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Studying for the Al-Azhar Entrance Exams

Tested Subjects

There are nine written exams as part of the entrance process for Al-Azhar:

  1. Tafseer
  2. Hadeeth
  3. Tawheed
  4. Fiqh
  5. Seerah
  6. Nahu (Grammar)
  7. Sarf (Etymology)
  8. Balaagha (Rhetoric)
  9. Adab (Literature)

 

Material to Study

Although it is possible to study the Al-Azhar middle school and high school textbooks that are the source material for these exams, it is better to study from various summaries that are available for each subject.  These summaries generally cover all of the material that appear on the exams and are designed for students in the Azhari system to use as study guides before exams.  They concisely and clearly present the material and a student is able to cover the same subject matter in much less time.

There are two series available, the first is called the Al-Waadih series and the second is called Al-Murshid.  The Al-Waadih series is considered to be superior by previous students.  Note that the Nahu and Sarf books in these series are titled Al-Tawdeeh fi An-Nahu and Al-Tawdeeh fi As-Sarf.

The Al-Waadih books are available at a bookstore behind the Al-Azhar mosque on a street called Darb Al-Atraak.  The bookstore is called Al-Maktabah Al-Azhariyyah Litturaath (المكتبة الأزهرية للتراث).  The books are cheap, costing a few LE each.  A full set of books covering all of the subject matter costs around 135 LE.

There is also a two part book that is aimed at students taking the entrance exams called the '3antara books, but it is not advised to use these books for more than a reference as they do not cover the entire course material.  A student who is dependent on these books would be very unprepared for the exams.

Exams from previous years are also available here.  It is very useful for a student to review these exams to get familiar with the exam style and the types of questions that appear on each exam.  It is also beneficial to complete these exams as practice.

The written exams cover the middle school and high school (1st and 2nd year only) material in the above subjects.  There is usually one Al-Waadih book per semester.

Most students can study the non-language subjects on their own without having to go through them with a teacher.  If a student is unable to do so due to difficulty in understanding the language, then he/she should concentrate on studying the language before studying this material.

The following are detailed descriptions of the material that is covered in each subject as well as other advice on studying for the specific exams.

Tafseer

The tafseer exam covers the final year of middle school and the first and second years of high school.

The curriculum for the last year of middle school has recently changed, but it seems that the old material that covers various ayahs from the Qur'an is still tested.  The new Waadih book covers difficult to understand words from the Qur'an, which is not tested.  The old Waadih book is no longer available.  A student can buy the actual textbook from the books department on the ground floor of the Ma3had Al-Bu3ooth Al-Islaamiyyah.

The first year of high school covers Surah Al-Kahf.  There is only Waadih book for this year.  The second year covers Surah An-Noor and Surah Al-Ahzaab.

There is usually one question each year from the middle school material, one question on Surah Al-Kahf, and one question on either Surah An-Noor or Surah Al-Ahzaab.

Hadeeth

The hadeeth exam covers the final year of middle school and the first and second years of high school.

Each year covers about sixty hadeeth.  There is usually one question on one hadith from each year.

Tawheed

The tawheed exam covers the final year of middle school and the first and second years of high school.

The last year of middle school covers As-Sam3iyyaat, the parts of faith that cannot be arrived by logic and must be heard from a trusted source such as the Siraat, the Meezaan, and punishment in the grave.  There is one Waadih book for this year, and it is combined with 2 other subjects into a single book.

The first year of high school covers Al-Ilaahiyyaat, attributes of Allah (swt).  There are two Waadih books for this year.  Note that the section on the ninety-nine names of Allah has not appeared on previous exams.

The second year of high school covers An-Nubuwwaat, the prophets, as well as Al-Firaq, the different sects that appeared in Islamic history.  The section on the sects rarely appears on the exams.  There are two Waadih books for this year as well.

There is usually one question on As-Sam3iyyaat, one on Al-Ilaahiyyaat, and one on An-Nubuwwaat.

Fiqh

The fiqh exam covers the first two years of high school. 

The first year of high school covers worship - purification, prayer, fasting, zakaah, hajj, and 3umrah.

