Everything Starts with Why

Why do you want to learn Arabic? I come across a lot of people who would love to learn Arabic but they are not able to clearly articulate why they want to learn it. The ‘why’ is incredibly important when you embark on something like learning Arabic or anything in life for that matter. Few students know why they are studying the language. When asked, I’ve had some people say they are studying it because it’s been drilled in them from their parents that they need to know Arabic. But when you dig deeper their real reasons come out. They are learning because they want to develop a close connection with their creator. Other students want to connect with the people and culture and others still want to complete their Arabic identity by being able to speak it. Whatever your reasons are, it’s important to get to the bottom of ‘why’ you want to be proficient in Arabic. The why is the only part that inspires you, it’s your purpose, your belief, your reason for learning.

Why am I doing this?

You might be asking why a Chinese – Malay guy who was born and raised in Australia is teaching Arabic. It’s a good question. As weird as it sounds, learning Arabic has actually changed my life. Growing up I hated Arabic, I found it was the most boring thing. Mum (God bless her) would try so hard to make us kids learn Arabic, but none of us were interested. That wouldn’t stop her, she would literally try everything. I remember she made me do these one on one lessons with a Shaykh. Without fail, I would sleep in every lesson. He would get so frustrated that I would fall asleep that he made me bring a glass of water every lesson and when I fell asleep, he would dip his fingers in the glass and flick water in my face! Once I woke up, and my head was on the table and I was drooling all over the exercise books! ahhh poor guy.

Later on when I was about 19 I went to Hajj and I remember being in this book shop owner by this Turkistani guy. I was complaining that there weren’t any books in English, and he got annoyed. He said, ‘Why should I stock books in English? You should learn Arabic! Arabic is the language of the Quran, it’s not just for the Arabs, look at me I’m not an Arab’.

I can still vividly remember the conversation and how I felt. As a non-Arab Muslim, I was frustrated that I couldn’t understand the Quran and and that everything I was saying in my prayers was just sounds I learnt when I was young. I was fortunate enough to learn from a Shaykh at a local masjid. Shaykh Sulaiman is one of the kindest, most generous individuals I’ve come across in my life. I would go to his house at 10 at night for a lesson and all he would say is ‘ahlan wa sahlan’ (welcome). Through him, I started to really love this beautiful language. I then began to really enjoy the challenge of speaking in another language and connecting with others who were learning both Arab and non-Arab. When I got more confident in the language, it then helped me in my career as an Islamic banker develop a connection with colleagues in the Gulf and in Malaysia.

Why am I doing this? Because I have no doubt that learning Arabic will also change your lives. It might sound like a weird concept, but I have no doubt that it will. Either through the students you’ll meet, understanding the Quran in its original language, an appreciation of the people and culture or for another reason, I’m convinced it will. Learning Arabic to many is dry and boring, I want to teach it in a new and innovative way to make it enjoyable and accessible for students.

Connect to your ‘why you want to learn Arabic’ on a regular basis, because it is the emotional driver that will drive your behaviour and help you push yourselves to achieve your goals with this language.

In this lesson we’ll go through the bare essentials. Inty is going to help us learn how to say basic words like yes, no, please, thank you. Click the link below to print out and complete the worksheet!

6. Click here to download the worksheet for the video: Basic Phrases

WhatsApp it to me!

Now that you’ve watched the video, send me a voice note of the following in Arabic:

Yes (colloquial)
Thank you
You’re welcome
Sorry (f)
Sorry (m)
I understand
I don’t understand
I don’t understand Arabic
Can you please repeat that? (m)
Can you please repeat that? (f)