In Service to the Book of Allah – Sheikh Muhammad Ayub


By Ejaz Taj

It was at Fajr time this morning; I received the sad news about the passing of our beloved Sheikh Muhammad Ayub from his son in Madinah. He was a man whose life was in service to the Book of Allah (swt) and its teaching – from his earliest days to his final moments before returning to his Lord. He was born in a poor Burmese migrant family living in Makkah, in 1952. His family had fled oppression against Muslims in their native Burma. His childhood was difficult. Being the eldest of his siblings, he had to work to provide for his family (as his father was imprisoned in Burma). At the same time, he attended his daily Hifz classes in Makkah.

At that time, there were very few roads developed, and no tunnels were constructed through the mountains that we see today. The Sheikh mentioned in a rare interview that his daily journey used to be on foot to the Masjid where he studied; his route involved ascending and descending two steep hills, between which were wild dogs and other desert creatures. This is a testament to his dedication from a young age in this era of Skype classes from the comfort of our bedrooms.

As he grew older, he showed a great aptitude for the recitation of the Quran – impressing his teacher Sheikh Khaleel-ur-Rahman, who held in a high standard. The Sheikh accompanied his teacher wherever he went, practising and perfecting his recitation.

In the year 1410 AH (1990), the Sheikh had just been given the position of Imam in Masjid Quba. The head Imam of Masjid Nabawi at that time, Sheikh Abdul Aziz As-Salih, was informed of a new Imam by the name of Muhammad Ayub in Masjid Quba who was known for his beautiful voice and excellent skill in recitation. Sheikh Abdul Aziz, towards the end of Shaban, summoned Muhammad Ayub to a gathering. In the end, he called him to sit next to him in front of everyone and asked him to recite. The Sheikh, unsure of what exactly was happening, proceeded to recite, something that was as natural to him as breathing; he managed to impress everyone in the gathering by his eloquent recitation. Sheikh Abdul Aziz, taken aback, immediately said to him (with only a few days notice before the start of Ramadan) “You will be leading Taraweeh in the Masjid of the Messenger of Allah (sa).” Dazed and unable to believe what had just happened, he prepared himself for the great moment.

He said about his first night in the Mihrab of the Prophet’s (sa) Masjid: “My heart was racing and my ears were buzzing. My hands were shaking uncontrollably from the greatness of where I stood and in remembrance of those who stood here before me. I sought refuge with Allah (swt) and proceeded.” He also said: “Every single time I stood at the Mihrab of the Messenger of Allah (sa), I was filled with intense awe and a deep fear; fear that I would not be able to do justice to this great position, nor fulfil this heavy responsibility on my shoulders.”

In his first year as Imam, he led all twenty Rakahs of Taraweeh alone for the entire Ramadan apart from three days. This feat was matched only by one other Imam of the Haram Sheikh Ali Jabir in Masjid Haram (who was a close friend of his and over whom he led the Janazah). His teacher Sheikh Khaleel-ur-Rahman was away when Sheikh Muhammad Ayub got appointed as an Imam and only found out when he heard his student on the live radio broadcast from Masjid Nabawi. He would then call him every day, pray for him, and remind him of the importance of sincerity.

The Sheikh continued to lead the Taraweeh and Tahajjud in the Haram till 1417 after which he was removed. He spent a few years leading at Masjid Quba and various other Masajid. He moved on to teaching Tafseer at the Islamic University until his retirement in 2014. The Sheikh travelled extensively delivering lectures and study programmes on Arabic Language, Quran, Aqeedah, and Fiqh in places such as Pakistan, Malaysia, India, Senegal, and Turkey. Green Lane Masjid in Birmingham hosted him in the 90s where the Sheikh led the Taraweeh prayers.

After his retirement, the Sheikh took on a handful of dedicated Huffadh, who he would listen to in order to give them Ijazah, daily in Masjid Nabawi, until he passed away. Despite his ill health, he did this daily and never failed to show up, often listening to four students simultaneously while stopping and correcting each one. This is something that I witnessed personally. He would then head back to his Masjid where he led Isha and Fajr every day.

He holds a very unique position in the world of Quran reciters; respected widely by the Qurra from all backgrounds and nationalities. He had a massive impact on reciters in Saudi Arabia in general being a master of the Hijazi style which, by his aptitude and position at Masjid Nabawi, became very popular. Mishary Rashid, in a show about the biographies of modern day Qurra, said about the Sheikh: “He was the Mustafa Ismail of the Arabian Peninsula; he was far more influential in shaping the recitation of many reciters, and Imam of Masajid in that region than anyone else.” Today, he is widely imitated, even in the Haramain with Imam, such as:

Abdullah Johani, Bandar Baleela, Ahmad Talib Hameed and Khalid Al-Ghamidi, in both Makkah and Madinah, demonstrating deep influence by him, as they studied the Quran themselves.

He maintained a sadness that remained with him after no longer being appointed to lead at Masjid Nabawi in 1417 AH. The Sheikh mentioned in an interview when asked about his wishes for the future that he hoped he would be given the opportunity to lead in the Prophet’s (sa) Masjid one last time before he returns to Allah (swt). His Dua was answered as he was appointed one last time to lead the Taraweeh in the final Ramadan of his life in 1436 AH (2015) before returning to His Lord at Fajr 9th Rajab 1437 AH (16th April 2016).

I was blessed to meet the Sheikh a number of times. I felt honoured praying behind him in Ramadan 2015, and again just two weeks ago before his passing, in Masjid Nabawi as he sat and listened to his students. His final words to me were:

“The Arabic language is not difficult. Had it been as such, we would not have been able to memorise and learn the Book of Allah (swt), as it has been today from East to West.”

