O mankind! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware [Al-Hujurat, 49:13]
Where do I start? Most of Islamic scriptures are in Arabic which is a most complicated language in the world. The complexity of this language is so unique, although that makes it so beautiful.
Now that I am a Muslim, I have to at least know how to pronounce certain words in Arabic. I’m going to need to use this language 5 times a day!
Wondering where to start? There are so many options to consider, including through online courses.
The 5 suggested online tajweed sites:
- Tajweed Made Easy Academy. They have teachers and trainers globally, you can learn how to read the Quran from the basic level. And maybe if you’re ready, you can also sign up to become a teacher yourself. You can also sponsor another student who can’t afford to pay for the fees. Yes, they have fees. Check out their website for details of their courses at http://tmeag.com/
2. Tarteel Quran. Tarteel Quran lets you decide which gender of teacher you’d be comfortable with to learn the Quran. They have interesting lessons that will suit your children and they offer free trial lessons too. Go to their website to find out more: https://www.tarteelequran.com/
3. Al-azhar Quran Teaching. Al-azhar Quran Teaching has offices in the UK, Australia and the USA. They too offer free trial. Their classes include tajweed for beginners and basic Quran reading online. Go to https://alazharquranteaching.com/learn-quran-with-tajweed/ to find out more.
4. Madinah Quran Academy. Just like most online tajweed classes, they too offer free trials. Their class covers both reading the Quran (tajweed) and memorizing the Quran (hafeez). The best part is they offer a certificate at the end of the class. Check it out here: https://madinahquranacademy.com/
5. Quran River. Quran River has more than just tajweed (and Arabic) classes. Other than offering Ijaazah (certificate) with Sanad for Quran, they also have tafseer classes, and Quranic sciences. If you’re ready to go for more than just reading the Quran, they could be your good choice. Their website is http://www.quranriver.com/
6. YouTube Videos. Here’s another option for you if you do not have enough funds to pay for the online courses : you can always learn by following videos from YouTube. The only setback with this option is that it’s a-one-way method. Which means, you can’t get a teacher to correct you if you’re wrong. This can be a temporary solution, but please be serious about learning from a real teacher. Here are a few suggestions for you to consider:
- Quranicarabicwebinar (https://www.youtube.com/user/quranicarabicwebinar)
- Made Easy Series (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6qa1u2UrCF4zowOJ03p5nw)
- Quran Teacher for Kids and Beginners (https://outube.com/user/Nur676767)
- Understand Quran (https://www.youtube.com/user/understandquran/videos)
- LearnTajweed (https://www.youtube.com/user/LearnTajweed)
- HealMyTajweed (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCj4W7SklgYjut1r5xiH1xQg)
Now remember, learning the Quranic tajweed is not the same as learning the Arabic language.
Tajweed (Arabic: تجويد tajwīd, IPA: [tædʒˈwiːd], ‘elocution‘) is a set of rules for the correct pronunciation of the letters with all their qualities and applying the various traditional methods of recitation (Qira’at). In Arabic, the term tajwīd is derived from the triliteral root j-w-d (‘to improve’). Tajweed is a compulsory religious duty (fard) when reciting the Quran.
By contrast, the Arabic Language (Arabic: العَرَبِيَّة, al-ʻarabiyyah, [al ʕaraˈbijja] or عَرَبِيّ, ʻarabī, [ˈʕarabiː] or [ʕaraˈbij]) is a Semitic language that first emerged between the 1st to 4th centuries CE. It is now the lingua franca of the Arab world. It is named after the Arabs, a term initially used to describe the people living in the area bounded by Mesopotamia in the east and the Anti-Lebanon mountains in the west, in Northwestern Arabia and in the Sinai Peninsula.
Go and learn to read the Quran!
عَنْ عُثْمَانَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ خَيْرُكُمْ مَنْ تَعَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ وَعَلَّمَهُ
صحيح البخاري كتاب فضائل القرآن باب خيركم من تعلم القرآن وعلمه
Uthman bin Affan reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The best of you are those who learn the Quran and teach it.”
(Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 4739, Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Bukhari)
Know other sites to learn tajweed? Share with us!
sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tajwid and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic
Qurban means sacrifice. Every year during the Islamic month of Dzul Hijjah, Muslims around the world slaughter animals – whether it is goat, sheep, cow or camel – to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his own son Ismail, for the sake of his devotion to Allah. It was an amazing display of absolute obedience and unconditional love; absolute obedience to Allah and unconditional love to follow His every command without flinching. Thus, every year, on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, Muslims honour that sense of commitment of love by performing Qurban.
Once the animal has been sacrificed, the meat is divided into three parts; one for the family, one for the neighbours and one for the poor. Qurban teaches us the importance of looking after those around us, the neighbours as they too have rights. As Muslims it is our responsibility to make sure they are in good health and spirit. On the same note, people who are poor, homeless or financially unable to support themselves or their families also deserve a share of the Qurban meat. It is just one way of looking out for our Muslim’s big family that are in need and sharing your blessings and promoting unity and harmony between all human beings.
The Prophet (peace be upon him), said “The son of Adam does not do any action on the day of sacrifice (Eid al Adha) which is more pleasing to Allah than the sacrifice of animals; the animal will come on the Day of Resurrection with its hair, horns and hooves (for reward). The blood certainly reaches Allah before it falls to the ground. So make yourselves purified therewith.” (Tirmidhi; Ibn Majah)
A true Muslim, one who submits his or herself completely to the Lord, is willing to follow Allah’s commands without compromise. It is this strength of heart, purity of faith, and sincerity of submission that our Lord expects from us.
Performing Qurban is not easy, even to those who have the means to do it. But as true love requires sacrifice, this world is but a test for those who gives his heart to his Creator.
The month of Ramadan is celebrated by all Muslims, rich or poor, due to several reasons which include the charitable acts emphasized in Islam. There are various types of charity given during Ramadan such as Zakat Al-Fitr, Zakat Al-Mal, Sadaqah etc.
During the month of Ramadan, we are given a chance to collect our rewards manifold times. Not only does Ramadan provide us with the opportunity to cleanse our past sins, but also that it is during Ramadan that every act of goodness is multiplied 70 times by Allah (SWT).
Zakat al-Fitr is exclusive to the month of Ramadan and can be paid any time after the start of the holy month. The latest time one can pay is before the Eid prayer so that the needy can benefit in time for Eid. So, don’t forget to pay Zakat al-Fitr!
While you may think you would get more rewards for enduring your hunger by delaying your Iftar – it’s actually the total opposite. Allah wishes us ease, not hardship. The prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The people will remain upon goodness so long as they hasten to break the fast. Hasten to break the fast, for the Jews delay it.” (Ibn Majah)
Like Dhikr, reading the Quran is something many of us tend to forget. We get so caught up in food preparation, after going to work and school, and forget that Ramadan is the month that the Quran was revealed. It is vital that we read it and understand it as much as we can. Read the Quran everyday during Ramadan and make effort to read the translation of it, no matter what language you speak.
Reciting the Qur’an may become a way to escape the heat and thirst caused by the weather, as well as removing ourselves from the temptations of backbiting, gossiping, and wasting time. Make a goal to complete reciting the Quran during the Ramadan, purely for pleasing Allah (SWT) and obtaining greater rewards. Remind yourself often about your intention because this alone works as a great encouragement.
Reciting the Qur’an is a source of barakah and, as we know, barakah is a key to productivity. Therefore we must aim to recite it in anticipation of Allah’s pleasure and barakah from Him. Don’t let our empty stomach reduce our productivity in gaining rewards during Ramadan.
Indeed reading the Arabic words contains reward and you attain 10 rewards for every single letter that you pronounce. But imagine reading the Quran in the month of Ramadan, just how enormous the rewards will be?
Ramadan is a blessed month of the year. We can indulge more in reciting Quran to receive immense rewards and get closer to Allah. This can be quite easy for some, and a challenge for others. The easiest step to complete reading the Quran is by setting an intention, drawing up a plan, implement the plan, and remain consistent!
