بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
“Son, that’s what happens when you read the Qur’an. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, you will be Changed, inside and out. That is the work of Allah in our lives.”
“Verily, we revealed the reminder (Qur’an) and we are its guardian.” (15:9)
Narrated ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Whoever recites the Qur’an and memorises it, making lawful what it makes lawful, and unlawful what it makes unlawful, Allah will admit him to Paradise due to it, and grant him intercession for ten of his family members who were to be consigned to the Fire” (Tirmidhi as weak).
Alhumdu Lillah, it is through the sheer grace and mercy of Allah, al-Kareem, we find so many people memorising the Holy Qur’an in the UK. In a small country like England, there must be thousands of Huffadh, Ma Sha Allah – Tabarak Allah – Fa Lillahil Hamd. Where I live, in Blackburn, there must be approximately 1,000+ Huffadh (male and female) in the whole town – Alhumdu Lillah. We should not take this lightly, rather, we must thank Allah profusely; firstly, for the blessing of the Holy Qur’an and secondly the blessing of memorising/hifdh. There are countries in the world that don’t have a hundred Huffadh in the whole country, let alone a thousand in a town. Most of these efforts have been in the last quarter of a century. If we rewind back twenty-five years ago, there were very few places that offered Hifdh classes and those that did, the class sizes were very small (less than a dozen boys). Back in the 70s and 80s, places like Bradford and Dewsbury only had one Hifdh class in the whole town, and there was a handful in Lancashire, as well as one in Bolton.
This is all down to the miraculous nature of the Holy Qur’an. One may question, how?
If we were to give these boys and girls who are memorising the Holy Qur’an a book in English, any book of any genre and they were told to memorise it, would they be able to? Surely they should be able to learn a page each day from the book, just like they learn a page a day from the Holy Qur’an. And this should be easier, as it is in their language but, we seldom find such children. This in itself is an indication that memorising the Holy Quran is not based entirely on the child’s memory but it is upon the merit of the Holy Qur’an being a miraculous book. This is a special favour bestowed upon this Ummah, as previous nations were not able to memorise their holy scriptures en masse, thus we will not find a person who has memorised the Bible in its entirety, nor the Torah. ‘And We have indeed made the Qur’ân easy to understand and remember’ (54:17).
So, whoever strives to memorise it and recite it regularly, it will be made easy for him, and whoever turns away from it, will lose it. ‘According to reports from the Banu Israil themselves, the ruler of Rome, Anitos Apifonis got every single copy of the Tawrah and burnt it until not a single copy was left. The same happened to the Bible so the original transcriptions became extinct as a result of the attacks of Titus of Rome…’ (An Approach to the Qur’anic Sciences).
Nowadays, we have a wholesale of Huffadh and a greater bulk on the production line wanting to become a Hafidh. This all seems good and well on the surface but, we must remember a Hafidh is a soul chosen by Allah SWT to protect His book, like the verse mentions, ‘Verily, we revealed the reminder (Qur’an) and we are its guardian’ (15:9).
However, let us bear in mind, becoming a Hafidh is not Fardh Ayn (obligatory on everyone). The Sahabah (Allah be pleased with them) were not all Hafidh, some only knew a few verses or just a Surah. Great Imams like the Master of Hadith, Imam Bukhari (Allah have mercy upon him) was not a Hafidh, some of the greatest scholars in later times like the esteemed Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri (Allah have mercy upon him), the honourable Shaykhul Hadith Mawlana Yunus Saheb (Allah have mercy upon him) were not Hafidh of the Holy Qur’an. If these scholars who had photographic memory were not Hafidh, why do some parents force their children to memorise? Parents need to have a balance with their approach towards Hifdh, otherwise, this can have negative consequences later on in life. Becoming a Hafidh has great rewards, no doubt, but we also need to bear in mind if your child is not cut out for it, please do not force them and suffocate them. Consequently, such children may end up completing their Hifdh, but rarely keep up with their revision thereafter and this has severe punishments attached to it. Becoming a Hafidh is only part one, retaining your Hifdh is part two and this is the bigger commitment. Memorising and retention are both as important as each other. It is more virtuous that your child learns the last ten Surahs voluntarily and remembers them till death, rather than forcing him/her to memorise the full Holy Qur’an and he/she later forgets it. They will then be committing a major sin as the verse explains, ‘The one who turns away from my message, he shall have a straitened life, and We shall raise him blind on the Day of Judgement’ (Surah Tahaa).
My purpose is not to be negative and discourage parents from Hifdh; it is merely an eye-opener and a gentle reminder of the realities. We frequently hear the virtues of a Hafidh, but seldom hear the other side which are the warnings of forgetting the Holy Qur’an. For now, let us ponder upon the following:
- Not every child HAS to become a Hafidh.
- The virtues of a Hafidh are great, but the warnings for those who forget the Holy Qur’an are just as great.
- Becoming a Hafidh does not guarantee you Jannah, you must act upon the Holy Qur’an and carry out other obligations such as salah, fasting, keeping a beard, good etiquette and so forth.
- Memorising the Holy Qur’an is not a medal to be worn around the neck once completed. It has implications and we must repeat and revise it until our death along with leading Taraweeh salah.
