Fundamentals Map of Arabic Grammar

Fundamentals Map of Arabic Grammar


Click images for full version.

Six years ago while I was taking Arabic at Dar ul Qasim, I ended up diagramming the basic grammar into a Visio diagram for my own use.

This might help students and some teachers, though major improvement is needed. I’ve used it successfully since then in other classes and students respond well to it as it makes the basics seem more manageable.

InshAllah I’ll clean it up when I get a chance or if there is any demand for a clean up. The goal is to keep adding so the point that all the major functions in the language are diagrammed. Though books like Wafiyah ( are close to my heart, I know students who were so overwhelmed by the very sight of it and other books that they could not continue. For them, I’ve found visual presentations to be very good.

From the grammatical perspective, what is here is accurate but not complete, and without a good teacher or good book can in fact be misleading so use with care. For example, ‘Idafa is not simply “possession” but has a number of other uses that are critical in understanding how Arabic uses this construct, For the beginning student, introducing it as possession works well, and then showing the other uses later seems to be the most digestible approach, so I limited the charts to that for now.

The Most Underrated Prayer

A few years ago, I came across a book that one of my relatives had called: “The Three Abandoned Prayers”. In it, the author discusses three prayers that have been largely underused by many Muslims, but which hold great power. They were Salat-ut-Tawbah (The Salah of Repentence), Salat-ul-Istikhara (The Salah of Seeking A God-Guided Outcome in Times of Decision), Salat-ul-Tasbih (The Salah of Glorification of God).

No doubt, many of us have been heedless of these powerful tools for growing in our closeness to Allah, but one in particular which is important to re-think is Istikhara.

The procedure for this Salah, is best

On the authority of Jaabir Ibn ‘Abdullah he said: The Prophet (S) would instruct us to pray for guidance in all of our concerns, just as he would teach us a chapter from the Qur’an. He (S) would say ‘if any of you intends to undertake a mater then let him pray two supererogatory units (two rak’ah naafilah) of prayer and after which he should supplicate:

‘O Allaah, I seek Your counsel by Your knowledge and by Your power I seek strength and I ask You from Your immense favour, for verily You are able while I am not and verily You know while I do not and You are the Knower of the unseen. O Allaah, if You know this affair -and here he mentions his need- to be good for me in relation to my religion, my life, and end, then decree and facilitate it for me, and bless me with it, and if You know this affair to be ill for me towards my religion, my life, and end, then remove it from me and remove me from it , and decree for me what is good wherever it be and make me satisfied with such.’

Such a powerful tool we have been given, to admit our complete lack of knowledge, power, ability, and sight, and the absolute dominance of Allah (swt) in all these abilities. Such a great and mighty prayer, comprehensive in its outlook, its span of time, and its effect on our lives. Balanced within this world and the Hereafter. Something which only Divine Guidance could have brought us.

Many of us use this prayer, rightfully, to seek Allah’s assistance in making decisions concerning school, getting a job, getting married, going to Hajj, or maybe even choosing a house. Unfortunately though, we have relegated one of the most powerful duas available, to only the most important decisions.

What we don’t realize however, is that this prayer need not only be for the most important, crucial decisions in our lives. Why do those who are in Islamic Work, not use this prayer when making decisions in the organization? Why not use it when making difficult choices at work? For a specific project choice or topic choice for a paper in school? Why do we not use it every time we say: “Ya Allah…I wish you would just me what is best for me!” or “Ya Allah! I wish you would just show me what to do!”

What made the Companions the unique Quranic generation, was that their entire thought process revolved around the Quran and around supplication to Allah. The relegated to Allah and His Messenger, every decision in their lives, after putting forth an intelligent and sincere effort at solving their problems

As the Prophet said: “Ad-Dua mukh-ul-‘ibaadah”.

Supplication is the essence of worship.

