Nice choice with Lane
, its pretty solid, but not perfect obviously. I have the CD-Rom version (as far as I'm aware, its identical to the hardcopy). I am a novice in Arabic but I dont have many problems using it. It will take a short while to get used to it. I still dont understand all the extra-information it gives you on a root/words, but that can be learned.
The best way (in my opinion) to find the root of the word is to look at the actual Arabic and deduce the component letters. I used to look at the transliteration but its not as effective. If used in conjunction to the Arabic script, then its more fruitful.
I am currently working on a related project, which you are welcome to join:http://www.free-minds.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1161
Now that I've finished my university studies, I should be able to progress with it more properly. I have also bought the following book
to aid my studies.
Lastly, I would highly recommend utilising the following tools. I compiled them a while ago, for students of the scripture:http://homepage.ntlworld.com/think786/Quran_study_tools.htm
When combined, they can be extremely powerful.
I almost forgot, by far the greatest strategy is to approach one's study in an intelligent manner. A few relevant points:http://homepage.ntlworld.com/think786/Intelligent_Approach_to_Islam.htmhttp://www.free-minds.org/articles/study.htm
The following logical principles are outlined and should be applied in a textual study. Taken and modified slightly from an article by Anwar Goins:
Al-Quran is written in Classical Arabic. The key to understanding a work in Classical Arabic is understanding the Classical Arabic words it uses. When we know what any particular Arabic word means or can mean then we can see the way in which the work uses that word, contextually.
Using this knowledge we can go to the passages where this word lies and figure out from the context what meanings can be included in each particular context. Even if 2 or 3 meanings remain, if there is no reason to disregard them, we should not, but rather conclude that what must be meant is both the 2 or all three (or however more there may be) or better yet, choose the meaning that includes, and does not cancel out, all other possible meanings.
Al-Quran is not a dictionary. It has not stated it is and it will never be. We must understand the Arabic language (key factors of it) to understand what Al-Quran is saying in certain places. There is no way you will even vaguely understand what any Arabic word is in Al-Quran without using an outside source ON the Arabic language. For those of you who may think that everything un-Quranic is not to be trusted, I say get over it. In studying Al-Quran you are also studying it to validate its claims and truly see what it is talking about and if it is factual, consistent and truthful.
Translations are, in truth, as devastating as this may sound to many, NOT Al-Quran and are less reliable than comprehensive Arabic English Lexicons (you should use more than one) which attempt to give all of the many meanings an Arabic word may have (at least some of them do which is the reason for good research).
When none of the meanings make sense then we must conclude that a meaning of a certain word may have been lost or our understanding is not correct or that Al-Quran used the wrong word.
The latter would be pretty much impossible to prove because of Al-Quran's esteemed reputation throughout history as a work of Classical Arabic literature, but more importantly its being a Pre-Islamic relical work, like the Pre-Islamic Poems, both being at the root of the Arabic language's codification. Any fault in it would, with the most prudence, have to be put at the culpability of the codifiers of the Classical Arabic language since it is highly trusted that the Pre-Islamic Arabs would have highly scrutinized Al-Quran, because of their obsession with the purity of their language. And this, from what I know, cannot be proven otherwise. Moreover, if this were to happen we MAY (and I say that with a big MAY) be able to get from the context the GIST of the meaning of the word. In this case we would never be sure what the exact meaning of the word is and could only follow the most logical GIST or partial-meaning that we could. We pray God would not fault us for this. But so far, an occurrence like this hasn't happened.
Being armed with a good knowledge of Classical Arabic (even the most educated of Arabs have to go to the dictionary) does not ensure understanding of a work, especially like Al-Quran. Why? Because it takes critical and analytical study to fully understand what Al-Quran is trying to tell us.
If any educated Arab has not understood Al-Quran it has been because of a fault in his/her heart, not because Al-Quran must be in some Arabic that he/she doesn't understand.
The logic under scrutiny here is, 'because he/she (the educated Arab with the aid of a dictionary) didn't understand it therefore we can't trust even the most comprehensive of Arabic dictionaries available to us.' This is an unreasonable and unjust objection.
Al-Quran is in a clear Arabic tounge (Pre-Islamic Classical Arabic). There is no language called Quranic. Al-Quran does not comprise a separate dialect of Arabic or a separate dialect in any way, it is in a clear Arabic tounge (16:103, 26:195), not creole Arabic (like the colloquials that exist in many Arabic countries today) but pre-Islamic Classical Arabic, a human language that can still be fully understood today.
Use good reading skills! Don't draw something out that is not there. When you have to embellish on a word to make it mean what you think it means, most chances are it doesn't mean that. The connection should be clear. Get solid evidence to demonstrate that a word may not mean what many think it to mean.
The correct and only meaning of Al-Quran lies and is preserved within itself and a perfect and detailed exegis of its words is within its own pages. In simpler terms, one part of Al-Quran explains the other. Before understanding a specific point, it must be checked that this point is consistent, logical and does not interfere with another part of the message.
To approach Al-Quran with pre-conceived beliefs is not an objective approach. It is difficult to eliminate one's pre-conceived beliefs, but to truly see what Al-Quran is saying, it must be done. If there is one thing I've learnt from studying Al-Quran is that one must let it define itself.
Armed with this mindset and knowledge, one can begin a textual analysis of Al-Quran.