The Janazah was held on the 16th of April 2016 after Dhuhr in Masjid Nabawi. The Sheikh had thirteen children: five sons and eight daughters. The men are all Huffadh and well-accomplished within their fields; and a handful of the women are Huffadh, some still memorising, and also well studied in their respective fields.

May Allah (swt) raise him in rank in the hereafter; and may He allow the Book to which he dedicated his life to intercede for him in the grave and on Qiyamah. May Allah (swt) join him with the Messenger of Allah (sa), Abu Bakr (rta), Umar (rta), Uthman (rta), Ali (rta), and all those of the righteous with whom he shared the Imamat of that blessed Masjid throughout history, in the Akhirah. Ameen.

And my Dua was Accepted…

Dua was Accepted“Mother’s Dua has been accepted!” My children’s energetic loud voice woke me up from my sleep.

We were residents in UAE. My husband and I were working as teachers in a school, when that school’s principle fired both of us, due to his personal enmity with us.

Ramadan was going on. Our visa was going to expire after two months; therefore, we tried hard to find another job but in vain. My three little children were in primary and the two older ones were studying in secondary schools. Residential problem, rent for the house, children’s school fees and grocery money was urgently needed; we were running out of savings and were greatly depressed. All our emergency funds were coming to an end. I told my children to stay calm and pray to Allah (swt) with a pure heart and strong belief.

Allah (swt) had accepted my prayer word to word.

After a few days, my husband’s friend came to our house and said that he has been called in Sharjah for a job interview in a school – he was going to leave for Sharjah. My husband’s friend asked my husband to accompany him. My husband refused, as there was no reason for him to go. However, his friend insisted, terming that as an important visit. When I learned about this, I told my husband to go. Then my husband told his friend that he was ready to go with him. I spoke my heart out: “May Allah (swt) make them ask you to start your job there from the very next day.”

My husband and his friend took off for Sharjah together. As it was the month of Ramadan, I fell asleep during the day and when I woke up, it was nearly Maghrib time. I came to know that my husband had returned from the trip, and as soon as I entered the room, my husband repeated the same sentence that I said before he was leaving, “May Allah (swt) make them ask you to start your job there from the very next day.” My husband said that the school’s interviewer had offered him a job there and then.

I doubted, whether it was real or a dream, because I was awakened by my children’s cheers, “Mother’s prayer is accepted!” But, Alhumdulillah, it was real.

My husband said that the school’s interviewer had offered him a job there and then.

No doubt, my Allah (swt) had accepted my Dua that was prayed with a pure heart. Allah (swt) had accepted my prayer word to word. I could not control my tears, and I bowed in front of Allah (swt) thanking Him for His help.

Although many years have passed since that event, but even today my heart gets filled with gratitude to Allah (swt), because I had prayed to Him (swt) with a pure heart and strong faith. My Allah (swt) answered my sincere prayer positively, Alhumdulillah!

Shaikh Hussain Yee’s Words of Wisdom

paperpenDonning a brown shirt and a cap, the Sheikh was seated in the centre of “Fajr Academy’s” training room. His voice was tranquil yet firm, his face was radiant yet purposeful, his eyes scanned all across the room filled with teachers seated in awe before him. It was inspirational to be in his company and here is what he had to say:

As a Muslim

He is someone, who maintains a fine balance between physical, mental and spiritual needs. Why does a Muslim need to be like that? Well, if his body is weak, his mind is weak, too. And if his mind is weak, he cannot seek knowledge. And what is the best knowledge? That you can act upon right away. Why? It is because every person’s needs are different. Be proactive and be a part of the circle of people of knowledge. So you may ask them questions. That is the fastest way to learn your Deen. Also remember knowledge without action is not beneficial. Allah (swt) and the Prophet (sa) hate such individuals, who only listen but do not act upon what they hear.

As a teacher

At my educational centre in Malaysia, I teach my students that this is your home. Keep it clean and don’t litter around. I teach them to sweep the floor and wash the dishes, because this requires a special set of skills. It is an art to clean correctly; otherwise, you are just wasting soap and water. Your heart should be in it. Yes, something as insignificant as cleaning. The whole point is that whatever you do in Islam, you must be committed with your heart and soul. Also, don’t just be a Mualim or Mualimah. Be a Murabbi. The difference is that a Muslim comes and delivers the lecture and leaves unbothered. But a Murabbi imparts knowledge, monitors that it is implemented and keeps supervising, until it is properly imposed. Our Prophet (sa) was a Murabbi, too.

I teach my students to participate. I tell them that when Allah (swt) calls, you must respond. If you don’t, you are not the chosen one. Similarly, when I call you as a teacher, you must come willingly. When you will need me, I will be there for you too. We are a family. I have students who have become fathers and now their children come to me as students. So I am practically a grandfather of hundreds of children.

Your mind is a home for right knowledge. It is counter-productive to seek incorrect knowledge, as it corrupts and confuses your mind and thoughts and ultimately – your actions.

The best way to strengthen your soul is to perform DhikrAllah. Remember Him much. Recite:

“Rabbi Aainni Ala Dhikrika Wa Shukrika Wa Husni Ibadatika.” (An-Nisai)

(“O Allah (swt), help me to remember you, to thank you and to worship you in the best manner.”)

Why do we need Allah’s (swt) help in remembering Him, offering thanks to Him and worshipping Him? Why can’t we just do it on our own? Mainly because this only holds value if performed in the manner Allah (swt) commanded us to do and the Prophet (sa) taught us to do. We cannot please Allah (swt) in any self-created or self-innovated way. It may lead us and others towards misguidance unknowingly, and we might end up displeasing Him instead.

