Summer Arabic Intensive
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The Summer Arabic Intensive at Zaytuna College is a six-week program that provides the equivalent of one year of Arabic language credit in an environment designed for concentrated learning. The program integrates reading, writing, and elocution at an accelerated pace. Students live and learn just blocks from the historic University of California–Berkeley campus.

The rhythm of life at the Arabic Intensive aligns with the norms of Islamic faith and practice. Classroom instruction occurs shortly after the dawn (fajr) and noon (Dhuhr) prayers. A substantive break between these periods of instruction allows time for collaborative learning, homework, the reading of texts, memorization (ḥifz) and practice of Qurʾān recitation (tajwīd), or for rest.

Given that the 2015 summer program coincides with the lunar month of Ramadan, students are invited to participate in the night prayer (tarāwīḥ)—a time that is accompanied by additional sessions on Qurʾānic Arabic and lectures for enrichment. Students who are not Muslim but are open to studying in a devotional (yet non-proselytizing) setting in which Arabic is taught as a sacred language are welcome at the program.

The Summer Arabic Intensive also fulfills the one-year Arabic language pre-requisite for admission into the undergraduate program at Zaytuna College, which aims to prepare students to access the classical Islamic scholarly tradition. This happens through a curriculum that begins with elocution, continues with systematic and sustained training in grammar, and culminates with rhetoric, poetry, and literature.

Students at Zaytuna take five years of Arabic (including the one-year prerequisite fulfilled by this Summer Arabic Intensive program) in order to earn a four-year undergraduate degree. The Arabic Intensive also offers an additional level of Arabic that corresponds to the first year of study in the undergraduate program.

Core Courses back to top

Qur’ānic Arabic

This course is designed for students with no prior study in Arabic. Emphasis is placed on Qur’ānic Arabic; proper elocution and recitation (tajwīd); vocabulary acquisition with special attention to Qur’ānic vocabu- lary, key forms, and patterns for the derivation of words; and an overview of the structure of the language.

By the end of the summer, students should be fluent readers of the Qur’ān with proper tajwīd and will have memorized about 1,000 words of Arabic, including the last ĥizb of the Qur’ān with meaning.

 Learning Outcomes

  • Fluent reading of the Qurʾān with proper tajwid, or an emphasis on orthography, phonetics, and elocution
  • Memorization of the last ḥizb of the Qurʾān with meaning
  • Memorization of approximately 1000 words of Arabic vocabulary
  • Acquisition of key grammatical terms in English necessary for learning Arabic
  • Knowledge of various verb scales (mawazin) used to derive words according to set patterns with predictive meanings
  • Knowledge of the most used agents (ʿawāmil) in Arabic with an explanation of their  effect on the cases of nouns and verbs
  • Ability to navigate Arabic-English lexicons through a solid understanding of the tri-literal root system


  • Hans Wehr, Arabic-English Dictionary
  • Fahim Qazi, Introduction to Qur’anic Linguistics, Levels 1-A and 1-B
  • Ernest N. McCarus, English Grammar for Students of Arabic
  • Abdullah Abbas Nadwi, Vocabulary of the Holy Qur’an
  • Fahim Qazi, Easy Introduction to Arabic


  • None

Arabic Grammar

This course is designed for students who have completed beginner-level work or already know how to read and write the Arabic alphabet. The course provides a systematic study of Arabic grammar that emphasizes vocabulary acquisition, syntax, and morphology, and builds a foundation for advanced textual study.

By the completion of this course, students will have a firm grounding in Arabic grammar, have memorized 3,000 words of Arabic, and will be ready to approach classical texts in the Islamic tradition with the aid of a dictionary.

 Learning outcomes

  • Memorization of 3000 words of Arabic vocabulary, with special emphasis on the reading of texts
  • Memorization of all tri-literal and quadri-literal verb forms
  • Firm understanding of noun declension, types of sentences, and parts of speech
  • Comfort with irregular verbs and irregular verb conjugation
  • The ability to use ordinal and cardinal numbers
  • Knowledge of most forms of derivations (ishtiqaqat) along with their associated meanings
  • The ability to navigate through classical Arabic-Arabic as well as contemporary Arabic-English lexicons


  • Hans Wehr, Arabic-English Dictionary
  • J.A. Haywood and H.M. Nahmad, A New Arabic Grammar of the Written Language
  • Fahim Qazi, Introduction to Qur’anic Linguistics, Level 2
  • Ernest N. McCarus, English Grammar for Students of Arabic


  • Ability to read (recognize letters and pronounce words accurately)
  • Ability to write (correctly shape letters to appropriate form for position in word)

University Credit back to top

The Zaytuna College curriculum is on par with standardized Arabic courses at major American universities. Providing six weeks of instruction (150 contact hours), the summer program meets the 120–180 minimum contact hours required by most universities for a full academic year (or 10 units) of language instruction. Though Zaytuna College cannot guarantee an automatic transfer of university credit (this is ultimately at the discretion of each university or department), we do help students meet pre-requisites by issuing an official letter to their universities or institutions describing course objectives and material covered in each course.

A Typical Day in the Arabic Intensive Program back to top

The standard schedule for the program will be as follows (in Ramadan, classes will be Sunday to Thursday from 12 pm to 6 pm, with a one hour break):

  Sun Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat
Fajr & brief
Fajr class
al-Arba’in al-Nawawiyyah/Hadith daily
(all levels together)
Day off
Day off
7 - 9 am
Two hours of class in 2 separate levels
Duhr – Asr
(1:30 – 4:30 pm)
Three hours of class in 2 separate levels
(during Ramadan)
Quran Study
(all levels together)
Integrated with Taraweeh in Ramadan


In addition to the five hours of classroom instruction, students are expected to spend an additional five to six hours per day outside of class reviewing the day’s lessons, memorizing new vocabulary, completing assignments, and preparing for the next day's class. Students are encouraged to use Arabic as much as possible while interacting with teachers and fellow students inside and outside of class.

Zaytuna College makes necessary accommodations for the month of Ramadan for students who choose to fast and participate in early morning and late night prayers. Students should expect community iftars on many evenings and tarawih prayers every night at local mosques.

Program at a Glance

  • 6 weeks of study, 5 days a week (June 19, 2016 to July 31, 2016)
  • A stimulating curriculum designed around classical Arabic texts
  • Equivalent to one year of university-level Arabic (150 contact hours)
  • Comfortable accommodations in the heart of diverse Berkeley, California
  • A daily rhythm that aligns with the pattern of Muslim religious life
  • Enriching visiting lectures by distinguished scholars


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