All the best in completing reading up the Quran as many times as you can!
Don’t miss the Suhoor meal. It should be a wholesome and moderate meal that is filling and provides energy for the fasting hours ahead. Not eating Suhoor can lead to many unexpected situations including having a really bad headache the next day especially due to inadequate food and water in your body. If you have not noticed, skipping Suhoor may lead to a loss of concentration the next day, which isn’t something you want to happen during work or while driving.
Delaying Suhoor is also a part of the Sunnah and the Prophet’s companions would delay eating Suhoor until as close to Fajr as possible. One must stop eating when the dawn appears.
Moreover, Suhoor is also a blessed time, the third part of the night and the best time to pray to Allah (SWT), make dua and seek forgiveness. The prophet said: “Take meal a little before dawn, for there is a blessing in taking meal at that time.” (Sahih Muslim No. 2412)
So, don’t miss your Suhoor!
“And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me.”(Surah Baqarah: 186).
A Du’a is a conversation with Allah, our Creator, our Lord and Master, the All Knowing, the All Powerful. This act in itself is of extraordinary significance. It is the most uplifting, liberating, empowering, and transforming conversation a person can ever have. We turn to Him because we know that He alone can lift our sufferings and solve our problems. We feel relieved after narrating our difficulties to our Creator. We feel empowered after having communicated with the All Mighty. We sense His mercy all around us after talking to the Most Merciful. We get a new commitment to follow His path for that is the only path for success. We feel blessed with each such commitment.
In every difficulty our first action is du’a, as is our last. We ask Allah to show us the way to handle that difficulty; we seek His help in following the path He shows to us; we seek His aid in making our efforts successful. When we fall sick, we know that we cannot find the right doctor without His Will; that the best doctor may not be able to diagnose our condition without His Command; that the best treatment plan will not succeed without His Permission. We make du’a for all of these. We make dua before we seek medical help, while we are receiving it and after it has been delivered. The same is true for all of the other difficulties we may encounter.
The power of du’a itself is already magnificent, so what is the status of a du’a made while fasting Ramadan? The Prophet SAW (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“The supplications of three persons are never turned away: a just ruler, a fasting person until he breaks his fast, and the supplication of an oppressed person which is raised by Allah to the clouds on the Day of Resurrection, and the gates of heaven are opened for it and Allah says: By My might, I will help you even if it is after a while” (Sunan Ibn Majah No. 1624).
So let us not waste any time in the month of Ramadan and let us utilize this month wisely by increasing our du’as to the One who responds to all invocations. When you break your fast at the time of Iftar, make du’a. When you pray Qiyamul Layl in the night of Ramadan, make du’a. When you are in the Masjid between the Adhan and the Iqamah, make du’a.
What is Ibadah? It’s ‘slavery’, but that’s the best part of Islam.
This might be life’s eternal question: what is the purpose of our being here, alive in this world? What are we, and why we?
Being here in this world are we meant to be growing up, chasing our dream, leaving behind some legacies, and returning to earth ? That’s it?
Or are there a more ultimate purpose ? We need to be enlightened on this curious purpose?
Allah, the Almighty Lord and the Creator of us, sent down His Word to satisfy this eternal curiosity of mankind. And you know what? To your surprise, we are but ‘slaves’ in this world!
“And I (Allah) did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (al-Quran 51:56)
Ibadah: a Total Submission
In Arabic, the word ‘Ibadah’ means submission and surrender. The same derived word ‘Ya’buduni’ (translated as worshipping Me) is used in the said Quranic verse, grammatically to indicate current, common and ever-happening states, as well as the future.
Let us rephrase it for you: it’s total, absolute and eternal submission to Allah. In Islam, life is but a full-time ‘slavery’ to Him solely.
From that precept come the decreed acts of worship: the specific tasks we have to perform in our life as His ‘slave’ and worshipper. Among the well-known are the five daily prayers and fasting throughout the month of Ramadhan.
