Salam. Often when asked the question: “How did you learn Arabic then? Tell me…” I often give the reply: “I am trying to learn it myself” or: “You don’t know how weak I am in it”; trying to rebut the tone of the question which seems to indicate that I had somehow dipped past the imaginary Arabic language “finishing line” and had now officially “learnt” Arabic.
Sensing the questioners desire to stumble upon some kind of ground breaking method requiring little effort I sometimes add “actually theres a pill you can take, and then the next day when you wake up you will know Arabic, its that simple”. The point is no matter which learning method exists out there it will require hard work on the part of the student.
I have set myself the target of being able to understand Islamic texts correctly, everything else is a bonus (Insh-Allah), I wish I could add my own taliqat and hawashi to articles or texts I enjoy, or even dare to venture into writing a fully fledged article. However unfortunately I do not have the time nor the commitment/focus to achieve these goals.
Arabic experts out there please feel free to comment with your thoughts, hopefully the goal of picking up a not too difficult Islamic work and being able to enjoy it will not be too unrealistic a target for people to aim for (along with some hard work). I found a few passages in the Mawsuah (35/277-278) from which I have extracted the following:
Excellence Of The Arabic Language
Al-Tumartashi and al-Haskafi said: Arabic has an excellence over all languages. It is the language of the people of Paradise, he who studies it and teaches it to others is rewarded. [Dur al-Mukhtar 5/269]
In a hadith is: “Love the Arabs because of three: because I am Arab, the Quran is in Arabic and the speech of the people of Paradise is Arabic”. [cited by al-Haithami in al-Majma (10/52) who said: Reported by al-Tabarani in al-Kabir and al-Awsat except that he said: ‘The language of the people of Paradise will be Arabic’. It contains al-Alaa Ibn Amr al-Hanafi regarding whose weakness there is agreement.]
Basic Minimum Amount
Every Muslim should strive their utmost to learn the Arabic language to the point that they are able to bear witness in it that ‘There is no god except Allah and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger’, recite the book of Allah, pronounce the dhikr compulsory for them from the takbir, and that which they are ordered with in the tasbih and tashahhud and other than them. [Risalah al-Shafi p.48]
Means To Understanding The Quran And Sunnah
When the Quran and Pure Sunnah have come in the Arabic language their knowledge is dependant on the knowledge of Arabic. When there is no means to seeking an understanding of them both except by this route the knowledge of it (Arabic) is from the most important of the necessary acts (wajibat). [Al-Muwafaqat 2/64 with slight changes]
As for delving into the intracies of the Arabic sciences which are necessary for the understanding of the Quran, Pure Sunnah and secrets of the Shariah, it is a communal obligation (fard al-kifayah). If some of the Muslims undertake it the rest of them are absolved, however if they all are negligent in regards to it, then all of them will be sinful [Hashiyah al-Sherwani ala Tuhfah al-Muhtaj 9/214]
Note: Some material above being based on Imam al-Shafi’s work, it logically follows that it reflects the Shafi school of thought.