The habit of the (Mudar) language
is different from
The 1368 reason for this is that Arabic philology is merely a knowledge of the rules and forms of this habit. It is the knowledge of a quality,1369 and not a quality itself. It is not the habit itself. Rather, it is comparable to a person who has a theoretical knowledge of a craft but does not know how to exercise it in practice. For instance, someone may know all about tailoring but not possess the habit of it. Such a person might explain some of the aspects of tailoring as follows: One introduces the thread into the eye of the needle; one inserts the needle into two pieces of material held together; one brings it out on the other side at such-and-such a distance; returns it to (the side) where he started; brings it out in front of the place where it first went in, so that there is some room between the first two holes. In this way, the person might go on and describe the whole operation and give a description of how to use bands, to quilt, and to cut openings,1370 along with all the other aspects and operations of tailoring. But if he were challenged to do something like the (things he talks about) with his own hands, he would in no way be able to.
Likewise, a person who knows about carpentry might be asked about splitting wood.1371 He would say: One places the saw on top of a piece of wood; one person holds one end of the saw, and another person opposite him the other; the two alternately push and pull, and the sharp teeth of the saw cut the part of the piece of wood over which they pass back and forth, until one gets through the bottom of the wood. If such a person were challenged actually to do it, or some part of it, he might not be able to.
The same applies to the relationship between knowledge of the rules governing the vowel endings and the (linguistic) habit itself. Knowledge of the rules is a knowledge of how to use them, but it is not the actual use of them. Therefore, we find that many outstanding grammarians and skilled Arab philologists who have a comprehensive knowledge of those rules make many mistakes and commit many solecisms when they are asked to write one or two lines to a colleague or friend, or to write a complaint concerning some injustice or anything else they might want to say. They cannot put (the words) together and express what they want to say in a way that corresponds to the ways of the Arabic language.
Likewise, we find many people who have a good (linguistic) habit and a good (ability to express themselves in) both prose and poetry, but cannot distinguish between the vowel endings of subject and object, or nominative and genitive, and know nothing about the rules of Arabic philology. This shows that the (linguistic) habit is different from Arabic philology and can completely dispense with it.
We find that some scholars who are skilled in the vowel endings have a good knowledge of how it is with the (linguistic) habit. This, however, is rare and a matter of chance. It happens mostly to those (students) who have close contact with the Book of Sibawayh.1372 For Sibawayh did not restrict himself to the rules governing the vowel endings, but filled his work with Arab proverbs and evidential Arab verses 1373 and expressions. Thus, his work contains a good deal of (the things that go with) teaching the (linguistic habit). Therefore, we find that the (students) who apply themselves diligently to (Sibawayh's Book) and come to know it, learn a good deal of Arab speech (from it). Where, and according to what arrangement, (Arab speech) is properly used becomes impressed in the (student's) memory and makes him aware of the importance of the (linguistic) habit, with the result that he is taught the habit in its entirety. Therefore, (Sibawayh's Book) is more instructive (than any other work).1374 (However,) some of the (students) who have contact with the Book of Sibawayh fail to realize this. Thus, they learn philology as a craft but do not obtain a (linguistic) habit.
Students who have close contact with the books of recent scholars that have nothing of the sort but deal only with grammatical rules and contain no Arab poems or (documents of) Arab speech, for this very reason are rarely conscious of (linguistic) habit or aware of its importance. One finds that they think they have gotten somewhere in knowledge of the Arabic language. In fact, they are farther from it than anyone else.
The Arabic philologists and teachers of Arabic in Spain are closer to acquiring and teaching the (linguistic) habit than others. They use evidential Arab verses and proverbs in this connection and investigate a good deal of (Arabic) word combinations in the classroom. Thus, a good deal of (linguistic) habit comes to the beginners early in (their) instruction. (Their) souls are impressed by it and are prepared to obtain and accept it.
Other people, such as the inhabitants of the Maghrib and Ifriqiyah and others, treated Arabic philology like any other research discipline. They did not tolerate investigations of the word combinations of Arab speech. They merely provided an evidential verse with the ending vowels, or decided in favor of one rule (against another), in accordance with theoretical requirements, and not in accordance with the usage and word combinations of the (Arabic) language. With them, 1375 Arabic philology thus came to be, in a way, one of the intellectual norms of logic and dialectics and (thereby) remote from the ways and habit of language.
Arabic philologists in these cities and their adjacent regions 1376 thus became totally estranged from the (linguistic) habit, and it was as if they had not studied the Arabic language (at all). 1377 The only reason was their aversion to investigating the evidential verses and word combinations and to making a discerning study of the methods of the (Arabic) language, as well as their disregard for the (necessity of) constant practice of those things by the student. In fact, (to investigate these things) is the best way to teach the habit of the (Arabic) language. The (grammatical) rules are merely means for purposes of instruction. However, (scholars) employed them as they were not intended to be employed, and caused them to become a purely scholarly discipline.1378 (Thus,) they were deprived of their (real) fruit.
Our remarks in this chapter show that the habit of the Arabic language can be obtained only through expert knowledge of the (documents of) Arab speech. Thereby, the imagination of (the student) will eventually have a picture of the loom on which the Arabs wove their word combinations, so that he can use it himself. Thus, he achieves the position of one who grew up with them and had close personal contact with the ways they expressed themselves in their speech and who, thus, eventually obtains the firm habit of expressing what he wants to express in the manner in which they would have said it.1379
God determines all affairs.