Quran Student Support Group : Post 1

7 May

Author of Post : Br. Abdul Jaleel 

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Assalaamu alaikum:

Our oldest son, aged 9, will complete his memorisation in 2 weeks’ time, insha Allah. Our daughter, aged 8, completed her memorisation 3 months ago alhamdulillah. Our youngest son, aged 7,  has nearly completed one third alhamdulillah. We are from Scotland,UK,  born to immigrants from Pakistan. Our children started hifz in February 2009 in Pakistan. My dear wife stayed with them and the teacher came to the house to teach the kids. We will be going to Dubai for a holiday break with the children early next month as we promised them a fun/adventure packed holiday once they finished in Pakistan before returning to Scotland.

As for the hifz itself…I would be challenging the truth of the Qur’aan if i said it was difficult since Allah almighty states in surah Qamar ” And We have indeed made the Qur’an easy to understand and remember”.

The challenges have been with our own impatience with each other, the children having a few hiccups along the way, illness, heat, an average of 4 hours of electricity a day!, and a strict timetable….yet the children alhamdulillah have never actually complained bearing in mind that they left behind lifes little luxuries such as you could imagine in the western world.

For anyone intending to have their child memorize qur’aan: Mothers to be; recite qur’aan abundantly throughout your pregnancy. Parents; aim for the first spoken word of your child to be the name of our creator “Allah”, do regular dhikr out aloud getting family members to join in whether in the car, on the couch, or walking in the park. Perform salaah together (husband and wife) when he is not at work or unable to go to the masjid. Do your supplication out aloud after salaah in your own language and especially the du’aas you do for your children. Repeat one of the last ten surah’s of quraan regularly with the toddler over a period of 7 days then start back again at the first after 10 weeks. Start drawing, painting and help recognition of the letters of the arabic alphabet when the child is able to draw and sketch, begin tajweed rules at around 6 years or before if the child is ready (we started at age 4 1/2 and did tajweed over 9 months). start hifz of 30th Juz first since it has many small surah’s… shorter milstones = more motivation. Use the same qur’aan for entire hifz…DO NOT change from 14 line quraan to 16 line etc, during hifz.

Learn about the science of memory, visual and audio contributions to memory as well as repitition. research the best times to memorize, during the day. encourage the child by calculating when he or she will finish a surah by adding up the number of lines in that surah divided by the number of lines memorised each day – giving you the number of days to completion (this also helps the child be consistent)… we calculated the finish time of the entire quraan based on number of lines when they first started to learn it (which was 8 lines on a 16 line quraan), very soon the kids were doing 12 lines, then 16 and then 32… and the kids were amazed at the change in finishing date. Do lots of supplication for them. When they get really upset and stubborn, let them have a good cry…cry with them by all means.

Most of all – ensure you do not take away their childhood by not formally teaching them too much before the age of 7, and play with them every day even if they have had a poor day with their memorisation. The most difficult task you will have is to have the child take his / her own responsibility for the learning and retention of qur’aan. Expect them to do their own learning by the time they have done 10 juz.  Do not entrust them with their own retention / revision of that which has already been memorised until they are adults. Pray supplication of gratitude to Allah with the child upon each Juz / Surah completed.

Be realistic and tell your child that they will miss out on wordly playtimes with friends that are not doing hifz, yet remind them of the wonders of the hereafter without putting down the child who is not doing hifz because hifz is not mandatory on every child.  Before you actually start the hifz of the child formally, discuss it with them and ask them if it is what they want to do.

May Allah make it easy on you and your children. May they benefit from memorising Qur’aan in this life and the next and may they attain jannat ul ferdaus for memorising Qur’aan. May our children intercede on our behalf and on behalf of our parents and may Allah accept their intercession.  These are only a few tips that are not written in stone so please do not assume that they are a form of guidance. Do shura with those who have completed hifz and esp those hafiz that have good characters.

Feel free to email me on jaleel@ntlworld.com

Wassalaam

“But Few of My Slaves Are Grateful…”

18 Feb

Gratitude

A few days ago, I was involved in a circumstance which served as a reminder of the immense blessings of Allah upon us and the true extent of our ingratitude, and how Allah – in His infinite mercy and generosity – shows signs to the believers to remind them of His favors.