So next time we have a decision, big or small, that is of some consequence, remember – No one who ever consults with his Lord in sincerity, shall ever be displeased with His Decree.

Make use of istikhara! Once an Imam sat with me when I asked his advice and told me something about one of the leaders of the Muslim community. He told me: “Brother, every person who has success in the Deen, has a secret, some worship he does that sets him above and beyond and helps him towards Allah. You know what his [the leader] secret it? Every time he travels, and I’ve seen him, he prays istikhara. He asks for guidance in his travels, and on the various affairs of his life, and he makes use of his times of travel to do it. So have some secret that you use also.”

Secrets aside, istikhara is powerful. So inshAllah lets use it.

Misconceptions about istikhara:

1. Istikhara is not about having a dream. If one reviews the wording of the hadith, one finds that it is not asking for a dream, it is asking God to make one’s affairs occur in the best way. Because one did not have a dream, a sign on a bus or a billboard go by them on the highway, does not mean it didn’t “work”.

2. You CAN have a dream or a sign, and this is totally possible. But one should recognize that this is primarily about asking Allah to take control and that one is relegating his will to Allah’s will, knowledge, and infinite insight about what is best for you. And when you make this, you are finding the best way of putting your heart at ease, by asking Allah (swt) to do with your affairs what He knows is best and finding comfort that the King of the Heavens and the Earth has your back, inshAllah.

3. Another dua we should all be aware of along this same line can be found here (scroll to sixth from the bottom)

‘O Ever Living, O Self-Subsisting and Supporter of all, by Your mercy I seek assistance, rectify for me all of my affairs and do not leave me to myself, even for the blink of an eye.’

Notes on the Cartoon Controversy

Notes on the Cartoon Controversy
A Call To Maturity and Self-Determination

Its OK to be upset. Its not OK to act on it by doing things the Prophet would never do, in speech or by the hand.

So it’s happened again. They decided to republish the cartoons. Perhaps it is because they want to re-emphasize their opinions on the character and personality of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). Maybe because they wish to provoke more reactionary Muslims into random acts of violence or demonstration. Maybe…just to show the world that they can, and stand proud in the gleaming light of free speech.

Anyone with a sense of justice can see that the apathetic Western reaction to these cartoons – full of hate and vitriolic sentiment targeted against the heritage, culture, and beliefs of over a fifth of humanity, is unjust – when compared to the resistance such cartoons would be met with if they were targeted at other groups.

The Muslims wonder why our community can be insulted, and threatened with deportation, our holy cities threatened with nuclear weapons by a U.S. Presidential candidate (Tom Tancredo), and our most sacred figures reviled? But if a whisper is raised against any other community – if a comedian goes off on a racist tirade using the N-word, or an award winning actor and director makes anti-semitic comments in a state of drunkenness – the entire Western world rises to say: “We will not tolerate your intolerance. We are better than your hate.” But when Muslims are lambasted across the country on conservative radio shows, urging violence against them, deportation, whole-scale attacks against their countries and forced conversion to Christianity……we hear no civilized response against the unholy right-wing war talk. When a mosque is burned down by a white-supremacist group in Columbia, TN, it does not even make the news. When the enlightened West is met with comments which declare “The Other” as inferior…..there is a complicit silence.

Muslims need to realize three things:

1. Do not be surprised or shocked, emotionally, or intellectually, that this is happening.

“…[They] will never be pleased with you until you follow their religion. Say: Surely God’s guidance, that is the (true) guidance. And if you follow their desires after the knowledge that has come to you, you shall have no guardian from God, nor any helper.” (2:120)

When your Lord tells you that a group will NEVER be pleased with you, satisfied with you, or happy with you, until you follow their way, it behooves the Muslim to accept it as a fact. The continuous begging and pleading Muslims who yell: “Please don’t make fun of us! Please don’t ridicule us! We are people just like you! Please be impressed with our history!” is nothing short of pathetic – when you consider how the Muslim street mob goes to burn and attack their own streets in protest, as has happened in Pakistan, and many places all over the Muslim world. A political cartoon painting Islam as violent – followed up by Muslims…acting violent, burning things.

