“I am not going back to school… that’s it!” Ali yelled with a firm chin raised and arms crossed against his chest.
Dadi Jan and Samrah Apa exchanged troubled glances.
“What happened, dear?” Dadi Jan asked softly.
“I cannot do it! Hifz is too hard. It is easy for everybody to expect from me. But what about the problems I am going through?” Ali wildly swung his arms in the air, clearly disgusted with his life.
Samrah Apa comforted him: “I understand, Ali. Nobody says memorizing the Quran is easy. This is why so few people are able to do it.”
“Then it won’t be me! It will have to be someone else.” Ali crashed into the sofa with a frown on his face and tears welling up.
There was an awkward silence in the room. Then Dadi Jan got up and sat next to Ali on the brown couch. She patted Ali’s hand gently.
“You know, Ali, when I was your age, I faced the same challenge. My parents wished that I memorize the Quran and I struggled with it. I would learn some parts and forget the rest. Then I would re-learn them. But after a while, I would be blank again.”
Ali asked with a surprise: “But, Dadi, you have such a beautiful Qirat, and you are a Hafizah. I can never imagine that you would forget the Quran.”
Dadi chuckled: “Oh! We all do. Do you know Qari Sohaib, the famous one from Lahore?”
Ali nodded his head.
“Well, once he shared that whenever he got stuck somewhere in recitation, he would perform Wudhu, recite Aoodhu Billahi min ash-Shaytan nir-Rajeem (I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan) and read the portion at least ten times before sleeping.”
“And did it help him?” Ali inquired curiously.
“It sure did,” replied Dadi. “And he is a graduate from Madinah University, so he must have had to memorize a lot of stuff.”
Ali stared into space silently.
Samrah Apa cleared her throat to join in: “The Prophet (sa) said: ‘On the Day of Judgement, the Quran will come and plead to Allah: ‘Oh my Lord! Adorn the reciter of the Quran with jewels.’ So the reciter will be adorned with the crown of honour. The Quran will plead again: ‘Oh my Lord! Honour the reciter more.’ So the reciter will be dressed in a gown of honour. The Quran will plead once more: ‘Oh my Lord! Be pleased with this reciter.’ Allah will be pleased with him and command to the reciter: ‘Recite your Quran and elevate the levels of Jannah. Every Ayah (verse) will be accompanied with an increased reward.’” (Tirmidhi)
“Oh, I want a crown studded with diamonds and a bright red silk gown!” Dadi beamed delightfully.
“And I am going to wish for a delicate tiara to go with a light pink flowing gown,” added Samrah Apa dreamily.
“But you’re not a Hafizah!” protested Ali.
“Not yet but I am in the making – if a person makes an intention to memorize the Quran but manages to learn only one Ayah and dies after that, the person will be raised among the Huffaz on the Day of Judgement,” Samrah Apa replied with a smile.
Ali thought for a moment and said hesitantly: “You mean, if I am not able to finish my Hifz, stay stuck where I am, go no further, and even die, even then I will get a crown and a gown?”
“Insha’Allah! Which one would you prefer: the red or the pink?” Dadi joked.
“Yuck! I’m not a girl! I want a crown of gold and a navy blue velvet gown like kings,” Ali smiled.
“Then do not be sad and get on with your Hifz. The more you will try, the more Allah will love you for it,” Dadi whispered.
Ali slowly got up, walked to his school bag, and took out his olive green Quran. “It’s a deal, Dadi. I accept the challenge. Now I am not going to give up, Insha’Allah! I want that crown and gown. Please pray for me.”
Dadi got up and hugged Ali: “May Allah use you and choose you for His very best work. And may that crown and gown be yours one day. Ameen.”