- A Hafidh is not like someone who has obtained a degree or achieved a certificate and has no further obligations. The Hafidh has a duty thereafter to i) behave like a Hafidh according to the Sunnah ii) to understand the Holy Qur’an, especially what is halal and haram.
Narrated by Samurah bin Jundab (Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (ﷺ) said in his narration of a dream that he saw, ‘He whose head was being crushed with a stone was one who learnt the Qur’an but never acted on it, and slept ignoring the compulsory prayers’ (Bukhari).
My aim is to create a balance – alongside all the virtues of Hifdh, there are also the punishments for forgetting the Holy Qur’an. This does not necessarily mean forgetting the whole Qur’an, it can be a Surah or even just a verse. Many people learn Surah Yaseen or parts of the Amma para (30th) in childhood, then later in life tend to forget it – the same punishment applies there too.
From Anas bin Malik (Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘The rewards for my Ummah were displayed before me, even (the reward for) the dust that a man comes out of the Masjid with. The sins of my Ummah were displayed before me, and I have not seen a sin worse than that of a Surah or an Ayah of the Qur’an which a man learned and then forgot’ (Tirmidhi).
‘And We have indeed made the Qur’ân easy to understand and remember’ (54:17).
So, whoever strives to memorise it and recite it regularly, it will be made easy for him. And whoever turns away from it, will lose it. Imam Ibn ul-Munadi (Allah have mercy on him) said in Mutashabih al-Qur’an (p. 52), ‘The Salaf were always afraid of forgetting Qur’an after they had memorised it because this was classed as a shortcoming.’ Imam Suyooti (Allah have mercy on him) said in al-Itqaan (1/106), ‘Forgetting it is a major sin.’ As was stated by Imam Nawawi (Allah have mercy on him) in al-Rawdah and others, because of the Hadith “I was shown the sins of my Ummah…”
For a Hifdh family (who have a child/ren memorising Qur’an), they need to prioritise. They need to realise that memorising the Qur’an isn’t an honour bestowed on just anyone. Yes, you are the type of parents, if the Oxford Dictionary had a definition for you, it would read thus,
“a mum or dad whose social, emotional, physical and psychological decisions are governed by what para their children are memorising”
When one commits to this, they need to put their heart and soul and mind into it, and everything else is secondary.
Every Muslim parent wants their child to be successful in both worlds and to keep them focused on the straight path. One of the surest ways to raise one’s child firmly on the Deen is to create a connection with the Holy Qur’an which has been explicitly sent down as a guidance for mankind. For this connection to take place, one needs to create an affinity for this book to inspire feelings of attachment. Understanding the Holy Qur’an and exploring its depth can all be developed later in life, but as long as parents are able to create an association between the child and the Holy Qur’an, the most important job of all is done.
Tips for parents, In Sha Allah
Your intention should be correct for making your child a Hafidh – to please Allah SWT and to inculcate love for the Holy Qur’an in your child. We often hear parents talking about ‘free tickets to Jannah because my child is a Hafidh.’ It’s like the poor child is carrying the sins of the whole family and if he does not complete Hifdh then the family are doomed for Hell. La Hawla Wa Laa Quwwata Illa Billah.
- First and foremost, observe your child’s memory skills and conclude if your child has the ability to memorise the Holy Qur’an by testing his current Surahs and Duas. As your child becomes better at reciting the Quran, inspire him to memorise portions of the Quran such as the short Surahs, and some important, daily ones like Surah Yaseen and Surah Al-Mulk. Explain to them the importance of these various Surahs as well to create an understanding and an extra bond with the Quran.
- Instil the love of the Holy Qur’an into your children by buying them an audio Qur’an. Play short Surahs whilst in the car or even on YouTube at home as they are easier to memorise – do this daily, in the morning or at night.
- Start early –“learning when young is like engraving on stone.” From birth (or even in the womb), recite the Holy Qur’an to them in a beautiful voice. Let the sound of your Qira’ah evoke love and an attachment to the Quran for them. What would be better is to recite the Quran after Fajr, so that when your child opens his/her eyes in the morning, the very first sound he/she hears are the Words of Allah.
- Set goals and rewards. Treat your child with positive reinforcements like their favourite chocolate or extra playtime when they complete a Surah/Para as this will motivate and encourage them further. Constantly remind them of the reward and that their efforts are not being wasted.
- Set a timetable at home that works simultaneously and effectively with school time and school work. Arrange two short learning sessions rather than one long one – from personal experience, after Fajr and after school is effective. Most, if not all, experienced teachers advise the best time to memorise to be after Fajr. Memorisation during the daytime has also proven to be effective as long as the child is stress-free and is not heavily distracted with mind-numbing game consoles and other technology.
- If you like, you can create a healthy competition between your children, however, DO NOT compare your children, because every child is unique. Set different goals for each depending on their capabilities and see who reaches their goal first.
- Model what you want your children to emulate – children learn most from their parents’ actions rather than their commands. Engage yourself with the Holy Qur’an, try to memorise parts of it yourself and you will notice that your children will take more interest in picking up the Holy Quran themselves. Actions speak louder than words.
