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Posts from the ‘Step by Step’ Category

14
Jun

Step by Step – Step 3: You need to memorise more than the first and last pages…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Here’s Step 2.]

When I first started taking Islamic classes consistently (about 8 years ago), my memorisation of the Quran consisted of the first page and the last page.

First page = Surah Al-Fatihah

Last page: Surahs Al-Ikhlaas, Al-Falaq and An-Naas.

When I was a kiddie, I had memorised half of Juz Amma in school so when I rememorised that later (as an adult), it was a great achievement for me.

[The Quran is divided into 30 ajzaa (plural of juz) where each juz is about 20 pages long, except for the first and last juz, which are both slightly longer than that. The last juz is known as Juz Amma because the first word in that is “amma”.]

One of the things that I noticed in the now-famous survey was that very few sisters had ventured outside of Juz Amma.

Out of 26 respondents, a whopping 20 had memorised less than one juz.

Four had memorised between 2-5 ajzaa, one had memorised 6-10 ajzaa and one had memorised the whole Quran, maasha-Allah, may Allah keep her steadfast.

Now, someone might say “What’s the problem with this anyway? It’s not an obligation to memorise the Quran.”

No, it’s not. However, it is still an act of worship which is highly recommended.

Also, don’t you think that one should memorise more than just 2-3 surahs?

After all:

1) This leads to a greater attachment with the Quran.

2) The salah (prayer) will cease to be on autopilot mode. [You know what I mean.]

3) For those who wish to become students of knowledge, memorising 2-3 short surahs is not going to cut it.

4) Memorising the Quran helps in learning Arabic.

[Note: I should point out that the vocabulary of Juz Amma is relatively tough especially when compared to Surah Al-Baqarah and Aal-Imran, the two longest surahs in the Quran! I still need to keep checking the translation from time to time.]

5) Ramadan is coming soon. Are we planning on repeating Surah Al-Ikhlaas in every salah again???

I could go on and on.

To those who have not yet memorised Juz Amma, I would say the following: Work towards memorising at least this juz even if it takes a few years.

How can you strive to achieve this?

Well, as I have an entire blog dedicated to memorising the Quran, I’m going to summarise the advice:

1) Do lots of dua (supplication).

2) Be serious about achieving your goal.

3) Set a deadline by which you will have memorised Juz Amma.

[Of course, if you’ve already memorised that then move on to the next juz which is Juz Tabarak.]

Be realistic. If you think it will take 10 months, then set the deadline at the end of the 10 months.

Although if you want to be brave, you could try to push yourself to memorise it by the end of Ramadan. You have about 9 weeks. Highly doable.

4) Memorise an ayah (verse) a day, if that’s all you can manage.

That’s fine. Slowly but surely is better than just sitting there and doing nothing.

I had an ayah by ayah memorisation project going on (I need to restart it soon, insha-Allah). I’ve put up the audio, translation, word to word and tafsir (commentary) of each ayah.

[Still on Surah Al-Fatiha? Please read this post on my New Muslim blog.]

5) Get a teacher.

Yes, you need one because even the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) had one (Jibreel the angel).

If you can’t find a Quran teacher in your area, then feel free to move to a place like Dubai, where you can find them everywhere. 

6) Don’t give up.

Don’t even THINK about giving up.

So, when can you start?

Well, assuming that it’s not midnight at your end, what’s stopping you from starting right NOW?

Memorise away!

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17
Apr

Step by Step – Step 2: Some suggestions for reading the translation of the Quran

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum

 In Step 1, I mentioned that one of the problems that we have today is that many Muslims can’t understand the Quran and haven’t read it from cover to cover.

I then proceeded to bore you with my life story.

In this step, I’m going to suggest a practical plan as to how you can ACTUALLY do it.

Important note: I’m assuming that the reader is a native English speaker. If not, it would obviously be better for you to read the translation in your own language.

I haven’t much clue about other languages, just the following:

1) The Quran has been translated into many languages. However, some of these are by non-Muslims who hate Islam, so one needs to be careful.

2) As far as I know, a good authentic site to get the translation in different languages is : http://www.islamhouse.com/

3) Darussalam (the company, not the city in Tanzania – someone already had this misunderstanding today) has translations in many different languages.

4) I heard that there was a very nice translation in Urdu called “Ahsanul Bayan”. It’s published by Darussalam.

5) The abridgment of Tafsir in Kathir is available in French. It’s also published by Darussalam.

[And no, I’m not an Urdu or a French speaker, although I know a bit of both.]

Before I continue, I would like to point out something very, very important. There is a difference between reciting the Quran (i.e. the Arabic text) and reading its translation.

One of the rights of the Quran is to recite it so we have to fulfill this right.

Understanding the Quran is another right, so reading the translation will aid us towards fulfilling this right.

