Source: Samir Hussein
Learning Arabic consists of three steps:
1) Learning basic language skills (can take 1-3 years depending on student)
2) Studying Arabic as a science (can take 2-4 years depending on student)
3) Intensive Academic expertise/research (Lifetime)
For the first step, the entire step consists of one word: Practice. Practice, Practice, Practice your reading, listening, speaking and writing skills as much and as often as you can to get to to fluency. It can take 2-3 years to obtain full fluency (or more) don’t despair. The key is consistency in practice, even if its only 1/2 hour everyday (although more is better).
Important books for this are:
– My personal favorite for self study: a book called An Introduction to the Arabic Language through Islamic Texts by Syed Iqbal Zaheer.
– Qasas-ul-Nabiyin lil-Atfal for reading practice.
– Suwarun min Hayatis-Sahabah for reading after Qasas.
Do not cross over to the next stage until you have achieved at least 80% or so fluency. Ask around for additional resources for practice.
Studying Arabic as a science – this should be done with a teacher.
If you are a natural at languages, any teacher who has studied these texts will suffice, otherwise a teacher skilled and fluent in these sciences is highly preferred (doesn’t have to be a specialist in the Arabic language though, some scholars of fiqh and hadith can also teach language very well).
There are 4 sciences – Nahw (grammar), Sarf (morphology), Balagha (prose/rhetoric/style) and Adab (literature).
The most important books are:
– al-Ajrumiyyah (with a lot of basic I’rab practice)
– Qatr-ul-Nada (With I’rab practice from the Qur’an)
– Qawa’id ul-I’rab (with I’rab practice from the Qur’an)
Alfiyyatuibnu Malik (With I’rab practice from the poem that forms the text of the book).
– Mughni al-Labib
– Imam al-Taftazani’s explanation of Tasrif ul-Izzi – (with some basic practice in I’lal and Ibdal)
– Lamiyyatul-Af’al – I prefer the sharh of the author’s son for the student – although the teacher can use others to reference from.
– Alfiyyatuibnu Malik (with a lot more practice in I’lal/Ibdal etc)
– Taysir-ul-I’lal wal Ibdal – can be studied on one’s own after the alfiyyah – excellent book for practice.
– Durus-ul-Balaghah – an easy, comprehensive introduction
– Al-Balaghatul-Wadihah – Important to learn Balaghah on a practical level.
– Sharh Mukhtasar Sa’d (or Mukhtasar-ul-Ma’ani) – Very important text to study, will really make the connection for you between logic and balaghah, as well as opening up advanced balagah texts for you.
– Any text in Urud/Qawafi with a teacher.
– Sharh Mu’allaqat al-Sab’ or Ashr
– Selected study from al-Mutanabbi
– Maqamat Al-Hariri – extremely important for building vocabulary
– Al-Umdah – a comprehensive text on the sciences of poetry. I forgot the author but I think his nasab was al-Qazwini.
Intensive Academic expertise/research – a specialist in the Arabic language will know way more than I do.
In Nahw –
– Other explanations of the Alfiyyah such as Imam al-Ushmuni’s, Abu Hayyan, al-Shatibi, Ibn-Aqil
– Explanations of Imam ibn Malik’s Tashil – Abu Hayyan’s is a famous one and his students rebuttal is not bad either.
– Imam al-Zamaskhari’s works (and their explanations)
– Kafiyatu-ibn-il-Hajib and its famous explanation.
– Kitab-al-Sibawayh if you’re feeling adventurous.
– Shafiyyatu-ibn-il-Hajib and it’s explanation.
– Al-Mumti by ibn Usfur.
– Al-Mustaqsa by Dr AbdulLatif alKhatib
– Abdul-Qadir al-Jurjanis books
– Mahmood Shakir’s books
– Muhammad Abu Musa’s books – I wonder if anyone has tried to teach from these instead of classical texts?
– Tafsir Al-Zamaskhari
– Tafsir ibn Ashur
In Adab (better to ask a specialist)
– Maqamat al-Hariri (yes again)
– Imam al-Jahidh’s books especially Al-Bayan wa al-Tabyin
– Al-Kamil by Imam al Mubarrid.
– Al-Khasa’is of Ibn al-Jinni
This list seems dauntingly long, but the question you need to ask yourself as an Arabic learner is: Why do I want to learn Arabic? If you want to become a scholar, the whole list applies. If you don’t then the length of the list varies depends on what you want to achieve. For those who want only a basic grasp of the Qur’an in Arabic so they can read small tafsirs on their own, or to engage in Modern Arab culture, then the first stage will suffice.