I have read several different English translations of the Quran. Although I get immense pleasure and spiritual growth reading a translation, I always feel that I am missing so much, because I cannot read Arabic. The Quran cannot be translated properly because of the depth of the Arabic language. In addition, there are spiritual benefits associated with reciting the Quran, even without understanding.
Despite knowing that reciting and memorizing the Quran has many virtues, for a long time the thought of learning Tajweed was extremely intimidating to me. I would pick up a copy of the Quran, see a page full of unrecognizable symbols, and view the task as impossible. I did not have much trouble memorizing the shorter Surahs for prayers, but I feared that I would never move much beyond that point. I was wrong.
The Quran is accessible even for non-Arabic speakers. I have turned to the Quran in many different ways over the years. Now, I have a study programme that seems to be working. A few suggestions are below:
- Make reading the Quran a priority. We all have busy lives, family responsibilities and a million other things to do. However, put Quranic study at the top of the list.
- Focus first on learning to read and recite the Quran and then understanding. Having spent about $200 on Arabic books, I realized that I need to rethink my goals. My goal was to learn to read and recite the Quran, even if I did not understand it. Learning the Arabic language was slowing me down.
- Set realistic short-term goals. You know yourself better than anyone else. Set short-term goals that are realistic for you. For example, if you do not know the Arabic alphabet, give yourself enough time to learn it well. Meanwhile, continue to memorize shorter Surahs, even if it is just one Ayah a week.
- Have good intentions. According to many scholars, several Ahadeeth suggest that if you intend to do something good – e.g., memorize the Quran – and die before completing it, that intention will be completed in the grave. Thus, when you stand in front of Allah (swt), you will have memorized the Quran.
- Develop a study plan and be consistent. “The best deed (act of worship) in the sight of Allah (swt) is that, which is done regularly.” (Bukhari) I try to read the Quran, memorize a little and read the translation and accompanying commentary every day.
- Choose study materials carefully. The following are the best materials that I have found for beginners. The CD set Ahlul Quran Gear (by Haroon Baqai) is wonderful for learning the last half of the 30th Juz. Shaykh Baqai recites the Surahs slowly, verse by verse, leaving time for the listener to repeat after him. In addition, I use a textbook Juz Amma: 30 (by Abidullah Ghazi). Each Surah has a Latin transliteration and is broken down into its Arabic vocabulary.
- Find a Tajweed teacher. It is essential to have someone check your pronunciation and teach you how to read the Quran properly. If I could afford it, I would constantly be enrolled in a Tajweed class.
- Make Dua for success. Nothing is accomplished without Allah’s (swt) Will. Have sincere intentions and ask Allah (swt) to help you in this most noble endeavour.
Although I have a long way to go, before I can read the Quran fluently, I am no longer intimated by the task. Now, I enjoy the process and look forward to that special time during the day, when I feel even closer to Allah (swt).