“How can humankind resist the beauty of this language, with its logic and unique brilliance? Even the Arab’s neighbors, people they’ve conquered, have fallen under the charm of this language.” Sigrid Hunke (1913-1999)
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What is beautiful for one person may not be so for another.
Arabic, the language of the Quran, is no exception to this rule.
While some claim the graphemes and phonemes of the Arabic language sound rather aggressive, others are literally enchanted and fascinated by the Arabic language and culture.
A speaker of another foreign language might be attracted to the consonant-heavy and strongly guttural Arabic language, and they may find oral expression and Arabic pronunciation a particular challenge, and instruction rather complex.
Additionally, the Arabic language and civilization carry with them a symbolism and a certain exoticism recalling the colors and flavors of the Orient - the full understanding of which comes only from learning Arabic.
As with Chinese or Japanese, the Arabic written language has such a vast lexical and grammatical architecture that even the most knowledgeable university professors and religious scholars cannot claim to know every Arabic vocabulary word.
Arabic can claim complexities to rattle even an advanced speaker in any of the European languages, be in French, Spanish, or Portuguese, and poses a number of issues not found if you want to learn Italian or German.
Classical Arabic, with roots in ancient Semitic languages, is a literary form of Arabic (as opposed to dialectical Arabic) dating back at least 1500 years. The first evidence of Arabic script, the inscription of Zabad from the year 512, was found in Syria.
Over the centuries, the Arab-Muslim civilization has made lasting inroads into Europe, Africa, Asia, and to a lesser extent America, sharing the richness of its arts, science, and knowledge.
Today Arabic is spoken by an estimated 420 million people, 300 of whom are native speakers. It is an official language in 26 countries across the Middle East and North Africa, from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, Qatar to Chad.
So, learning Arabic means not only gaining linguistic instruction, but learning to speak the most beautiful, or at least one of the most beautiful foreign languages, in the world.
Arabic is a fascinating language, and there is a lot that you need to know. In this article, Superprof will tell you why it is the most beautiful language in the world.
Arabic is a Poetic Language
Learning Arabic and Islam have always been interlinked. Even before the rise of Islam, Arabs were great lovers of poetry.
Semitic language philologists and grammarians (Aramaic, Arabic, Hebrew) have highlighted the stunning literary production of the Islamic civilization.
Arabic poetry written by the Berbers, a people from the Maghreb nations, Egypt and the Arabian peninsula developed a very advanced culture of oral literature. Called " Mu‘allaqāt", it is the oldest known example of poetry.
Every year, fairs were held during which poets would recite their works. The best poems were then hung on the Ka'aba, Islam's most sacred mosque in Mecca. From that point on, these chosen works would be considered sacred objects of religious worship.
Learning Arabic with a private teacher will help students discover various types of Arabic poetry and branches of Arabic literature (in Arabic, the word for literature is "adab") from the Middle Ages to today.
As well as developing your vocabulary with new words and phrases, a good private tutor will ensure that each lesson of your Arabic learning will consist of studying the rich culture and history of the Arab world.
In the West, artists use writing as a means fof expressing their feelings, promoting their culture, religion, or philosophy, and conveying their love of words.
It would be impossible to provide a complete survey of all of the Arabic genres and poets since the Middle Ages.
Let's look, however, at four main trends in Arabic poetry in which the descriptive and lyrical styles regularly intermingle.
- El-fakhar: praise for one's tribe and for oneself
- El-madih: praise for others
- El-hidja: satire
- En-nasib: eroticism
Arabic poetry allowed for playing with Arabic vocabulary.
Love, sexuality, nature, medicine, sanctity, family, friendship, nostalgia, death, mythology, war, and civilization are just some of the subjects broached by numerous Arabic poets through whom you can learn about the Arabic culture and language.
Discover Literary Arabic
Who today does not know of Avicenna (980-1037) and Averroes (1126-1198)?
The development of Arabic philosophy and literary genres occurred between the 8th and 13th centuries.
Literature of chivalry, protection of the weak, respect for one's word, intolerance for crime, exaltation of the holy and religious devotion are among the major themes in Arabic feudal literature.
Popular literature, as opposed to adab, is prosaic rather than religious or philosophical. It encompasses fables, proverbs, encyclopedias, epistles, genealogical, historical, and geographical works, and maqāmah.
At the time, the intellectual elite enjoyed coming together to participate in oratory jousts in which they would use rhetoric to show off their scholarly prowess.
Likewise, authors of this period were publishing many works on mathematics, physics, medicine, history, geography, philosophy, and Arabic architecture. The impressive body of knowledge of this very advanced society would later inspire the intellectuals of Europe.
