Posts Tagged With: Tafseer

Hifdh-ing

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog. H pointed that out to me yesterday. What I can say is that alhamdulillah, we’re all now doing hifdh, including Z. S is starting with Al kahf, and for her, I want her to focus on her Taleem Quran more, so hifdh is somewhat secondary for her right now.

N is taking tajweed class  online with Sis N from Canada, a 20 min class, once a week on Fridays. When I saw sis N offering her class through email, I thought of enrolling N, but I asked N how interested she is in learning tajweed. At first she said not interested. But she also expressed slight interest. I’ve been encouraging her to pursue tajweed because her recitation and articulation is naturally good already, and I want  her to find her own niche in the field of Quran. S is already taking Taleem Quran, and H is doing hifdh and is pretty good in Arabic grammar (better than me, even though I studied it for years in high school and even now), and I want something for N. One of my homeschooling goals is for the kids to develop a solid foundation in their deen and develop a Quranic perspective, which means, they need to be able to recite with tajweed, understand what they’re reciting, implement and internalize what they are reciting, and develop the wisdom that comes from the Quran and sunnah. The world out there is full of propagandas subtle and obnoxious, and I want them armed with iman and understanding of the deen before they go out there.

I’ve been making dua for the kids and subhanallah so I am overjoyed when N expressed that yes actually, she would be interested in learning tajweed. Sis N also advised me that I should encourage N to memorize. So I talked about this with N and she said yes she would  like to memorize. Initially, I was concerned about her intention, but sis N told me that even for us adults, our intentions will fluctuate and so it’s a lifelong process. So, in February N began her Quran journey, with learning  tajweed and doing hifdh. Alhamdulillah. I had already taught all the kids to read with tajweed through the Malaysian IQRA book series, and I have also taught them the tajweed rules, but I want them to actually learn further with someone who is qualified to teach them. So, I’ve done what I can from my end, and this is the time to outsource now. So, she started from Al Mursalat and is now at Muzammil. We also discussed about their Quran time. We agreed that after fajr, instead of starting right away with Nouman’s tafseer and Arabic with Husna, we would spend 30 min on our own doing our new memorization or revision, and then have breakfast and then do tafseer and Arabic. Thanks to a suggestion by a friend 🙂 May Allah reward her immensely for she is the one who has triggered this move towards hifdh for me and the kids. The girls will have their Quran time twice a day, one after fajr and another one either after asr or before bedtime.

 

For H, he has already been doing this for years, so I  leave him pretty much alone for he has gotten into his own routine. I do still worry about his tajweed though and asks that Allah opens up opportunity for him to learn with someone qualified who can enhance his tajweed. Right now, the brother who is helping him is too busy, so H is working just with hubs for now. He is re memorizing surah As Shuura. This surah has a special story. When H was memorizing this surah, we were in Malaysia, and we enrolled him in darul Huffaz. The ustaadh there told him to memorize the surah backwards and this confused H so much that to this day, his grasp on that surah is almost nil. So he’s rememorizing it now. I still can’t fathom why that ustaadh told him to memorize it backwards.

H is currently taking Sh. Omar Suleiman’s tafseer of Surah Al Ahqaf class every Tuesday for 4 weeks. He doesn’t seem too captivated by it except when it involves stories, but at least I hope it provides him with deeper understanding and internalization of this surah that he has memorized.

Even Z has taken an interest in doing hifdh. Maybe it’s because all of us are doing it now. So, he would come to me and take the Quran, put it on the rihl and open it up to the last page and point to the surah he is working on and signal for me to recite it to him. So far, he just finished An nasr. I started doing this with him before he showed any interest. We listened to Minshaawi for An Naas and I had him recite again and again. I had to resort to recording his voice and letting him listen to it, because he couldn’t sit still for the lesson. Eventually he didn’t want to do it, so I left him alone. Made dua.

Then, all of a sudden, he knew those 3 quls. Apparently H had been practicing it with him at bedtime. So I expressed pleasant surprise that he knew those 3 surah by heart and told him,

‘Z, you memorize 1 whole page!!!!”

You could see he was overjoyed as well, and that motivated him. So we worked on Al Masad. He kept asking for the ‘stowee’ of Al masad. So hubs put on Nouman’s tafseer of the surah and we told him the story of Abu lahab and the surah. One thing about Z is that he is impatient. He kept asking to move forward before memorizing the current ayah properly. So I would tell him,

“Let’s say it 7 times, you can count it on your fingers.”

