Observations on my own personal journey of learning Islam, Arabic, and Qur’an

I have been reflecting on where I am at in learning Islam, Arabic, and Qur’an, and how I have been learning.  I’m finding deficiencies.


I have not been able to decide if my learning and memorization techniques do not fit the way I learn and memorize, if I’m not putting forth enough effort, or a combination of both.


I been Muslim for just a couple weeks shy of seven months now.  I know people learn at different paces, but this is starting to concern me.  It took me three whole months to memorize Surat Al-Fatihah.  As of today, I still don’t have the Tahashud and Darood memorized completely.  I do my best and continue to ask Allah for guidance, but I still feel deficient.


Things I have noticed:


I love attempting to read Qur’an and listening to Qur’an recitation.  It’s beautiful, but to my brain it is just noise.  Beautiful noise, but noise nonetheless.  Everything flows together so beautiful.  So beautifully, unless I know the specific word (and I don’t know more than 10), I cannot distinguish where one word stops and the next begins.  This is also true of the typography of Qur’an.  Unless I know the word, I often cannot tell where one word stops and the next begins.  Even if I think it’s a word I know, sometimes it’s actually part of another word.


My Arabic is coming along slowly.  I know I need to practice writing more.  Four year old Saudi children probably write more beautifully than I do, Masha’Allah.  I can write the letters in all of their forms.  My visual letter recognition is at about 99%.  My auditory recognition of letters is about 60% because I haven’t been able to completely learn the nuances of the sounds of similar letters.  My pronunciation still leaves a lot to be desired, but with practice, it will improve Insha’Allah.  I’m getting to a point where I can sound things out by ear a little bit.  If you speak very slow, sometimes I can write the word with a fair amount of accuracy, depending on who is speaking, how clearly they enunciate, and their rate of speech.  As much as transliteration annoys me, I’m getting to the point I can take someone else’s transliteration and put it back into Arabic letters.  But Masha’Allah, I’m progressing.


Even though the classes I attend are meant to be elementary, sometimes the instructor forgets that many of their students don’t speak Arabic, and then forget to translate, as best as possible, so we can all understand.  Translation is a difficult thing.  Somethings cannot be translated at all, and some things can only be loosely translated.  Something I learned today is that a translator can capture only some of the message of the Qur’an, but none of the miracle of the Qur’an.


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