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Hanada Taha Thomure

20 questions for: Dr. Hanada Taha Thomure (#4)

Episode #4 of my series “9273 roots”: 20 questions for Hanada Taha Thomure who develops standards to measure text levels in Arabic.

Last updated: 5 months ago

Lisān al-‘Arab (لسان العرب), the famous dictionary of Classical Arabic, contains 9273 roots (and 4,493.934 words). A huge playground for people who are passionate about Arabic such as…

Hanada Taha Thomure

هنادا طه تامير

The woman who develops standards to measure text levels in Arabic and upgraded the Arabic language curriculum in many Arab countries

  • Date of birth: Jan 8th, 1968
  • Place of birth: Beirut, Lebanon
  • Place of residence: , United Arab Emirates
  • Personal website: www.hanadataha.com

Hanada Taha is the Endowed Chair Professor of Arabic Language at Zayed University (Dubai, United Arab Emirates). She was previously acting Dean of Bahrain Teachers College. She earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of New Orleans. She holds a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology and a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from the American University of Beirut

  • D., Education (4.0 GPA), University of New Orleans, USA, 2001;
  • A., Educational Psychology, American University of Beirut, 1997;
  • A., Social & Behavioral Science with Arabic minor (With Distinction), American University of Beirut, 1988
  • Teaching Diploma, American University of Beirut, Lebanon, 1988
  • Lebanese Baccalaureate, Khalid Bin AlWaleed High School (Valedictorian), 1985.

Hanada office
Prof. Hanada in her office. She is an expert for measuring text level in Arabic and created standards for Arabic books (especially school books for native Arabic speakers).
picture credit: Hanada Taha Thomure

How would you introduce yourself to someone who doesn't know you?

I am Hanada: a teacher and lover of the Arabic language.

What was your first Arabic grammar book?

Can't remember the title, but it is the one we studied at school starting in 4th grade.

What is your favorite Arabic book (novel, etc.)?

mawt saghreer

Most recently it is Mawt Sagheer (موت صغير) -literally meaning “A Small Death” -, a novel that chronicles the life of Ibn Arabi (محي الدين بن عربي).

It was written in 2016 by Muhammad Hassan Alwan (محمد حسن علوان), born in 1979, a novelist from Saudi-Arabia. The book (591 pages) was the winner of the 2017 International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

What is the story? Mawt Saghreer is the fictionalised account of the life of a Sufi saint, Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi, from his birth in Muslim Spain in the 12th century until his death in Damascus. It follows his mystic Sufi experience and heroic travels from Andalusia to Azerbaijan, via Morocco, Egypt, the Hijaz, Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

Of a sensitive and anxious nature, Muhyiddin struggles with inner turmoil throughout the course of his travels. Witnessing fictitious events including savage military conflicts, he attempts to fulfil his mission against a backdrop of states and numerous cities where he meets countless people. (source: arabfiction.org)

ibn Arabi
Muhyī el-Dīn Ibn ʿArabī (1165 – 1240)
picture credit: wikipedia.org

Who was Ibn Arabi?

Muhyī el-Dīn Ibn ʿArabī (1165-1240) was born in Moorish Spain. He is perhaps the most famous Muslim philosopher.

Western scholars usually say that he was a “Sufi” – but he himself never said that. His work is deeply rooted in Islamic sources (Qur'an, Hadiths).

He has profoundly influenced the development of Islam since his time, as well as significant aspects of the philosophy and literature of the West. His wisdom has much to offer us in the modern world in terms of understanding what it means to be human.

Over 800 works are attributed to him (of which 100 survived in the original manuscript). His largest work (originally published in 37 volumes) is called The Meccan Illuminations (الفتوحات المكية). It deals with a wide range of topics from mystical philosophy to Sufi practices and records of his dreams/visions.

Ibn ʿArabī travelled extensively in the Islamic world and died in Damascus in 1240 AD (638 AH). Ibn ‘Arabi's work remained unknown in the Western World until modern times.

How much time does a native speaker of English need to master Arabic?

It will differ for each learner depending on their motivation, level of immersion in the language and whoever is teaching them.

hanada taha books
Prof. Hanada has written many books for teaching Arabic in Arab schools as well as for non-native speakers.
picture credit: Hanada Taha Thomure

What is your favorite Arabic word?


Remark: It denotes bright, shrewd; someone who is brilliant; someone who is nice, humorous.

What is the above word regarding its form?

It is a so-called relative noun (اِسْمٌ مَنْسُوبٌ). Such forms show a relationship to the source. You get it by adding the letter ي plus Shadda resulting in يّ.