[Here’s a series I wrote on the rights of the Quran (I just realised that I hadn’t completed it!): Parts 1, 2 and 3.]

So, what would I suggest to an English speaker?

Basic Plan:

1) Decide whether you want to start with the Saheeh International translation or the Muhsin Khan one. I would suggest starting with the Muhsin Khan one and getting the one volume abridged version.

I wouldn’t advise starting with the word to word translation just yet.

2) Get yourself a copy of the translation of the Quran along with the Arabic text

3) Decide how many ayaat (verses) you are going to recite every day.

4) Each day, recite at least that many ayaat and then proceed to read the translation of each ayah (verse). [Start from Surah Al-Fatihah.]

If you have difficulty reciting and can’t get hold of a teacher at the moment, you can try to listen to the audio first for each ayah and then repeat after the reciter. This site has recitation as well as translation: http://tanzil.net/

5) Do this each and EVERY day until you finish reciting the Quran (i.e. you finish Surah An-Nas).

If you go to bed and remember that you forgot to recite the Quran, then my advice is to hop out, do wudhu and recite the required portion. This will train you to recite the Quran daily.

If you miss a day, then you might miss another day and so on, so you shouldn’t miss a single day.

6) Choose the other translation (e.g. if you chose Saheeh, move over to Mushin Khan) and then repeat steps 3-5 all over again.

If you wish, you may use both translations at once. It’s up to you. There are quite a few sites with the translations but they don’t have the accompanying notes, which is why it’s better to get the hard copy.

Intermediate Plan:

1) Follow Steps 1-5 of the Basic Plan.

2) In addition to this, decide if you want to finish reading the translation at a faster pace.

If so, choose one translation (preferably the Saheeh one) for using with your recitation. Depending on how easy you find it to recite, this one could take quite some time.

Choose the other one (preferable the Muhsin Khan one) and read the translation. This time you don’t have to recite it because you’re already doing that when you read the other translation so you can read through this one faster and take it with you wherever you go.

In both the above cases, I would advise you to take notes about whatever questions or thoughts you might have. [Read more about keeping a Quran Journal.]

3) If you are not a reader, and prefer to listen (apart from the translation that you are reading whilst reciting), choose a good translation and then listen to it in your car, iPod, etc as often as you can until you finish the whole thing.

This site (scroll to the bottom) contains many Quran recitations along with the translations: http://quranicaudio.com/

[The “fabulous” one that I referred to in Part 1 is the 3rd last one: Shuraim and Sudais with Aslam Athar.]

You can listen to one set and then proceed to listen to another.

Advanced Plan:

[It includes all of the above mentioned things.]

1) Recite whilst reading the translation (I recommend the Saheeh translation for this) .

2) Read the second translation (I recommend the Muhsin Khan one for this).

3) Listen to a third (I recommend the Pickthall “fabulous” one mentioned above for this.)

You’ll be doing all of the above in the same time period. This way, you’ll be really surrounded with the Quran.

4) If you want to be very brave, you can also read the word to word translation but I really don’t advise it until you’ve read the translation at least once. [I’ve mentioned many word to word translations in this post.]

Remember, don’t stop until you’ve finished reciting the translation until the end.

Insha-Allah, I hope that the post was clear.

What do you think? Is the plan helpful?

Perhaps you have another technique? If so, please share, baarakallahu feekum.

15
Apr

Step by Step – Step 1: You need to understand it…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum

So,  23 people filled out the survey (which is still open), may Allah reward them and one promised to do so soon, which obviously means that I have only 24 readers, alhamdulillah.

I’ve started a series to deal with some of the common problems that I came across in the survey. [It won’t just deal with this though.]

The main problem that I saw was that most of the respondents did not understand much of the Quran.

And this is a problem that is widespread across the Muslim world: people read the Quran without understanding it.

[In fact, this has been mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah with regards to the Jews and Christians i.e. the two nations before us. They read their religious books without understanding it.]

What does this lead to? Lots of problems.

People complain about finding Islam difficult to practice and how they have so many problems. You will find that with many of them, you can narrow the issue down to three things:

1) Not knowing tawheed (worshipping Allah alone)

2) Keeping away from the Quran and not reciting it, or not understanding it if one recites it (this is one of the things that leads to Point No. 1)

3) Not preserving the five daily prayers*

[*Note: This phrase just refers to the obligatory prayers not all the voluntary prayers associated with each prayer.]

If people just worked on these three things, they would see a HUGE difference in their lives.

The first thing that I’m going to focus on is how to go about understanding the Quran. The advice is directed to complete beginners as well as those who are slightly better than that.

Yes, obviously we have to learn Arabic. However, this is a long step and there is another step that one can and should take in the beginning.

What’s that? Well, it’s reading the translation of the Quran.

