بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[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?
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?
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
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.
So, what would I suggest to an English speaker?
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.
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.
[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.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
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.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[Okay, this series sure took a long time. This is the last part, alhamdulillah.]
11) Don’t be stagnant. Take the next step.
I’ve met many sisters who have told me that they can understand a lot of Arabic. Unfortunately, they don’t take advantage of this fact and attend ARABIC lectures.
[I’ve learned one thing after 2 years of attending mostly Arabic lectures: there is a huge difference in level between English and Arabic lectures.
If the English speakers knew just how much the difference was, they would have wept.]
I recall an advice that I read when I first started studying Arabic. The brother suggested cutting off all ties with English.
I finally understand why. If you stick to English (or whatever your language is), you will continue to depend on it. However, if you start to attend Arabic classes and read Arabic books, you will become dependent on the Arabic language.
It might be difficult at first but it gets easier. Pretty soon, you’ll find it easier to attend Arabic classes than English ones.
12) It’s a life long journey.
Arabic is a deep language. We won’t become experts at it overnight.
13) Turn learning Arabic into an act of worship.
Yes, you could learn this language for worldly matters but then you won’t get much out of it.
However, if you do it intending to earn the pleasure of Allah, you’ll get a lot, insha-Allah.
14) Do dua (supplication).
Do it again and again and again.
Don’t just ask Allah to help you learn Arabic. BEG Him.
To those of you who haven’t learnt much Arabic between last Ramadan and now, I say: Don’t give up. Start now and keep going until you get there.
I hope that this series was beneficial, insha-Allah.
May Allah make it easy for all of us to learn the language in which His Book was revealed.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[Reminder: Productive Ramadan is back up.]
Okay, so I said that I wouldn’t be linking to any more articles at present, and after that post, I haven’t.
Today, I came across this heart-warming and thought-provoking article on the importance of learning Arabic and I think it is something that everyone needs to read, especially now that Ramadan is almost here.
Here’s the article.
Read it carefully because it has SO MANY points of benefit. [Read the footnotes as well.]
Note to the sisters: Read the last part very, very carefully. [Umm Zakee’s notes can be downloaded here.]
Insha-Allah, I hope that those who don’t know Arabic ponder over this article and then decide to start learning Arabic ASAP.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[Okay, I have a question: How many of you are trying to follow these habits?]
Now, you might be thinking “Hey, she didn’t say ‘Choosing the third habit'”.
True, I didn’t because I chose it based upon the first two polls. This habit came in second both times.
And I mentioned it in yesterday’s post.
So what is the third habit?
Reciting at least one page of the Quran daily with the translation (for those who don’t understand Arabic).
Okay, let’s take this step by step:
1) Why is this not a habit in the lives of many Muslims?
If one reads the lives of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) and his Companions (radiallahu anhum), we would find that they were attached to the Quran.
And this is something that most Muslims know so why don’t they attempt to be like this?
Well, if I had to guess, the following reasons might be amongst those that keep us away from the Quran:
a) The Shaytaan
You know, the devil is not dumb. He knows the powerful affect that the Quran has on a person so he tries his utmost to keep us away from it.
b) The lack of understanding leads to boredom.
Sad but true.
Most people don’t understand what they read which is why they really don’t want to read any further.
c) Difficulty in reciting the Quran.
Surprisingly this might be one of the main reasons why many eager beavers, who want to recite the Quran, don’t recite much – because they have great difficulty in doing so.
Spending 1 hour in trying to recite a few ayaat (verses) can be exhausting. However, remember that it is also highly rewarding.
d) Looking for inspiration in the wrong places.
What do I mean by that?
Well, I’ve noticed that many people tend to seek out blog posts and inspirational lectures when they are depressed.
Just a question: Why is it that they don’t turn to the Quran? Is there anything more inspiring than the words of the Lord of the Worlds?
Also, listen to this short lecture that I linked to earlier.
e) Seeking advanced knowledge whilst leaving the basics.
I remember one of my teachers pointing out that the Quran was the foundation so we should make more of an effort to keep in touch with it.
I’ve seen many students who regularly attend Islamic classes but have not memorised more than Juz Amma.
Why is that? Why aren’t we focusing on the Quran, on it memorisation and on its explanation?
f) Not understanding one’s priorities.
It doesn’t matter how much work you have, you are still required to keep in touch with the Quran.
If one doesn’t regularly recite the Quran, one is considered to have deserted it.
2) What are the difficulties people face in reciting the Quran daily?
I mentioned two of the reasons above: lack of understanding and difficulty in recitation.
Another reason might be not dedicating a fixed time to reciting it. It doesn’t have to be an hour. You could start with 5-10 minutes and then work your way up from there.
3) What can one do in order to make this a habit?
Right, here are some tips:
a) Decide when and how much you’re going to recite and stick with it.
Do you want to do it after Fajr? Or before sleeping? Or after lunch?
[Note: It’s much easier to recite on an empty stomach.]
How much will you recite? Try to make it at least a page. If that’s too much, then at least half a page.
b) If you don’t understand Arabic, get a nice translation.
You could try to get a word to work translation as well.
Of course, this is just a temporary measure until you understand Arabic.
[Oh and you can also use a Quran journal whilst you read so that you can record your questions, thoughts, etc.]
c) If you can’t recite properly, get some tapes of a good reciter.
Or as I said yesterday, you could use http://tanzil.net as then there’s no need to buy any tapes or translation.
d) Do dua and stick to the rountine until it becomes a habit.
Try and try until you get there.