As I observed people coming in and out of the waiting room – some in excrutiating pain from their physical ailments, others looking sad and alone, I wondered at the inherent weakness of our human state, the fragility of our bodies, the complexities of our mental and emotional states…and how insignificant we are in the middle of this magnificent universe that Allah has created, in all its splendor and glory…everything within which praises Him day and night. Yet man is so forgetful, and so distracted that he neglects this praise and fails to attain the coveted station of those who show gratitude.

We are distracted in our petty trivialities, in the mundane affairs of our daily lives, in the thousands of useless thoughts and emotions that race through our minds and hearts. We are distracted either through our complacently comfortable, or our over-stimulated and over-worked lives and schedules. We take the innumerable blessings of Allah upon us for granted, and think they will last forever and that, somehow, we are actually worthy of these favors.

We fall short in a million ways, yet Allah continues to shower His choicest blessings upon us. He sustains our life, our breath and our heartbeat. He gives us use of our limbs, our intellect and our speech. Above all, He gives us the faith that brings us contentment, peace and tranquility through our connection with Him, and which is our passage to felicity in this world and for eternity. He gives us the drive to do good and the ability to go through with our intention and transform it into action. Then, He rewards us immeasurably for the deed which He facilitated for us to do in the first place. How truly generous is our Lord!

Two verses of the Quran in relation to this are particularly moving everytime I read them…

{  اللَّهُ الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ اللَّيْلَ لِتَسْكُنُوا فِيهِ وَالنَّهَارَ مُبْصِرًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَشْكُرُونَ  }

(Allah, it is He Who has made the night for you that you may rest therein and the day for you to see. Truly, Allah is full of Bounty to mankind, yet most of mankind give no thanks.[Surah Ghafir, verse 61]

{  يَعْمَلُونَ لَهُ مَا يَشَاء مِن مَّحَارِيبَ وَتَمَاثِيلَ وَجِفَانٍ كَالْجَوَابِ وَقُدُورٍ رَّاسِيَاتٍ اعْمَلُوا آلَ دَاوُودَ شُكْرًا وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ }

(They worked for him what he desired, (making) high rooms, images, basins as large as reservoirs, and (cooking) cauldrons fixed (in their places). “Work you, O family of Dawud, with thanks!” But few of My slaves are grateful.) [Surah Saba’, verse 13]

And the following verse (and all of this surah) is so beautiful that one can almost not read it without being filled with awe at the generosity and magnificence of our Glorious Creator. SubhanAllah…

{ قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَى أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ }

(Say: “O ‘Ibadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) [Surah Al-Zumar, verse 53]

A friend reminded me how our actions are judged by their seal…by how, and in what state, we meet our Lord. How often we pray feeling sure that we will be standing before Allah for the next prayer? How often we plan for something feeling confident that the next moment is inevitable? Yet, in a matter of seconds – when Allah decrees – we could be between this world and the next. What will we be doing when that moment comes? What would be the last action we would have done, the last words we would have uttered, the last thought we would have had?

May Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) make our every moment one of remembrance and gratitude…our tongues moist with his “dhikr”, our hearts soft with mercy towards His creation and humbleness towards Him, our limbs racing to serve Him and His creation, and our minds in total submission to that which pleases Him. Ameen.

Welcoming the Month of Hajj

7 Nov

The Kabah

Another blessed time of the year is upon us…the first ten days of the final month of the Islamic calendar, the month of Hajj, and one of the sacred months.

For those who have undertaken the journey to go on Hajj, an often “once-in-a-lifetime” experience and one of the five pillars of Islam, this time period is like no other. For those who have already performed this duty, or those unable to do so due to financial or health reasons, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), out of His infinite generosity, has given the opportunity to reap great rewards at this time through additional acts of worship and devotion to Him in these ten days.

For the believer, the rituals of Hajj resonate with the story of the true submission to the will of Allah, by Prophet Ibrahim (upon him be peace) when he was required to sacrifice his only son, Ismail, and he resolved to do so without hesitation. They remind us of the incredible patience and trust of a youth, Ismail (upon him be peace), as he submitted to the will of Allah and encouraged his father to do as Allah had instructed him. They echo with the immense reliance upon Allah that was placed by Prophet Ibrahim’s wife, Hajar (upon her be peace) as she believed that Allah would suffice her and her infant son, Ismail,  as they were left alone in the barren desert valley of Makkah with no food or water to sustain them.

The “tawaf”, the “sa’ee”, the stoning of the “jamaraat”, the drinking from the water of Zamzam, the sacrifice on the day of Eid ul-Adha, all provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the level of devotion and submission to the Creator that Prophet Ibrahim and his family displayed in such a beautiful way.