So he obediently puts out his index finger and starts to keep track of how many times we have to repeat the current ayah together; I would say it first and he would say it after me. I would break up the ayah so he could repeat it in manageable portions. Then, we’d be done for the session. I tell him to listen to his MP3 too and he does mashaaAllah. It is a little hard working with him because he is still young and has his own issues sometimes, but alhamdulillah I also feel like Allah has made it somewhat easy. The fact that he comes on his own and takes the Quran and sits waiting for me to start working with him, and listens to his MP3 on his own, and is willing to recite his surah properly, makes it a lot easier on me. I worried that he wouldn’t enunciate the words properly, and I would disapprove it when he rushes through it, I would emphasize that he needs to really enunciate it and not just say the surah. Alhamdulillah he does and he does try hard mashaaAllah. He is also doing great with his IQRA.

At one point, he was watching Arabic with Husna with us and we were covering the sarf table. At this time, Z was a bit obsessed with ana anta and started to write it in Arabic and in English, and kept asking us,

“Are you anta?” “Are you anti?”

And now he keeps asking, “What is …. in Arabic?”

I wish my grasp of Arabic is stronger to be able to feed his thirst for it. It’s a bit difficult having to juggle the older kids and Z and my own learning.

Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah.

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Categories: Al Huda Institute, Living Islam, Memorizing, Outsourcing, Quran, Tafseer, Teaching Challenges, Time Management, Z's learning | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book 4

I gave Z a preview of IQRA book 4 the other day as he is finishing up Book s, and since then, he has been super excited to finish book 3 (skip what is remaining even!) and jump to Book 4. Today, as we were about to start reading it, he flipped the page to Book4, and I had to firmly tell him we have to finish book 3 first, We only have 1 more page of book 3 and so hopefully inshaaAllah, on Thursday, he can start Book 4.

I tried doing hifdh with him, but he has this voice issue. His pronunciation of the Arabic letters is becoming much better, I think because we now read it everyday, whereas before, he has no practice with it. He used to be able to pronounce them well but due to lack of practice and usage, he lost the ability but now Alhamdulillah hopefully we’re back on track. His voice though; he can’t yell. Same issue with N. Both of them will not yell to ask for help. They can scream when startled but they can’t shout at will. So, with Z, I have trouble getting him to utter the surah with a strong and clear voice. I honestly don’t know how to help him get his voice out. So help me Allah.

With N and H, we just finished tafseer of Surah Abasa this morning, and I have been rather slacking in the area of making up a test for them for Naaziat and Abasa, and I was just thinking about it today, and I just have to get to it soon inshaaAllah. But we were praying one time and I read Naaziat, and after salah, H said,

“You read Naaziat and I understood!”

Alhamdulillah.

We’ve been contemplating and looking into something for H recently, something major, but just today, I have been feeling somewhat uneasy with the idea. So, we just  have to really buckle down and really work hard on our daily routine of Tafseer and Arabic with Husna in our journey of Quran and Arabic. I’ve never actually felt better about our daily routine. May Allah preserve this good and increase us in it and keep us istiqaamah on it, Ameen!

 

 

Categories: Living Islam, Quran, Tafseer, Teaching Challenges, Teaching To Read, Z's learning | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Tafseer An Nabaa Project

The due date for this project was last Friday(this was written a long time ago and I don’t remember which Friday it was anymore). H finished it on time. N didn’t. But inshaaAllah, I hope that they benefited from working on this project.

Ayat 1-5 – scene of the disbelievers asking each other (mockingly) about the ‘great news’

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

78:1
Sahih International

About what are they asking one another?

78:2
Sahih International

About the great news –

78:3
Sahih International

That over which they are in disagreement.

78:4
Sahih International

No! They are going to know.

78:5
Sahih International

Then, no! They are going to know.

2nd set of scenes representation

78:6
Sahih International

Have We not made the earth a resting place?

78:7
Sahih International

And the mountains as stakes?