The third year of middle school covers mu3aamalaat - business and trade, as well as crimes and punishments.

There are usually one or two questions from each year of fiqh on the exam.

Note that this section has been updated, and previously stated that material from middle school is covered.  This is because the curriculum recently changed for the high school, and new Waadih books are now available for the new curriculum.  The middle school books can still be studied for the exams as the material is the same.

In the past, family law was also tested, but it appears that it is no longer tested since the curriculum change.  It is currently covered in the third year of high school.

Seerah

The seerah exam covers the three years of middle school.  There is one small Waadih book for each year.  The third year material can also be found combined with the Tawheed material for that year.

The books cover the entire life of the Prophet (S) as well as some background before his life, in addition to the lives of some of the companions.

There is usually one question on a single companion where the student must write what he/she knows about the companion.  There is also usually one question on one of the battles that was fought during the life of the Prophet (S).

Nahu

The nahu exam covers the first and second year of high school.  There are two Tawdeeh books for each year, with quite a lot of detail in each one.

It is recommended that a student have a good grasp of Nahu before tackling the material in the Tawdeeh books.  A student  should have already studied grammar with a teacher beforehand as the subject matter is advanced.  The high school curriculum uses Sharh Ibn 3aqeel, which is an explanation of the advanced poem Alfiyah ibn Maalik.  A beginning text such as an explanation of Al-Ajrumiyyah or an intermediate text such as Qatr An-Nada can be a studied with a teacher either privately or at an Arabic institute.

If a student is not proficient in grammar and does not have time to study the beginning and/or intermediate texts with a teacher, then it is highly recommended to study the Tawdeeh books with a teacher to prepare for the exams.  If the student is able to, it is preferred to study Al-Ajrumiyyah or Qatr An-Nada or both with a teacher and then to review from the Tawdeeh books.

The Tawdeeh books have a lot of information and go into differences in opinions.  The student does not need to know these differences and can concentrate on the more accepted opinion for each issue in which there is a difference.

Sarf

The sarf exam covers the first and second year of high school.  There are two small Tawdeeh books for each year.

It is recommended to have a good understanding of roots and derivatives in the Arabic language before studying these books.  The actual material in the books is not too difficult to understand, but entails a good amount of memorization.  Most students do not need a teacher to teach them this material.

Balaagha

The balaagha exam covers the first and second year of high school.  There are two Waadih books for the first year and one for the second.

It is highly recommended that the student go through an elementary text in balaagha with a teacher before going through this material.  Taking the time to go through an intermediate text such as Al-Balaagha Al-Waadiha (not to be confused with the Al-Waadih study guide book) is very helpful for the students as well.  If the student is not proficient in balaagha, it is best to go through the Waadih books with a teacher as balaagha is very dependent on understanding the culture of the Arabs and the examples are difficult for most students to understand because of the language used.

Adab

The adab exam covers the first and second year of high school.  There are two Waadih books for each year.

This subject consists of two parts: the history of literature from pre-Islamic times until the end of the second 3uthmaani period, and texts (poems, letters, khutbahs) from these periods.

There is usually one question on history, and two on texts that are chosen from the material.  The student will usually have to identify the title, author, era, and/or occasion of a text from a few lines from the text that are provided in the question.  The questions are usually both on poems, although sometimes one question will come from elsewhere.

The easiest way to identify poetry is to memorize the qaafiyah of each poem.  This is the last syllable of a line of poetry.  All of the poems that the exam covers have one or two unique ending syllables that every line of the poem shares (this is not the case for poetry in later eras such as what is covered in the third year of high school).

 

Summary of Material Covered on the Exams

The following is a summary of what is covered on the exams, and should be given to the workers at the bookstore that sells the Al-Waadih books (or Al-Murshid)  to make sure the student obtains all of the books.

  1. Three years of middle school:  Seerah
  2. Last year of middle school and first and second years of high school: Tawheed, Tafseer, Hadeeth
  3. First and second years of high school: Nahu, Sarf, Balaagha, Adab, Fiqh


Created by: admin. Last Modification: Thursday 23 of April, 2009 18:46:56 IST by admin.