As a servant for community

The supreme manner to offer gratitude to Allah (swt) is to use your health, time, knowledge, and resources in His way. Each time you receive something from Allah (swt), know that it is time to give back by sharing with others. Everything the Lord (swt) granted to you is a Nai’mah (blessing).

Our community needs to be trained with patience. At my centre in Malaysia, my wife and I first clean the rooms before the initiation of any activity. Next, we put up signs around the rooms to educate people for different purposes and mannerisms. Even then many people fail to follow instructions and behave otherwise. They are insensitive to others. We take extra effort to correct Saf (rows) in the Jama’ah (congregation). I do not begin leading the prayer, until all the rows are straight, worshippers standing shoulder to shoulder and toe to toe with no gaps in between. I have a senior sister to signal me from among the ladies to begin, once the same has been achieved on the female side.

Also, significance of Jama’at (group) is very critical. When you are alone, you are exposed. Find creative ways to unite the Ummah. If you had been on the spiritual journey of Umrah or Hajj and had companions along, host gatherings every month, taking turns and inviting them. Your kids will learn the importance of being an Ameer and uniting the Ummah.

As a father

In today’s age, I will strongly advise fathers to remain a step ahead of their children – frisk their school bags and belongings discretely. If you ever find something objectionable, talk to them about the importance of honesty, without confrontation. If the child still conceals or lies, go another round of Ahadeeth and Quranic verses that highlight the dangers of lying. If the kid reveals the truth, which might be disturbing, do not yell at him/her. Otherwise that will be the last time the child will ever confide in you.

Muslim families must internalize the Asma-ul-Husna. Learn and bring into your discussion the ninety-nine names of Allah (swt) with your family. Allah (swt) should be present and not passive in your lives. And when you are gone, your children will remember Allah (swt) the same way you did at every step of their lives.

As a husband

Trust is the single most important ingredient of one’s marital life. My wife and I have no secrets. She remembers my passwords more than I do. At times, when I get any indecent message from unknown female talking rubbish, I show the message to her first, so that it doesn’t create any Fitnah between us. We simply ignore it and the problem takes care of itself. But if you keep secrets from each other, it has adverse effects later.

Also there needs to be a balance between Dawah and home responsibilities. If you have not taken care of the minimum at home and stepped out for community service, it will become a bone of contention and domestic disputes. Take care of your homes first and then the community.

Adapted by Rana Rais Khan from a talk held at “Fajr Academy” (Karachi)

Most common errors in bringing up Muslim children

generic-familyParents go through many hardships raising their children. Needless to say, they try to do their best to inculcate good values in them. However, in spite of all the effort, it is witnessed that conflicts accompanied by harsh behaviour become part of the day, especially after certain age. Parents love for their children is so over-powering that at times, the smartest of parents make the silliest mistakes. These mistakes are very common and can easily be corrected, Insha’Allah.

Right step at the right time

Introducing important things at the right age is extremely important. Times have changed drastically. Children grow up very fast. Islamic practices that are of paramount importance, such as offering Salah, wearing a scarf, covering of private parts, reading and understanding Quran and doing good deeds should be exercised as an integral part of growing up. Conflicts arise when a child is alien to Islamic practices and is told to make a 180 degree shift upon reaching puberty. It is a gradual process. Training children begins at the age of seven. It becomes gradually more intense between the ages of eight to eleven. The child must be a practicing Muslim at the age of eleven.

Actions speak louder than words

Parents teach good things to their children, such as controlling anger and respecting everyone, but fail miserably doing so themselves. Children will not do what they are told; they will always do, what they have witnessed. Parents need to become good Muslims first. Good practices by elders always bring good results in youngsters. Good can never come out of bad.

Wise selection to avoid rejection

Selecting the right resources for children is critical. Many kids find the conventional “Maulvis” and “Bajis” unimpressive. Once repelled, are very difficult to put back on the track. Hence, it is very important for a child to get impressed first in order to respect, understand and follow a teacher. Selecting a teacher, who is educated and also empowered with knowledge of Quran and Sunnah is a tricky part for parents. It is very easy these days to acquire lectures in English language on CDs or by downloading MP3s from the internet. There are several good scholars all around the world. Alhamdulillah. Any scholar, who speaks in the light of Quran and Sunnah only, is good.

Turning over a new leaf is not a cup of tea

At certain point in life, some parents are blessed with Hidayah from Allah (swt) and become religious. A person newly reverted to Allah (swt) is generally over charged with Iman. If reverts are parents, they would expect the children to become religious, too. There is nothing wrong in that, but it should be realized that it cannot happen overnight. This would be a gradual process, which would require a lot of patience. Parents should act intelligently, instead of emotionally.

By giving a good Tarbiyah, we equip our children to handle the burdens of life, and they have the tools they need to have for a successful afterlife. Parents must make prayers to Allah (swt) for children. They must realize that our work is making continuous efforts without losing hope, and Hidayah and results can only come from the Creator – Allah (swt).

How to Raise our Children

serviceLife is a precious gift from Allah (swt) to all human beings. It is upon us as to how we spend this gift, whether we earn the blessings of Heaven or the torment of Hell fire. The truth is that we all should spend our life according to the Quran and Sunnah in order to make our life, our homes and our society- peaceful.