78:8
Sahih International

And We created you in pairs

78:9
Sahih International

And made your sleep [a means for] rest

78:10
Sahih International

And made the night as clothing

78:11
Sahih International

And made the day for livelihood

78:12
Sahih International

And constructed above you seven strong [heavens]

78:13
Sahih International

And made [therein] a burning lamp

78:14
Sahih International

And sent down, from the rain clouds, pouring water

78:15
Sahih International

That We may bring forth thereby grain and vegetation

78:16
Sahih International

And gardens of entwined growth.

inside the ‘cradle’ (which is earth)

siraaja wahhaaja – actually lit up with one of his contraptions.

how he lit it up

he had put the wheat and lush garden behind the mountain and so we can’t see it after the put the ‘seven strong’ over the head side of the cradle.

3rd set of scenes

78:17
Sahih International

Indeed, the Day of Judgement is an appointed time –

78:18
Sahih International

The Day the Horn is blown and you will come forth in multitudes

78:19
Sahih International

And the heaven is opened and will become gateways

78:20
Sahih International

And the mountains are removed and will be [but] a mirage.

78:21
Sahih International

Indeed, Hell has been lying in wait

78:22
Sahih International

For the transgressors, a place of return,

78:23
Sahih International

In which they will remain for ages [unending].

78:24
Sahih International

They will not taste therein [any] coolness or drink

78:25
Sahih International

Except scalding water and [foul] purulence –

78:26
Sahih International

An appropriate recompense.

78:27
Sahih International

Indeed, they were not expecting an account

78:28
Sahih International

And denied Our verses with [emphatic] denial.

78:29
Sahih International

But all things We have enumerated in writing.

78:30
Sahih International

“So taste [the penalty], and never will We increase you except in torment.”

the sky opening up as if they were doors

H’s blueprint of the 4th scene set that he showed me before he started on it

the 4th scene set representation

78:31
Sahih International

Indeed, for the righteous is attainment –

78:32
Sahih International

Gardens and grapevines

78:33
Sahih International

And full-breasted [companions] of equal age

78:34
Sahih International

And a full cup.

78:35
Sahih International

No ill speech will they hear therein or any falsehood –

78:36
Sahih International

[As] reward from your Lord, [a generous] gift [made due by] account,

78:37
Sahih International

[From] the Lord of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them, the Most Merciful. They possess not from Him [authority for] speech.

78:38
Sahih International

The Day that the Spirit and the angels will stand in rows, they will not speak except for one whom the Most Merciful permits, and he will say what is correct.

78:39
Sahih International

That is the True Day; so he who wills may take to his Lord a [way of] return.

78:40
Sahih International

Indeed, We have warned you of a near punishment on the Day when a man will observe what his hands have put forth and the disbeliever will say, “Oh, I wish that I were dust!”

3 of the 3D rep

 

N made a powerpoint presentation, and it was quite a big file because she drew most of the slides herself. Surah An-Nabaa by NBlog

Categories: Activity, Bayyinah Institute, Cardboard, Living Islam, Project, Quran, Tafseer | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Tafseer An Nabaa

We continued our tafseer of An nabaa this morning, after N’s Mammals class. She came to me and said,

“A girl in the class published a book on Amazon.”

I’ve been telling her about this possibility for years to encourage her. Writing, like anything else, requires hard work and persistence.

Anyway, we continued with the surah, and to save time, I’ll just put this in bullet points, just for us to remember.