- Provide the right environment with the right ambience – the child’s surroundings are equally as important as the actual memorisation itself. A serene and quiet environment can reduce time spent on memorising a page by almost 10-15% as well as making it easier to retain, as the mind does not have to process and turn-off distractions. Try selecting a place with greenery as plants tend to emit a positive energy. The inner spiritual surroundings of the heart and soul are even more important. It is hard for the Holy Qur’an to exist in a heart that is occupied with music, television, cartoons and games. It is the job of the parent to create an environment conducive to learning the Qur’an by keeping their children away from negative influences, and providing them with the opportunity to go regularly to the Masjid, meeting good Muslims, pious people and attending gatherings where they can learn about the Deen. A hifdh family is different from a normal family.
- To pace is better than to race. Some children can learn three pages every day, others struggle with three lines. Every child is different so pace your child according to his level. Do not put a timeline on when the hifdh needs to be finished as this can make the child panic, lose confidence when deadlines are not met and are put under unnecessary pressure. Many parents demand and force (even sub-consciously) their child to finish their hifdh ‘before their GCSE exams’ or ‘before starting college’ so that ‘it’s out of the way’. Although this seems practical, it can sometimes have an adverse effect with the child wanting to quit due to feeling unable to finish ‘on time’. Even if it is a lifelong task, remember ‘quality is better than quantity’. Quran is easy to memorise and remember – consistency and patience is the key. Let your children learn with love in their hearts, rather than force and stress.
- Last but not least, be patient and do not get angry when your child makes mistakes. Every child is different, and you must not create despondency in them by becoming exasperated. Try and sit with them to help them learn, encourage and give a mother and father’s support. Make dua to Allah SWT to help your child and to keep them on the path of learning throughout their lives. Pray Tahajjud and give Sadaqah on behalf of them. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Three supplications are answered, there being no doubt about them; that of a father (for his children), that of a traveller and that of one who has been wronged” (Abu Dawud).
In your sajdah, when it rains, when you’re fasting, when you’re walking or driving or about to sleep—every moment—make Duʿâ for Allah to open the Holy Qur’an for your child, to make it easy for them to memorise, to make them successful in their memorisation and for them to love, live and teach the Holy Qur’an through all of their intentions and actions.
Memorising the Holy Qur’an may seem like an insurmountable mountain in the beginning but with every step you take up that mountain, the body will get stronger, In Sha Allah, and with time, consistency, determination and perseverance, it will get easier, they’ll get faster and eventually they will make it to the very top of that mountain!
NB: One addition, particularly for mothers, is to feed your child some memory boosting foods, such as raw honey, Zamzam water, olive oil, dates and almonds. Please avoid unhealthy and takeaway food or anything that has a lack of vitamins and minerals, contains high cholesterol, white sugar, carbonated beverages, processed carbohydrates and overeating in general. Children should get sufficient sleep and a good amount of exercise. Exercise causes more oxygen to transfer to your brain and a lack of exercise leads to laziness, weight gain, and internal health issues, and will consequently affect memorisation and other mental faculties.
The second issue is that of a teacher, i.e. finding a good teacher. The Holy Qur’an cannot be learnt without a teacher. Even the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) learnt from angel Jibreel (Alayhis Salam). Similarly, Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) taught the Holy Qur’an and listened to it from his Companions (Allah be pleased with them). A good teacher will not only correct one’s recitation but also teach the correct Tajweed and pronunciation. From my own experiences of teaching children who have left other Madrasahs or classes that run from home, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on sabaq i.e. the new lesson. Little or no emphasis is being put on their revision i.e. dawr. Alongside this issue is of some classes being full to the brim. I strongly believe that having 15-20 students in a Hifdh class is far too much, especially when the allocated time is typically two to two and a half hours per day. Having this high number of children in one class, in that amount of time, is extremely unfair on them as they do not receive the full desired and needed attention. This then leads me on to the extortionate fees at such places. So, we have this short amount of time for the high number of children receiving minimum attention, at £10 – £15 per week. Anyone can do the maths and see that some Madrasahs, unfortunately, are turning into a business. Unfortunately, some teachers are too focused on ‘quantity’, rather than ‘quality’ and there is ample proof of this. I am no saint nor a great scholar but if you are teaching the Holy Qur’an solely to make money or business, your teaching will be bereft of any sort of barakah and noor.
“The best among you (Muslims) are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it” (Sahih Bukhari)
Tips for teachers In Sha Allah:
- Having a pure intention: Whether it is memorising the Qur’an or doing anything else for the sake of Allah SWT, the single most important thing needed for the success of that goal is to have the right intention. One must secure one’s intention purely for the sake of Allah SWT, for even if the person does not achieve success in this world, his success is guaranteed in the hereafter. Do not make your Madrasah/Class a money making business. Also, remind your students to have a firm intention for Allah SWT.
- “And recite the Qur’an (aloud) in a slow, (pleasant tone and) style”(73:4). Ali (Allah be pleased with him) commented on this verse saying, “Tarteel is Tajweed of the letters and recognising the places of Waqf (stopping). Before teaching the children Hifdh, please ensure their Tajweed is rectified and their pronunciation is correct as incorrect pronunciation can change the meaning.