As parents, we have a huge responsibility on our shoulders to raise our children and so we put in endless efforts to bring them up in an Islamic manner. But the question is that even after all the efforts put in by the parents, why don’t our children learn good Islamic manners?  After a session of contemplation and thorough survey, I ended up with the answer that since we as elders are not implementing those things that we teach our children in our lives, then how can we expect them to act upon them. And if we just say something that does not reflect through our deeds and actions, then how will our kids learn the application of those teachings in their life? It’s basically “Walk the Talk Rule” that should be followed! Hence, before anything else, we have to take care of this issue.

Children are great imitators. Therefore we should give them something great to imitate. And the most important point to remember in raising kids is that we should not scold them if they do any mistake. Instead we should stay calm and try to teach them with great love. This will build our respect in their mind. And if they start respecting us, they will respect other people also.

A mother is better than a thousand teachers. It is said that home is the first school of a child. So we should make our home the house of Allah (swt) by instilling Islamic teachings in it and inculcating them in every single aspect of our life.

When a kid is in early childhood, he or she is very sensitive and is building a whole personality which thoroughly depends upon what environment he or she gets at home and what lessons are being taught. So we should give them self confidence by treating them nicely in front of others. We should trust them so that they never lie to us and make ourselves their best friends so they love us. And whenever we do something for them, our intention should be that we are doing for the sake of Allah (swt) and not to receive any kind of future reward from our kids. As a result, you will see how Allah (swt) helps you and makes life easier for you.

There is no better companion for a kid than a mother- the most pure and sincere relationship in the world. And there is no better guide and mentor for a child than his father, but everything should be done in a limit and only for Allah (swt).

We must appreciate kids when they achieve something. This will make them happy and give a robust to their self-esteem and help them put trust in their own abilities for further achievements.

Little angels are interested in stories so we should tell them the stories of our prophets, his companions (Sahaba) and the Islamic history so that the love for Islam nurtures in them.

These are the little things I feel that if we implement and apply them, our lives will be very peaceful and our kids will Insha’Allah become good human beings and true Muslims.

Bring Life to Learning and Learning to Life

education_researchChildren are naturally inventive. They do not need to be told to be creative. Perhaps, they need guidance, motivation and inspiration to boost up their creativity. Research, design and evaluation provide the opportunity to young children to enhance their intellectual learning. The concept of research development is not yet accepted as fundamental to educational change by our educational institutions. Many schools still believe in traditional teaching methodologies. However, educational research culture should be adopted for an improved educational system in our country.

Educational research defined

It is a field of inquiry, the systematic generation of new knowledge, development of new ideas and experimenting with new techniques. Clear and open-minded questions call for real research and thinking and furnish ways for evaluating answers. It aims at advancing knowledge of education and learning processes, while simultaneously developing the human resource.

Teachers’ professional development – a crisis or negative teaching culture?

Teachers’ learning and professional development is not much valued in Pakistan. They are merely trained as classroom teachers. The research-based teacher training culture is hardly seen in Pakistani schools. Research culture has made its way into higher educational institutions but not in schools. School heads and principals expect teachers to teach their students but not lead them. Teachers are required to teach the syllabus prescribed by the school. They are not encouraged to experiment with new innovative approaches of teaching. Anyone, who shares a new idea from a book or design creative activities for students, is criticized. In such schools, positive views of professional learning are counter cultural. Due to negative and unsupportive attitude of the school management, teachers do not bother to take interest in research and are compelled to use the age old traditional teaching methods.  Thus, negative teaching culture has seriously impaired learning skills of teachers.

To respond to these challenges, many educationists face confusion and constraints in their minds as to how can they make schools research oriented.  What goals and strategies should be adopted to create research learning environment in the schools?

 Action research strategy

Today, many schools are using research culture in their schools; however, they are not aware that their teaching methodologies are based on research. The teaching strategy used in classrooms is action research strategy.

Action research involves three forms of research:

  1. Exploratory
  2. Evaluative
  3. Experimental

The teacher uses research element in developing the curriculum, content and activities. To make the classroom climate interactive, teacher uses teaching methods that include group discussion, individual presentation, searching information from the library or internet and creative writing tasks. The research projects introduced in classroom help to explore student’s learning strategy and also strengthen student-teacher relationship.

School – a teacher’s hub

To promote teacher as a researcher and a proactive learner, work place learning such as school is considered as an essential element in enhancing the professional development of teachers. The work place must provide continuous learning opportunities for teachers and encourage them to reflect and practice new ideas or new skills in classroom. Many teachers believe that they learn most effectively from the judgment and perception of their students in the classroom.

Collaborative learning

Another important source of learning for teachers is co-operative learning in which teachers share their new ideas and introduce modern teaching methods to their colleagues.

Some schools are following observation and assessment approach which is also beneficial for enhancing teacher professional development. This includes peer coaching and teacher evaluation which encourage teachers to improve their professional competencies. The teacher, as a person and learner, has to develop skills, qualities and attitudes such as commitment, confidence, flexibility and passion for learning, analytic and conceptual thinking to enhance his professional skills respectively.

Importance of research-based learning

The sole purpose of stimulating educational research in children is to give them an insight of what they learn. The curriculum, modes of instruction, assessments and learning opportunities should be clearly linked with natural environment and developed to cater the needs and interests of the students. The firsthand experience in a child’s education comes from nature. Dienes (1969) suggests that children need to build or construct their own concepts from within rather than having those concepts imposed upon them. This means that children at a very young age are inquisitive about their surroundings and have a desire to explore them. It is the responsibility of teachers to let children explore, think and question. The questions formed in the mind enhance learning and intellectual capabilities of young children.

Let the wind of change blow!