  • The surah begins by addressing the disbelievers who were mocking the Day of Judgment
  • it depicts a scene where they were mocking it and the suddenly, Allah interjects
  • Kalla! Saya’lamoon – Stop! Rather, you will come to know
  • He repeats it again for emphasis ;- equivalent to “You’ll find out, you’ll find out”
  • Then begins a passage where Allah talks about the blessings He has given to all mankind;
  • the earth as a comfortable place (the word used for comfortable place is also word used for cradle ; the earth is rotating on its axis but gravity keeps us rooted. We’re able to walk, sleep, jump etc without being thrown off, just like a baby in a cradle
  • the mountains as pegs. Showing how stable and how the mountains are stabilizing and are great structures that are solid
  • And He created you all in pairs – now the focus goes directly to the human beings and living things come into the picture
  • and He Made you sleep as something that cuts you off ; from sleep, day, livelihood, life
  • And He made the night as a covering :- darkness covers you, robberies and bad stuff. private things happen at night, it covers you like a blanket does etc
  • And He made day for you to seek livelihood : lesson – don’t waste your time. Spend your day wisely.
  • And He constructed above you seven strong (heavens understood, but not mentioned). The word shidaadaa used to show that these seven heavens are strong.
  • And He made the blazing sun
  • And He sent down from laden rain clouds abundant water
  • And He takes out with this water, grains and vegetation
  • And lush gardens
  • the sceneries are alive, you have the earth, imagine you’re viewing from space, then you zoom in, you see the mountains, the living things, and their life, and then back at nature, the skies , seven heavens, you pierce through the earth’s atmosphere, reach the sun, it’s blazing fiery, and back down to earth in the atmosphere, the clouds, chock full with water, water comes down, waters the earth, the earth absorbs it, and living things come forth, lush
  • This is how Allah leaves that scene before moving on to another set of scenes ; the Day of Judgment
  • Imagine you’re visualizing all this and the Quran is very descriptive in its description
  • And suddenly your vision is channeled to:
  • Indeed the Day of Separation is already fixed – you can’t escape it, no matter how hard you try
  • The day on which the horn will be blown and people will submit willingly or unwillingly in massive crowds ;- in this dunya, you can control your limbs, but on that day, you cannot. You don’t want to go but your limbs will take you to that gathering place
  • And the skies will be opened like doors :- doors are the loosest construction in a building as it’s used most of the time and those seven strong skies that was mentioned before is now opened up. How scary it would be to see the skies rip apart and you can see the space through it. The listeners’ attention is now directed to the horrors on this Day
  • And the mountains will move easily and it will be like a mirage : previously, the mountains are described as pegs, solid, stable but now, these stable solid structures that we know so well are moving so easily and will disappear as if like a mirage. Everything you know is changing
  • Now the talk moves on to hellfire : The hellfire will be lying in ambush
  • Both the disbelievers and believers are listening now and they are being told that the hellfire is lying in ambush, like a wild beast, ready to devour its prey
  • Allah specifies who it’s lying in ambush for ; for the rebellious :- Allah would have mentioned it’s for the disbeleivers, but He doesn’t. Implication : believers who don’t obey Him and are also rebellious will be included in this
  • They will remain it for periods of time :- the use of ah7qaaba denotes psychological torture. Allah could have said abada (forever) but the usage of ah7qaaba is explained as such:
  • you are imprisoned for 5 years and you look forward to the end of your term, and when you reach 5 years, suddenly you are told you will remain another 5 years. It’s more torturous this way
  • They will not taste in it any coolness of any drink :- hellfire is hot. Now it’s talk of physical torture
  • People in the desert will appreciate this more and so this should send some shockwaves through the listeners at that time and at anytime (no one likes heat)
  • Except boiling water and pus ;- whoa!!!! hold on there! this is too much! PUS??!! Someone might react this way, saying “Hey, okay I did bad but eating pus?! That’s just way too much bro!”
  • Allah says ; An exact recompense :- No, it’s not too much, it’s tit for tat, no more no less
  • Indeed they hoped they won’t be accountable for their deeds :- people were living in dream land, telling and convincing themselves that they can do all they like and not be held accountable for it, or nahhh it’s ok, I’ll worry about that later. Even Muslims may respond when someone talks about death etc “Oh, that’s depressing, let’s not talk about that.”
  • They denied, belied Our signs with vehement denial :- Allah has laid out signs for us, the Quran, scriptures and the creations. Simply looking at the sky, clouds should bring one to realize there is a Creator, and that we owe everything to this Creator, so worship Him, obey Him. But instead, we use our God-given intellect to dispute, argue, bring us to the height of arrogance and disobey Him, even denying Him outright
