Standing and Understanding

“I don’t attend salaatu – taraaweeh because I cannot understand the Quran.”  As an Arabic teacher, hearing that statement from a student gives me a pain in my heart.

 The number 1 reason to learn Arabic is to develop the skill of understanding the Quran.  However, it will take some consistent effort on your part and now is a great time to start because Ramadhan is less than 2 months away. I encourage you to take my course “Quranic Arabic for Ramadhan”. You can register

Until then, here is some practical advice that may help:

Start actively listening to the Quran.  Rather than just playing it in the home and enjoying the rhythm, sit and try to distinguish words. Sit with the English translation on one side and the Arabic on the other side. Choose a simple word-for-word translation like the one offered at  The Noble Quran, which contains tafseer (explanation), can be used for further explanation but a simpler translater is needed for word-to-word translation.

Start with a surah that you love. If you love suratu Maryam, then start with that one. If you love suratu Yusuf then start with that one.

Choose a Sheikh who recites at a moderate pace. There are many to choose from on youtube or Quranexplorer, for example Huthaifi, Menshawi, A-Shatri, al-Husri and many many others.

Decide on how many words/phrases you will collect in one sitting.  7 might be a good amount to memorize, and try to make them words that are often repeated. There are many words and phrases which are repetitive in the Quran. Start paying attention to them and collecting them as you listen. Here are some to look out for:

“Oh you who believe…”

“Allah created the heavens and the Earth…”

Allah does not burden a soul more than it can bear…”

“Verily those who believe and do righteous deeds…”

“And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the Earth…”

According to Sheikh Muhammad ibn al-Uthaymeen, (rahimahullah), the Quran consists of 3 major themes: First, Allah tells us about himself.  Allah is informing us about His most Beautiful Names,  the wisdom of His creations and His signs, the descriptions of Himself; what He does and what He does not do. There are videos on youtube, for example, to help you learn and memorize the Beautiful Names of Allah (Asmaa ul Allah il Husnaa). This is a good start. Then you could begin memorizing words concerning Allah’s creation and signs such as:


You would also memorize (in Arabic) words related to the the Hereafter:

paradise…fire….Day of Judgement (which has many names)….the accounting,… angels….jinn…

The second theme of the Quran is true stories; stories of the Prophets, stories of people who came before us, stories of those who obeyed Allah and their rewards, and stories of those who disobeyed their Prophets and their punishments. We are meant to take examples from these true stories. There are some words in these stories that are old words which may no longer beused, but at least 60 % – 70% of the words in these stories are understandable. The most repeated story in the Quran is the story of Musa alyhi salaam. His story comes in so many surahs of the Quran. you will hear words like:

...Musa…Firoun…Haroon…signs…his soldiers…the sea…Children of Israel…his people

You will need to do a little research and find the re-curring words/phrases surrounding this story.

The third theme of the Quran is information about Allah’s laws.  The everyday Muslim cannot exactly understand these laws without an explanation. Many of these laws are contained in surat il-Baqara, a-Nisaa, and al-Maidah.

So now, after spending time, let us say a minimum of 12 sittings, listening and repeating, collecting words/phrases and memorizing them, your ears should become more and more attuned to the Quran. The speech of Allah should no longer sound like just one long word, but different words here and there should begin to jump out at you.  This is a good beginning.

When it comes to the taraweeh prayer, let me tell you, I feel your pain! Some of the Imams recite very quickly in order to complete the Quran before al-Eid, subhaanAllah, so it can get challenging!  What many Muslims do is read that day’s part of Quran before going to the masjid. Make yourself familiar with what will be recited that night and again collect key words that will cue you into the recitation in case your mind wanders.  Know that if you are actively trying to understand then you WILL be more likely to hold your khushoo’.

At the end of the day, your effort is towards a lofty goal; understanding Allah’s Book  because understandin it will make it easier to recite it, and to ponder it and to act upon it.

As Allah says in suratil Qamar:

And we have made the Quran easy for remembrance so who will remember?

Take the Quranic Arabic Course that will DRAMATICALLY increase your understanding of Allah’s speech.


My Journey: Study in Mekka

by Ummu Saajid Ruqayah,; Philadelphia, Pa, USA

My journey to The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia specifically Makkah. Makkah is a place that I have always dreamed of going to whether to visit or live, it finally came true Alhumdulilah!

Before I embarked upon my journey to Makkah, Saudi Arabia, I had several questions: what does it look like, how long is the flight, how big is the Kaaba, what kind of housing will I be staying in with my husband and two young children, how far will It be from the Haram, how will I get around in the city if the women cannot drive and my husband is busy, what would it be like to learn Arabic and Quran there? Lastly how will Umm Al-Qura University look and what classes will I be taking. These were just my thoughts. I was so excited to leave and embark upon this tremendous journey that I was not nervous or scared. I knew that I would miss my family but that didn’t stop me from moving away.

After I arrived to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I was overwhelmingly excited and astonished to be in a place that people wish that they could visit. Going to the Haram for the first time I felt like I was in a deep dream and I couldn’t believe that I was actually looking at the Kaba with my own two eyes. It was breathtaking subhanallah. It was a very emotional time of amazement for me, so unbelievable. In addition to that, I was amazed to see how different the houses and city looked compared to how our homes are built in America. I was so used to seeing houses that have a triangle roof top. Yet, In Saudi Arabia majority of the homes are built with a flat roof top, I thought that was very interesting. Some other things that I found interesting was that the stores were flooded with male employees only! That was pretty awkward because they were even working in the lingerie and women fragrance shops. The hospitals also had more men doctors than women Doctors this is something that I had to get used to while living there. None of those things bothered me I was just so happy to be in the land of the Muslims and living a different life style than I was living at home in America.

