Title: Towards Instruction of the Arabic language to English Speakers by Adherence to the Ajrumiyyah Text
Translation: Abu Amina Afdhal
Instruction of the Arabic Language is for the vast majority of students the first step to discovery of the vast literatures and sciences of the Arabs and others who wrote in Arabic. At first it may seem that this subject, after exhaustive research and practice is one that is fully developed and so new avenues are inevitably scarce. It is quite correct that many books exist for the English speaker from which he may learn Arabic, some requiring a taught methodology and many enabling the student to become self-taught. One of the earliest texts to appear in the English language on the subject of instruction of Arabic was Wright’s translation of Caspari, from the original German, this was in 1859, however the Arabs themselves had long before initiated a formal and systematic methodology to teach Arabic Grammar to their children.
From the systems the Arabs employed one text in particular shines far more clearly than any other, it has withstood the test of time and is still after more than seven hundred years since its authors’ death, being taught throughout the Arab world. It is the text of Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Dau’d as-Sinhaji, known as Ibn Ajrum. The text itself, although not named as such by the author, has become known as ‘al-Ajrumiyyah’.
It is my intent to examine to what extent the Ajrumiiyah is appropriate in the instruction of Arabic to English speakers. I shall begin by translating the text with reference to one of the most prominent commentaries on the Ajrumiyah, written by the late Muhammad Muhyu-Din Abdul Hamid, former Director of the College of Language at the University of al-Azhar, it is called At-Tuhfa As-Saniyya bi Sharhi al-Muqadima Al-Ajrumiya. This will be followed by an examination of the structure of the text and the methodology Ibn Ajrum employed in presenting the various chapters and sub-chapters of Arabic Grammar. In conclusion I shall attempt to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of this system.
Throughout this study the phrase ‘He said…’ indicates Ibn Ajrum, the phrase, ‘He says…’ indicates Muhammad Muhyu-Din Abdul Hamid.