I want to learn to read the Quran

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.

Online courses

The 5 suggested online tajweed sites:

  1. 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:

  1. Quranicarabicwebinar (https://www.youtube.com/user/quranicarabicwebinar)
  2. Made Easy Series (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6qa1u2UrCF4zowOJ03p5nw)
  3. Quran Teacher for Kids and Beginners  (https://outube.com/user/Nur676767)
  4. Understand Quran (https://www.youtube.com/user/understandquran/videos)
  5. LearnTajweed (https://www.youtube.com/user/LearnTajweed)
  6. HealMyTajweed (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCj4W7SklgYjut1r5xiH1xQg)

Learning

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

True Love requires “sacrifice”: Eid al-Adha Version

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.

Going to the Masjid (Part 2): A First-Time Guide for Reverts

Yeay! You’re finally going to the Masjid (mosque) for the first time. There are things you need to know about how visitors are expected to conduct themselves upon entering and while being in the mosque: 

1. You have to take off your shoes

Please note that you have to take off your shoes before entering the mosque. There have been  many cases where new Muslims, or interested non-Muslims, accidentally entered the mosque without taking off their shoes. This is especially true of visitors from non-Asian countries where taking off shoes and leaving them outside the door is not part of their culture.

The reason for requiring visitors to take off shoes before entering the mosque is hygiene, an aspect which is much emphasised in Islam, especially for a holy place such as the mosque. This is how the floor of the mosque is kept clean, especially for prayers, such that you can even sit and sleep on it.

2. There are separate areas for men and women 

Don’t go to the wrong entrance! There are separate areas for men and women in the mosque. Muslims pray shoulder to shoulder in line but within the same gender group, not intermixed. They either have an entirely separate area between the sexes, or in the case of a very big prayer hall, a shared but divided space to prevent free mixing of males and females. Please beware of which area you’re going to. 

3. Attire inside the mosque

If you’re a non-Muslim, or a newly reverted Muslim, please note that you must dress properly while in the mosque. The mosque is a holy place for Muslims to perform their sacred rituals. Females must cover their heads and wear full length, all body-covering, and non-body hugging attire. Likewise, guys ought to dress decently. 

Going to the Masjid (Part 1): Knowing the Masjid

You’re a new Muslim and you’re going to a Masjid? Yeay! It’s going to be fun. You’re going to meet new friends, you’re going to learn more on Islam, and maybe there’s even free food there. LOL. But wait a minute. Before you go, please take note of several things. Now, let’s go to the Masjid!    

As a new Muslim revert, there are so many things you will learn and do for the first time. And these first-time things in your new beautiful religion will always stick in your memories. 

You’ll always remember how your heart raced the moment you said Shahadah (your declaration of belief in the oneness of God and on Muhammad as his final Prophet) for the first time. 

You’ll always remember the moment you raised your hands and said the Takbiratul Ihram in your solat (prayer) for the first time. 

You’ll always remember the satisfaction of  withstanding the hunger and hardship in completing your Ramadhan fast for the first time, or how hard it was to memorise the al-Fatihah verses for the first time.

But how about your experience of going to the mosque for the first time? 

It may be easy to visualise in your mind about the mosque if you are a born Muslim. You may have been there since the time you learned to walk.  But as reverts, non-Muslims and those who have never been inside a mosque, have you ever imagined what the mosque is like?

Reverts going to the mosque for the first time have varied experiences. Some are fun and exciting experiences, some enlightening,  and some even awkward. Before any untoward experience happens to you, it is advisable that you get to know some basic things about the mosque. 

What is a mosque?

If you have been in a typical  Muslim country, you must have heard a loud calling for prayers five times a day. The sound comes from the mosque (masjid), as a sign that the praying time has come.

The Arabic term masjid simply means “place of prostration”. A mosque is a building in which Muslims worship Allah by performing the congregational (jama’ah) prayers . It is also a local  community centre for Muslims. 

The role of the mosque has frequently been misconceived as a place for spedific worship rituals only. Ideally, a mosque should also be a centre of Muslim development, knowledge and welfare. 

It is a symbol of unity and strength of the Muslim community. Muslims praying in neat rows (saff), shoulder to shoulder, regardless of rich or poor, old or young, black or white, signify  that everyone is equal before Allah.

What do mosques look like?

Mosques come in all shapes and sizes, based on the density of the Muslim population in a certain area. A distinct feature common to most mosques is the minaret, a slim tower  normally used to make the daily call (adhan) to prayers. Some mosques have more than one minaret.

Other features common to mosques are a dome, a mihrab (an indention in the wall for the imam who leads the prayer, and marks the direction of qiblah (the Holy Mosque in Mecca),  and a mimbar (a raised platform on which the khutbah or speeches are delivered).

What does the interior of the mosque look like?

The most significant area inside a mosque is of course the praying hall. This is where the Muslims pray. Depending on the size of the mosque, and the number of people in the local Muslim community, some mosques do have a big and vast praying hall, while some others have a smaller one. At the front side of the praying hall is where the mihrab is, which indicates the direction of qiblah

A qiblah refers to the direction faced by Muslims performing prayers. Muslims are instructed to face in the direction of the Kaabah in Mecca while praying. One important aspect to be understood here is that  Muslims do not worship the Kaabah. Rather, the Muslims direct their worship only to Allah. The Kaabah is merely a symbolic unifying focal point for the entire Muslim world:    

To Allah belongs the East and the West. Wherever you turn, there is the presence of Allah. For Allah is all-Pervading, all-Knowing” (Quran 2:115)

So, basically no matter where the mosque is, it will always face toward the qiblah, as a symbol of universal unity among Muslims in worshiping one God. Thus, a qiblah in London will face to the south east and a qiblah in Kuala Lumpur will face to the west. 

Another thing you’ll see inside the mosque is the ablution area. Muslims are commanded to make ablution (wudhu’) as a part of preparation to pray. In some mosques , a separate space for ablution is set in a restroom or washroom. In others, the place for ablution is a fountain-like structure along a wall or in a courtyard.

Don’t forget to pay Zakat al-Fitr

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!

Ramadan Reminders – Don’t Delay Iftar

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)

Ramadan Reminders – Read Al-Quran

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!

Ramadan Reminders – Don’t Miss Your Suhoor

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!