  • And everything, We recorded and tabulated in a protected book ;- all this is recorded. This should benefit listeners in that it makes them more aware of their speech and actions and thoughts, it’s all on ‘camera!’
  • Then Allah leaves us with the last scene in this passage : They will taste and not it will be increased anything for them except torment
  • Now Allah moves on to happier sceneries : Indeed those who are righteous will have a place, time of success and success
  • the believers who have been listening now are addressed, and the word muttaqeen is used to signify that only those who have this taqwa will carry their feelings into action
  • There are many people who say “Oh I don’t want to go to hell, I’m scared, ‘ but their actions don’t show it.
  • Then there are people who are really touched by it and actually change their bad behaviors to good ones. Which one are you going to be?
  • The word mafaaza used has 3 meanings grammatically : place of success, time of success and succes for sure
  • place of success implies : don’t worry, there will be a place where you will be eternally happy. This dunya is temporary. Sometimes being a Muslim can be restrictive.
  • Analogy I gave to the kids : An adult brings a kid to an amazing park while telling this kid they will go to an even more amazing amusement park later on. The kid sees this park and LOVEs it, and wants to stay there forever. The adult tells the kid, “But, we’re going to the amusement park remember?” “No! I want to stay here and play all day!”
  • The adult tells the kid, “Don’t play in that corner over there.”
  • Kid asks, “Why not? I like it there!”
  • Adult replies, “There is a bush nearby, there might be snakes.”
  • Adult says, “Don’t climb past the second rung of that ladder.”
  • Kid asks “Why?” Adult replies “Because I told you so”
  • The prohibitions that Allah put on us are the same, for some, we know the reason, for others we don’t know, but we are obliged to accept and believe because this is the essence of faith itself
  • Out of His mercy, He makes this world beautiful, but He also puts restrictions so we don’t get too attached to it, because He has prepared Paradise, whcih is even more beautiful and enjoyable than this world
  • The adult tells the kid, “In the amusement park we’re going to go to, there will be slides like these ones, but they’re higher and has water. They have swings too but they spin too.”
  • Kid says, ‘oooh!! I want to go now!’
  • Adult says, “No, not yet. We’ll go but not now.’
  • Kid starts to look forward to the amusement park. He enjoys the current park but knows that there are restrictions and knows there is a better one he is promised and looks forward to go there.
  • As Muslims, especially women and girls, we have to worry about hijab. You can’t just go swim in a pool or the beach, if the place is populated. Life can be hard sometimes as a Muslim, but there is wisdom behind this.
  • If you’re allowed to do everything on this earth and they’re all good things even, you will be attached to it
  • Even if you’re told about Jannah, you think, ahh I’m already enjoying life here, that can wait
  • It is out of Allah’s wisdom and mercy that He has laid things out as they are, and placed prohibitions and commands on us because this life is a test, a transitory place
  • Then, Allah talks about the jannah : private gardens and grapevines
  • Gorgeous women of compatibility :- when you go to a beautiful place, you might enjoy it, but without humans, it can get lonely
  • In ads/marketing they always put beautiful women or men to beautify the place/product etc. Why? There is a psychological effect of that.
  • So, you’re in this beautiful awesome place, and you good looking company, and what’s more, they are compatible with you, maybe same age and same interests
  • You can go to a place and have a nice looking friend but she likes sweet potatoes and you like mangoes – ehh…but in jannah, you both like the same thing and you are just…compatible! cool!
  • And splashing exotic drinks! – not only company, now you have a spread too! Contrast this to the description of no drink and no coolness in hellfire.
  • They won’t hear in it any idle useless talks not any lies/blasphemy/slander etc :- believers in this world have to endure all the lies that are being said or thrown at them by disbelievers or even some believers who choose to mock the religion. Even the prophet saw was told to have beautiful patience. It hurts to hear and see these lies, but we have to endure it. In jannah, you won’t hear anything like this
  • as for idle and useless talk, the analogy of : you go on a wonderful vacation and then suddenly, as you’re lying there joyfully under the sun, someone in your company starts to talk vulgar or just do some nasty convo. Your whole vacation is ruined!
  • In jannah -> utter peace and beauty. None of those bad speech that you had to endure in this world
  • Next ayat : a recompense from your Rabb , a generous gift to the point where you may say “I don’t need anymore”
  • Subhanallah, when Allah talks about the recompense in hellfire, it’s tit for tat, but in Jannah, He gives as H said, “Infinity for tat.” He gives more, so much more.
  • Allah is just and merciful