- Don’t have an age limit for your class, as there is no real age when to start Hifdh and it is never too late – In Sha Allah. Some teachers do recommend age seven, others recommend eleven. My personal opinion is that some children are seen to mature before others so can start earlier. Sometimes children of the same age are worlds apart in their understanding and receptiveness. Sometimes a child who is brilliant in school might have a harder time with the Holy Qur’an. Judge your student for who he is before embarking him on the journey to learn the Qur’an.
- Ensure your students have one specific copy of the Holy Qur’an from which he/she reads all the time. A visual image of the page leaves an imprint in the mind making it easier to recall later.
- Encourage students to read melodiously and beautify their recitation as much as they can. It is pleasing to one’s ears and provides an incentive to continue with the memorisation. It helps to make one’s memorisation firm and strong because any mistake will instantly feel and sound incorrect as it will distort the harmony of the rhythm one is used to. A Miswak is instrumental in this, it cleans the teeth but also clears the throat. Ali (Allah be pleased with him) said: “Verily, your mouths are the pathways of the Qur’an, therefore cleanse your mouth with the Miswak thoroughly” (Ibn Majah).
- Keep rewards charts/stickers for the children; praise them regularly for their good efforts and gently correct them when they falter. Avoid negativity, never use a loud voice, harsh words or insulting remarks when it comes to instructing or motivating your students.
- “And if an evil suggestion comes to you from Satan, then seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, He is Hearing and Knowing” [7: 200]. Shaytan will always try and stop this meritorious deed. Remind your students of the virtues of the Qur’an and becoming a Hafidh of the Qur’an. Consistency is key and there are no holidays or weekends when you are memorising Quran. Students should be trained (as well as parents) to understand that any time off will most certainly have repercussions on their learning. Also, try not to give too many holidays in summer and in Ramadhan too as this can be disastrous in Hifdh class.
- The Ustadh should always remain in a state of Wudhu, reminding the children to keep their Wudhu for as long as possible. “Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves (by taking a bath and cleaning and washing thoroughly their private parts, bodies, for their prayers, etc” [2: 222]. The Prophet (ﷺ) used to remain in a state of cleanliness and Wudhu. This is one of the best ways to keep Shaytan from influencing us and whispering evil thoughts. Allah SWT loves those who keep themselves clean and it is only His love and protection that can help us defeat our greatest enemy.
- I was reading online about a particular Ustadh in another country whose Hifdh class students were known to be the best in the town. Why? Every month he would gather the students one evening and make them lead in Tahajjud, they would read their Qur’an that they had memorised that month. This might be hard, but not impossible! If not for Tahajjud, maybe one weekend in the daytime make them lead in Nafl Salah. This will boost their confidence and also train them for Taraweeh, which is the litmus test for every Hafidh.
- And finally, the last point but probably the most important – there is absolutely no excuse or justification for physical beating or abuse when it comes to teaching. This was never seen in the life of the Prophet (ﷺ) nor the illustrious companions (Allah be pleased with them). I know of many adults who have either left Islam or abandoned the Holy Qur’an at an older age because of the harshness that was associated with it at a younger age, due to culture and not religion. I always say, “give them sweets and avoid the beats.”
NB: Teach the students Adab/etiquettes – how to hold the Holy Qur’an with respect, not to make drawings in their holy Qur’an and always carry the Holy Qur’an in their right hand. It is very sad to see, more often than not, children walking home with their holy Qur’ans in their left hands, which is such a basic etiquette generally forgotten by Ustadhs.
Exclusive advice from Umm Muhammad (a hafidhah class teacher)
I felt girls are usually left out when it comes to Hifdh, even though this is changing now. Alhumdu Lillah, in Blackburn we have half a dozen Hafidhah classes. So I asked one of the local teachers to write a few paragraphs, as advice for girls.
My personal experience is girls have a better attention span when it comes to learning and focusing. However, they are fragile by nature (especially when they are younger).
It is more beneficial for girls to start at a young age (before puberty) as it gives them a head start and they will not be disturbed by their menstrual cycle. However, Hifdh can be started at any age, as stated previously in the book.
Once girls start their menstrual cycle it becomes a little harder due to the number of days they are taking off from learning and revising each month. The impact of this is it is harder for them to get back into a routine and they can struggle with sabaq para and dawr (revision) as a result.
Repetition: Begin with one verse or a group of verses and repeat it/them until you’ve committed them to memory.
Writing – Go over the verse with your finger over and over. For visual and kinesthetic learners, the process of moving one’s hand to dictate the verses, combined with the visual focus of spelling every word correctly, helps commit the verses to the brain’s long-term memory.
For kinesthetic learners, movement is key to learning. Directing the verses means acting out key elements in verses with hand or head movements. So, for example, if the verse is discussing rain, one can use one’s fingers to make the movements of rain coming down from the sky. If the verse mentions an elephant, one can use one’s arms to make the trunk of an elephant. This would only be applicable for those who know the Arabic translation of the Qur’an.
In comparison to boys there is less emphasis and encouragement on girls to do Hifdh, as there is fear that due to their menstrual cycle and childbearing, females can forget or have less time to revise. Whilst this may be true, a person who has memorised and has revised well in their student years will not find it too difficult to maintain, In Sha Allah. I completed my Hifdh after marriage, Alhumdu Lillah!