It is time for the Muslim to realize that the actions of a person who makes fun of the Prophet(saw), or even goes so far as to insult or ridicule God himself, is responsible for his or her own deeds. He or she will be held responsible for what they draw, say, or write on the Day of Judgment. It is not up to us to legislate against them in this world when they are living in their own countries, nor to beg powerlessly that they cease and desist their activities.

Should we defend our Prophet? Yes. Through teaching people who he was and spreading the Truth. But, It is time for us to stop being so emotionally surprised when Islamophobes insult Islam. They don’t believe in your Prophet. Or your religion. And they don’t like either of them, or you. We should grow up and deal with it. The Quran is preparing us for this reality with the verse above.

So let us be prepared.

2. If you are going to respond, respond in the manner of the Prophetic Sunnah (Tradition) which we are claiming to defend.

“And the servants of God . . . are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say ‘Peace'” [25:63]

Realize that the Islamophobes have the right to say or write whatever they want. They do. And no one will stop them. Your complaints will make them happier. They are not in a Muslim country. Our response should be a response fitting the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) which we claim to defend so staunchly.

When some enemies of Islam once walked by the Prophet (saw) in Madinah, they said to him, “As-Sa’mu Alaikum” (Death be upon you), trying to slyly make it sound like “Assalamu-Alaikum” (Peace be upon you). They didn’t write against him, draw against him – they spoke directly to him. He, with the calm demeanor of prophethood, simply responded – “Wa alaikum”, and upon you. He did not escalate or insult – he responded by reflecting their greeting, without mentioning anything negative himself or lowering his noble speech.

“And you [Oh Prophet] are upon the noblest of character.” (64:4)

His wife ‘Aisha, who out of her love for him, acted in a way many Muslims today do and yelled: “May the curse of God be upon you, and his punishment, and his…!”

The Prophet (saw) stopped her saying: “Calm down oh Aisha, calm down. There is not gentleness in anything, except that it becomes more beautiful, and there is not harshness in anything except that it makes it ugly. So be calm oh Aisha.”

This exemplifies the Prophetic response. Calmness. Tranquility. Humility. He was active in spreading the message with “wisdom and beautiful preaching” with enthusiasm, vigor and strength, but he did not let insults take over his greatness. He engaged with those around him to teach them about God, and teach them about how to live their lives to the fullest. A model citizen. A good neighbor. A fortress of justice. An honest friend. A helper of the needy. A Messenger of God. This was his response. More than that, this was his driving mission.

“Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching.” [Sûrah al-Nahl: 125]

3. It is time to stop being dependent on others to present a good image of us. They have not and will never do so reliably, save a few fair-minded individuals. Self-determination in our message, our image, and our work, is the only answer. Your image is up to you.

Yet another incident, when the Makkans used to try to make fun of the Prophet by twisting his name because of its meaning being “The one deserving of praise” , and calling him Mudhammam (belittled one) – he simply smiled and said, “They are making fun of a man named Mudhammam, but I am Muhammad!”

Rather than worrying about these insults, he spent his time propagating his message. He spent his time building his community and ensuring that every man, woman, and child could hear about what he had to say and how to worship God and come close to Him. So rather than focusing on what they produce, draw, write, and say – what has each of us done to paint the proper picture of the Messenger (saw)? Robert Spencer and Daniel Pipes are making millions painting a picture of a warlord and a “Prophet of Doom”. Why are we surprised when God (swt) told us it would happen, and more importantly, what have we done to spread a positive image of the Prophet actively?

