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Studying the Quran – Tips from Students

One mostly finds tips on how to study the Quran from elders / teachers. The tips below, however, come from students directly, and so we hope they’ll strike a different cord and give a fresh perspective to those wishing to do Quran study with their children or passionate teachers of Quran. May Allah make this beneficial. 

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Studying the Quran – Tips from Aymun (@9) and Haadiyah (@10)

Some kids shy away from reading the Quran or make excuses to avoid it. It is because they are not taught with proper enthusiasm and love. Here are some tips which have helped us.

• Choose a good time for the Quran – not close to the kids’ playtime or your busy time. Sit in a conducive spot and adopt a comfortable posture. Use a separate Mushaf for each of you.

• If you can, teach the child yourself – the child tends to be more relaxed and less stressed with mom. If you cannot, sit and learn with the child. That way, he/she doesn’t feel like a ‘baby’: “Mama doesn’t know either!”

• Make it a habit to begin with Duas asking for increase in knowledge and Amal.

• Discuss the meaning and background of Ayaat. This makes it much more exciting and interesting. Otherwise, the child thinks: “Well, I’ll just get it over and done with.” When you have read an order in the Quran and understood it, there is very little possibility that you would do the opposite. You will remember what you have read.

• Discuss related topics like science, math, politics, current events and history when studying the Quran. This often leads to lengthy discussions and you may realise things about your child that you had never known or discover new Sunnahs or stories!

• Don’t force your child to read when he/she is tired or just not in the mood. Finish whenever you think it is getting a little too much, even if you have not completed your day’s target.

• Listening to Surahs over and over again helps a lot in memorising.

• Celebrate achievements with a gift or outing. Don’t miss out on thumping your child’s back and throwing your arms around her when he/she finishes a Juz or just says something awesome.

• Your parents tell you about right and wrong, but when you see it written in the Quran and you know that Allah is saying it, you feel, “I must do it.”

The above write-up was published in Homeworks magazine, Apr/May/June issue, along with a related article on learning Quran with heart

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2013 in Homeschooling, Quran with heart

 

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Hadith Writing Posters – Free!

Flowing along with the Ramadhan spirit, we’re sharing another small gift here. These are some cute posters inviting young ones to write their favourite Ahadith this Ramadhan.

Hadith Posters

Hadith Posters

Download: Hadith Writing Posters

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Book Bag, Homeschooling

 

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Ramadan Activity Book – Free!

Here is a small gift from us – an activity book for children 5-7 years which will in sha Allah help them in learning about Ramadan, fasting etc.

This is Hadi’s work at 11 years. May Allah make her use her abilities seriously in His cause as she grows up.

Ramadhan Book

Download: RAMADHAN BOOK

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2013 in Book Bag, Homeschooling

 

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Of Life and Question Papers

I always had some trouble explaining other people’s weaknesses in practicing Islam to my children. Not to say that our practice is exceptional or something, but when the girls noticed lackings around them, they would unfailingly and earnestly question. It’s hard to keep a balance in these situations. Obviously, you can’t say that they’re bad people, but surely you can’t either approve of what wrong behaviour / appearance you’re seeing. We tried using the term ‘Weak Muslim’ but that didn’t sit well either – who are we to judge who is weak and who is strong? Moreover if you label someone weak, you’re unconsciously labeling yourself ‘strong’ and that brings in the element of Kibr (pride) in the heart – a deadly disease. A grain of Kibr may stop you from earning Jannah!

So the best thing is to say that the behaviour in question is wrong and that we make dua for the person’s guidance.

The analogy of the exam question paper and our lives struck me recently and it helped me in explaining such situations to my children.

When we see a lacking on the part of a fellow Muslim, a relative or a friend, we may think that they’re presently doing poor in that particular aspect of life. Their score on that question may be low, but we don’t know what is their score on the other questions of their exam paper. And we certainly don’t know what is their overall score in the eyes of the Examiner. We should not rank them on the output of a particular question, and who are we to rank in the first place? We should not compare our score with them, especially on selected questions. There may be several questions where our score is lower than them! And when it comes to the Grand Total, nobody can judge if even we will pass or not, so how can we say anything about them!

The Grand Total of the other person may very well turn out to be higher than us, despite their low performance on a particular question of life. Their set of questions are different from ours. It’s a customized exam for everyone. And they may have performed very high on questions that we don’t know of!

