It isn't just a piece of cake trying to learn Arabic in a country like America, especially if you're learning to better understand the Qur'an. Which is strange, considering the fundamental importance of understanding Qur'an for all Muslims. And also, I think it's sad, even scary, to see what seems to be only superficial treatment given towards in-depth studies of the Qur'an. Isn't that how knowledge is taken away?
Those who want to study Arabic at a later age have limited opportunities. They might be able to take classes at a local college or university--undoubtedly this method will teach "Modern Standard Arabic" which might be useful for reading the news but probably isn't proper for learning Qur'an. Another option is to travel overseas--often expensive, but the immersion tends to help a student quickly gain familiarity with the language. A third option is internet institutes offering virtual classrooms to students--I can't say one way or another how successful these tend to be. And some Muslims can subscribe to classes offered by someone in their community for adults (instead of children) which lead the students through a painstakingly slow process of learning the language--often without much ability to advance in their study, and with constant repetition as old students drop out and new ones begin.
That being the case, a program like Bayyinah's is very useful because it offers certified instruction, opportunities to advance through the program (without being stuck in a loop repeating the same material) to higher levels of understanding. It offers the personal touch of an instructor, but one who is also qualified, and who travels around so the local Muslims don't have to resort to college-taught Modern Standard Arabic as a substitute, or to travel abroad which is too expensive for many.
So I'm really happy that Bayyinah is visiting my community again, offering classes in Tajweed. I think this is something really important, and which also has not been available (especially for sisters) for the time I've been here. A few months ago, a tajweed class for brothers was started with the imam... only for brothers. I inquired about having one started for sisters as well, as I really wanted to learn tajweed and had not been presented with an opportunity at all simply because I was a woman. I found that the imam had agreed to teach such a class but that I would be responsible for finding enough students and scheduling it, in order to make it happen. At the time I was overwhelmed with other activities--namely, the 4-week da'wah course I was planning--so I just gave up on the idea.
But alhamdulillah, a much better alternative is now available, and that is the class for brothers and sisters being taught by Wisam Sharieff inshaaAllah in just a few weeks. It is a short and intensive program, but the instructor promised a variety of follow-up options for those who take the course to continue practicing and improving upon what they learned.
He came here last Friday, supposed to give a talk about whether Tajweed was part of the Revelation. Instead of tackling that topic, he just sort of gave it an aside at the end--of course it was, he said, supposing nobody had really come wondering what the answer to the question was. So his focus was on preserving the Qur'an (which includes pronunciation!), understanding it properly, and using it to know Allah better, and to show gratitude to Allah.
So I am, of course, eagerly waiting for the course to begin, encouraging as many folks as I know to join it. And those of you who live in/near Raleigh and read my blog--yes I'm talking to you--you should definitely check out this class. If you somehow don't know what I'm talking about, email me and inshaaAllah I'll forward you the flyer.