A question for you, the reader (assuming that you cannot understand Arabic): Have you read the entire translation of the Quran from one cover to the next?

If the answer is no, then don’t you think that this is not befitting for a Muslim?

That may sound harsh, but you know that it’s the truth.

So, where do we start? Well, let me start by telling you how I started.

When I first started practicing Islam, I realised that I hadn’t a clue about the meaning of the Quran. So I took a translation, which had lots of explanatory notes and started to read it.

I would recite the Quran and then read the translation. As I read through it, I started to take notes about points that confused me.

It was a nice translation. However, I later learnt that this translation had many errors.

Somewhere around this time, I also started to listen to a translation of the Quran whilst driving. It had the recitation of Sudais and Shuraim and the translation of Pickthall (rahimahullah). [This one has a few mistakes but overall it is quite good.]

I loved this translation for two reasons:

1) Pickthall uses old English which is richer than the current English, so it of sort helps one to understand the beauty of the Quran much better.

2) The one who read out the translation was absolutely fabulous. [Sorry, I couldn’t think of a better way to put it.]

He had a very clear, commanding voice and he was really into the whole thing. [You’ll understand if you listen to it and then compare it to the other readers. HUGE DIFFERENCE.]

I can’t recall if I finished this one or not, but I did listen to quite a bit of it.

After I had finished reading the first translation (it took me quite a few months), I took another translation. This time, I took the nine volume work of Muhsin Khan and Taqiuddin Hilali (rahimahullah). This is not the one volume work, but rather an extended version of that with more notes, so it’s basically a tafsir (commentary). [It’s available in Darussalam.]

Again, I recited and then read the translation. It took me a year to finish it but it was great. I took notes for this one as well.

After this, I moved on to the Saheeh Internation translation. It was very nice. I can’t remember if I finished it. I think I went through a large portion.

I vaguely remember stopping it for two reasons:

1) There were some printing errors in the Arabic text (in my copy).

2) I found that having the Arabic translation was harming me because I could now understand most of the Quran. I had been studying Arabic and doing hifdh (Quran memorisation) for the last few years and it had all started to come together, alhamdulillah.

For a short time, I also read from a word-to-word translation. It was very nice and my vocabulary increased. I can’t remember how far I progressed.

After this, I started to use a mushaf (i.e. the Quran) which had Tafsir Al-Jalalyn in Arabic, along with some corrections (due to some creedal errors that it contains).

The reason I got this one was because it explains the difficult words in the Quran in simpler Arabic. So, I would recite and if I didn’t understand the meaning of an ayah (verse), I would check its tafsir.

For example, I came across the word “maqaaleed”. I hadn’t a clue what that meant. I checked the tafsir and it said “mafaateeh”. I knew what that meant – keys.

I absolutely loved this tafsir. It was absolutely beautiful. I’ve been meaning to recite it from cover to cover but I haven’t done so yet.

I now use my hifdh mushaf for my recitation as well (easier to carry around), although I think I might switch to another one with tafsir.

So, what benefits did I gain from all this? Well, three very important ones:

1) I got an overview of the whole Quran

2) I came across so many ayaat (verses) that I was amazed to read (“Wow, the Quran has all these stories?” or ‘Wow, the Quran tells us how to behave?”).

[I mentioned some of this in my Quran Journal post.]

3) My Arabic improved.

The more I read of the Quran, the more I became enamoured with it and the more that I wanted to read.

I also finally understood why two of my religious friends, may Allah reward them, kept advising me to read the whole translation.

The Quran really does have a powerful effect on one’s soul and this is exactly why Shaytan (the devil) keeps us away from it.

So, what can you do?

Well, you could do exactly what I did. It worked for me, didn’t it?

“Isn’t there an easier way?”

Well, I came across the statement of an agnostic Jew, in a lecture I attended, where she stated that she wanted to know what was in the Quran (not a truth seeker, just for “knowledge”.) She had already written a book about the sunni-shia divide so she was familiar with Islamic history so she could understand the setting in which the Quran was revealed.

She then took four translations of the Quran along with an English – Arabic dictionary (this is what I recall) and then read the whole translation!

So, no there is no “easier” way. Subhan Allah, if a disbeliever can do all this, we can and should do even more.

The reason that I shared my story was so that 1) you would realise that you’re not the first one to go through this and 2) you know that I am not suggesting something that I read in an article but rather something that I went through personally.

The reason that I shared the Jew’s story was to totally shame you into taking action.

So, insha-Allah, in the next part, I’ll try to give you a few (detailed) suggestions along with the required resources (if available).

[Why wait until Part 2? Because I’m too sleepy right now. Sorry. Please excuse all the editing and spelling errors in this post.]

Any comments, suggestions, doubts, etc? If so, please feel free to share, baarakallahu feekum.