This unique gathering of humanity- Muslim men and women of every color, race, age, language and social standing – from all corners of the Earth, adorned in the clothing of humility, to respond to the invitation of Allah and the call of Prophet Ibrahim – is definitely an awe-inspiring one. It leaves one in wondrous amazement at the beauty and simplicity of our “deen”, at the signs of Allah in His creation and at the legacy of the great Prophets and Messengers that Allah sent throughout time to guide humanity to the right and most prosperous path.

The Hajj is also a reminder for us of the first, and last, Hajj of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) – the Farewell Pilgrimage – as he performed the sacred acts of Hajj with his wives, the Mothers of the Believers, and all his companions. It is a reminder of the favors of Allah upon this ummah. We can only imagine the spiritual magnitude of that blessed gathering, as those most chosen and beloved of pilgrims performed their rituals of Hajj, in the same places from which they were driven out and persecuted so many years ago. We can only imagine what they must have felt as they stood on the plains of Arafat to listen to the final Messenger of Allah, deliver his final sermon to them, indicating that his blessed life and time with them, was nearing its end.

It is narrated from Ibn Umar that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said;

“There aren’t any days greater, nor any days in which good deeds done in them are more beloved to Allah, than these ten days (of Dhul Hijjah). So increase in them the sayings of Tahleel (La illaha illa Allah), Takbeer (Allah Akbar) and Tahmeed (alhamdulillah).” {Imam Ahmad}

Some suggestions for good deeds in this blessed time are;

* Fasting on as many of the these ten days as possible, especially on the day of Arafat (the 9th of Dhul Hijjah). It has been reported from the hadith of our Prophet (peace be upon him) that fasting on the day of Arafat is rewarded with expiation of two years of sin – the previous year and the coming year.

* Increasing in charitable spending (“sadaqah”)

* Increasing in the recitation of the Holy Quran

* Increasing in the superogatory (“nawafil”) acts of worship, such as standing in “tahajjud” prayer in the last one third of the night.

* Increasing in the remembrance of Allah (“adhkaar”)

* Increasing in trying to incorporate the sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in our daily lives and sending salutations upon him.

* Increasing in acts of kindness, helping those in need, maintaining the ties of kinship.

May Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) make us from among those who understand and inculcate the true meaning of submission to Him, and who yearn to follow in the footsteps of the noblest of men and women who walked in these very same sacred places in the highest and most complete state of devotion and reverence to their Creator.  Ameen.

After the Hiatus…

28 Oct

Beauty of Allah's Creation

All praise is due to Allah, for His infinite mercy and grace upon us, without us ever being worthy recipients of it, and for the innumerable favors He showers upon us – day and night – and for which we fail to give enough gratitude.

Alhamdulillah, our Tajweed classes have restarted and and the new notes will be going up soon, inshaAllah.

A parent of a child who is memorizing the Quran was suggesting to have an “internet support group” as a means for people to share advice/ information/suggestions from their experiences – either as parents of hufaadh, or of children currently memorizing the Quran, or as people who are memorizing or have memorized themselves (for example, time-management techniques on incorporating schooling with memorization, tips on memorization,etc) – which may be of benefit to others on the same journey.

Towards that goal, this site will now include a category called “Quran Student Support Group” where such advice will be posted.  If you would like to post something in that section, please e-mail me at asudentofthequran@gmail.com with your post and I will put it up, inshaAllah.

I am also hoping to start a section on the site with stories of people in our communities who have chosen to undertake the task of memorization of the Quran or who have dedicated themselves to its service, as examples to inspire us, inshaAllah.

May Allah allow us to benefit each other with our knowledge, our time and our efforts. Ameen.

The Fast of the Elite

10 Aug

Every sense that a person possesses is a river that flows into the heart and affects its contents. The fasting of the elite encompasses not just abstinence from food, drink and intimate relations, but also cautiousness in keeping every sense and limb free from sin.

The Fast of the Eye

Everything that the eye glances upon affects the heart. Even what we envision in our sleep is affected by the images that the eye sees while awake. Sometimes, these images flash before us in our prayers or other acts of worship. Therefore, it is extremely important to be vigilant about what we expose our eyes to.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has said,

“A glance is an arrow from the arrows of Ibli. Whoever leaves it out of Godly fear, then Allah- Exalted be He- will grant him faith in which he will taste its sweetness in his heart.” [Al-Hakim]

This hadith teaches us that the sinful glance is one of the ways Iblis pierces our heart and our connection with Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).Scholars have said that once a person glances on something haram, Iblis uses the effects of that glance to destroy his worship.