Memorising the holy Qur’an is like working out with weights. At first, when you begin lifting weights, you lift a certain amount that you can handle and heavier weights may seem impossible. You may look at others who lift weights and stare in awe as they lift so much more than you feel you could ever do. But if you lift those same weights every day or every other day for a year, they become too light for you! You add more weights as your body strengthens and eventually even those are too light. So you continue to add as your body becomes stronger, faster, and all of what you previously used to lift no longer proves challenging.
It’s the same way with the Holy Qur’an. It takes practise. Commitment. Time. Focus. Energy. And if you aren’t doing it every single day and working with a teacher on a daily basis, it’s going to take even longer. That’s okay. It is not a race. You do not need to finish your entire memorisation in a year or two or even three or four if you have all these other life responsibilities going on. Enjoy the journey of memorisation. When you’re frustrated, take a short break to rejuvenate and regroup, and then begin again.
Always remember, a female doing Hifdh is full of blessings – for herself and her family/children. Finally, only women have this blessing of conceiving and if a woman recites Qur’an regularly during her pregnancy, surely the barakah will be seen on the newborn child. If a non-Hafidha can also recite Holy Qur’an, surely it is much easier for a Hafidhah to recite off by heart whilst carrying out her daily chores.
I hope to see more girls becoming Hafidhah and learning the meaning of the Qur’an, along with teaching Tafsir and Tajweed, In Sha Allah. The importance of learning is just as much in women as it is in men. My advice to the Ummah at large is to show respect to such girls, just like we respect the males as well.
I will conclude with some advice for those who are either fully Hafidh or have memorised a portion of the Qur’an but are struggling to revise and refresh it. It was narrated that ‘Abdullah (Allah be pleased with him) said the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “It is not right for any one of you to say, ‘I have forgotten such and such.’ On the contrary, he has been made to forget. Try to review the Qur’an, for it is more likely to escape from men’s hearts than camels (let loose)” (Bukhari, 5032).
I read these lines of poetry written by Imam Shafi’ee (Allah be pleased with him) when he complained to his teacher about a weak memory and they have stayed with me since:
I complained to Wakee‘ RH about my poor memory:
Give up your sins, was his advice to me;
For knowledge is a light from divinity,
And the Light of God is veiled by iniquity.
If one strives hard to review the Qur’an regularly, there will be no sin on him even if he does forget some of it, for Allah sees the effort. The blame is on those who neglect the Qur’an and fail to review it and read it regularly. Let’s put it this way: the blessings of memorising the words of Allah and the barakah it brings to the life of a Muslim cannot be beaten! My advice would be to memorise as much as you can even if it is an Ayah and review it every day, for the Qur’an will be a great companion to have in the grave and on the Day of Judgement. Additionally, for Madrasah teachers who aren’t necessarily Hifdh teachers, let them be aware of implementing the memorisation of certain virtuous Surahs such as Surah Waqiah, Surah Mulk, Surah Kahf. The student may memorise them at the moment but later forget or keep up with its revision as to them this is not necessary because they are not a Hafidh/Hafidhah and also, the whole system of retention is not embedded in them like it is for an actual Hafidh/Hafidhah.
We, the Huffadh need to contemplate once or twice a week about how much Allah Ta’ala has been kind to us that He has made us from the elite of this Ummah. Are we living up to this title? With what perspective do the people look at us? Do they respect us because of who we are or because of our being from those who uphold the Qur’an? These are just some questions we need to ask ourselves and ponder over – Hadhrat Mawlana Muhammad Saleem Saheb Dhorat (hafidhahullah).
Since there is no book except the Book of Allah that is free from deficiencies or errors, we always welcome and encourage any advice, comments, criticism and corrections so long as they are scholastic and evidence-based.
Allah grants this book His approval.
Ismail ibn Nazir Satia (One who is in dire need of Allah’s forgiveness, mercy and pleasure).
1 Muharram 1439
By Hadrat Mawlānā Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafizahullāh
Indeed, We have sent down the Dhikr [the Qur‘ān], and indeed We are its guardian. (15:9)
In this verse Allāh ta‘ālā proclaims that it is He, and He alone, who has revealed the Glorious Qur’ān to mankind, which means it is His Word. This claim is followed by a proof to validate it: that Allāh ta‘ālā Himself is its guardian and protector. When Allāh ta‘ālā protects something, nothing and no one can ever interfere with it, so the continual preservation of the Qur’ān is a proof that it is the Word of Allāh ta‘ālā. There are many other proofs of the Divine origin of the Qur’ān, including its i‘jāz (inimitability) – the challenge to mankind to invent even a single verse to match the Qur’ān in its perfection. However, the preservation of the Qur’ān is a proof that even a child can understand.
Over 1,400 years have passed and it is still plain for everyone to see that not a single change has occurred in the Qur’ān. To fulfil the promise of protecting the Qur’ān, Allāh ta‘ālā has created a comprehensive system consisting of scribes who accurately copy the text; huffāzwho accurately memorise its words; qurrā who preserve its mode of recitation; and mufassirīn, muhaddithīn, fuqahā and ‘ulamā who protect its meaning and message.