 

That was where we stopped this morning. I had recorded our discussion yesterday with Sound Recorder but because I had to keep pressing record each time it reaches the max, it was just a hassle so today, we didn’t record our discussion, so I thought I’d just write it up ASAP before I forget.

InshaaAllah, tomorrow we will finish surah Nabaa and I can give them the test. Though, from our discussion just now, it seems like they need more reinforcement and studying to do so they really get and can internalize this surah with new understanding. Dua time!

 

Categories: Bayyinah Institute, Discussion, Living Islam, Quran, Tafseer | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Quran Journey

As non-Arabs, our Quran journey begins with learning to read the Arabic. This is the very first thing I taught my kids to do with regards to Quran. With reading Quran, comes Tajweed, the rules of recitation. ‘Reading’ Quranic Arabic is not like what we think of as reading, but it’s more like reciting. Since Arabic is not our native tongue (though I also have come to know that even for Arabs, classical Arabic is not necessarily completely comprehensible since their version of Arabic has evolved since then), we may be able to recite with perfect tajweed, but we may not necessarily understand it.

But, because the Quran, when recited with proper tajweed, has an effect on people, one who can recite it will good tajweed is marveled at by the average Muslim. He doesn’t necessarily have to understand it, but if he can recite well, wow.

We are striving to move beyond that. Because the Quran is not a piece of entertainment, but it is the last scripture sent in a series of scriptures sent through human messengers throughout history. All those scriptures came from the same god, and these are what actually unifies Muslims, Christians, and Jews, whether we realize it or not.

As non Arabs, we have to embark on a journey to truly understand it. Before that though, there is another aspect in the journey of Quran; memorization. Many Muslims, Arabic speaking or not, memorize the Quran. One of the most obvious ways the Quran is preserved is through oral memorization. If anyone tries to change anything in the Quran, these memorizers (huffaadh) would catch it right away. No doubt about it. The Quran is memorized in its original actual form, in Arabic, whether the memorizer understands it or not. The vowelization, lengthening, meanings are generally consistent, albeit with differences in different schools of recitation.

So, as non Arabic-speaking Muslims, we have also embarked on that journey of memorizing. H, at age 7, after listening to a lecture by Safi Khan on Imam Ahmad Hambal, and how Imam Ahmad finished memorizing Quran at age 10, declared that he wants to memorize Quran by age 10 too. That was how it started with H. To this day, he is still doing his hifdh.

There was a time, when he was younger, he fell asleep on the couch after working on his memorization. He talked in his sleep, and his ‘talk’ was a recitation of a portion of the surah he was working on. Amazing. It has been about 5 years since he started this journey, and he is progressing alhamdulillah. He has changed teachers, and I fear that this may pose as a drawback. In our locality, he is the only one of two who is working on hifdh. For a child, competition in this arena may be a good thing. So, him doing it alone all these years, most of the years, may have been a damper. We are restricted by our situation thus far. I ask that Allah make this easier, but so far, we’re still in the same situation. His decision is based on His wisdom, so I’m sure there is good in this. I know it’s a test, and I fear that we may not pass this test.

I am worried about his review process. He is memorizing new portions with the brother who is working with him right now. Since this brother is also a students, there are limitations. We the parents, are the ones revising with him. This is getting harder. H doesn’t work well with me. Ever since he was young, he hasn’t listened to me well enough. Not enough to take me that seriously. I remember teaching him tajweed. Because I’m his mother, he didn’t take me seriously. Once he started going to AM at the masjid, his tajweed improved a lot. I taught him the same things, but he obviously learns better with a stranger. My girls aren’t like that. They take me seriously. This is a huge challenge for me. Especially since I am the only one who is inclined to working regularly with him. Hubs is too busy to be able to do this with him regularly. He said he can only do it on the weekends. Actually he can do it, between maghrib Isha, because they’re usually at the masjid anyway at that time, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. I can’t control that, so I strive to work on things that I can control, which basically translates to “I’m doing this even if it’s very very hard to do because the boy doesn’t listen to me and my time is limited too”. Subhaanallah. May Allah make it easy. Ameen.

What I find challenging is not only his attitude towards me, but also my own temper and level of patience. Only Allah knows how much I do slips up everyday.

At the same time, I’m also working on the understanding Quran journey with them. We listen to Nouman’s Tafseer podcast everyday after fajr for about 20 minutes and then we discuss it. We just decided to start at An Nabaa instead of from the back and after a while, I noticed them sliding down, not paying attention. I decided to test them on the material. After our session this morning, I came up with the test. I am excited over it, but I worry. Only Allah can guide the hearts. Only with Allah’s blessings will anything be effective. No matter how great my questions are for them, it won’t lay any imprint in their hearts without Allah’s blessings. This makes me scared. It makes me hopeful, and it makes me even more dependent on Allah.

Oh, I’ve realized how dependent I’ve become on Allah all these years, especially as my kids grew older and I realize there is only so much I can do. But, seriously, being a parent is a huge lesson in developing tawakkul (utter and complete reliance on Allah while putting in one’s effort to the max). My goal in us listening to this tafseer is for us to really understand the Quran, internalize it and embrace it, truly embrace it as we should. When we listen to it, when we recite it, it should touch our hearts because we understand it, because Allah has made our hearts open to receive it. That’s how we should interact with the Quran.

