It has always been a goal of mine to one day do a survey of all the Arabic institutions and centers around the world - whether traditional or modern, with a view to learning more about:
- When the institution was founded, and how long it has been in existence?
- Whether it follows a traditional or modern system, and which particular traditional or modern system?
- What the focus is on - grammar, communication, holistic, Classical or Modern Standard Arabic, or both, etc.?
- What their syllabus or curriculum is like
- What textbooks it is using?
- Who the most prominent teachers are?
- What the medium of instruction is
- What challenges it is facing?
- and so on.
I've always been interested in how Arabic is taught in the Arab countries, Turkey, Indo-Pak Subcontinent (esp. the traditional Darul-Ulum), Malaysia, Indonesia, some African countries, and the systems that they are following, and the textsbooks that they are using. For example, in Turkey, Indo-Pak Subcontinent, and Iran they are all big on the al-Kafiyah of Ibn al-Hajib on Nahw, as a sort of end book. To get to the al-Kafiyah, though, they might follow different routes. In Turkey, for example, they start with al-Birgwi's Kitab al-'Awamil al-Jadid, followed by his Ith-har al-Asrar, and the al-Kafiyah. Along the away, I assume, students might do a commentary or two so as to prepare them adequately for the next book in the ladder or hierarchy of Arabic Nahw books. In Indo-Pak (esp. the Darul-Ulum) they do, for example, Nahw Mir, and the Mi-at 'Amil of Abdul-Qahir al-Jurjani together with a Sharh. This is followed by Hidayah al-Nahw, which is sort of equivalent to the Ith-har al-Asrar of al-Birgwi in Turkey. Aftr the Ith-har al-Asrar in Turkey, and the Hidayah al-Nahw in the Indo-Pak Subcontinent the students direct themselves to Ibn al-Hajib's al-Kafiyah. The Matn of the al-Kafiyah is further augmented by the commentaries of Radhiyyud-Din al-Astarabadhi and Mulla al-Jami. In both traditions, the Nahw is taught hand-in-hand with a very elaborate focus on Sarf esp. the patterns, where students are required to memorise these patterns.
What is interesting in my brief observations of the various systems and approaches (the Arab, Turkish and Indo-Pak) is that there exist slight differences in the way they do their analysis (i'rab) of sentences, and so on. It was rather refreshing for me to know that, for example, the Turkish system of doing I'rab highlighted aspects of the sentence that is being analysed not highlighted in the other systems. In fact, you most probably wouldn't understand a Turkish I'rab text unless you have been through their system or have done some of their books. Likewise, Turkish students who have been through the Turkish system find it equally confusing when confronted by another system of I'rab. However, if you are familiar with all three systems you are all the more enriched.
These, then, are just some of my observations and thoughts on a project that I would like to attempt some time in the future, insha Allah. Make du'a that it comes to fruition.