Non-Muslim experts, while arguing over the authorship of the Qur’ān, nevertheless acknowledge that despite the passage of over fourteen centuries it has not undergone even the slightest alteration – not of a single letter or diacritical mark.
It is obvious that a very powerful being must be safeguarding the Qur’ān for it to have been preserved over so many centuries.
The Protected Book
‘Allāmah Al-Qurtubī rahimahullāh narrates an interesting story about the preservation of the Qur’ān. Once a stranger attended one of the debates that the ‘Abbāsid Khalīfah Ma’mūn Ar-Rashīd used to hold at his court. The man spoke eloquently during the debate, and afterwards Ma’mūn summoned him. Sensing that he was not a Muslim he asked him whether he was a Jew. The man replied that he was. Ma’mūn then invited him to embrace Islām and, as a test, offered him incentives for doing so. However, the man preferred to keep his religion, the religion of his forefathers.
A year later the same man attended the court of Ma’mūn as a Muslim and spoke learnedly on Islamic jurisprudence. Afterwards, Ma’mūn called him and asked him if he was the same man who had come the year before. He replied in the affirmative, and upon being asked how he had come to become a Muslim he told his story.
After he had left the debate the previous year he had decided to examine the different religions. Being a good calligrapher he made three copies of the Tawrāt, making some additions and omissions in the process. He took the copies to its adherents and they bought them from him. He then made three copies of the Injīl, again making some additions and omissions, and took them to its adherents, who bought them. Then he did exactly the same with the Qur’ān and took the copies to the Muslims. They checked them and when they noticed the additions and omissions they discarded the copies and refused to buy them. “I realised then that this was a Protected Book, and that was how I came to embrace Islām,” concluded the man.
Enthusiasm for Memorising the Qur’ān
The preservation of the Qur’ān is a great miracle, and the means Allāh ta‘ālā employs in its preservation are also amazing. Parents who encourage their children to memorise the entire Qur’ān are aware of the rewards they and their children will receive for doing so, but the children themselves are not. If you were to ask the students of a typical tahfīz-ul-Qur’ān class what the rewards for memorising the Qur’ān are, majority would not be able to reply. Despite this, the desire Allāh ta‘ālā places in their hearts to memorise the Qur’ān is such that very few if any would dream of giving it up.
Wherever you go you will see that there are never enough tahfīz-ul-Qur’ān classes and that they are always oversubscribed! Just think, what power is there besides Allāh ta‘ālā that is keeping our children committed to memorising the Qur’ān? There are countless other well-known good deeds that promise great rewards, yet people do not adhere to them with such commitment and dedication as to memorising the Qur’ān. Allāh ta‘ālā Himself puts the love of memorising His Word into the hearts of young people!
Nowhere in the whole world will you see classes full of children memorising a book that they do not understand. It is a miracle of the Qur’ān that people are able to learn a whole foreign alphabet and how to read in the foreign language, without learning to understand the language; furthermore, then they memorise a whole book in that language, and then keep it memorised for the rest of their lives.
Throughout history there are examples of people who memorised the Qur’ān at a very young age and also in a very short time. Ibn Labbān rahimahullāh memorised the entire Qur’ān in just one year, remarkable in itself, but even more amazing is that he completed his memorisation at the age of five! Hāfiz Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalānī rahimahullāh became a hāfiz by the age of nine, and at the age of eleven led the Tarāwīh Salāh in Al-Masjid Al-Harām. Imām Ash-Shāfi‘ī rahimahullāh memorised the Qur’ān in just one month. When Imām Muhammadrahimahullāh went to study under Imām Abū Hanīfah rahimahullāh he was asked whether he had memorised the entire Qur’ān or not, for admission to his classes was conditional on being a hāfiz. He replied that he had not, but his desire to acquire knowledge was so great that he returned after just one week and told Imām Abū Hanīfah rahimahullāh that he was now a hāfiz!
Connect Yourself to the Qur’ān
After learning something of the miraculous nature of the Glorious Qur’ān, we need to take some practical steps to connect ourselves with it:
1. Reciting the Qur’ān regularly. Recite one juz daily, or if that is not possible then half a juz or a quarter, but recite daily. If the remembrance of Allāh ta‘ālā in its various forms such as tasbīh, tahmīd, salāt ‘alan-Nabī, du‘ā etc. are compared to individual ‘vitamins’ beneficial to a person’s spiritual health, the Qur’ān can be likened to a multivitamin, for it contains them all.
2. Attend tajwīd classes in your locality in order to learn how to recite the Qur’ān properly, which is one of the rights of the Qur’ān.
3. Attend the Durūs (lessons) of the Qur’ān delivered by the ‘ulamā in your locality in order to understand the message of the Qur’ān.
4. Practise upon the teachings of the Qur’ān.
5. Propagate the teachings of the Qur’ān.
6. Respect the people of the Qur’ān, i.e. the huffāz and ‘ulamā. Refrain from disrespecting them and talking ill of them at all costs. ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd-ul-‘Azīzrahimahullāh used to say, “Become an ‘ālim if you can. If you cannot then become a student of ‘ilm. And if you cannot then have love for them [the ‘ulamā and students]. And if you cannot then do not have hatred for them.”
