My Story

Once upon a time there was a friendly hobbit-looking fellow named Sam.

He spent his childhood in an English countryside village (so basically the Shire). At age 17 he grew a beard, not because he’s a Tolkien character, but because he fell in love with the Qur’an and embraced Islam.

I’m talking about me. I am Sam… 

I’m sick of people writing these bios in the third person. We all know you wrote it yourself. It’s not that I don’t have an assistant to do it for me - I do. She’s just nowhere near as funny as me. But she will check the mail, so stop writing in telling me I look like some Ertugal-come-Hobbit type character… I know! I’m trying run a business here. I don’t need her laughing at me all day!

Anyway…I’m the Sam that didn’t accompany Frodo on the way to Mordor. I’m not saying I chose a much safer journey, it’s just that Allah didn’t send the Qur’an down in (or create my wife speaking) Elvish so it would have been a complete waste of time.

The shire I grew up in wasn't a place where you could learn Arabic at your local college or get help from an Arab neighbour. So I got huge inspiration from online content, particularly podcasts from a website called ''. I would download their episodes and listen as I did my morning paper round, getting my tongue used to the new sounds and fantasising about a day when I would be fluent. 

I set out for London a year later to complete an Arabic language degree with a year at Al-najah university in Palestine. On return home from the Holy Land, I was invited to Uganda to teach for the summer of 2013. It was there where I met many Somali people and a love for their language was born. Thus at the start of my final year, sat across from my academic supervisor, my Legolas of sorts, I was presented with the opportunity to study Somali formally that year. 

I graduated in 2015, married into a Somali family and began my career as a YouTuber sharing the Arabic and Somali languages and whatever joy people could find in my ‘From the Shire to Islam’ story.

Over the coming years, The Arabic in 60 Steps program reached over 1,000 students with it’s accompanying podcast and Youtube channels achieving over 1 millions hits. I've also produced over 1,000 educational Somali videos and I have had the pleasure of being hosted on my industry's largest platforms.

In August of 2022 I migrated to Mogadishu with my wife and two sons where we are now building a new life. There are days when I miss the green hills and trickling streams of the Shire. But there are two main missions I am focussed on:

1) Inspire people to learn Arabic, the way inspired me.

2) To have thousands of people on the day of judgement testify that they understood Allah and His messenger because of my work.

I'm so grateful for the journey so far and all of the students who have joined me! I've joined an organisation I've admired for years; 'Arabic Unlocked' to be part of their amazing mission for the Arabic language. I am set to improve and revamp my own Arabic content experience on my youtube channel and podcast and I have plans to run a community of the most ambitious Arabic students!

Origins: My dad, Martin Burr...

My middle name isn’t Martin. It’s my dad’s name. I want it as part of my brand because I really aspire to have a career like him. He was a mechanic and an excellent craftsman in his trade. He was a specialist in cars built by Jaguar - a company which's 1970s identity has now inspired the font and colour of this brand.

He has always cared deeply about people and had a warm, cheerful and easy going demeanor which amassed him a loyal fraternity of other men who respect him deeply. That said, he was also a very present father and hard working business man and provider. He had a garage near our home where I could visit him and he took time to let me play and explore.  

The classic values of good craftsmanship, family and the father-son bond are all ones I wish to bring into my work.

His grandad, John William Burr...

This man would have seen cultures and far away countries when they were truly unique and weren't all basically Starbucks chugging, English speaking Liberals. 

He served in India and Pakistan in the 20s, China in the 30s. Based on uniform and apparent age, we believe this picture is him in Madagascar in 1942. However, it could easily be India or Iraq/ Persia where he also served that same year. He returned home to be part of the invasion of Germany and ended the second world war a highly decorated soldier. 

I never met him. He died 3 years before I was born. But I have no doubt that he was a formidable and brave man. He returned home to have relapses of Malaria and horrific PTSD (Of course undiagnosed in the 1940s), and has left horror stories to echo through my family until this day. 

I think it's unlikely that he would approve of me if we met today. A Muslim, teaching the world Arabic from his home office in Somalia for a living.... But when I look into this man's eyes I see a selfless, brave and tenacious man and I hope those qualities live on in me. 


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