Oh Allah, please give me at least 33/100 out of Your sheer Mercy and save me from the blazing fire.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2013 in Parenting Tricks

 

Name, Place, Animal, Thing

Yes, that old, forgotten game is the latest craze in our house. I wonder why and when this wonderful learning game was taken over by the flashy, electronic gadgets and games – even I had forgotten and abandoned it. But then our almost 5 year old discovered it and for days at length, she would play nothing else but “Name, Place, Animal, Thing”. She played it orally and in writing; at home and in the car; early morning and late night; at breakfast table and at dinner; with mom, dad, sisters and I suspect on her own too. She added the category “Food” to the game and it did become more exciting; for food you could mention any food (drink, raw or cooked) and you could use any language (Urdu, English or Arabic). At first she needed some help and teamed up with one of us, but even when she played singly, the opponents would help her out ‘secretly’ because we knew the immense value of the game and the sheer pleasure it was for her. Hanaa had to be the winner most of the time, as is the rule in our household for the youngest one – it’s a part of our confidence building program! She didn’t mind losing once she knew that she was playing fairly.

What great surprises came along – I can’t list them all here:

Phonics of course, vocabulary building for sure but more amazingly geography, map study, independent thinking, time management, math and spelling …. all with leisurely learning. She already had an interest in maps and flags due to her Magnetic Flags book, but now she started doing a Flags Sticker book which she LOVED. Grouped by continents, it has images for each country’s flag, with matching stickers in the middle and an index of all countries at the end. Hanaa did this book for hours and used the new country names for her game. Wanting to be unique, she started mentioning countries like Andorra, Djibouti (for a place with D, not J!), Gabon, Kiribati, Luxemburg, Palau, Togo and Kyrgystan!! Honestly we all were learning a lot with her :D She realised the difference between countries and cities and the Atlas was her next stop in the ‘place’ hunt!

For animals, we used a site http://a-z-animals.com/ to come up with difficult letters (like U, V, X) and she quickly memorised those she needed. She frequently mentioned animals that she knew from her study of different books or that which her sisters mentioned / used.

For names she always preferred names of the Prophets, then names of the Sahabah and then Muslim names. She took great pride in naming the Prophets, whose stories are her favourite. She also usually preferred a Muslim country.

She learned counting in tens and fives quickly for scoring up her attempts.

In the beginning her spellings were funny but as a rule, no unsolicited correction was offered. Within a couple pf weeks she improved immensely on spelling herself, and  started writing some completely correct spellings. 

To top it all, she started writing not one but many items with an alphabet in order to win the game by being unique.

To be honest, it started getting on my nerves and thankfully for the time being she seems to be shifting towards her other craze – biking!

How to play the game: (in case someone doesn’t know!) One player says “start” and the other starts reading the alphabet silently. When commanded to “stop”, he has to tell the letter he has reached. All players have to write a name, a place, an animal and a thing beginning with the chosen letter. The one who finishes the task first can start counting to 10, after which everyone has to stop writing. The players match their stuff, those with unique answers get 10 points fro each entry, any answer that is not unique among the players gets 5 points, and of course 0 if you don’t have any answer. Each attempt’s score is summed up and grand total is done in the end to find out the winner.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Early Skills, Homeschooling

 

Quran with heart

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said, “The best among you (Muslims) are those who learn the Quran and teach it.” [Bukhari]

While these words of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had always inspired me, they also elicited regret because I was not one of the best. Having wasted 20-odd years towards a professional degree, there seemed to be no possibility of attaining this high stature. When I had children and they started growing up, I realised that I had been given a second chance. Taking charge of their education, I could make not only their life but my own worthwhile, if Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) willed. Alhamdulillah, after a decade of homeschooling, I can see some fruit of this effort, which was purely directed by the grace of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).

We embarked upon our Quran journey when my two older children were around 5 years old. We hired a female teacher with whom we all learned Tajweed. Within a year, my daughters had finished the Qaidah (primer) and memorised some Surahs and everyday Duas, while I had recited the Quran once with the Qariah. Hearing our Makharij practice, the third one – a baby then – had secretly absorbed the information and exhibited it at 2 years by pronouncing the Arabic letters very well, Ma Sha Allah.

As we moved on to the formal study of the Quran, I wanted my children to approach it with understanding. I had impressed upon them that the Quran is the greatest and most interesting book, and being already in love with books, they couldn’t imagine reading a book without understanding it. They looked upon missing out on all the amazing stories and parables in the Quran as a great misfortune.

Our dilemma was to find a teacher who knew Tajweed, could discuss the meanings and followed the coercion-free, interest-based methodology of our homeschooling. With no ideal candidate in sight, I tried to fill that role despite my shortcomings.

I first set out to develop a special bond and ‘taste’ for the Quran, using light but consistent doses, as one would do while introducing a new food. We focused on the quality of reading rather than the quantity. We wanted to read with zeal and zest; discussing the Ayaat, ‘feeling’ them and drawing lessons from them. I tried to maintain a balance – neither including too many details which might overwhelm my daughters nor rushing it, only to leave their hearts empty.

