Now & Then- Learning Quran

Friday 26th February 2021- Learning Quran

As I am writing this note, I could hear my wife reading the Quran- Surah Al Kahfi. So this morning I want to write about my experience in learning to read and recite the Quran.

Back in the 1960s when I was in my primary school at Pondok Beris, Bachok, I learnt the Quran from my untie Mak Yam. Ner name is Mariam binti Muhammad. She was my father’s eldest sister but of a different father. My grandmother Kalsum married Muhammad first but they divorced. Then she married my grandfather Awang Senik-the father of my father. When my grandfather passed away, she remarried her first husband. My grandmother was a very creative person with floral arrangements. She was also the village Mak Andem- someone who prepared the bride for the wedding. Her business was Mak Andem service and rental of wedding dresses and platforms. When she passed away, my late mother took over her business. My mother passed away on 8/10/2019.

When it comes to learning the Quran, I always played truant when I was a kid. My father got suspicious because my progress was quite slow. Of and on, he came over to check on my progress with my auntie. She always gave good words of my attendance to my father but she knew I often did not turn up for Quran class. By the time I was in standard sixth, I only managed to arrive at the second chapter of the Quran. Compared to my own son, he completed the whole Quran in standard sixth! By the way, the Quran has 30 Chapters(surah). After standard sixth, I left home to join SDAR Tanjung Malim, Perak. It is a full boarding school where I live with my friends. No Quran classes for boys at that time. The school at that time paid little attention to this subject matter. We did not even have a surau(small mosque)in the school complex. The only Quran I learned was from the Ustaz who taught us Islamic subjects. When I grew up into my twenties, I realised my little knowledge of tajweed, so I learnt to read a few selected chapters(surah) like Surah Yaasin, Al Mulk, Al Kahfi and Al Waqiah from my mother. After my sixth form, I got the scholarship to study civil engineering at Sheffield University in 1973–76. That was another three years gone without learning to read the Quran. What a waste.

During one of my umrah trips to Makkah, I saw a young Indonesian man was reading the Quran about 50m from Kaabah. I was sitting next to him and was fascinated by the way he reads the Quran with proper tajweed and teranum. I felt very shy because I was then 40 years old and I could not do it. Back then in my early forties, I was too busy chasing my career and I only read Surah Yaasin on Friday. As I grew older, I began to go to the surau(small mosque)more often and learn about Islam from many great teachers like Dr Hashim Minhat and Dr Musa Fatullah Harun.

One fine day, Ustaz Zakaria who married my cousin Kakwan Hasiah asked when I was going for my Haj. He knows I have the money to go because I have been to Umrah three times. That question was a wake-up call for me because I was drifting towards a good lifestyle. Immediately I booked my Haj and performed it with my wife in 2003. Thanks to Ustaz Zakaria. He was also my teacher after my father passed away twenty years earlier. All of us need reminders and advice lest we forget who we are and go astray. God forbids!

Before going for my Haj, my wife and I did some preparations. We engaged Quran teachers to come to our house every week to teach to read the Quran with proper tajweed and recitation. I managed to khatam(completed reading) the Quran two times in three years. By that time I was 50 years old. To celebrate my personal achievement, I organised a special event(kenduri) at my surau Taman Maluri. I invited all my friends to come and enjoy my little success. When people asked me who khatam the Quran, I told them it was me. They thought it was for my son. It is better late than never. I am not ashamed but I was very proud that I had overcome my ego. May Allah forgive me. A few whispered to me that they have not khatam the Quran even though they are in their 50’s and 60’s. I told them to engage a teacher like I did and just do it. Now, I can read the Quran with ease just like the average Muslim. What is more important is to keep reading the Quran every day, understand the meaning and live our lives by the teachings in the Quran and the way of the sunnah.

All of us Muslims have five obligations to the Quran. First, we have to believe in the Quran. Second, we must read the Quran. Third, we must understand the Quran. Fourth, we must obey and live our lives as stipulated in the Quran. Fifth, we must tell people about the Quran.

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