The present scenario implies that in order to bring a cultural change in schools, the teachers, students and communities should collectively work together for a unified goal. Research and development has great significance in shaping developing communities. The first step to raise awareness among teachers and parents to bring a meaningful change in our education system is the collective acceptance of re-thinking schooling. Workshops, seminar and other training sessions provide a platform to teachers and educationists to collectively think about redefining their goals and objectives. Having the same vision in mind, an educational institution organized a seminar which focused on enhancing research culture in schools. The guest speakers in the seminar talked about the significance of research in teaching and learning; and pondered over various reasons that are causing hindrance in increasing research skills among teachers and students.

The focal point of that seminar was to emphasize upon a radical change in education system. The change has been centered to the need for schools to create an environment which is conducive to promoting research skills in teachers and students. We need to provide the learners with a fundamental precept of Islamic education integrated with Islamic Tarbiyah. An eminent Muslim political thinker Al-Mauwardi in his book entitled “The Leadership and Politics” writes that the essential characteristic for a Muslim educator is to have knowledge, perception, intellect, intuition and revelation which enhances research skills in teachers and students. Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah said: “To gain knowledge and research in children, an educator must encourage children to be creative, inquisitive and ask questions. Children should remain quiet and listen attentively and understand well. And lastly act upon the knowledge being gained.

The seminar outlined the fact there is a general consensus that schools need to adopt research teaching approaches. But this process of change is still a big challenge for various schools who still believe in unreflective and conventional teaching methods. Radical change in education is impossible unless education leaders critically analyze and understand the goals and objectives of research in educational development. Research element reveals that transmission of knowledge, values and beliefs into classroom practices offers multiple opportunities for students and teachers to improve their effectiveness and efficiency.


Quran is a Treasure – Preserve it in Your Heart

إن له لحلاوة.. و إن عليه لطلاوة.. و إن أعلاه لمثمر.. و إن أسفله لمغدق.. و إنه ليعلو و لا يعلي عليهQuran-550x412

[Indeed, it has sweetness and indeed it is adorned with beauty and charm. Surely, its first part is fruitful and its last part is abundant.

It conquers all speech and remains unconquered! It shatters and destroys all that has come before it!]

Those were the timeless words of Al-Waleed ibn Al-Mugheerah when he was asked by the Mushrikeen of Quraish to describe the speech of Allah (swt).

روى ابن ماجة وأحمد  عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ رضي الله عنه قَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : ( إِنَّ لِلَّهِ أَهْلِينَ مِنْ النَّاسِ ) قَالُوا : يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ، مَنْ هُمْ ؟

(قال: أهل القرآن هم أهل الله و خاصته)

The Messenger of Allah (swt) said: “The people of the Quran are the people of Allah (swt) and His special servants.” (An-Nisa, Ibn Majah and Al-Hakim)

There are more than a billion Muslims in the world. Only a few million can read the Quran fluently. From those million, only a few people are destined to memorize the Quran. These are the people of Allah (swt) and His special servants!

This is a series of advice, incentives, methods and secrets to memorizing the Quran and becoming the best of the best, InshaAllah.

Advice #1: Sincere Intentions

The first step to fulfilling your goal of memorizing the Quran is sincerity. Ibn ‘Abbas (rta)  said: “Indeed, a person shall memorize according to his sincerity.” Meaning the sincerity of your intention will determine the strength and amount you memorize.

Actually, this is not just the first step. You need to refresh your intention at every step.

It is reported from Ali (rta) that Prophet (sa) said: “The one who shows off has three characteristics: He is lazy when by himself, he is lively and energetic when with others and he increases in his actions when he is praised and decreases in them when he is criticized.”

1- Dua, Dua, Dua – ask Allah (swt) to purify your heart from hypocrisy and boastfulness   and to protect you from the evils of your soul and its treachery.

2- Do not be deceived by praise. Nobody knows you better than you know your own self. If they praise, they only praise the blessings of Allah (swt) that they see on you; while you are the one who truly knows the reality of your heart and Allah (swt) knows you better than you know yourself. Remember, pride was Shaitan’s downfall.

Abu Bakr (rta) would make a prayer every time he would be praised:

اللهم اجعلني خيراً مما يظنون  ولا تؤاخذني بما يقولون واغفر لي ما لا يعلمون

“O Allah (swt), make me better than what they think and do not hold me accountable for what they say and forgive me for what they do not know.”

3- Beware of secret sins. “Nothing is more disgusting than a sinful reciter.”

4- Re-read and revise the Ahadeeth that talk about the punishment for the one who memorizes the Quran in order to be praised. Prophet (sa) said:

إن الله تبارك و تعالى إذا كان يوم القيامة ينزل إلى العباد ليقضي بينهم و كل أمة جاثية فأول من يدعى رجل جمع القرآن و رجل يقتل في سبيل الله و رجل كثير المال فيقول الله للقارئ: ألم أعلمك ما أنزلت على رسولي؟ قال: بلى يا رب. قال: فماذا عملت فيما علمت؟ قال: كنت أقوم به آناء الليل و آناء النهار. فيقول له: كذبت و تقول له الملائكة: كذبت. و يقول الله: بل أردت أن يقال أن فلاناً قارئ فقد قيل ذاك ثم أمر به فسحب على وجهه حتى ألقي في النار

“The first amongst mankind to be judged on the Day of Judgement is a man who studied knowledge and taught it and who used to recite the Quran. He will be brought and Allah (swt) will make known to him His favours and he will recognize them.

