By Erum Asif
“I love the Quran. Nothing inspires, enlightens and soothes me like the Quran. I have to read it everyday!”
That’s the way I want to feel about the Quran. I want the same for my children. But we have a long way to go.
I know of a Muslimah who would keep the Quran open at her home constantly and would read from it every time she passed by it. A brother had a copy of the Quran at his desk, and read a page or two before beginning work and attending to visitors. Such an attachment to the Quran and such consistency is truly desirable.
To foster a bond with the Quran, we started a “Quran and Hadeeth Journal” for my daughter, when she was five. This suited her because she enjoyed writing. We went through short Surahs and Ahadeeth, doing word-for-word translation for most Surahs. We tried to understand the Quran’s message by way of conversations, drawings and stories.
Talk, draw and write
We began with Surah Al-Fatihah. A word-for-word translation sheet (created in MS Word) was pasted in the journal (see below). If a word had more than one part, it was shown in a different colour.
I used easy words for a 5-year old, such as: ar-Rahman – very kind, Sirat – way, ad-Daalleen – who are lost. If I used a tough word, I would explain it to her.
I wrote the Ayahs in Arabic and we coloured it. We then drew pictures with a brief caption to capture the meaning of Surah Al-Fatihah. We didn’t draw humans and animals, but instead showed people by drawing a blank circle for the head and a triangular sort of body below; then, we enjoyed drawing colourful clothes on them.
Here is a selective look at the Ayahs of Al-Fatihah:
Alhumdulillah: We drew pictures of what we are thankful to Allah (swt) for: “I am a Muslim.” (drew a Masjid and Quran) “I have Baba.” “I have dolls.” “I will get a new bed, Insha’Allah.” “Allah has prepared Jannah for us.”
Rabbil-Alameen: Being the Rabb, Allah (swt) cherishes and nurtures creation from its initial stage to its maturity. As an example, we drew a seed and next to it – a tall plant.
Maliki Yawmid-Deen: We drew figures with a smile, receiving their ‘record’ in their right hands, and figures with black faces receiving their ‘record’ in left hand. We wrote that Allah (swt) is pronouncing the judgement.
Ihdinas-Sirat-Al-Mustaqeem: We drew a straight, vertical line, and wrote ‘ﺍﷲ’ at the top. To its left and right, we drew slanting lines, writing ‘Shaitan’ on them. The idea comes from a similar diagram that the Prophet (sa) drew on sand with a stick.
Siratal-Lazeena Anamta Alayhim: We drew flowers, with the names of prophets and Companions written on them. They are among the people Allah (swt) has favoured.
Ghayril-Maghdoobi Alayhim Wa Lad-Daalleen: The Prophet (sa) mentioned the Jews and Christians as ‘Al-maghdoob’ and ‘ad-daalleen’ respectively. Their paths are the paths we need to avoid. We wrote ‘Al-maghdoob’, then drew the Jewish star below it. We showed a ‘person’ concealing Allah’s (swt) commands in the sacred book with his hand. (This incident took place in the Prophet’s (sa) life). Another figure was throwing the sacred book behind the back (implying utter disregard for divine guidance), while a third figure declared interest as Halal. For ‘ad-daalleen’ we drew the Christian cross, and depicted a figure saying ‘Jesus, son of God.’
A blog titled “Educating the Muslim Child” had a charming story about Surah Al-Fatihah called “Two Rabbits and a Beautiful Sound”. We pasted its printout in the journal.
This journal-making wasn’t a tense, ‘no-talking’, ‘gotta-finish-it’ exercise. We wanted it to be a warm experience – one that touches the heart and leaves a mark, instead of a page-filling academic exercise. It was accompanied by conversation about what we were doing (sometimes drifting into another topic), attending to the younger kids, incorporating my daughter’s ideas, letting her write and draw as she wanted to, and not expecting 15-year-old’s work from a 5-year-old.
We are currently doing Surah An-Naba. We write the Ayah in Arabic, their transliteration and translation. We then illustrate them through pictures, which we colour. For example, Ayah 7: Waljibala awtada (And the mountains as pegs?): We draw mountains with their underlying roots, which give them a peg-like shape. The book “A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam” shows this.
Surah Humazah describes the woeful end of slanderers, backbiters and those, who amass wealth selfishly. After the word-for-word translation, we created pictorial stories. One showed a girl slandering and backbiting: “Hah! You don’t even know how to pray!” “Ha, ha! Look at her silly dress.” “You come from an inferior family.” “Aunt Z. is a miser.”
We also wrote: “J. loves to buy dresses. She counts them every day. She hates to share her things with others. When her mother asks her to give clothes for the needy, she gives bad ones.” My daughter drew a cupboard with lots of clothes inside.
Drawing on other sources
Many interesting resources to support learning the Quran await us. We drew on them too.
For Surah Quraish, we inserted a map showing the winter and summer journeys of Quraish. It was taken from the well-researched ‘Atlas of the Quran’ (Darussalam Publishers).
Surah Al-Maoon depicts the person oblivious of the final Judgement. He repulses the orphans and cares least about the poor man’s hunger. An article in the newspaper poignantly covered a Sharjah organization that assists orphans. It contained heart-rending interviews of the orphans, how they feel and what they want from us. That article became a part of our journal. We included two printouts from the charity Muslim Hands website: their Orphan Sponsorship programme and the Food Aid and Iftar Programme.
The Quran and Ahadeeth journal should inspire us to act. And Surah Al-Maoon did that. It made my daughter want to feed the needy. So we gave food packs to our building’s hard-working cleaners.
Help at hand
These works (besides numerous Urdu resources) help us in understanding the Quran:
- “Word-for-word translation of the Quran” (Al-Huda International)
- “The Quran in Plain English for children and young people” by Iman Torres-Al Haneef (The Islamic Foundation)
- “The Noble Quran” (Darussalam)
- “A Dictionary and Glossary of the Koran,” by John Penrice (Darul-Ishat, Karachi)
Online help for teaching Quran to your children
A commendable work by a Muslim mother, with help on Quran and many subjects:
Here is a yahoo group you can join: muslimhsers – Education for Muslim Children. Check out the Files and Links section for help on Quran. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/muslimhsers/