In the Quran, Allah mentions that He sends messengers to

  1. recite
  2. purify
  3. teach them the book
  4. teach them the wisdom/sunnah

upon the people.

The first step is reciting. The heart has to be pure in order to receive teachings of the book. This is why we start young. This doesn’t mean an older person doesn’t have a chance, for guidance after all, is in the hands of Allah regardless of age. This purification is very important. Very important. Can’t be emphasized enough. Teaching them the book and the wisdom (application/sunnah) will round them up into hopefully good and contributing Muslims.

S is on her own Quran journey right now. Alhamdulillah, she is on her own, with Al Huda. N and H, I’m handling. Z, is at the recitation stage, and this is hard too. Subhanallah, everytime I have to work with Z, I’m reminded of how old I really am.

I’m on my own Quran journey too. Better late than never, right?

Subhanallah…there are just days where you feel really depleted, really wrung out with no ounce of energy left. It’s only the belief and certainty in Allah that pulls you back up. He’s there, watching you. He knows what you’re going through. He knows whether you’re trying your best or not. He knows what you’re thinking even before you think it. He knows what you really want. And He’s there to help you out, on His own time, in His own way. You just have to believe, ask, wait. Continue loop (hey, I was a computer science major after all, even though I loathe the subject). So…continue loop, till death do us part.

 

Categories: Juggling Multiple Kids, Living Islam, Memorizing, Quran, Tafseer, Teaching Challenges, Teaching To Read, Thoughts | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Feeding the Needy

We continued our Tafseer session this morning. And subhanallah it was so relevant to what we did yesterday. We did Ayah 3 today.

107:3
Sahih International

And does not encourage the feeding of the poor.


Wa laa yahuddu ‘alaa taAAami almiskeen

To make this post easier to write for me, this is an excerpt of notes from Linguistic Miracles :

The previous aayaat was in regard to their personal lives.

But this ayah is directly affecting their public reputation that they’ve took so long to build up.

These people who are being criticized – are the leaders of the Quraysh (i.e. Abu Lahab who is the treasurer) – who have the duty and role of feeding and supporting the weak (atleast at an official level). However, they do not fulfill this role.


Leaders should be at the forefront of feeding the poor
, serving the public, and helping the weak. But instead, these leaders are wasting the money they are entrusted with to the other rich men in society, whereas this money is public money. Thus showing their corruption and lack of responsibility in their role as leader.

They had the mentality that they needed to protect the agenda of the rich instead of protecting the weak. Because the rich support their high position, and keep their support in place. If they helped the poor – they would not get such benefits.
So they didn’t help the poor, neither enjoin people to help them – so that they would keep their power and position in society.

Why doesn’t he encourage people to give to the poor?

If he encourages people to feed the poor – people will ask him why he doesn’t feed the orphan and poor himself?
Allah is exposing this corrupt rich persons psyche – you don’t want to encourage people to spend on the poor, otherwise you won’t be able to use this money in corruption and dealings with other rich people.

This is all over the world. The leaders trample over the rights of the weak.

Yesterday we volunteered at the local soup kitchen, all 3 older kids and I. The kids love volunteering at the soup kitchen and for this I am very grateful to Allah for giving them this taufeeq, because that makes it that much easier for me. Alhamdulillah. Last weekend was actually hectic. The girls went to the Animal Shelter open house right after the soup kitchen, and S even forgoed Tennis that morning so she wouldn’t be too overwhelmed with the back to back activities.

So while we were discussing after the tafseer session, I brought up our volunteering at the soup kitchen.

“What is the significance of Allah using the word Ta’aam versus It’aam?”

Ta’aam = Food, It’aam = Feeding. In the ayah, it says Ta’aamul miskeen (Food of the needy) not It’aamul miskeen (feeding of the needy) though in translation of course they put it as the latter to make for an easier read. But the significance here is that it points out that the food is the right of the needy in the first place. When you feed someone, it can be your food or someone else’s, but when you say food of the needy, it means it’s THEIR food in the first place.

I also asked them, “So, whose rights are upon us? Two big categories.”

They weren’t able to come up with the second. They came up with the first (Allah).

