ISLAMABAD - Passionate to understand verses of the Noble Qur'an, Pakistanis are enrolling in massive numbers to learn Arabic in the south Asian Muslim country.
"I have never seen such passion for Arabic, at least in Karachi," Mohamed Ibrahim, who did his graduation in Arabic, told OnIslam.net.
Graduating from Madinah University, Ibrahim was initially reluctant to return to Pakistan in 2009, worried that there was no strong demand for Arabic teaching in Pakistan.
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But now, he has no enough time, even on weekends, to meet the growing demands for Arabic teaching.
"There has been an overwhelming response (from students) that I never expected," he said.
Ibrahim has set up an Arabic language institute at his residence in Defense Housing Authority, a posh locality in southern port city of Karachi soon after his return.
Within months, the institute drew huge numbers of students eager to learn Arabic.
"Only, ten students were enrolled in the first month, most of them were my relatives," Ibrahim recalled.
"But just within four months, the enrollment reached over 100."
Currently, Ibrahim has over 500 students who are learning Arabic in different groups and at different levels.
Arabic education has registered an ostensible growth in Pakistan in recent years, especially in big cities.
"There has been an overwhelming inclination to Arabic in Pakistan during last few years, which has even caused reasons for people like me to stay here," said Shaima Atyani, a Sudanese.
Shaima came with her husband to Pakistan on a business mission in 2002 representing the Islamic Chamber of Commerce.
She started teaching at a private school, where Arabic language is mandatory.
But within a year, Shaima finds no enough time to meet the growing demand among students to learn the Arabic language.
"I am earning much more than my husband," Shaima said in a lighter vein as she teaches Arabic language to Pakistani children and women at her home.
"I have left the school because I was not able to cope with the growing number of students."
Arabic has never been new to Pakistanis as Urdu, the national language, is a conglomerate of Arabic and Persian.
Though students learn basic Arabic at school level, it is not enough to enable them to be fluent in spoken Arabic or understand the Noble Qur'an.
The growing passion for Arabic in Pakistan is attributed to the desire of Pakistanis to understand the Noble Qur'an and Islamic teachings.
"Most of students who came to me (for Arabic education) told me that they want to understand what Allah speaks to them in Qur'an and Salat (prayers)," Ibrahim told OnIslam.net.
"Arabic is the only language that can unite the Ummah irrespective of race, culture, and language. Therefore, an understanding with Arabic should be a must for every Muslim."
Shaima shares a similar opinion.
"Many parents when they were enrolled did not know much about Arabic, except some verses which they would recite in Salat. They did not even know the meaning of those verses," she said.
"But now, many of them can even communicate in Arabic."
Ibrahim believes that the mandatory status to Arabic language in different Pakistani schools has also prompted people to learn Arabic.
To meet the growing demand, many Pakistani schools now hire native Arabs to teach Arabic to their students.
Reflections, a Karachi-based school, was the first institute that hired Arabs to teach the Arabic language to students nine years ago.
"I can foresee that there would be a major demand for Arabic teachers in the country," said Ibrahim.
"Therefore I am designing courses for teachers' training as well."
Ibrahim also sees financial attractions as another reason for the increasing interest in Arabic among Pakistanis.
"A large number of Pakistanis are serving in Middle East and other Arab countries in different capacities, and many more are trying to settle there," he said.
"A better understanding and grasp of Arabic language would give them extra advantage."For many jobs even in Pakistan, he observes, command of Arabic language is required nowadays.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net