Kalemni Arabi


One of my classmates was telling us about her experience when she was learning Arabic. A group of them went to Syria and went out on to the streets to do a survey as a way of practising their Arabic. Many of them came back feeling quite upset. It’s wasn’t that they did not know what to say or how to pronounce the words. Many of the people on the street would say to them “kalimni Arabi” that is “Speak to me in Arabic!”. The students were puzzled. That was what they were doing; the students were stopping people and speaking got them in what is called modern standard Arabic. That version of Arabic which is used in the papers, on the news and many articles on the web but (and here was the catch) people on the street did not use it in their everyday communication. Of course, with time and as my classmate progressed in her course she was able to grasp that concept and now we converse well even though I tend to speak Gulf Arabic and she Levantine Arabic.  

Communication is not only dependant on the spoken words, it’s the tone those words are spoken in and the body language that presents all of that.  The same way that many of those Syrian passers-by kept pressing on those students to use a language they were more comfortable to communicate with it is worth noting that people around us will have their own language they would prefer us to communicate to them with.

Have you noticed how some people are softly spoken and others are much louder. Cultural differences do play a role and also their upbringing and the person’s environment. Others are so animated and even though they may be distracting for you to speak to that is how they feel they can better express themselves. And there are the silent types. Not much is said but their face and body speak volumes; folded arms, bright smile, inviting look, frowning brows etc. The first step is to take note. I wouldn’t say there’s right or wrong answer. It’s more about noticing the messages people are sending. Believe it or not, we are walking billboards.

Sometimes it is not the easiest of things to be aware of so much especially if the person is not very open. Also, when many of us communicate with others we are so busy preparing our response we are not listening with our ears, eyes or hearts. Not to mention life’s distractions which tend to give little room to look within us let alone onto others. I guess the question here is, how much do you care?  Is this “relationship” worth you investing the time and effort to shift the spot light from yourself and direct it at them to get a closer look? Only you can answer that question.

The Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) called the people to worship one God, none worthy of worship but him. His companions included men and women from different backgrounds; the nobleman, the salve, the Arab and non-Arab with different temperaments. They all believed. The Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) was of excellent character that his own people vouched for before he was sent with the message. He also knew how to speak to people in their own language. He took into consideration the person’s nature and level of understanding and interests. At the time of Hajj, the Prophet (pbuh) spoke to the tribes coming to Makkah for the pilgrimage. He did so after he asked his companion Abu Bakr about each tribe and their background. The Prophet (pbuh) was kind and gentle to children and we know about him prolonging his prostration in prayer because his young grandson had climbed on his back and the Prophet (pbuh) did not want to disrupt his play. Yet when the Prophet (pbuh) was alone and a man came to kill him and said: “Who’ll protect you from me, O Mohammed” the Prophet (pbuh) replied with courage and confidence “Allah”.  

Even when we read the seerah (The biography of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) and his companions) some stories will appeal and ‘speak’ to certain people more than others. Alhamdulillah (thanks to Allah) each one of us is unique. When we understand that and start working on it we will, by the grace of Allah, be understood when we speak.  


يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي  وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِّن لِّسَانِي وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي قَالَ رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي

{‘Lord,’ said Moses, ‘expand my chest, and ease my task for me. Unloose the knot upon my tongue, that they may understand my speech.} The Quran 20: 25-28




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