بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
There is this misconception that if one knows English one knows it all . True, English has become the global lingua franca over the past several decades–but that is quickly changing. This attitude that English alone is enough in this day and age is a self-imposed limitation. People who choose to be monolingual yet want to: participate fully in the global community and marketplace, assist in the effort to building bridges for mutual understanding, respect and co-existence are stunting their educational development. They are restricting their communication and thinking abilities, and more importantly denying themselves the ability to fully appreciate and understand the world in which we live in today. Indeed, learning a new language opens up new opportunities, and provides a perspective that one might never encounter otherwise. Personal, social, economic growth all point to the advantage of learning a foreign language.
But why Arabic?
Did you know that Arabic is the 5th most spoken language in the world? Did you know that there is a high demand for employees speaking arabic as a foreign language–yes, even here in the USA.? Very few companies in the USA have Arabic speaking staff, and their need is growing with the growing influence and economy of the Middle East and the need to reach new markets. So, it’s a great way to “market” yourself. Not into business! No problem. You can easily find a job in journalism–the Middle East never runs out of stories that ought to be reported. Education, interpretation and translation are also fields that currently in need of Arabic speaking staff.
Not interested in the financial incentives? No problem. There’s something for you in it too. Learning Arabic will get you in touch with rich Arabic culture, will destroy common prejudices which are the hallmarks of our current times, and will inform you of the lives and thoughts of Arabic speaking people from the Middle East and elsewhere –even the very communities that reside in your state.
And by the way Arabic is already nearer to you than you may think–we use English words with Arabic origins every day. Did you know that all of these English words have Arabic origin: admiral- ami:r-al-bahr ‘ruler of the seas’; alchemy – al-ki:mi:a: ; alcohol – al-koh”l ‘the kohl‘ ; algebra – al-jebr ‘reintegration’ – jabara reunite ; algorithm – al-Khowarazmi ‘the (man) of Khiva’ ; almanac – (Andalucian Arabic) al-mana:kh. amber – `anbar ‘ambergris’; assassin – h’ashsha:shi:n ‘hashish eaters’, from the Isma`ili sectarians; attar – `itr ‘aroma’
And not to forget words such as: caliber – qali:b ‘mold ; camphor – ka:fu:r , checkmate – sha:h ma:t ‘the king is dead’ , coffee – qahwah, cotton – qutn; crimson – qirmazi:, related to the qirmiz, the insect that provided the dye; El Cid – al-Sayyid ‘the lord’ ; gazelle – ghaza:l ; genie – jinni: ‘spirit’ ; ghoul – ghu:l ‘demon’ – gha:la take suddenly; giraffe – zara:fa ; jar – jarrah ‘large earthen vase’ ; kohl – koh”l ‘kohl’ – kah’ala stain, paint ; lime – li:mah ‘citrus fruit’ ; lute – al-`u:d; magazine – makha:zin ‘storehouses’ – khazana store; muslin – Maus,il ‘Mosul’; nadir – nadi:r as-samt ‘opposite the zenith’ ; ream – rizmah ‘bundle’ ; safari – safari:y ‘journey’ – safara travel ; saffron – za`fara:n; Sahara – çah’ra: ‘desert’ ; Saracen – sharqi:yi:n ‘easterners’ – sha:raqa rise ; sash – sha:sh ‘muslin’; sherbet – sharbah – shariba drink ; sofa – s,uffah ‘raised dais with cushions’ ; souk – su:k. ‘marketplace’ ; spinach – isfa:na:kh; sugar – sukkar – from Sanskrit ; sumac – summa:q; syrup – shara:b ‘beverage’ – shariba drink; tamarind – tamr-hindi: ‘date of India’ ; zenith – samt ‘path’ ; and finally yes we were the ones that came up with the zero – s,ifr ’empty’.
For sure, learning Arabic is difficult but we’ll try and make it as fun as possible. Consider it an adventure! In earnest it is, for you will start with a completly different alphabet, a different pronunciation, and eventually develop an appreciation for an entirely different type of humor, tradition and culture.Plus, Arabic is the liturgical language of Islam–in addition to millions of native speakers, many more millions of Muslims know Arabic as a foreign language because it is the language of the Qur’an. So, through learning it you are connecting with 1.6 billion of the earth’s population, among whom are those who speak it, read it, and write it or otherwise aspire to.
Please read the Handbook for Students of Arabic