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.
Some Resources we used:
• Sahih International English Translation
• Word-to-word English and Urdu translations
• Tafseer Ibn Katheer
• Colour-coded Mushaf
• Touched by an Angel (Tafseer Juz Amma) – audio by Muhammad Alshareef
The above article’s edited version was published in Homeworks Magazine, Issue Apr/May/Jun 2013.