April 19, 2005


I recently had a chance to visit Nadwatul-Ulama, one of the most respected Islamic institutions in India, and throughout the world. Wandering through the libraries and study centres of the school, I thought to myself: "I wasted my life."

Not that my Engineering degree from the University of Ottawa was useless, but somehow seeing the oceans of Islamic knowledge that have been passed down throughout the centuries was a humbling experience. We've barely scratched the surface.

This is why I am particular excited about the upcoming Darul-Uloom of Canada, located in the city of Bowmanville about 30 minutes out of Toronto. A project of this scale is really an exceptional challenge, and I believe that the success of the project will play heavily into the success of Islam in North America as a whole. I am also particularly impressed with the Shariah Program, where I am currently enrolled in a distance learning course. All these projects are important contributions to the community, and should be supported. I wrote somewhere in my Hajj journals that I admired the British Muslim community, and that insha-Allah we would eventually reach that level. Such projects make that closer to reality.

In Ottawa, the Al-Maghrib Institute seems to be doing good work, though there is still a lot of work to be done. Rather than compare the different programs and criticize those that do not conform to our particular view, we should wish for the success of all those efforts that are done for the sake of pleasing Allah Subhana wa ta'Ala and elevating the deen.


  1. Assalaamu'alaykum

    How were the classes with Shariah Program? Do you think one could become pretty proficient with their program? Do you find online classes sufficient in learning a language? (Assuming you took the Arabic and not the Islamic Studies/Arabic course.)

    "We've barely scratched the surface." How true that is. But I think that knowledge is for those ready to work for it and make some sacrifices. Allahu'alim.

    [Well, I can't sleep so here I am posting comments to some posts since I think I've gone through them all. Maybe I should start a blog "Comments to Irrelevent Opinions" :}]

  2. The Arabic for Beginners course that I took was quite good as an introduction, but I don't think one could become proficient. You need the environment, which the on-line courses didn't provide. The other problem was the lack of feedback with the on-line courses; there was no real evaluation of our learning.

    They have a Level 2 course that I considered taking after the first two month course, but the hours were fairly ridiculous; midnight to 3am on Saturday and Sunday.

    If you want to become proficient, I would recommend investing dedicated time to learning the language in a classroom instead of doing the on-line course. I don't know, maybe I wasn't dedicated enough when I did it. For me, it was a good introduction that has allowed me to understand what I read better, but hasn't improved my speaking at all.

    You've gone through all the posts? I'm impressed! Keep up the good commenting, it's always a pleasure to read and reply.

  3. Assalaamu'alaykum

    Ah, I'm not surprised. Second language acquisition is not an easy feat... but there is always hope, insha'Allah :).

    You're absolutely right about the environment and 'dedicated time.' I think also that if one wants to reach proficiency it will eventually require complete emergence into the language. I 'studied' French from grade 4 to 9. By grade 9, I could read basic books, but now? Subhan'Allah.. French sounds very foreign to me.

    After much searching, I've found the place where I'd like to study Arabic, but it's not feasible for me right now. I've flirted with the idea of registering for the Shariah Program, but my gut feeling tells me it might not be what I need and thus not worth it for me. Allahu'alim. Insha'Allah if it is good for me to go where I would like to go, Allah will open a way for me. Whatever the case, I feel that I need to learn it, insha'Allah one day. I imagine your knowledge of Urdu facilitates your studies in Arabic, no?

    The strategy at the Dar ul Uloom in Ajax is to teach Urdu so that it will help to learn Arabic. Hmm... I think they just want people to know Urdu as well. (Which is fine if people want to learn Urdu.)

    [Note: You didn't respond to my salaams, but I won't take it personally :)]

  4. Wa'alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah,

    My Urdu is quite weak, unfortunately. It is actually inversely proportional to the strength of my French: when my French is fluent, I lose my Urdu. Last year, I spent two months in India, and came back with fluent Urdu; unfortunately, my French was all but gone. This year, I spent five weeks in France, and now my French is fluent; my Urdu suffered as a result. All that being said, the little Arabic I know is very easy to lose since I don't have that environment anywhere.

    For me personally, understanding Urdu didn't really help me in the Arabic course. There are certainly some words which are quite similar, and so it has helped in vocabulary a little, but Arabic grammar is quite different. Either way, I think it's a good idea to learn Urdu if you are doing Islamic studies as the students of Ajax are, since there are so many brilliant books in the Urdu language that translations cannot do justice. India has been blessed with some outstanding scholars in the 20th century, and much of that scholarship is captured in Urdu. I wish I could read it fluently.

    Incidentally, one of the most charming sights I ever saw was that of an African child, a Chinese child, a young Uzbek, and a Pakistani child all sitting together cracking jokes in Urdu. This I saw in a madrassah in Pakistan a few years ago.

    Insha-Allah, your intentions to learn Arabic will not go unrewarded. Insha-Allah, Allah will open a way for you to achieve your objective.

  5. Assalaamu'alaykum

    I never did read this reply to my comment.

    That sounds like a beautiful sight indeed..subhanAllah. It reminds me of the song, "Sing chlidren of the world, Islam will unite us all." :)

    Sometimes I really wish I had knowledge of if not real fluency in another language..but for no reason other than to speak to the elders to find out about life for them..how it was growing up, etc. and then documenting it.

    I've suggested to my mom and aunt to document our family's history after having finally met distant relatives in India. But I digress, my apologies.

    Thanks for your kind words. Insha'Allah you too will achieve success for His sake.

  6. An opportunity has arisen at my workplace for a transfer to an office in Poland, its not for a couple of months so I have decided to learn Polish. My reasoning is that if I can speak Polish it will give me a massive advantage over my competition. The thing is I don’t know how to go about learning a new language is it best learning from someone who already speaks the language or should I attempt learning language online? Is it difficult with no one to speak to? Any help I can get will be greatly appreciated.