Allah (swt) will say: And what did you do about them? He will say: I studied knowledge and I taught it and I recited the Quran for Your sake. He will say: You have lied – rather, you learned knowledge to be called a scholar and you memorized to be called a recitor and so it was said and you got your reward from those whom you sought it from. Then he will be dragged by his face and thrown into the fire of Hell.”

5- Remember always that the one who memorizes the Quran to be praised and to show off has no reward for his efforts and he is indeed sinful.

In conclusion, the intention is a very important, yet overlooked and sometimes undermined step towards memorizing the Quran. It may not be the only step but it is the most difficult to control and maintain.

It is reported from Sahl bin Abdullah (ra)that Prophet (sa) said: “There is nothing which is tougher upon the soul than (achieving) sincerity of intention. How many times have I tried to remove the  love of praise from my heart except that it sprouted in a different colour (i.e. in a different form).

Advice #2: Correct Recitation

The second step in this spiritual journey is to learn the correct recitation and articulation of the Quran. The second condition (after a sincere intention) for any deed to be accepted by Allah (swt) is that it should done according to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (swt).  Someone who wants to memorize the Book of Allah (swt) must learn it from those who are knowledgeable; and it is never sufficient for him to rely on his own self.

This is one of the most amazingly unique aspects of the Quran – there has always been a one-on-one student-teacher interaction with regards to studying it. Jibrael (as) taught it to the Messenger of Allah (swt) who in turn taught it to his companions (rta)  and that’s how its reached us: pristine, complete, unchanged, unaltered and unadulterated.

There are various steps to learn the correct recitation of the Quran:

1- Use the same copy of the Quran – this will help you to get accustomed to the text, the number of verses per line and it’ll keep your comments and corrections organized (use a pencil and mark your mistakes!); use highlighters and sticky notes for help.

2- Find a teacher – somebody who is well-versed in Tajweed and can accurately point out your mistakes. It’s best to recite the Quran to a teacher before starting to memorize, so that he/she may correct any mispronunciation. Begin to learn the basic rules of Tajweed.

3- Repeat the verses – repeating the same page at least ten times will help you grasp a stronger hold of the difficult letters such as the Qaaf (القاف) and Raa’ (الراء). Bishr bin as-Sirri (ra) said, “Verily, each verse is like a date: the more you chew it, the more of its sweetness is released.” Abu Sulayman (ra) heard this and commented: “True. It is the case with one of you that if he begins one chapter of it, he wants to read it to the end.”

4- Use your senses – listening to an audio recitation of the Quran by a skilled reciter while reading the verses from your copy of the Quran is extremely beneficial.

5- Write it down – write down the verses that you find most difficult to recite; that will help you concentrate on each word separately and this has been the way of the students of knowledge.

Lastly, don’t give up! The Messenger of Allah (swt) said:

.عن عائشة عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قالمثل الذي يقرأ القرآن وهو حافظ له مع السفرة الكرام البررة ومثل الذي يقرأ وهو يتعاهده وهو عليه شديد فله أجران

“The example of the one who recites the Quran and is fluent in it is as if he is with the noble pious angels and the example of the one who recites the Quran and stammers in it has two rewards as it is difficult for him.”

Remember to renew your intention every single time you begin reciting so that you may relish the beauty of wandering in the gardens of the remembrance of Allah (swt).

‘Uthman bin ‘Affan (ra) said: “If our hearts were truly pure, we would never get enough of the Words of our Lord and I hate even if one day passes with me not looking into the Quran.”

Advice #3: Chalk Out a Plan

The third most important step is to have a plan. This means you must designate an assigned portion that you intend to memorize every day. Be warned, planning is the easiest part. You must have will power and a strong sense of purpose in order to stick to it.

Do not try to aim too high and keep the planning moderate. That way, if you have extra time and end up memorizing more than planned, you’ll feel more encouraged to move forward consistently Insha’Allah.

The Messenger (sa) said:

خذوا من الأعمال ما تطيقون فإن الله لا يمل حتى تملوا و أحب الأعمال إلى الله ما داوم عليه صاحبه و إن قل

“Take from the deeds how much you can bear because Allah (swt) does not tire (of rewarding you) until you tire (of doing the deed). The most beloved of deeds to Allah (swt) are those that are done consistently by a person, even if they are small.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

The Salaf would say: “The one who does little consistently is better than the one who does a lot inconsistently.”

Follow these practical steps in order to lay out your plan and stick to it:

1- Learn about the way the Quran is divided.

  • 114 Surahs: each of the Surahs are of varying number of verses and the verses are varying in length.
  • 30 Juz’: each Juz’ is twenty to twenty one pages long
  • 60 Hizb: each Juz’ is divided into two almost equal subparts
  • You can decide to memorize according to the meaning and Tafseer of the verses, for example, Surah Yusuf has one primary topic, yet it can be divided according to the events that occurred: his dream and conversation with Yaqoob (as), being thrown into the well, the incident with the Aziz’s wife etc.
  • Additionally, scholars of the Quran have divided it this way:

i.            السبع الطوال– The Seven Long Surahs: this includes Surah Al Baqarah, Al-Imran, An- Nisa, Al-Maida, Al-Anam, Al-Araf and the seventh is either At-Taubah or Yunus.

ii.            المئون– The Hundreds: this includes almost all the Surahs that come after the previous seven and the number of verses in these Surahs reach approximately a hundred.

iii.            3-المثاني– The Repetitions: this includes all the Surahs that come after the previous and the number of verses in these Surahs reach approximately two hundred.

iv.            المفصل– The Separated Ones: this includes all the Surahs from Surah Al-Hujurat to Surah An-Nas

2- Decide which method of division is easiest for you to follow. Consider your daily routine. Make productive use of holidays, weekends and free time.

