V. Abdur Rahim was born in the small town of Vaniyambadi in the state of Tamil Nadu, India in 1933. After finishing his secondary school studies, he joined Presidency College, University of Madras where he majored in English Language and Literature. He graduated in 1957. In 1964, he joined al-Azhar University, Cairo, where he did his M.Phil. and Ph.D. in Arabic Philology.
It is to be noted that Abdur Rahim learnt Arabic by himself. The school where he did his secondary school studies offered Arabic, but the lessons it offered consisted of only memorizing the conjugation tables. Abdur Rahim detested this method. He thought that it was the most unnatural way of learning a language. Only dead languages like Latin, Syriac, etc. are taught this way. Living languages teach sentences straightaway. He decided to design a curriculum to teach Arabic to non-native speakers of Arabic.
In 1969, he joined the Islamic University of Madinah to teach Arabic Philology. Here, he was also associated with the Programme of teaching Arabic as a foreign language. The course he designed for this purpose is now known as Durûs al-Lughaħ al-‘Arabiyya ħ li-Ghair al-Nâtiqîna Bihâ. (Now these books are popularly known throughout the world as “MADINA BOOKS”.)
When he was learning Arabic by himself, Abdur Rahim studied the many problems that beset the non-native students of Arabic, and tried to solve them. He discovered that all these problems can easily be solved by applying the principle of taqdîm al- usûl ‘ala al-furû‘, i.e. teaching the primary elements before the secondary elements. The following are some of the manifestations of the application of this principle:
- Teaching the primary case-endings before the secondary endings, so you teach the masrûf noun before the mamnû‘ min al-sarf, and the al-af‘âl al-arba‘aħ before the al-af‘âl al-khamsaħ.
- Teaching the sâlim verb before the other categories.
- Teaching the al-mudâri‘ al-marfû‘ before the al-mudâri‘ al-mansûb or al-mudâri‘ al-majzûm.
- Teaching the plural of intelligent nouns before that of non-intelligent nouns.
Another principle Abdur Rahim advocates is that rules of waqfshould not be applied during the teaching stage, for in that case the student cannot learn the correct ending of the last word in the sentence as, ma smu-ka and ma smu-ki, for example, are both reduced to ma smu-k.
The following are the books Dr. Abdur Rahim has written in field of teaching Arabic as a foreign language:
- Durûs al-Lughaħ al-‘Arabiyyaħ (3 parts).
- Key To Durûs al-Lughaħ al-‘Arabiyyaħ (3 parts).
- Key To Exercises of Durûs al-Lughaħ al-‘Arabiyyaħ (3 parts).
- Teachers' Guide To Durûs al-Lughaħ al-‘Arabiyyaħ (3 parts).
- A Glossary of Words used in Durûs al-Lughaħ al-‘Arabiyyaħ.
- Ahadith Sahlaħ.
- Nusûs min al-Hadîth al-Nabawyyi al-Sharîf.
- Nusûs Islâmiyyaħ.
- From Esfahan To Madinah.
- Al-Bâhith ‘an al-Haqq.
- Innahumâ min Mishkâħ Wahidaħ.
- Fi Balât Hiraql.
- Abshir bi-Khayri Yawm.
- Arba‘ûna Hadîthan.
- Al-Mus‘if fî Lughati wa I‘râbi Suraħi Yûsuf.
Currently, Dr V. Abdur Rahim is Director, Translation Centre, King Fahd Qur'an Printing Complex, Madinah Munawwarah.