Conversely, the reward for the person abstaining from sinful glances is a taste of the blessing of sweetness of faith. Once a person tastes this special form of faith, he will want to experience it again and again, and will not be willing to forsake it.

The Fast of the Tongue

Our Prophet (peace be upon him) has said,

“Fasting is a shield with which one protects oneself; so let not him (who fasts) utter immodest (or foul) speech, nor let him act in an ignorant manner; and if a man quarrels with him or abuses him, he should say, ‘I am fasting, I am fasting’.” [Bukhari]

The first response of a person to provocation by saying, “I am fasting”, is a reminder to himself that he is in a sacred and lofty state of fasting for the pleasure of Allah, the Most Great. The second time he says, “I am fasting”, it is a reminder to the other person that he will not respond to his provocation in a similar manner because he is fasting.

Lying, backbiting, slandering, lewd speech, breaking promises, vain speech and excessive joking are all sins of the tongue. Allah will test the fasting person with this temptation, and in many other ways. This is because the reward we seek from Him – that of everlasting abode in Paradise – is so valuable, it wont be achieved without great and sincere effort on the part of the seeker.

The Fast of the Ears

The Prophet (peace be upon him) has said,

“All that is sinful to utter is sinful to listen to.” [Al-Tabarani]

Therefore, the ears must also be guarded from hearing anything impermissible.

The Fast of the Limbs and Guarding the Food that Enters the Stomach

Every limb of a person’s body must be kept away from sin. The hands and feet must be kept away from reprehensible deeds. The stomach must be guarded against having questionable food enter it at the time of breaking the fast. It is meaningless to fast and abstain from lawful food, only to break the fast with food that is unlawful or questionable in its source.

Here, when the scholars refer to unlawfulness or uncertainty in food, they are referring to aspects of the food beyond its method of slaughter (for meat) or other such apparent qualities. They are referring to the effect of the food we eat on our soul. Our food is the source of our energy- when the source is corrupt, the actions that stem from that source will also be corrupt. It is important for us to know the source of our food, and that it is not brought to us by means which are unfair, or exploitative in nature, either to the people involved in producing it (e.g. farmers) or the actual food itself (e.g. animals that are slaughtered for meat).

My teacher shared a couple of examples to illustrate this vigilance in food by the righteous…

In one incident, a young boy who used to serve Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) went out to get some milk for him. When he returned with the milk and offered it to Abu Bakr who was very hungry, he drank it without remembering to ask the boy where he got it from. Upon recalling this oversight, he asked the boy about the source of the milk. The boy said that the milk came from goats that grazed on a field that was from property that was unlawfully usurped from orphans. Upon hearing this, Abu Bakr, forced himself to expel the milk he had just drank, out of fear of nourishing his body on something unlawful.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) has said,

” Any flesh that is grown on something that is impermissible, the fire has more right upon it.”

My teacher also shared observations from the elderly people in the community where she studied as a student of knowledge. They would say that all the problems in their city amongst the people started happening after they started consuming food that originated from outside the city. Until 50 years ago, all the food available in the city was grown there by the local people. They would remember and praise Allah as they planted every seed in the ground. They would remember and praise Allah when they harvested the crop that came from that seed. And they would remember and praise Allah when they prepared and consumed the food that was produced from that crop. Without doubt, such blessed food would surely produce a blessed affect in the person consuming it.

May Allah allow us to experience, and taste the sweetness of, this level of consciousness in everything we see, say, hear, do and eat. Ameen.

[Content based on notes taken in Ramadan preparation classes.]

The Degrees of Fasting

9 Aug

The fast of a person falls into one of three degrees, the first being the lowest and the third being the highest form of fasting…

1. The Fast of the Layman

This is the fast of the person who abstains from food, drink and intimate relations by guarding the stomach and the private parts from that which they desire. This person takes on the outer form of fasting but does not embody its inner reality. He fasts to save himself from the hell-fire and the punishment of Allah by fulfilling the basics of what is required from him. However, his actions in Ramadan are no different than his actions outside Ramadan. His spiritual state remains the same from one Ramadan to the next.