For example, if you want to say that someone is Egyptian, you use the word for Egypt (مِصْر), add يّ and eventually get: مِصْرِيٌّ.

Let's get back to Hanada's favorite word. The word أَلْمَعُ (a diptote – مَمْنُوع مِن الصَّرْف) is the /superlative form (اِسْمٌ التَّفْضِيلِ) of the root ل-م-ع which denotes to be brilliant, to shine. Thus, the word أَلْمَعُ may mean brighter, more brilliant – or simply sagacious, smart. If you add the letter يّ, the meaning doesn't really change. Only the form is different. Thus, we can say that أَلْمَعُ and أَلْمَعِيٌّ mean the same.

However, notice the case ending! One is a diptote (“u”), the other one is regular (“un”)!

Which Arabic word do you like least?


Remark: It means to wake up.

Dubai – where Prof. Hanada is currently based.
picture credit: pixabay (elenajonesinbox)

Which Arabic dialect do you like best?

I really appreciate all of them and find them fascinating and quite related. I might have though a soft spot for the that I speak.

What is your favorite Arabic colloquial word or expression?

Shou fee ma fee? (شو في ما في؟)

It means: what's up, but in the most rhythmic way possible.

What is your favorite Arabic quote or proverb?

One of my favorites is:

.أنت غمامة في شمسك، فاعرف نفسك

It is from Ibn Arabi (ابن عربي) and translates as: You are a cloud upon your own sun, so know yourself.

What is the best thing that was ever said about the Arabic language?

.اللغة العربية وطن

By Hanada Taha Thomure (هنادا طه تامير)

What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Someone telling me: “In the end, you will just be a housewife.

Which three people would you like to invite for dinner?

Sheikh Muhammad bin Raschid Al Maktum, Bill Gates, and author Salma Aljayyousi.


  • Salma Khadra Jayyūsi (سلمى الخضراء الجيوسي), born 1926 or 1927, is a Palestinian poet, writer, translator, and anthologist.
  • Sheikh Muhammad bin Raschid (محمد بن راشد آل مكتوم) is the ruler of the Emirate of Dubai.

What was the last great meal you had?

Zaatar Mana'eesh (مناقيش).

Zaatar Mana'eesh – also pretty common now in Berlin, Germany. If it happens that you are in Berlin, try to visit الضيعة in Neukölln (Sonnenallee 46). It is only for 1 Euro!
photo credit: Gerald Drißner

What is your favorite city?


Which book would you give to a dear friend?

forty rules of love arabic

The Arabic version of “The Forty Rules of Love” by Elif Shafak.

Elif Shafak was born in Strasbourg (France) in 1971. She is an award-winning novelist and the most widely read female writer in Turkey.

Remark:The Forty Rules of Love tells two parallel stories – one is set in the thirteenth century, when Rumi encountered his spiritual mentor (the whirling dervish). The other one is contemporary.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

What is your all-time favorite movie?

Any movie that features Marie Muneeb (ماري منيب).

marie muneeb
Marie Muneeb – famous actress.
picture credit: wikipedia.org

Who was Marie Muneeb (1905 – 1969)?

Marie Muneeb was born in Beirut, Lebanon, as Marie Salim Habib Nasrallah. She later moved to Egypt and lived in Shubra in Cairo. She started her career as a dancer and singer and was on stage at the age of 14.

Over the years, she starred in around 200 films – and was quickly dubbed “the queen of Egyptian comediennes”. She often played wicked characters and was known mainly for her roles as an imposing mother-in-law (الحَماة الشريرة الظريفة).In fact, some people call her the most infamous mother-in-law from in Egyptian movies. What makes her the perfect fierce Egyptian mother? Well, she probably has the greatest “I told you so”-laugh.

What music do you listen to?

Fairouz, Wardah, Umm Kulthoum, Ella Fitzgerald.

Remark: Warda al-Jaza'iriya (وردة الجزائرية‎ ) was an Algerian-Egyptian singer (1939-2012). She became famous for Egyptian Arabic songs. 

Warda Al Jazairia
Warda – a famous singer in the Arab World.
photo credit: wikimedia.org (Dictionnaire des musiciens et interprètes algériens)

When were you happiest?

The day I walked seven miles just because.

What is your greatest fear?

Losing my health.

hanada White
Prof. Hanada has developed tools and standards to measure the complexity of Arabic texts.
picture credit: Hanada Taha

What is your life motto?

“As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.” – Rumi

Prof. Hanada, thank you for your time.

CALL FOR SUGGESTIONS: Who should we interview soon?

Do you know an interesting person who has a special relationship with the Arabic language? Then click yes below and tell us why we should interview this person!

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