Let’s try this for two weeks, insha-Allah.
Do any of you have any tips? Feel free to share, insha-Allah.
PS. Has everyone gone for away for the summer holidays? Certainly looks like it…
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Looking for a nice site with loads of Islamic information?
Well okay, here goes:
This is one of the more famous sites out there when it comes to Islamic books and audios. The brother, may Allah reward him, has collected information on just about every topic.
[Note: There’s loads of stuff on two subjects that I mention frequently: Tawheed and Arabic.]
Also, he has a nice blog:
After all these years of using the site, I finally checked the “About us” section and found out that the brother is a convert from Hinduism, masha-Allah, and lives in the……………………UAE*.
Small world, isn’t it?
[*Just to clear things up for all the non-UAEers: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a very nice boat shaped country which consists of seven emirates (“states”), one of which is the very famous Dubai (which I just call “home”).]
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
8) In order to learn Arabic, you need to learn grammar and vocabulary.
[Okay, I mean in order to learn simple Arabic. You need to learn much more than just grammar and vocabulary to go deep into the Arabic language!]
By grammar, I mean two things: sarf and nahu.
To use an example I heard, sarf involves word construction and nahu involves sentence construction.
Studying sarf is what really broke open the code of Arabic for me.
What is sarf exactly? Well, it is sort of like verb conjugation but it’s more than that. I think it would be pointless of me to explain because you won’t understand until you start studying it.
Arabic verb conjugation is something that will amaze you due to its simplicity – unlike in French where some verbs drive you crazy (devoir, pouvoir and vouloir, I’m talking to YOU).
For a quick way to learn some Sarf before Ramadan, I would suggest:
That’s basically learning about nouns, prepositions, etc. There’s no point in explaining this either because you need to study a bit of nahu before you understand how wonderful it is.
Both sarf and nahu can be tough in the beginning (especially if you are monolingual) but be patient and you’ll reap the rewards, insha-Allah.
A good place to start learning nahu would be the Madinah books. There are two websites where this book is explained:
2) LQ Toronto
The second site has basic to advanced nahu lessons. However, a little warning: In the Madina series videos, the instructor mentions the names of some deviant speakers and recommends their lectures (according to what I read on a website). If so, then please be careful.
Okay, what about the vocabulary?
Well, actually when you learn sarf, you’ll learn new vocabulary faster. See, each word in the Arabic language has some “root letters” so when you know the meaning of a set of root letters, you can figure out the meanings of all the words that are derived from it.
Let me give you an example from English (all these come from Latin):
Trans means “across, through, over, beyond, to or on the other side of, outside of”.
So, based on the above, can you guess what the following words mean?
Transform, transfer, transatlantic, translate, transition, etc.
Yes, to some degree, you’d have a general idea of what they meant.
Circum means “around, about, surrounding, on all sides”.
So, based on the above, can you guess what the following words mean?
Circumvent, circumference, circumstance, etc.
Now, you might have known what these words meant already but knowing the meaning of “circum” might have given you a deeper look into these words, thereby leading you to understanding their meanings better.
9) There are different vocabulary sets depending on what you want to understand.
If you want to understand the Quran, that’s one vocabulary set. The ahadeeth have another vocabulary set. Islamic literature has another vocabulary set (and each subject matter has it’s own vocabulary set).
If you want to study something else in Arabic, like IT or cooking, that has another vocabulary set altogether.
Of course, the above all refers to the standard Arabic. Each colloquial dialect have their own vocabulary sets as well.
Scared? Why? Isn’t this the case in every language? Think about it.
Generally speaking, sarf will help you with most of them (not the colloquial though). However, you would also need to start learning the vocabulary separately for each subject.
The first thing that you should focus on is the vocabulary of the Quran. The rest of them can come later, insha-Allah.
How can you improve on this?
Well, I can suggest three short ways before Ramadan:
– The Understand Quran courses also teach Quranic vocabulary.
– Using the dictionary of the Quran on the Understand Quran website which gives the translations of each new word, juz by juz.
– Reading the Word-to-Word translation of the Quran on a daily basis. I would recommend the Darussalam version due to its authenticity. However, the others are acceptable as well.
10) So, what will your Arabic schedule look like before Ramadan?
Well, assuming that you know how to read the Arabic letters, do not understand any Arabic at all and have not registered for any course, I would suggest:
a) Starting with the Understand Quran Short Course.
Dedicate 15 minutes in the morning to doing the course and another 15 minutes in the night to reviewing it.
b) Read at least one page of the Word-to-Word translation every day.
Write down all the new vocabulary that you’ve learnt in a notebook and keep reviewing them.
c) You could also keep listening to the Quranic recitation along with its meaning.
Here’s one with Shaikh Abdullah Basfar’s recitation (excellent tajweed).
d) After you finish all the Understand Quran lessons, you can then move on to the Madinah Arabic lessons.
Again, I should point out, that these are all suggestions. It’s okay if you don’t follow all of them. I’m just try to give you an idea of what you can start with.
Remember: The more you push yourself, the more Quran you will be able to understand in Ramadan and the more khushoo (humility) you’ll feel in the taraweeh prayers (and all the other prayers for that matter).
To be continued…
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
For those who are really serious about learning some Arabic before Ramadan rolls around, here’s another beneficial link for you:
It’s a forum dedicated to learning Arabic – all types (Classical, Colloquial, etc). A really excellent resource for the avid learner.
Obviously, it would be better to sign up for a live Arabic course. However, for those who are unable to do so, this is a good alternative.