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'Qur'anic Arabic' language course to be introduced at Sydney University

Source: AAP

From August, Sydney University students who have an advanced grasp of the Arabic language can enroll in a new course teaching Qur'anic Arabic.

Dr Ali Yunis Aldahesh is a professor at the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Sydney University, who has been developing a new curriculum for a course teaching Qur'anic Arabic.

He tells SBS Arabic24 the subject, slated to run from August, will be offered to advanced Arabic language speakers who wish to gain a deeper understanding of the language used in the most sacred piece of scripture in the Islamic faith, the Qur'an.

According to Dr Aldahesh, the classical standard of Arabic used today is very different from Qur'anic Arabic, which was the language used in ancient Arabic literature known as "pre-Islamic poetry".

Qur'anic Arabic is the standardised literary form of the Arabic language used from the seventh century and the Middle Ages. Classical standard Arabic is its direct descendant used today throughout the Arab world in writing and in formal speech.

Dr Ali Yunis Aldahesh will be teaching "Qur'anic Arabic" as a new subject at the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Sydney University.
Dr Ali Yunis Aldahesh will be teaching 'Qur'anic Arabic' at the University of Sydney.
AAP/Ali Aldahesh

Classical standard Arabic is used prolifically in the modern day in books, official documents, and media reports, while many Arabs resort to using their own dialect of Arabic in day-to-day speech.

These differences are a factor that makes ancient Arabic even harder to learn and grasp, the professor explains.

"I designed this curriculum in response to a real demand from my students,” Dr Ali says, affirming that he doesn't believe the new subject will have religious tangents.

"My approach is not theological, but rather linguistic and I've always emphasised in my previous works that the linguistic approach is best when interpreting the Qur'an."

While he is excited to welcome students to the course, he says it will not be easy to pass.

He says the criteria for enrolling in his class is “strict” as the subject matter is only suitable for advanced Arabic speakers.

"Many of my students are not of Arab or Islamic origin but are keen students of the Arabic language.

"I insist that even Arabic students must sit a placement test, to decide whether they're ready."

A general view of Sydney University campus
Founded in 1851, the University of Sydney is the oldest university in Australia.
Getty Images

Sydney University will be the first Australian university to offer the course, despite the existence of similar courses in the US and around the world.

As part of the course, students will need to make multiple presentations throughout the semester as well as sit exams which will all contribute to their final grade.

The August launch date aligns with the start of the second semester of the academic year.

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