2. The Fast of the Elite

This is the fast of the person who is always focused on Allah’s pleasure, beyond abstaining from that which is sinful. He has committed all his life and time for Allah and he abstains from sin by guarding his eyesight, hearing, speech and limbs from evil acts. The elite considers something like a lie or an ill word that he has uttered to be a nullification of his fast in its inner realm, because he has understood the importance of the inner reality of fasting, as well as its outer form. His worship is built on a foundation of love for Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).

3. The Fast of the Elect from the Elite

This is the fast of the person whose every moment in his entire day and night is involved in focusing on Allah and His pleasure and abstaining from everything other than Allah. He guards his heart from any worldly thoughts. His every action is a form of worship…even his eating and his sleeping are done for the pleasure of Allah.

The fasting of the majority of people today falls into the first category. May Allah help the quality of our fasts to ascend to the next level. Ameen.

InshaAllah, the next post will go into details of the second degree of fasting.

[Content based on notes taken in Ramadan preparation classes.]

The Status of Food in the Lives of the Righteous

8 Aug

The following hadith and stories shared by my teacher have given me a lot to reflect upon. May Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) instill in us the drive to emulate these noble examples…

On one occasion, the household of Fatimah and Ali (may Allah be pleased with them) did not have enough food to eat, to the extent that the grandchildren of the Prophet (peace be upon him) went to sleep with the pain of hunger upon them. Fatimah went to the Prophet to share this with him and he encouraged her to be patient. After she had departed from his company, the Prophet (peace be upon him) turned in supplication to Allah saying, “O’ Allah, You bear witness that the House of Muhammad are hungry.”

The beauty in this narration is the fact that our Prophet (peace be upon him) did not conclude his supplication with a request to Allah to provide.

Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) sent to mankind many Prophets. Some were given, along with their Prophethood, great kingdoms, vast wealth and many other bounties. Others were given very little from the outward bounties of the world. Prophet Sulayman (alaihis salaam) was bestowed with a kingdom like none other, and was given control over the jinn and animals. Prophet Esa (alaihis salaam), on the other hand, was chosen by Allah to be placed at a status where he did not own anything except a comb and a container with which he would drink water.

Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was given a choice by Allah, as to what kind of Prophet he wished to be. He (peace be upon him) chose this way of life. He would say,

“I choose to have one day and to be without another day. So the day I eat I can know gratitude and the day I am without I can know patience.”

When the Mother of the Believers, Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) was asked about the food in the house of the Prophet (peace be upon him) she said that she would see a crescent, and then another crescent and there would be no fire lit in the house of the Prophet (peace be upon him) [there was nothing cooked]. When asked what they ate, she would refer to dates and water.

It was known about Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) that he would eat a meal once every 6 days. The Prophet (peace be upon him) only ate, from the little that he had, once a day. The Prophet and his noble companions would often tie rocks tightly around their abdomens to overcome the pangs of hunger that they would feel.

How far are we today from these examples?

We, whom as a nation, seem to be obsessed with food and are almost constantly eating? Even our Ramadan fasts culminate in the most lavish and delectable selection of food and drink and we eat quantities equal to and beyond what we would normally have eaten, had we not been fasting. Not only is it widely accepted for us to eat three meals a day, each of those meals is even made to consist of several “courses” – so there are “starters”, “entries”, “desserts” and more. We even find room to return for seconds.

It is said that a student of knowledge once asked his teacher,

“What do you say about a man who eats once a day?” His teacher replied, “His food is like the food of the Prophets.” The student then asked,

“What do you say about a man who eats twice a day?” His teacher replied, “His food is like the food of the Righteous.” The student then asked,

“What do you say about a man who eats three times a day?” His teacher replied, “Why do you not just build him a stable so he can sit and graze there all day?”

My teacher was suggesting, as a practical measure outside Ramadan, to start by eliminating one meal from our normal eating schedule, while also reducing the portions we eat at every meal.

She also shared how she had witnessed the people in the city where she had been a student of knowledge, conduct themselves at the time of breaking fast. She said as soon as the call to prayer for Maghrib was made, the people would break their fast with dates and water. After that they would pray Maghrib, followed by the sunnah prayers. Then, they would continue in their state of worship by performing “nawafil” prayers, supplications and remembrance until about an hour had passed. Then they would eat their meal. They said they would do this because the time after Maghrib was known to them as the “hour of heedlessness” – a time when many people would forget Allah and indulge in filling their stomachs with food. In order to discipline their “nafs” and its desire to eat, they would occupy themselves in acts of worship at that time.

May Allah give us the self-discipline to overcome our weaknesses. Ameen.

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