Written Arabic is a Veritable Art Form
Some consider the language of the Arab-Muslim world to be the most beautiful of all written languages.
In fact, Arabic calligraphy is seen as a completely separate art. Though it may be considered to be in the same category as drawing or painting, it is often honored above all other Arabic art forms.
Get good Arabic lessons on Superprof.
Thus, for a non-Arabic-speaking student, learning to write Arabic is an artistic endeavor involving drawing characters, or letters, with very rounded shapes featuring curls and lines that require particular attention to reproduce.
Calligraphy actually resembles illumination more than writing. In the past, calligraphy was used to decorate religious Arabic texts.
Writing the language of the Quran well means calculating the placement and size of the Arabic characters and adding decoration to the Arabic letters and words - the very definition of calligraphy. To master this skill, only a series of Arabic lessons will suffice.
Do you still doubt the beauty of the written Arabic language?
A quick Google images search of Arabic calligraphy will show you straight away some of the forms of writing are truly graphic art.
You'll find figurative patterns, drawings of animals using Arabic letters, and multi-colored ornamentation.
Reproducing such creations requires the talent of a graphic artist or illustrator!
But, it might be best to begin with more modest goals. Students can start by learning the Arabic alphabet and how to write in Arabic.
When you start to learn Arabic, you will realise that it has always been written from right to left. In a basic Arabic class, learners will begin by copying the letters of the Arabic alphabet in order to memorize them.
The Arabic alphabet is made up of twenty-seven letters including the hamza. At first sight, this may not seem like much, but we're not through yet.
Things become more complex when you learn that each letter has a specific arabesque shape according to its location within a word.
There are four different ways to write each character.
- the isolated form that never changes
- the initial form for the first syllable of a word
- the middle form for the middle of the word
- the final form for finishing the word
In all, students of Arabic will have 112 Arabic characters to memorize! But practice will help you learn the letters quickly. There's no magic solution!
When I was taking Arabic courses online at university, I remember being at the point where learning Arabic was challenging. I hardly knew the letters. I was writing them in an unusual direction, and I couldn't figure out the correct angle or size for the letters.
Yet, after a few hours of lessons, I was able to read the newspaper - recognize the form of each letter according to their position in the words - and write simple sentences by linking the letters together!
Starting with written Arabic is a good idea. With spoken Arabic, the dialect differs between all of the Arab countries, meaning that Moroccan Arabic is different from Palestinian Arabic, and Lebanese Arabic is different from Qatari Arabic.
However, written Arabic is a lot easier. The main form of written Arabic is Modern standard Arabic (Msa) which is the written form common across the whole Arabic speaking world, and is the basis for all Arabic writing.
The other form is Classical Arabic, which is found in the Quran. Luckily, the difference between the two is very small with most native speakers saying they switch between the two almost at will.
Find out more about the link between the Arabic language and the Islamic civilization.
Arabic is a Linguistically Rich Language
The Arabic language includes an infinite number of circumlocutions for expressing the same idea in various ways as well as an incredible amount of vocabulary words.
Learning to speak Arabic means studying the historical richness of the Islamic civilization.
Citizens of the Arab world may proudly boast that the Arabic language has 60,000 words, which is quite impressive when compared to the average native English-speaker's vocabulary of 20,000 words.
According to Ernest Renan (1823-1892), French writer, linguist, philosopher, and historian, there are
- 80 words in Arabic for honey
- 200 Arabic words for snake
- 500 ways to say lion
- 1000 words in Arabic for camel and sword
- 4400 ways to express sadness
Imagine the size of an Arabic dictionary!
- Nouns and adjectives are almost always based on verb roots.
- For example, the Semitic root d-r-s (دَرَسَ), "dirasa", means "to study".
- By derivation, we get the noun "madrasa" (مَدْرَسة), which means "school".
- "Schools" is written "madrasat" (مدرسات).
There are 6000 verb roots composed of three consonants in the Arabic language. To form words, complete the roots with letters described as subservient. In other words, double the radicals.
One root can form Arabic verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and other words of all kinds.
So, how are Arabic verbs conjugated?
You can learn all about Arabic grammar by taking Arabic courses London or online with your Superprof!
In Arabic, there are seventeen total ways to conjugate a verb. Regular verbs are conjugated in thirteen different ways.
Okay, the Arabic language is clearly the most beautiful language in the world. But, really, where and how can you study the Arabic language?
You can find everything you need to know about learning Arabic with Superprof, and you can even find a private tutor close to you on the Superprof platform!
Until then, check out the link between the Arabic language and Allah.
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