As far as learning Arabic and studying in Umm Al Qura University in the Arabic Language program, it was a beautiful experience to study Quran, Arabic and other Islamic subjects with Muslim women from other countries. To meet women from all over the world was amazing! Everyone was speaking their own language and some tried to speak a little English. Attending the University for the first year was very challenging for me at times because I did not understand anything that the teachers were saying and the only language that they spoke was Arabic.  There was one Arabic teacher that knew some words in English however that wasn’t helpful because she could not converse with me or understand the questions that I was asking in English. That was the most difficult part about attending the school during my first year. After the first year the course work became slightly easier. Some classes that I found interesting were my Aqeedah, Fiqh, Tafseer and writing class which consisted of learning how to write Arabic letters in the script that it is written in the Mushaf. That was my favorite class! I really enjoyed learning the different ways to write Arabic letters and how to use them as a form of Art.

Another thing that I loved so much about the University was being able to uncover your head on campus. It was the best feeling ever to take off your abaya and tarha (scarf) when you entered into the University, and walk around campus in the sun without your hijab. The Abayas were not allowed at all once you were on the campus grounds. We had uniforms which consisted of a long skirt without splits and a long sleeve shirt any color of your choice except for neon. Overall it was a great experience. I thank Allah for giving me the opportunity to learn Arabic and study in the Land of the Muslims and live close to the Kabah.

Studying in Egypt: My Story


Study in Egypt: My Story
by Ummu Mansuur Najlaa; Cairo, Egypt

1. What has your experience been like for studying Quraan in Egypt?
Alhamdulilah well firstly my spouse and I decided to bring our children here more than
ten years ago in order to learn Arabic, learn Quraan and raise them amongst the
Muslims. Being from the West and not knowing the language is a great barrier that we
had to cross with regards to our Islamic education here. That being said, I have many
children and Allah always aided me in regards to what I wanted to accomplish. I see great
progress from where I was to where I am now; and I hope to achieve more of my
personal goals with regards to learning Quraan, InshaAllah

2. Can you tell me what some of the Quraan programs are like there in Egypt?

I have gone to three different kinds of women’s Arabic and Quran programs in the past. The first time was basically in the masjid. It was free and we met a couple times a week for three hours each time. I was the only English speaking foreigner most of the time and the rest of the sisters were natives. The teacher spoke in Ameyyah (Egyptian dialect) a great majority of the time and I was very frustrated because I couldn’t understand most of it, although I had studied fus-ha for almost a year before this. MashaAllah the teacher was still very patient with me and tried her best to help me as much as she could. I love that dear sister for the sake of Allah, May Allah reward her Ameen.

The class was for learning how to read a specific surah with the application of the tajweed rules, and not for memorization. However and only by the will of Allah, just by sitting in the class, about a year and a half later, I ended up retaining 10 pages of that surah.(Baqarah). The other major achievement though was being able to read directly from the mushaf on my own, with about 60% accuracy, and especially because I knew bare to nothing previously, just the letters and some of the sounds. Learning some Arabic prior definitely helped because I recognized many words and knew their meanings, so understanding what was being said is the greatest blessing mashaAllah. Taraweeh was never the same LOL.

The second program I went to was a private center which caters to the needs of the
foreign student, called Dar Al Fajr. The cost was $20 every few months…TheArabic teachers and Quran teachers spoke fus-ha a great majority of the time and there are different levels, or grades. I started at level 1 and in each level the syllabus includes tajweed, knowing its rules and its application. We also had tafseer and Aqeedah lectures
once per week included into our regular class for no additional cost alhamdulilah. There
is testing each level before moving on to the next. And there is in the beginning a
separation of those who are native speakers and those who aren’t. Later on, as the non
native speakers get more fluent, they are joined with the native speakers. I had an overall
good experience with them, and even I was allowed to bring my young child with me in
my classes. But I left due to a difficult pregnancy and it became hard to go to school and
back. In addition the policies have changed to no children in the group classes which I
understand. Also visa policies are enforced so one must be updated on their immigration
status when enrolling and registering for the center.
The last place I found in walking distance from my apartment, was through Azhar
system, though it is a private center. It’s called ‘Mahaad Al Alameen. It’s for whoever
wishes to join with them and the cost is around 60$ for the whole year. Very affordable
but very rigorous because there are 4 other subjects one takes in addition to the Quraan
classes. In general the Arabic and Quran teachers spoke Ameeya and natives and non natives were mixed together. Our classes met twice a week for 3 hours in the morning. We took around 2
pages each class to memorize and be prepared to come back with it the next class.
Eventually we got up to 5 pages per week, which put us at a juz per month. This was like
the other program I was in previously so I was used to it, but it was hard if I had to miss a
class, because one must review constantly to retain what was learnt. This center is catered
for adult education, though in the summer the children’s programs are open to the public.

When I asked Umm Mansuur: If someone found a way to take a year off from working and focus on Quraan, how much could they accomplish in a year?
She replied: It highly depends on the motivation of the student. He or she could come and finish the whole Quraan in that amount of time, if they focused on that, and nothing else.

Sometimes people find that they want to learn Arabic first and then memorize and some
are able to do both mashaAllah. I think realistically speaking, one could finish a juz every
other month or about 6 juz for the year, again it all depends. Allahu Mustaan

Ummu Mansuur still lives in Cairo, and continues to learn and facilitate the learning of her children. May Allah continue to bless them and aid them in their affairs, Ameen.