3- Start early! Prophet (sa) said:

اللهم بارك لأمتي في بكورها

“O Allah (swt)! Bless my Ummah in its early hours.” (Sahih Al Jami)

Therefore make use of the blessed hours before and after the Fajr Salah. This will also help you start the rest of your day with a sense of accomplishment.

4- Write it down everywhere! Draw out a neat little memorization plan for yourself and tick it as you go or if you are tech-savvy, use Microsoft Excel or Word.

5- Remember to include new memorization (parts you’ve memorized in the last few days), old memorization (parts you’ve memorized in the last month) and your new lesson (parts you memorized that day in particular). The new lesson you’ve memorized will stay in your short-term memory until you revise it consistently and transfer it to your long-term memory.

Finally, none of this will help you unless you have a strong determination to move forward. Do not burden yourself. Scholar of Fiqh and teacher of Imam Abu Hanifa (rta), Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman would say: “Learn three issues every day and do not increase it to anything else. Know that your heart is a part of your body and it is able to carry some things while unable to carry other things.”

6- Tea-time – If you are unable to move forward and feel stressed, give yourself a break. Relax and renew your intentions. I remember having a very fruitful month finishing one Juz’ every week and suddenly I found myself unable to memorize anything new. It would take me a whole hour to finish a page unlike the better days when I would memorize a page in thirty minutes. I made myself a revision plan and gave the memorization a break. After a few days, I had everything revised as planned, which encouraged me to get back on track, Alhamdulillah!

Remember that no matter how much you plan and organize, there will occasionally be setbacks. Do not despair; it is better to start afresh than to never get started at all!

[To be continued Insha Allah]

One Man (sa)… Continues to Inspire!

ummatiWe see our little ones, the twinkling stars of tomorrow, idealizing Superman, Spiderman, and Batman who are heroic in evil practices, spreading western ideologies and culture. But we, as parents, siblings, mothers, and wives, fail to teach ourselves and our younger future Ummatis that our Rasoolullah (sa) is indeed the greatest man to walk upon this earth. Subhan’Allah!

A loving father, a caring husband, a great leader and a beloved of Allah (swt) – that’s who he was. Allah (swt) created us to idealize him and to be his Ummati. Do you know that 1400 years ago, He passed away praying and crying for us: for his Ummatis?

The heart yearns to be Rasoolullah’s (sa) follower. O Allah, make me a follower of my beloved Prophet (sa). He was my Prophet (sa) who gave me one of the greatest gifts: the Sunnah. This man, as a teenager, was known as as-Sadiq, al-Ameen; he secluded himself in the Cave of Hira, witnessing the society around him drowned in immoral, immodest and indecent behaviour, filled with bloodshed, vengeance and oppression of women. This loneliness, this shelter from the world of delusions, this concern and this Dhikr gave him the ultimate gift for all of us: the Quran.

Ironic is the fact that we harbour shame and guilt, feeling reluctant to face our teachers, friends and parents after receiving a poor report. Are we ready to take a poor report in front of Allah (swt) and our Prophet (sa) on the Day of Resurrection?

Beautiful is the fact that he was the teacher of the entire nation and the student of none except my beloved Allah (swt). When the first revelation came, He did not know how to read or write but Allah (swt) taught him: “Iqra.”

He faced persecution and opposition; yet He stayed firm. He strived and achieved His ultimate goal. How many incidents should I quote to make your hearts shiver and eyes cry tears of blood, upon hearing the way my beloved Rasoolullah (sa) cried for his Ummatis?

My dear readers, he didn’t pass away while worrying about his material wealth, his wives, or his family. His real wealth were us: his Ummatis. What have we done to ourselves? We’ve degraded us as his currency. Imagine! When our book of deeds is presented before Allah (swt), in the presence of our beloved Prophet (sa), what would be our feeling? Would we rejoice at a great report or regret the numerous actions we performed? Ironic is the fact that we harbour shame and guilt, feeling reluctant to face our teachers, friends and parents after receiving a poor report. Are we ready to take a poor report in front of Allah (swt) and our Prophet (sa) on the Day of Resurrection?

My dear fellow readers! You aren’t ordinary human beings. You’re his Ummati. You’re Ashraf-al-Makhlooqat.

Today, as you read this article, make an intention to believe in the philosophy taught by Rasoolullah (sa). Aim to obey him because it is next to obeying Allah (swt). Change yourself and follow the priceless eternally beautiful Sunnah. Love him because on the Day of Qiyamah, you’ll be with those whom you loved in this world.

As a parent, think about this: do you really want yourself and your beautiful Ummatis of tomorrow to be raised in the company of Spiderman, Superman or Batman? Would it not be better to raise them in the company of the one man (sa), who continues to inspire, by telling them about his life and his teachings?

Change yourself and follow the priceless eternally beautiful Sunnah. Love him because on the Day of Qiyamah, you’ll be with those whom you loved in this world. 

Let me end with the following Hadeeth:

Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-As (rta) reported: The Prophet (sa) recited the Words of Allah, the Exalted, and the Glorious, about Ibrahim (as) who said: “O my Rabb! They have led astray many among mankind. But whosoever follows me, he verily, is of me.” (14:36) and those of Isa (Jesus) (as) who said: “If You punish them, they are Your slaves, and if You forgive them, verily, You, only You, are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (5:118). Then he (sa) raised up his hands and said: “O Allah! My Ummah, my Ummah,” and he wept; Allah, the Exalted, said: “O Jibreel (Gabriel)! Go to Muhammad (sa) and ask him: “What makes you weep?” So Jibreel came to him and asked him (the reason of his weeping) and the Messenger of Allah (sa) informed him what he had said (though Allah knew it well). Upon this Allah said: “Jibreel, go to Muhammad (sa) and say: ‘Verily, We will please you with regard to your Ummah and will never displease you.’” (Muslim)

My Mother Was An Inspiration



I hear a loud and vibrant chant from the dining table where a group of 15 or more mid-teenagers congregate four times a week for their ‘Islamiat’ classes.