May Allāh ta‘ālā grant us love for and affinity with the Qur’ān, the ability to memorise it, recite it in the proper manner, understand it and act according to it. Āmīn.
© Islāmic Da’wah Academy
• Please forward this message on to all your contacts •
By Khalid Baig – (From the book ‘First Things First’)
The article below is adapted from two talks of Mufti Muhammad Shafi (Allah have mercy on him) given in 1963 and published in the booklet Wahdat e Ummat.
“I gave a lot of thought to the causes of the sorry state of the Ummah, during the years of captivity in Malta,” said Shaykh-ul-Hind Mawlana Mahmoodul Hassan (Allah have mercy upon him). It was 1920, and at 69 not only was he one of the most distinguished scholars of his time, he had also spent a lifetime in political struggle. His audience was a gathering of Ulama, eager to hear the lessons of a lifetime of study, struggle and reflection. His conclusion: “Our problems are caused by two factors; abandoning the Qur’an and our infighting.” He spent the few remaining days of his life addressing these causes.
The reasons Shaykhul Hind (Allah have mercy upon him) stated are as valid today as they were then. They are also related; the second being caused by the first. The Qur’an had declared us as one Ummah and had warned us against infighting. We have ignored those teachings and the billion-strong Ummah has turned into an Ummah fragmented into a billion segments.
A very large number of our internal battles are the result of narrowly defined self-interest. Islam could have been the force that helped us overcome that. Unfortunately, instead of letting it fulfil that role, today we have made even religion provide us with additional and irresolvable points of conflict. We fight over petty issues of fiqh. We fight over fine points of religious interpretation. We turn minor points of religious law into big battlegrounds while most important and fundamental teachings of religion are violated.
We all do this even as this religion has been under attack from all directions. Thousands of people become apostates every year in Pakistan. Qadianis (who declare Mirza Ghulam Ahmed of Qadian to be a prophet), and munkireen e hadith have been busy attracting our new generation to their falsehoods. Haram is being declared as Halal. Our masses are ignorant of their religion and easily indulge in customs borrowed from polytheists. On top of all that is the western culture of hedonism, of shamelessness, of moral anarchy, that is invading our societies through film, television, radio and obscene literature.[And we might add now the internet.] Corruption of all sorts has permeated all layers of our society. Should not we be reflecting on this and asking ourselves what would the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) expect of us, the heirs of the Prophets? In the hereafter shall we be able to give a sufficient answer by mentioning that we wrote a book on rafa-yadain (the issue of raising hands during certain movements in obligatory prayer)?
Once I saw Mawlana Anwar Shah Kashmiri (Allah have mercy upon him) in a very sad mood. What is the matter? I asked. “I have wasted my whole life,” he said. “You have spent your entire life in spreading Islamic teachings. Thousands of your disciples are themselves Ulama who are serving the religion. If that is a waste, what hope can anyone else have?” I insisted. “Look, what has been the main thrust of all our efforts,” he replied. “It has been to show why Hanafi school is better than others. Imam Abu Hanifa (Allah have mercy upon him) did not need this. His grandeur did not need our approval. Imam Shafi’ee (Allah have mercy upon him), Imam Malik (Allah have mercy upon him) and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Allah have mercy upon him) could not care less about it. All that one can ever prove in these matters is that a certain position is right but has the probability of being wrong and the other position is wrong but has the probability of being right. Moreover, these issues will not be resolved even in the hereafter. For Allah (be He glorified) will not humiliate Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi’ee, Imam Malik or Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal by showing that they were in error.” Then he added: “Today when the roots of Islam are under attack, we have been busy taking care of the leaves.”
It is not that debates or disagreements in religious interpretation are themselves evil. Today, many western educated Muslims, with scant understanding of their religion do think that way. Some even suggest that we should bury all fiqhi schools and create a new one. This is neither possible nor desirable. Difference of opinion are inevitable wherever people have both intellect and honesty. Complete consensus on every issue is only possible when everyone is dumb, so they cannot think of a different idea, or they are dishonest so they willingly agree with a position they consider wrong. After all religious interpretations are not so personal rights that can be sacrificed away.
The problem rather occurs when we overstate these differences. There were difference of opinions in Fiqh amongst the companions, the Successors and great Mujtahideen. They disagreed but did they not turn these into fights. They disagreed but they maintained respect and love for each other.
The brotherhood remained intact.
They had tolerance for the other view.
How can we have tolerance for something we know is wrong? Of course we cannot have any tolerance for anything clearly established as wrong by the Qur’an or Hadith. We can never show accommodation for apostasy. We can never agree on changing the Shariah’s established definitions of halal and haram. But beyond this there are issues about which the Qur’an and Sunnah are silent or are subject to more than one interpretation.
Here the Mujtahideen deduce the intent of the Qur’an and Sunnah based on their based ability. Here disagreements are possible. As long as those involved are qualified Mujtahideen (like the four respected Imams), their differing views have to be respected. We can follow only one opinion, and we should try and determine the one closest to the intent of the Shariah, but we cannot declare opposing views as evil. We exaggerate when we deal with people holding valid opposing views as if they were outside the bounds of Islam.