The challenge was to find suitable resources and to be persistent. The rewards of reading the Quran in a family setup are many, as we discovered over time. Reading the Quran was not a once-a-day, out-of-home activity; rather, it became our living-room affair. Its references and reminders became part of our studies and conversations; we set aside evening ‘prime time’ for it and fostered co-operative competition among family members.

My eldest daughter and I raced to memorise Juz Amma and we are still in competition for further memorisation. Their father joined us in the contest, but has now left us far behind with his ongoing Hifz. We also invented a recitation challenge game to buff up our family’s Tajweed and memorisation. Live recitations now accompany us during long drives and park visits, which is Alhamdulillah a dream come true.

We begin our mornings with the Quran, focusing on memorisation of text and its meaning, and writing the same. In the evening, we do sequential recitation and Tafseer. My 10-year-old has completed her first recitation of the Quran with translation and short Tafseer in English and is doing a second cycle in Urdu. Her one-year-younger sister is left with 6 Ajzaa in her first study-round and a couple of Surahs in Juz Amma’s memorisation. In future, they will In Sha Allah do in-depth study with an Aalimah / Muftiah.

The girls are also learning the Arabic language and currently understand about 70% of the text directly. They ask striking questions during discussions, which force me to take a fresh look at things (“While drowning, when Firawn said that he believed, did he really mean it?”). When it comes to topics beyond their age-level,  we focus entirely on Tajweed. With topics involving the derivation of Fiqh issues, we cover only a brief summary, as these can be properly studied only under qualified supervision.

My youngest daughter has seen her sisters working on the Quran while she played or snuggled in my lap. Now, when her sisters read, she likes to point at the text and identify the Madd, Ayah and Ruku’ signs. Ma Sha Allah, she is sailing through her Qaidah at 4½ and I already have two reliable teachers at home!

With Allah’s help, prioritising and perseverance, the Quran has become a companion in our household and the lens through which our children view the world. I have personally undergone a great learning journey and pray that I will be able to reap the rewards of this effort even after death. Alhamdulillah, I seized my second chance in life.

You can, too.

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 Some Resources we used:

• Sahih International English Translation

• Word-to-word English and Urdu translations

Methodical Interpretation of the Noble Quran by Darussalam

• Tafseer Ibn Katheer

• Colour-coded Mushaf

Quran.com , Quranexplorer

Touched by an Angel (Tafseer Juz Amma) – audio by Muhammad Alshareef

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The above article’s edited version was published in Homeworks Magazine,  Issue Apr/May/Jun 2013.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Homeschooling, Quran with heart

 

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A Feathery Trip!

by Haadiyah Sajid

On the sunny afternoon of March 17, we set out for the newly-opened bird aviary in Islamabad, which is Pakistan’s largest bird aviary! We’d been there once before, but this time we were especially excited as our homeschooler friends, Danielle Aunty and her kids Safiyah, Diyana and Shams were coming along, too! Danielle aunty had brought along a big book “Birds of Pakistan” which she used to help us verify which birds were which. Well, there weren’t just birds of Pakistan in the aviary. The feathered fliers released in this huge net were from all over the world, including places like Australia, Brazil and Canada!

We got the bunch of tickets and walked in. It was beautiful, SubhanAllah! Right in front of us was a big pond with lots of ducks swimming inside. Our favorites were the tufted ducks, white ducks with little round tufts on their heads. The fluffy tufts were dyed pink and green, and that made the ducks look rather hilarious. There were ring-necked ducks, brownish birds with dark rings around their necks, as you’d have guessed. And there were mallard ducks, of course. They’re very common, the black, brown, whitish bodied waddlers with shiny green heads – those are the males. The females are a dull brown.

Our guide (from the aviary staff) was an expert, just like Danielle aunty who raises birds on her farm. He even opened the gate of a special enclosure and let us in to see the ducks and some more birds up close! That was a really great part of the trip. Diyana and I tried to get close to a tufted duck (and we did, to some extent), but our target swam away very quickly when he (or she) saw us approaching. That’s the instinct that Allah has created it with!

The Duck Pond

The Duck Pond

Next, we saw the biggest pigeons in the world. It was rather unbelievable that they were pigeons in the first place, as they were nearly as big as peacocks, without the long tails. One type was bluish, and it had straight hair on its head. A bit like:  The other was all black with curly hair growing on its head.

Next, we came past some more pigeons – which had lots of feathers on their feet, which made them look as if they were wearing snowshoes! There was also one pigeon who had puffed up its neck like a balloon. Well, that ‘neck’ isn’t actually called a neck; it’s known as the crop. The bird can fill up its crop with food and fly to its nest and then take the food out from its crop to feed chicks. (I’m avoiding the term throwing up, OK?)

