egpyt) for hijrah and studying Arabic. It was very very exciting! Being overseas, hearing the athan (call to prayer) throughout the streets, going into restaurants knowing everything is halal, and attending real Arabic and Quran schools…finally.
There were many different nationalities at my school; Malaysians, Indonesians, Somalians, Indians, Pakistanis, French, British, Canadians, and Americans. At the time I joined, there were about 5 or 6 other American sisters in level 1. By the end of level 1, there were three of us and by the beginning of level 2, there were two of us and by Level 3, there was just me. Many sisters at that time and those who came later, felt that the program was just too difficult. I knew sisters who failed level 1, failed level 2, and even failed to benefit with private tutors. The amount of new words, the pace of the lessons, the ‘only speak Arabic in class or pay a fine’ policy… Yes we had to pay a fine for speaking any other language in class). The Written Homework was amazing, I had writers cramp in my fingers for 10 years that worsened with using a computer mouse. Then there was the dreaded video class. The video class, which was my favorite, was hated by other students due to the rigorous amount of new vocabulary and the high expectation of the teachers that we should memorize it… ALL of it.
Yes, it was intense, but to be honest, I loved it!
But while people like myself thrived in that environment, others felt defeated and deeply disappointed. Imagine selling your stuff and leaving your country in order to come overseas to study, only to find that the learning environment just did not suit your needs. Interestingly, some people actually pass blame by saying, those sisters just ‘didn’t work hard enough‘ or ‘they didn’t want it bad enough’. This is a very unfair assessment. And now after 15 years of teaching experience, I know that every learning environment is set up to meet the needs of a particular type of student. If you are not that student, then you just don’t fit there. It’s that simple.
So who is the Muslim woman as a student?
She is typically a wife, a mother, a homemaker, active in her community, an employee, a business owner, and in general a very busy person. So her mind is moving in different directions all the time; from worrying about the husband’s dinner, to changing babies diapers. She is doing laundry, cooking, and helping kids with homework all at the same time. So when it comes time to study, now she has to focus her mind in one direction And as women,
Learning Arabic can enhance our role as Nurturers; enabling us to recite the prescribed duáa, and ath-kaar (remembrances) to lay hands on the sick, to protect ourselves, our families, and our homes from Shaytaan’s endless attacks and to break the spells of mind control and subliminal messaging.
Nakh’lah Arabic Center’s Curriculum
is a curriculum I personally designed specifically for Us, taking into account our unique learning needs. You still need to put in the wor to allows you to learn and then teach your children or even have your children learn alongside of you. We have grandmothers, homeschooling Moms, community workers who are all learning in order to pass on what they know. As Western Muslims, we have a legacy to build and the Arabic language is a part of that because it is the language of al-Quran.
We are all teachers as our Prophet saws said,
The best of you is he who learns the Quran and then teaches it.
No more stressing out over Grammar made easy
Lots of Vocab going back to al-Quran
Worksheets for adults and children
All you need to do is devote your heart and about 4-5 hours a week.
Students are surprised at how much Quran they can understand and roughly translate. . Once you sit quietly for about 30 minutes and get focused, you will find your lessons easy to grasp, inshaaAllah.
The Believer rushes to do good, as Allah says:
إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا يُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ وَيَدْعُونَنَا رَغَبًا وَرَهَبًا ۖ وَكَانُوا لَنَا خَاشِعِينَ
Indeed, they used to hasten to good deeds and supplicate Us in hope and fear, and they were to Us humbly submissive. (surah al-Anbiyaa: 90)
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و بالله التوفيق
Teacher and Curriculum Designer
Arabic for non-Arabs
نادية جونسون, معلمة اللغة العربية لغير الناطقات بها