These kinds of students have been flocking for almost a decade at the residence where I stay in order to prepare for their final O-Level Examination. They are tutored, examined, and made to revise and practice every minute detail of the syllabus. They have to attempt questions from previous examinations as well as anticipated questions in the forthcoming test. The teaching goes beyond books, notes and lectures where the practicality and application of the beliefs are applied and proven. In some cases, individual counselling is provided for students and their parents who are seeking guidance.

This started off as a feeble attempt to better understand the religion. With time, patience, hard work and dedication, the tutor was able to capture and captivate the hearts, minds and souls of several hundred young adults, their parents and even their grandparents! And from the results that pour in, it shows.

Born into a minority sect of Islam, she struggled in accepting the beliefs and practices of those following it. She questioned, cross-questioned and cross-examined every ritual and ceremony that took place in their places of worship. She would spend endless hours in gaining answers from her father and then turning to Allah over and over again. She would pray and fast as the way of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) and his Companions and would make special efforts in gaining more knowledge of the Deen from practicing friends and their families.

The year she turned 18, her father gifted her a three-volume set of A. Yusuf Ali’s translation of the Holy Quran. She would reading this guidance for many years on, passing the inspiration to the generations following her.

I had always admired my mother from a young age. Being the eldest and only daughter for the first seven years, I would be the dog’s tail attached around my mother, especially when she would be working in the kitchen or managing and organizing the home for guests. I was there at her beck and call and learnt how she would be cleaning the meats before cooking, chopping vegetables and preparing the meal in the pot. Then there were the finer etiquettes that a young lady was required to have – laying the table, handling cutlery and crockery and serving the guests. After numerous rounds of serving friends and well-wishers through umpteen rounds of breaking and damaging fine china, my mother had declared me fit enough to handle the guests and kitchen on my own.

It was during those years and subsequently after that I learnt of a secret she had well-kept from me. In the hours that I was in the school, on the days my timetable did not have an ‘Islamic Studies’ class scheduled, my mother would slide my textbook off the shelf to read and gain knowledge from those enlightened pages. When my siblings and I would return from school, she would be eager to sit with us and learn what we had learnt that day by asking a million questions as a five-year old does! When we would have to learn some Ayats (Verses) from the Quran or a Dua (Prayer), she would make sure she kept herself free and would memorise them along with us.

Year upon year, she would be reading those ‘Islamic Studies’ textbooks and had almost a photographic memory by the end of the eighth level! I only got wind of this when I would question her on some issue and her response would be that I read it from a certain textbook. Many a times we would playfully argue regarding a matter and she would say: “Have you already forgotten? It is in YOUR textbook!”

It was a day in 1997 when my sister came complaining to my mother about the teacher discussing a certain topic in her ‘Islamiat’ class that was totally uncalled for. This angered my mother greatly and she had decided to visit the principal as soon as she could. The principal, of British origin, was a level-headed lady and was kind enough to listen to my mother’s point of view and thereby learn of the correct way of the religion. She immediately offered my mother to teach the same from the next academic year as she did receive a few other complaints regarding the current teacher and found my mother’s knowledge to be stronger and more practical.

My mother refused immediately and suggested that she should find someone who is more well-versed in the religion and more importantly, with the method of teaching and syllabus as she had no experience. The principal was firm in her belief and assured my mother that she would be willing to help her at any point in time and so would the other teachers, so she should go home, consult the family and return for the following academic year shortly.

The first year was the most difficult for her, I remember. She had about three to four grades to teach with a couple of sections that totalled to almost one hundred students. They were groups of girls and boys, anywhere from between 13 years of age to 17 with raging hormones and innumerable questions at the drop of a hat. The principal’s reassurances and the help from her colleagues is what kept her going. Late night assignment and homework checking was another factor that brought up her confidence and love for the subject. Her passion and drive to improve herself for her students grew further through the months and years she taught at the school.

Her health and the never-ending workload five years later, made her decide to tutor from home where she could manage fewer students whom she could pick and choose herself. The group was small initially – four to six in the first year to a double group of the same in the following year. Word got out amongst the students with whom she had coached and started spreading in the schools they studied and amongst their siblings. Mothers would be discussing when they would meet and would pass on her contact information. They too, felt comfortable enough to talk to her and would either call or visit her after her classes for their own counselling. In this way, their respective children had become more focused and better able to comprehend the lessons thereafter.

Sadly, in May 2011, she decided to close her tuitions with the batch that had just completed their term with her. She said she was “tired” and that she “had completed my (her) work”. She had asked her students to distribute the notes they had, as opposed to her recollecting them at the end of the year as was her practice. She wished for the other students to gain knowledge about Islam as much as all her other batches had, in years gone by.

It was two days after her birthday in August 2011 that she slept a peaceful sleep, only to never wake up.

As I sit in that same dining room receiving her former students and their parents who come to offer their condolences, I still feel her presence and can remember those lessons she would be preparing with me before teaching them.

That lady was my mother, Niamet Hashambhoy Khalid, more popularly known as Mrs. Niamet.