This narrative took place about six years ago. This is a repost from 2008 with some general modifications.
Within five minutes of class I began to feel angry at myself. I had an exam to move on to the next level in Arabic within the hour, and I had not spent enough time studying. I had moved all the way to Cairo, to live my dream of studying Arabic, to finally understand the language of the Qur’an, and yet, here I was, unprepared for my exam.
My teacher caught on. “Are you feeling ok? Do you feel some pain?”
“Yeah…” I answered, hesitant to keep going, trying to get myself together, but needing someone to tell me: be patient, the road to knowledge is long and hard but worth it. I kept trying to tell myself that, but it was not working.
So I told her: I knew it was going to be hard, I was expecting difficulty, but man it’s hard, and man it’s difficult. I just need someone to tell me, I explained to her, that this is the way, and that knowledge is like this, that I can do it with God’s help.
And so she told me, and man, it was worth feeling all the anger and frustration to hear what she said to give me hope.
“Do you know who wrote THE book on Arabic grammar?” She asked me. No, I shook my head, I had no clue.
“Sibaway,” she said. And then she began to tell me about the great master of the Arabic language, Sibaway, may God have mercy on him.
He was a non-Arab. Persian, to be exact. When Sibaway would speak in Arabic, the people around him would make fun of him. Finally, he swore he would write THE book on Arabic grammar, and he even named it AL Kitab—THE Book. He was that confident. And Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), gave him sincere success in what he wrote. Until now, all these centuries later, she told me, no one, no Arab or non-Arab, has written like Sibaway, the master of this field.
But when he approached death, and may God have mercy on him, he began to feel great sadness. He lamented at the closeness of his death, and he thought about his companions. All of these people around him had memorized Qur’an, all of these people had memorized hadeeth (sayings of the Prophet ﷺ, peace be upon him). “Where is my Qur’an? Where is my hadeeth?” He cried. Instead, he lamented, that he was stuck between Zaid and Amr, the two famous characters in the Arabic grammar books.
He went to sleep distraught.
That night he had a dream, and he was visited by the GREATEST of the GREATEST men, The Beloved ﷺ, and was given glad tidings about his efforts!
Sibaway woke realizing that his work was indeed important, as it was a means to helping people know and understand the Qur’an. So much so that until now, his book continues to help people in their Qur’anic understanding.
“This is a non-Arab,” she told me. “This is the way of knowing the Qur’an. Do you think that if you stopped and asked a person on the street something in the Qur’anic Arabic, in classical Arabic, they could answer you? No, not just anyone can do this,” she continued, “because it takes work. It’s hard, but it’s worth it, being on the path of wanting to know the Qur’an.”
If Sibaway, a non-Arab, could write THE BOOK on Arabic grammar, what about all of you with all the skills and talents Allah (swt) has created you with? Look at what you were given, and see how you can maximize that for your ummah (community) and your society fisabilliah (in the way of God).
Let us do what the Prophet ﷺ did to help build the best generation which ever walked this earth: find the skills and talents within individuals—within OURSELVES—and take them and use them for God’s sake to make great leaps of progress. We need YOU in this ummah!
It doesn’t have to be Arabic, or Qur’an or Hadeeth—it can be anything beneficial, used to help others in a beneficial way.
And yes, it is going to be a struggle. But, as a dear teacher, may Allah (swt) protect him, once reminded me:
Isbiri, fa inna sabran nooron min Allah
Be patient! For indeed patience is light from God.
Veiled from sight, a young woman walked down the streets of Cairo, reciting Qur’an to herself and thinking about her goals. She loved the Qur’an and was passionate about studying and teaching it. She wanted to move to Saudi Arabia where she knew of Qur’anic scholars from whom she dreamt of learning. She was mesmerized by Makkah and Madinah; she’d find herself spending hours making du`a’ (supplication) to visit the House of her Lord in Ramadan, to make the journey of Hajj, to walk through the land of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him). Working on a Master’s degree and traveling for hours in traffic to come to her students’ homes and teach them Qur’an never caused her to complain; she was constantly working on reviewing her Qur’an; she had memorized it completely from years past and she continued to review it to ensure it never left her heart.