Overstatement (ghuloo) is the main cause of most fights involving our religious groups. It also happens with Islamic organizations. Most are doing useful work in the areas they have chosen based on their abilities and inclinations. Had they developed a spirit of cooperation and considered their differences as just a natural division of labour, together they could have become a formidable force. Unfortunately, each one of them considers their work and methodology as the only methodology for Islamic work. If a person leaves one of these organizations to join another, he is treated as if he recanted his faith. This is ghuloo. It produces the tribalism of Jahiliya (the pre-Islamic period of ignorance) among religious workers.
Pious people are not extinct today. What we sorely need are the reformers who can rise above their narrow perspectives and heed the universal and unifying call of Islam
The ship and the lifeboats (This section contains Khalid Baig’s reflections on the above).
The above comments of Mufti Muhammad Shafi (Allah have mercy upon him) regarding ghuloo (overstatement) and tribalism in Islamic workers need to be understood in light of Muslim experience with colonialism and its aftermath. Colonialism had hit them hard. It subjugated them physically, politically, economically, culturally and mentally. It was like a big crash in which their ship was destroyed. In the immediate aftermath, survival was the main goal, and people came with whatever lifeboats they could. After the formal ending of direct colonial rule after decades of struggle, there was the time to pick up the pieces and build the ship again. The problem is they had been living in the lifeboats for so long, they confused them with the ships. They still do.
The schools for secular education were one such lifeboat. They imparted some skills necessary for survival in a changed world, although they impoverished Muslim education and society tremendously in so many ways. But today so many well-meaning people who get excited about spreading education in the Muslim world think of nothing more than establishing more of these same schools. Campaigns for “democracy,” whatever it means, were another such lifeboat, aimed at returning control of Muslim affairs to them thereby seeking liberation. Today, democracy or no democracy, nowhere do Muslims have any control over their affairs, but this lifeboat has become a ship and Khilafah, the Islamic system of governance, remains a strange entity.
Most important, Islamic organizations were such a lifeboat, aimed at gathering likeminded people so they could focus their resources and energies on some of the important things. Islamic teachings encompass our entire life and no private organisation can handle all of them to the exclusion of others. Charity is a big part of Islam and it needs organized efforts. So does Islamic education. And calling to Islam. And amr-bil-maroof-wa-nahee-anil-munkar. And the struggle on the battlefield. And so on. Those engaged in media, political, charitable, or other struggles are all part of the jihad. In the absence of the Khilafah, these are all lifeboats. Yet each of them is considered to be the ship by its occupants and captains, thereby creating new lines of cleavage within the Ummah.
The claim that what an organization is doing is the task that needs to be done and the way it is doing it, is the only Islamically legitimate way of doing it, is as damaging as it is common. It helps recruitment for a particular organization but hurts the overall cause. It may make the riders of the lifeboat feel good, but it pushes further the day when we can build the ship again. Little do we realize that one cannot live forever in the lifeboats.
The attitude also betrays lack of appreciation of the current situation of the Ummah. Since the formal end of colonialism we have been living with its legacies. One of them is an education system that we embraced as a ticket out of our miseries during that period of oppression; it compounded our problems by producing self-doubt and self-hate. It produced generations of perfect strangers within the house of Islam, who were then – for this “acheivement” – given leadership roles in all areas of Muslim societies. They hated their languages, their culture, and their religion. It is such people who rule the Muslim world today.
Simultaneously, a whole gamut of institutions, from sophisticated research centers to slick media, is dedicated to the campaign to sow doubts, to spread confusion, and to denigrate Islam. In hot spot after hot spot around the world, the sword is busy prosecuting a war on Islam. The pen is busy in both conducting a war on Islam and in trying to foment a war within Islam.
With that armada arrayed against it, not only the ship is missing here, but the lifeboats cannot even make a fleet because of their illusion that each of them is not a lifeboat but the ship.
This is not to suggest that the situation is entirely hopeless. For these are also the times when people all over the world are coming to Islam in unprecedented numbers. At a time when Muslims have lost control of the sword and the pen, Islam is finding new followers everywhere everyday. (It is quite revealing that even as Islam continues to spread despite the sword, some people continue to insist that it spread by the sword).
Within the Muslim world there are signs of awakening. Muslims are coming back to Islam after having toyed with one false ideology after another. More women are choosing Hijab and are becoming more assertive about it as a symbol of their Islamic identity. There is a greater interest in Islamic knowledge. Qur’an lectures are attracting crowds that were not seen in the past. The nature of the questions people ask about Islam is also changing. There are more “how to” and “what to” questions than “why” questions coming from the secular educated groups. As a small indicator of the new trend, the Biswa Ijtimas (annual gatherings of Tablighi Jamat in Bangladesh) lately have attracted around two million attendees. What is more, they come from widely varying segments of society. A parallel growth can be seen in Islamic activism. Politics, media, relief and charity, education, and community service are all attracting new workers and new organizations. There is new enthusiasm, new energy, and new awareness.
Can we imagine how much speedier our recovery could be if we rose above our petty perspectives, pooled our resources, and recognised the difference between the lifeboats and the ship?
Allah purify our hearts and unify our souls. Ameen.