A Sample Study Ladder for Mastering the Arabic Language

From a Facebook group where someone asked about important books in learning Arabic:
Learning Arabic consists of three steps:

1) Learning basic language skills (can take 1-3 years depending on student)

2) Studying Arabic as a science (can take 2-4 years depending on student)

3) Intensive Academic expertise/research (Lifetime)

The first step consists of one word: Practice.

Practice, Practice, Practice your reading, listening, speaking and writing skills as much and as often as you can to get to to fluency. It can take 2-3 years to obtain full fluency (or more) don’t despair. The key is consistency in practice, even if its only 1/2 hour everyday (although more is better).

Important books for this are:

– the Bayna Yadayk series (preferably with a teacher who can give you speaking and writing practice).

– My personal favorite for self study: a book called “Learning Arabic through the Islamic texts” by Syed Iqbal Zaheer.

– Qasas-ul-Nabiyīn lil-Atfāl for reading practice

– Suwarun min Hayātis-Sahābah for reading after Qasas.

– Other things you can use for practice include Arabic Youtube (like the Omar series, Arabic cartoons etc)

– al-Nahw al-Wādih

Do not cross over to the next stage until you have achieved at least 80% or so fluency. Ask around for additional resources for practice.

2) Studying Arabic as a science – this should be done with a teacher

If you are a natural at languages, any teacher who has studied these texts will suffice, otherwise a teacher skilled and fluent in these sciences is highly preferred (doesn’t have to be a specialist in the Arabic language though, some scholars of fiqh and hadith can also teach language very well).

There are 4 sciences – Nahw (grammar), Sarf (morphology), Balāgha (prose/rhetoric/style) and Adab (literature).

The most important books are:


– al-Ajrumiyyah (with a lot of basic I’rāb practice)

– Qatr-ul-Nadā (With I’rāb practice from the Qur’an)

– Qawa’id ul-I’rāb (with I’rāb practice from the Qur’an)

Alfiyyatu-ibnu Malik (With I’rāb practice from the poem that forms the core text of the book).

– Mughni al-Labīb


– Imam al-Taftazani’s explanation of Tasrīf ul-Izzī – (with some basic practice in I’lāl and Ibdāl)

– Lāmiyyatul-Af’āl – I prefer the sharh of the author’s son for the student – although the teacher can use others to reference from.

– Alfiyyatuibnu Mālik (with a lot more practice in I’lal/Ibdal etc)

– Taysīr-ul-I’lāl wal Ibdāl – can be studied on one’s own after the alfiyyah – excellent book for practice.


– Durūs-ul-Balāghah – an easy, comprehensive introduction

– Al-Balāghatul-Wādihah – Important to learn Balaghah on a practical level.

– Sharh Mukhtasar Sa’d (or Mukhtasar-ul-Ma’āni) – Very important text to study, will really make the connection for you between logic and balaghah, as well as opening up advanced balagah texts for you.


– Any text in Urūd/Qawāfi with a teacher.

– Sharh Mu’allaqāt al-Sab’ or Ashr

– Selected study from al-Mutanabbī

– Maqāmāt Al-Harīrī – extremely important for building vocabulary

– Al-Umdah – a comprehensive text on the sciences of poetry. I forgot the author but I think his nasab was al-Qazwīnī

3) Intensive Academic expertise/research – a specialist in the Arabic language will know way more than I do.


– Other explanations of the Alfiyyah such as Imam al-Ushmūnī’s, Abū Hayyan, al-Shātibī, Ibn-Aqīl.

– Explanations of Imam ibn Mālik’s Tashīl – Abu Hayyan’s is a famous one and his students rebuttal is not bad either.

– Imam al-Zamakshari’s works (and their explanations)

– Kāfiyatu-ibn-il-Hājib and its famous explanation.

– Kitāb-al-Sibawayh if you’re feeling adventurous.


– Shāfiyyatu-ibn-il-Hājib and it’s explanation.

– Al-Munsif

– Al-Mumti by ibn Usfūr.

– Al-Mustaqsa by Dr AbdulLatīf alKhatīb


– Abdul-Qādir al-Jurjānīs books

– Mahmūd Shākir’s books

– Muhammad Abu Mūsa’s books – I wonder if anyone has tried to teach from these instead of classical texts?

– Tafsīr Al-Zamakshari

– Tafsīr ibn Ashūr


– Maqamāt al-Harīrī (yes again)

– Al-Jahidh’s books especially Al-Bayān wa al-Tabyīn

– Al-Kāmil by Imam al Mubarrid.

– Al-Khasa’is of Ibn al-Jinnī

– As for poetry then refer to following link: https://youtu.be/d-FxfkAABVg

This list seems dauntingly long, but the question you need to ask yourself as an Arabic learner is: Why do I want to learn Arabic?

If you want to become a scholar, the whole list applies. If you don’t then the length of the list varies depends on what you want to achieve.

For those who want only a basic grasp of the Qur’an in Arabic so they can read small tafsirs on their own, or to engage in Modern Arab culture, then the first stage will suffice.

8 Replies to “A Sample Study Ladder for Mastering the Arabic Language”

  1. As-Salaamu-Alaikum

    How does the Madina Series (using the LQ Toronto sources) compare with other programs including paid programs Fawakhi and Qasid? Is it better to start with this series instead of the more expensive paid series. Also, some Qur’an online programs offer Qur’anic Arabic that translates the Qur’an word for word in each ayat with the sarf and nahu lesson to go with it. Do you suggest this approach for someone who knows how to read, but needs more vocabulary?


  2. Salam
    Please tell me what to start with if you know how to read and write arabic but not understand and talk arabic
    Wa Salam

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Walaikumassalam

      You need a teacher or more advanced students of classical Arabic with whom you can practice conversing with. Also, try watching some Arabic Youtube. BBC News has really good fusha, or you can watch videos by Arabic preachers. You won’t get all of it right away, but just keep going at it.


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