There are also the obligations to adhere to the ordained practices. Some of these pertain to character building (the akhlak) which encompasses enacting divine injunctions of ethics, principles, morals, and much more.
It is expected of a full-time ‘slave’ of a comprehensive religion to accept that Islam guides on every aspect of life as Allah decrees. These constitute principles that relate to the economy, politics, education, parenting, community, hygiene, research and the like.
Does it sound restricting? No, it’s liberating, in fact!
How can restricting be liberating? You might be interested in this infamous story in Islamic history during the battle of Qadisiyah. The Persian general, Rustum, requested from Rabi’ bin Amir, a companion of Prophet Muhammad, to shed light on their intention regarding the battle.
Rabi’ delivered to him a brief, inspirational declaration on liberating people through the ‘slavery’ of Islam:
“Allah has sent us to deliver whomsoever He wishes of mankind from subjugation to the creation to the servitude and worship of Allah; from the narrowness of the dunya (the world) to the vastness of the akhirah (the Hereafter), and from the injustices of (fabricated) religions and ideologies to the justice of Islam.”
Being a Muslim is to be liberated from being enslaved by other people. All people are the creation of Allah, hence worshipping the creations is a grave degradation to the nobility of mankind.
Allah is the only One deserving of servitude, not the aristocrats or the corrupt leaders who exercise control beyond what is determined by Him.
Being a Muslim is to be liberated from being a slave to the worldly life. The world is but a sowing land to be reaped in the hereafter. We should give our best in this life, but only for the purpose of gaining Allah’s pleasure and securing the best rewards in the hereafter.
In the end, the righteous deeds resulting from our worldly performance are what really matters, not those accomplishments themselves.
Being a Muslim is is to be liberated from being lost, wandering in this world without a purpose. Allah sent down the comprehensive guidance through the Quran and the Prophetic traditions. With these super guides other ideologies about life should be redundant.
Some consider liberation as an absolute right and sanction for them to do anything they think is good. It does not occur to them that they might end up trapped by their limited and fallible thought. By contrast, Allah offers an all embracing guide of life as befits the encompassing perspective and wisdom of a Supreme Creator, Designer and Arbiter.
“(Mention, O Muhammad), when the wife of ‘Imran said, “My Lord, indeed I have pledged to You what is in my womb as muharraran, so accept this from me. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing.” (al-Quran 3:35)
Commenting on the above verse, an Islamic scholar, Syed Qutb explained that the term ‘muharraran’ used here is derived from the root word of “freedom” or “liberation” — al-Hurr.
This term signifies that no one is truly free unless and until he devotes himself totally to God, and liberating himself from servitude to anyone, anything, or any value.
Thus the submission to Allah alone indicates total freedom. Any other situation is a form of slavery however it disguises under the name of freedom or liberty.
It’s a ‘slavery’ built on faith and love
Being a worshipper — a ‘slave’ — of Allah is to experience a relationship of pure love. We will discover a vast expression of Allah’s love for us: how concerned is He with every bit of our life affairs, how delighted is He to forgive us when we return to Him, how caring is He about our wellbeing that He persistently reminds us to avoid harm.
Allah sent down trainers — the prophets — to introduce us to Him. Sometimes He grants us with some trials and challenges so we would rely greater on Him and become stronger in our faith.
Allah never stints from giving us mercy and bounties, despite all the mistakes we have committed before Him.
Being His beloved slave, we portray our love to Him by worshipping Him and live according to what He has assigned us. We do everything in our life to please Him and try our best not to incur His wrath.
We bear strong faith in the destiny that He has written for us. At the same time, we give our best effort to make a great ending.
By virtue of our sincere devotion to Him, we hope that He will be pleased with us and prepare the best rewards for us in the Hereafter.
Ibadah in Islam — in all its established forms through all the deeds which we perform to please Allah — is the best manifestation of life. It provides us with the very purpose of life itself.
And one thing for sure, it is the best part that makes Islam worth accepting and embracing: the virtuous, direct relationship with Allah , the real Most Supreme Lord of the Universe that we won’t find anywhere else.