Perhaps we are arguing about whether or not praying behind someone who eats McDonald’s is allowed. Or whether wiping over our leather socks is permissible. Or if music with more than a duff is makrooh or haram. Or maybe our mufti “saab” teaches that I shouldn’t talk about Islam, Quran, or the Prophet without being in his presence or even read a book without his stamp of approval, turning us to intellectual zombies, far from the example of the Sahaabah and the righteous predecessors. Maybe we are busy arguing about Tariqahs, Madhabs, Manhaj, Aqeedah, and other things which we have no understanding of beyond a few pamphlets and classes in our neighborhoods, and of course, the Internet.

I remember my father teaching me that when the Mongols sacked Baghdad in 1258, the ‘ulama and the their students were discussing whether or not it was permissible to eat crows. Unfortunately, it seems we have not learned.

It is time for the Muslim to be a self-determined, educated, citizen of humanity and of Islam. Someone who’s character aims to mirror the Prophetic character. It is time for the sisters to put down their mascara and their foundation, and the brothers to put down the Nintendo Wii and XBOX controllers, and stand up and become men and women, and stop being boys and girls. It is time for for them to become self-determined individuals, who understand that the honor of this Deen and its Ummah, can only be given by God, but they must work for it. God says:

“God will not change the condition of a people, until they change what is within themselves.” (13:11)

It is time for Muslims to stop burning flags, and start burning their desires.

Stop yelling in the streets against people who are overjoyed at your anger, and whisper to God who will become overjoyed at your prayer.

Stop breaking, burning, and screaming.
Start building, learning, and calling.

The Comprehensiveness of the Islamic Method – Part I

Often Overlooked Quranic Evidences Which Support A Comprehensive Methodology of Islamic Work


The call to enjoin the good and forbid the evil, and to bring benefit to the society, comes to us in comprehensive fashion. Allah (swt) orders the Prophet:

“Say: ‘Oh Mankind/Oh People! I am the Messenger of God to you all'” (7:158)

The simple phrase “ilaykum jamee’a”, which indicates “all of you, together”, shows the collective and comprehensive nature of the Prophethood. His message was for every single segment of humanity – every corner, every nation, and every tribe. Practically, we should take this to mean that no segment of society around us should remain untouched by the call. No person uneducated, no one unaffected.

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Tafsir Tidbit – Grammatical Error in Quran?

Ok guys, calm down. I only put that subject there to make you come here. Now read.

O you who believe! obey Allah and His Messenger and do not turn away from Him while you hear. (8:20)

Let’s look at that verse again:

O you who believe! obey Allah and His Messenger and do not turn away from Him while you hear. (8:20)

What is gramatically “incorrect” (astaghfirullah) about this ayah? Let us compare it to the following sentence:

“Abdul Sattar and Sharif were sitting, and he stood up.”

The clear question that would come into the mind of the reader/listener…is who is “he” referring to? Sharif or Abdul? There is no way we could know!

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Anger is Not A Proof

“When a person [without much knowledge] has only one daleel, and the other person says back in reply, ‘Well, how do you know that’s a daleel?’, and its a true opinion what the person is saying but they have no other proofs,

you know what proof number two is? Anger…and then it turns into a fight. They put one proof and anger after that….Anger is not a proof.”

-Muhammad al-Shariff from “21 Teaching Techniques of the Prophet (saw)”

Eid Reflections

Assalamu Alaikum and Eid Mubarak.As I sat in the masjid today, listening to a khutbah which reminded us of God, family, and raising our children properly, I noticed that the khateeb ended with one phrase: “Those of you who are present, convey this message to those who are not.”

Those words were first spoken by a most beautiful man, with a most gentle heart, upon the most eloquent of tongues. In fact, it was spoken on this momentous occasion, the last days of Dhul Hijjah, upon a blessed mountain. They were the words of the Prophet Muhammad (saw), on his first and only Hajj, standing on the mountain of ‘Arafah, addressing his nation. If we realize the implications of the order he gave, we realize he was me and you. And it is a result of his Prophethood and of the striving of those were present, that we are able to hear those words today.

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