In this article, guest contributor, Hafidh Juned ibn Faruq gives a personal account of his own journey with Quran and how protecting the Quran should go beyond recitation.
From an early age I had a great enthusiasm for reciting the Quran. I would constantly hear many hadith stating the great rewards for the one who memorises the Quran and lives by it. I was particularly motivated by the hadith which explain how the hafidh will be a dweller in the Gardens of Paradise.
The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) has said
“It will be said to the companion of the Quran: Read and elevate (through the levels of Paradise) and beautify your voice as you used to when you were in the dunya. For verily, your position in the Paradise will be at the last verse you recite!” [Tirmidhi]
I wanted to be in Paradise, in the company of the righteous with my level increasing with my recitation and to achieve that I would need to make the Quran my companion.
My journey began when I was finishing primary school. My Quran teachers encouraged my father to enrol me into a madrasah which was renowned for producing strong hufadh. Personally I wasn’t sure I had the capability, but I thought I’d give it a go and see what happens.
I attended the Madrasah part-time. Straight after finishing my day at school, I would then start madrasah and be there 3-4 hours a day, six days a week. Many hufadh have techniques that help them along their journey, but they would all cite the need to work hard and putting in the requisite hours in a disciplined manner. For me, fajr time was important; my mind was most attentive at fajr. Just like the believer starts his day with fajr, the fajr revision and recitation became part of my day. I would also run back home after school, to squeeze in that extra half hour recitation before madrasah.
I was also blessed with a strong teacher, who was passionate about teaching the Quran. He was a very determined and disciplined person who wanted us to succeed. Our classes were full of words of motivation and our teacher would remind us of the sahabah and how they competed in the good deeds. Another blessing was my friends. We would encourage and compete with each other in memorisation and this atmosphere helped me greatly in focussing, memorising and retaining the Quran.
By the grace of Allah (swt) I was able to complete my memorisation of the Quran in just under 2 years.
The day I completed my memorisation was one of the best days of my life. Seeing my parents so happy and proud was truly humbling and a day I will never forget. I was now a hafidh of Quran something which I could only dream of becoming. I felt honoured and protected. I thought that as long as I maintained my memorisation I would remain protected from the troubles and corruption of this world. My main objective now was to maintain my recitation and retention of what I had memorised.
However, as I proceeded in life, I soon discovered that memorisation of the Arabic words alone with no comprehension was not going to keep me safe from the trials of the world.
I remember enrolling in college and one of my science teachers started discussing scientific thinking, the evolution of the world and the limitations of religion, in particular Islam. As a hafidh of Quran, I should have been at the forefront of protecting Islam when it was attacked, but here I was struggling to respond to fundamental questions about Islam. As youngsters growing up in the West we were facing many temptations. How could my knowledge of Quran help me? How could I use that knowledge to help my friends who were succumbing to these temptations?
I always believed that the words of Allah would be a source of protection for me in the issues I faced but life at college was tough. At this point it began to dawn on me that having memorised the Qur’an was not enough if I did not know how to link the Quran to my struggles.
This made me search for answers and resulted in me re-evaluating my relationship with Quran. Undoubtedly, the recitation is a great act and those who convey the message of the Qur’an should spend time perfecting their recitation, but to limit the Quran to only recitation is a disservice to a speech that Allah (swt) describes as being so weighty it would crumble the highest of mountains.
Indeed, Allah (swt) states in the Qur’an:
‘Alif, Lam, Ra. [This is] a Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that you might bring mankind out of darknesses into the light by permission of their Lord – to the path of the Exalted in Might, the Praiseworthy’ [TMQ: 14:1]
The Quran was a source of strength for the Prophet (pbuh) and his companions and should be a source of strength for the believers today. In order for it to be a strength I needed to study the Quran, understand its meanings, its theme, its context and apply that to the problems we face both individually and as an Ummah.
This is something which can be missing for the hafidh of Quran. Sometimes the completion of Quran is viewed with relief, as if a burden has been lifted and now I can get on with the rest of my life. Other times it can be viewed as just a recitation and as such it is common to find personalities that contradict the very words that have been memorised.
When we study the Quran we find that it addressed the arguments of the Quraish and the people of other faiths who would deny the existence of Allah (swt) by telling them
“Or were they created by nothing, or were they the creators [of themselves]? Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Rather, they are not certain.” [TMQ 52:35-36]
The Quran also addressed the disbelievers who questioned the authenticity of the Quran, by telling them
“Or do they say: “He (Muhammad) has forged it?” Say: “Bring then a surah (chapter) like unto it, and call upon whomsoever you can, besides Allah, if you are truthful!” [TMQ 10:37-38]
The Quran discussed the messengers who had been sent in the past and the fate of those who belied the message. The Quran outlined a new way of living, centred on belief in the existence of Allah (swt). It gave us laws, rules and systems to govern our affairs in society.
“And We have sent down to you the Book as clarification for all things and as guidance and mercy and good tidings for the Muslims.” [TMQ 16:89]
The parallels between the past and the present are only too apparent. Islam and its followers find themselves again demonised in the media with the whole concept of religion attacked. Mankind finds themselves living in the darkness of oppression and tyranny again, needing liberation through the light of Islam
The Quran provides solutions for humanity, I had this knowledge on the tip of my tongue, but I could not comprehend it, relate to it or apply it to the reality.
Alhamdulillah, I am now a teacher of tajweed. I have been studying Arabic for a number of years and am studying the Islamic sciences, whilst also reciting to qualified teachers to improve the quality of my recitation. There is a beauty in the recitation of Quran when each letter is given its weight and due. Similarly there is also a beauty in the comprehension of the Quran. Its words moisten dry eyes and soften the hardest of hearts.
Technically speaking, I carry the title, hafidh of Quran, however really I am only at the beginning of my journey with Quran. The title hafidh of Quran is a honourable title, but one which is very difficult to live up to, as to protect something, you need to be close to it, understand it, comprehend it, live by it and call to it.
May Allah (swt) allow us all to be companions of the Quran, so that it acts as a witness for us on the Day of Judgement.