Suddenly, she was stopped by a random lady on the road. “Excuse me,” the lady inquired, peering into the eyes of the girl whose heart burned with the inscription of the Words of Allah, whose face was veiled by her niqaab (face covering), whose hands were covered by gloves and whose body was cloaked by a long, flowing outer garment. “Are you married or engaged?” the lady asked. Staring at the lady, the young woman replied in the negative, hesitant, yet curious at such a loaded question from a random passerby. Especially considering her outer dress, the lady certainly wasn’t asking because she found the young woman to be ridiculously beautiful. She could have no idea of what the young woman looked like. “I have a brother,” the lady explained, “He’s Egyptian, but he lives in Saudi Arabia. He has memorized the entire Qur’an. He has qualifications to teach it. He’s looking to get married. Might you be interested?”
After more conversation, the young woman exchanged information with the random woman on the street. Soon, their families initiated contact and within weeks, the brother of the lady had come to visit the young woman and her family. With time, prayers and lots of consultation, the young woman finally agreed; she would marry the young man with whom she would live in Saudi Arabia, the young man who helped her plan to make Hajj that very year, the young man who had already memorized the Qur’an and who dedicated his heart to Allah’s Book, the young man—now her husband—to whom she was introduced by a random lady on the road.
This story may seem strange, dangerous, even, and implausible. If I was reading it or if someone else had shared it with me, I would be skeptical and even concerned for the woman being approached by a random stranger on the street. But this is the hook-up story of my Qur’an teacher. I knew her before she got married and from the very first day we met for class she told me, “Please pray for me! I want to move to Saudi Arabia so I can study with the scholars of Qur’an there!” This was after she already had an ijaza (certification) in memorization and was working on another one. The incident of her walking on the street happened a few years after we had first met, after many years of her praying to God to open the doors for her. She shared the story with me herself and she’s now been happily married for years, blessed with two children (may God love both of them!) and is living in her dream location.
She devoted her life to the Qur’an and to her studies. She focused on her objectives in being a servant of God and of His Book and maintained that focus in every aspect of her life. I would have never imagined that she’d get married to someone who was the missing piece to everything she was looking for and even more, yet I should have realized that my puny imagination is nothing in comparison to God’s Power and Decree. God hooked my Qur’an teacher up big time and it could easily be argued that it was because she hooked up with the Book of God.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
Recently I have been discussing Islam with a Christian (Seventh-day Adventist) pastor. To protect his identity, I will call him Kris.
Our discussions started when I attended one night of a biblical prophecy seminar that he was conducting in a rented Church building. His discussion centered on the Sabbath and its importance in Christianity. He claimed that the Apostles of Christ (عليه السلام) kept the Sabbath just as the Jews before them did. After the presentation I approached him with some contradictory information. The Bible implies that the Sabbath is no longer obligatory.
One text that demonstrates this is the narration of the rich man. A rich man approaches Jesus (عليه السلام) and asks Him what must be done to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus (عليه السلام) replies that he must keep the commandments. The man asks which commandments Jesus (عليه السلام) is referring to. He lists off the commandments that are most important to keep and the Sabbath is not one of them. The rich man exclaims that he has kept all of the commandments and Jesus (عليه السلام) replies by saying that he should go and sell his possessions to give to the poor. The man is saddened and leaves. What is important from this narration is that the requirements for entering the kingdom of heaven are listed. They are to avoid murder, adultery, theft, giving false testimony, defrauding people, and dishonoring your father and mother. The last requirement is for the rich man to sell all of his possessions, give to the poor, and follow Jesus (عليه السلام). It was this last requirement that the rich man lacked. Clearly Jesus (عليه السلام) never required an observance of the Sabbath for one to enter the kingdom of heaven. Additionally, there is evidence from the Acts of the Apostles that the Apostles of Christ (عليه السلام) themselves did not observe the Sabbath as strictly as the Kris would have us believe. Yes, there are narrations that state that such-and-such Apostles went to the Synagogue on the Sabbath, but such narration is always followed by “as was his custom”. Sabbatarian Christians like to overlook the fact that there is a discernible difference between doing something out of custom and a religious requirement to do something. Contrarily, there is a narration that speaks about the Apostles gathering and “breaking bread” (i.e. partaking of communion/Eucharist) on the first day of the week; Sunday.