After that, we came across large cages in which parrots were kept. Many parrots were released into the aviary, of course, but the parrots in the cages were either sick, a little injured, or they still didn’t have a companion of the same breed.

The first cage had parakeets, small parrots which have many species. We got to see lots of the species! SubhanAllah, the parakeets come in all colors: blue, red, green, yellow, even pink! Our guide even took out a cover-head pigeon for us to see up close. This pigeon always has its feathers over its face and you couldn’t even see the eyes. In fact, all we could see of its head was the smooth, round white top, which was seen only when we peeked in from above and a tiny bit of its beak. Safiyah did try uncovering its head but unfortunately it only does that when feeding! :D Well, check out these photos.

Next, we advanced up a big bridge, from the top of which we could see nearly the whole aviary! When we’d just started climbing it, we saw some game birds. Traditionally bred for sport, this group of decorative birds includes grouse, pheasants, partridges, and quails. One lady pheasant (that’s a type of pheasant, not a female pheasant) was digging a shallow hole on the ground to lay eggs! Game birds tend to live on the ground, so most are not strong fliers either.

A nesting female game-bird

A nesting female game-bird

We kept ascending the bridge and, at one point, we saw a large bowl full of bird feed – and lots of colourful birds! SubhanAllah, they looked so cute squabbling about on little grains of food. :D Most of these birds were of the parrot family. Our guide pointed out some budgerigars (budgarees, for short) that are very sociable. They’re small parrots really. There were also Pakistani green parrots that held larger morsels of fruits in their feet and held it up to their beaks. SubhanAllah, parrots are the only birds which can do so.

Australian parrots feeding freely

Australian parrots feeding freely

Australian parrots enjoying the sun and the food

Australian parrots enjoying the sun and the food

After the birds flew away from the bowl (well, Shams spooked them!), we kept on going and saw a pond with swans (erm, spelt sawns on the board!), pelicans and ducks. We were going to see those later. After a short while the bridge began sloping downwards. Just as we were about to step off, Diyana turned our attention to a small brown stump on a tree. “What’s wrong with you?” asked Shams – but just then a curios face peeked out of the stump at us. SubhanAllah! The “stump” was a cover-head pigeon! We all had a good laugh and headed towards the tame birds’ enclosure…

In this enclosure there was a colourful wooden structure on which there were 2 cockatoos from Australia, 1 macaw from Brazil and some parakeets, also from Brazil. The cockatoos were huddling together, cawing occasionally but the macaw was hopping around, grabbing bites at times and cawing our heads off. CAW! CAW! CAW! CAW! Our guide put his hands next to his feet and said, “Up!” With another ear-splitting CAW, the ma-CAW hopped nimbly onto his hand. He handed the bird over to Danielle aunty, and then it sat on my shoulder. Even though I was really enjoying it (getting used to the CAWs), I decided I’d like to get him off when he started climbing up my hijab. Later, when the maCAW was on his branch Safiyah put her hand next to his feet and murmured, “Up!”. And hop – Safiyah had gotten him!

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Shams was running around as “Alexander the Great” when I asked him if he wanted to hold the macaw. “Hold it?!” he said. “Yeah, you know, like Safiyah’s doing over there,” I replied, pointing. Shams ran over to Safiyah, stared, and began gasping: “Oh my! *gasp!* Safi! He’s digging his claws into your flesh! *gasp! gasp!* Look! Watch out!” Diyana told me that Alexander the Great is afraid. So much for being great!

Our last bit was the swans, pelicans and some ducks. A very interesting thing happened here. The pelican swam around very fast in circles, flapping his wings up and down, making rude splashing noises. Just then the swan came along and did the flapping thing again, but not quite so ‘rudely’ as his wings didn’t touch the water and he held himself high. “This is how you do it!” growled Safiyah, speaking for the swan. “This is going to turn into a drama now that Safi’s spoken,” I thought to myself. And it did.

After the swan’s flapping thingy, the pelican tried it but kept splashing rudely again, but with a tiny little betterment. “See? I can do it!” said Safiyah. “He looks like an airplane!” commented Aymun. “Oh, here’s the swan!” interrupted Safiyah. “He’s like – are you still bein’ an idiot?” “No, I’m doin’ exactly what you told meh to,” said Diyana sweetly, as she was supporting the pelican. Just then the swan flapped gracefully (with Safi’s commentary running along: “THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT!”) And yet again the pelican didn’t get it. “AURGH!!!! You little idiot! You’ll never learn!” said Safiyah in a deep, booming, commanding and bossy-all-at-once voice. Well, he didn’t. The pelican gave up and the swan swam away.

Just then, we realized that we’d better set off for home. We said our salaams and walked back to the entrance. It had been a memorable and feathery trip!

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Homeschooling, Naturally Yours

 
 
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