My journey with Arabic language by Saima Bhatty (UK)
The appeal to learn a new language is a refreshing decision at any stage in a person’s life. As a native Urdu/Punjabi speaker I enjoyed code switching between these home languages and English, especially for my community. I quickly discovered that literal interpretations were not always possible between languages- so we use word and phrases which convey the equivalent intended meaning. Unknowingly my love for linguistics was growing and strengthening as these daily interactions with family, friends and the wider community proved how important and relevant the role of an interpreter was.
In later years my third language emerged, the significance of which is far greater than any home language. Arabic is embedded into the lives of the Muslims from the beginning. During infancy babies are exposed to soothing recitation and daily habit prepares families for study of this Divine, magnificent language. Such a background influenced my choice to study Arabic at university. It was a thoroughly rewarding experience and although there was a huge gap in my understanding of the Quran, at least my journey had begun.
In subsequent years my connection to the magnificent Book of Allah was to deepen not only spiritually but as a student. How refreshing it was to study with people from different backgrounds and religions. I’d often ask what drew them towards studying Arabic- a fascination of the script, a special friend in a different country, an interest to work in oil and gas-the reasons varies further highlighting not only the spiritual significance but the socio economic and political significance of this language
Translations are indispensable tools for understanding the Quran but as I would come across words, phrases or ayat that I understood without translations, those were the most satisfying- the lightbulb moments, all drops in the ocean of my journey with Arabic. I’m still a traveler. Over time I’ve grown increasingly fond of Arabic and will meet people who are staring out from where I once did. Their intention and love to study is infused with enthusiasm and high levels of intrinsic motivation. This is an energy that comes from within a person’s desire to connect with Allah’s message. Nowadays technology has done wonders to assist us in our studies of Arabic unlike when I started out. Not only do we have influential bilingual personalities on social media whose eloquence in Arabic encourages us to also study Arabic, but online platforms like the Qortoba Institute where expert native teachers have special programmes to assist a variety of students from different backgrounds. Affordable, accommodating and knowledgeable of their native language this institution has helped my family to study Arabic and Quran from the comfort of our homes. Furthermore, we will be exploring the option to enrich and consolidates our learning with the summer travel packages to Cairo. It’s not until you begin studying Arabic that you realise the magnitude of what lies ahead. It’s never too late because our only limits are the ones we set for ourselves.