My Journey: Shahida Al-Ahad

Learning Arabic: A U-Turn Home.

“Whoever knows [the reality of] what he seeks, it becomes insignificant for him what he spends”
~ Sariy al-Saqati ~

October 2014: On a crisp autumn English evening, with two young children in tow, my husband and I boarded a plane departing to Cairo and thus began my quest to fulfil a lifetime’s dream; to learn the Language of the Quran and The Beloved. As we journeyed across the oceans and seas I imagined how wonderful it would be to finally understand the words of God.

Upon arrival, I immediately joined an Arabic language institute and immersed myself in the language. I eagerly spent hours, both within class and outside, learning new vocabulary. However, I soon realised that although I was making progress; something felt disconnected and empty deep inside me. Every so often, I’d pick up books of Hadith or Qisas (stories) of the pious people of the past, and despite being able to understand words I was unable to comprehend what I was reading, nor was I able to read without the aid of vowels. At first, this drove me to work harder but as time ticked away I felt more and more disappointed and eventually gave up trying to read anything beyond the textbooks in class.

February 2016: I returned home to visit my family and friends. They bombarded me with questions about my progress; ‘Can you speak Arabic fluently now?’… ‘Wow! It must be wonderful to understand the Quran!’… ’How does it feel to understand the Quran?’ But deep down I knew, in reality, I was still very far from understanding the words of God and His Messenger. Amidst all of this academic, spiritual noise and clamour, my beloved father returned to his Lord. After laying him to rest I returned to Cairo to continue my studies.

In Cairo, the feeling of academic and spiritual discontent intertwined with grief and feelings of filial failure dug a deep vacuum in my heart. It was then, as if by Divine Inspiration, I recalled an email I had received from a friend informing me about the Sacred Texts Course. As I scrolled through all the information, I could find about the course I felt a sense of peace come over me. I had finally found the course I’d been searching for: a course that links Arabic to Revelation and the words of the Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم. Almost instantaneously, I packed my bags and headed home.

September 2016: I joined Sacred Text and was placed in Year 2. Within weeks of embarking on the course I was awed at how extremely advanced my peers were in their Arabic language skills, yet they had only studied Arabic for one year? (And what’s more? Right here on the British Isles!) Their brilliance is completely credited to the high-quality, second to none, education they had received from our teachers at Sacred Text.

My second-year peers already knew how to strip any Arabic word to its root-format and then rebuild the word to express themselves, as they wished. For example, if we look at the word كتب (ka-ta-ba) ‘he wrote’, by merely adding tā كتبتُ  the meaning is changed to, ‘I wrote.’ In contrast, it would suffice to say that although I knew how to express myself, it was Sacred Text that gave me the ‘Aha!’ moment and realised the most basic concept; that Arabic words are by-and-large rooted in only three letters; and from these three letters stem all forms of expression. And what’s more – this is called Sarf (Morphology)!

Furthermore, in Nahw (Grammar), whilst I relied on what was orally taught to me (and quite often guess-work) my peers were correctly and confidently reading texts and were able to deeply analyse sentence structures grammatically and morphologically.

The result of this outstanding education is that after just a year of studies students at Sacred Text can independently read and understand the Qur’an and Hadith. It was at Sacred Text that I was finally given ‘the keys’ to my dreams: to read and understand the Language of Revelation and The Beloved صلى الله عليه و سلم