“The first is Allah, the second is His creations, which includes, ourselves, parents, orphans, people, animals, plants, the earth.”

“What is our body’s right upon us?”

N: “To take care of it because Allah already gave it to us and everything.”

“What can’t we do if we don’t take care of our body?”

H: “We can’t worship Him.”

It’ll be hard to engage in acts of worship with health problems though that is not an excuse to slacken in them.

I asked them,

“Did you hear yesterday this man was asking this girl next to me, ‘Are you here on a voluntary basis? Or serving community service hours ? Got in trouble?'”

H: “He was joking wasn’t he?”

Me : “Yeah he was, but let’s talk about this. So, what does this tell you? How easy is it to get people to volunteer?”

H : “Hard.”

“What else does it tell you?”

H: “Community service helps people.”

Me: “So, if people ask you, what does your Koran teach you, what is one of the things you can say?”

H: “Feeding the needy.”

Me: “So is volunteering at soup kitchens part of Islam then?”

Yes. If you notice, it’s part of almost every religion, mainly Christianity, Judaism, Islam, though there are some misconceptions about participating in it among Muslims living in the west.

Me:”They have a right upon us, those needy, they have a right upon us. Islam doesn’t teach us to just mind our own business and do our thing, but it teaches us balance. We fulfill rights of Allah, and we fulfill rights of others too.”

Then I started talking about GMO food and the arsenic in rice. I had just watched Genetic Roulette, and so I relayed to them some of what struck me in that documentary.

Me: “Being Muslims, having Islam, is a beautiful thing, because we have a ‘weapon’ against these corruptions done by human beings that go into our food. What is that weapon?”

N: “Bismillah.”

Me: “When we eat, if we say Bismillah each time, and Allah blesses the food, inshaAllah, we’ll be okay. Because not everyone can buy organic or GMO-free. Instead of being stressed out and despairing, Allah makes life simpler for us, but this is not a ticket to just sit back and not put effort in choosing good food. We still have that responsibility.”

And H apparently drew this ‘weapon’ which I find worth including in this post, mashaAllah. On second thought, it’s more of a protective shield than a weapon.

On our time yesterday at the soup kitchen: N ws given the task of serving corn, but when serving time came, she was assigned to help the handicapped with their trays, and I was serving sandwiches. I noticed that she wasn’t doing her job as a couple of people on wheelchairs passed through me. She had this expression on her face that conveyed she didn’t like her assigned task, so I quickly switched with her.

I have to admit that I feel slight apprehension even with serving, because once, a man actually touched my niqab saying,

“So what’s this?”

and I was even then more apprehensive about helping them at the tables because of what they may say or do, but alhamdulillah, they were mostly just grateful. Even though I looked very different from what they’re used to seeing or even from the rest of the Muslim women who have served them at the soup kitchen, they didn’t say or do anything that violated my physical or emotional well-being. Alhamdulillah.

Later, N asked me, “So was it fun helping people with their trays?”

“Of course!”

It actually feels good. It’s more direct interaction with the people and I really felt the humanity from them too. There was a man who probably has Parkinson’s and he needed help with carrying his tray and getting his cup of water. Then there was a woman who was shaking so much, she dropped her watermelon and she even slightly stumbled upon sitting on her chair. We had actually seen her walking towards the soup kitchen. Nt even talked to her at length about the Hijab and niqab, so when she saw me, she said,

“Niqab, Hijab, I remember those words! I love those outfits!”

For now, the kids are in love with serving the food. They don’t really want tasks where they have to interact with the people as much. I was watching them yesterday and I asked that Allah correct and purify our intentions in doing this. For them, even if it’s just the fun of serving food for now, it’s good. I do hope that they also realize the deeper significance of this deed and may Allah bless it such that it makes them into giving, loving, and helpful people to any and everyone who needs it, Muslim or not. May Allah bless it, for if He doesn’t, no matter how much effort we put into it, it will all be for naught, if not in this world, then in the hereafter.

Right after we were done, hubs picked H and I up, while the girls waited for Jn to pick them up for the Animal Shelter’s open house event. We had told them to make sure they pray Zuhr, and find a place. When they got back home, I asked them if they prayed Zuhr. Alhamdulillah, they did. Again here, balance. Fulfilling Allah’s rights and the rights of His creations. You can do all the volunteering jobs you can do, but if you don’t worship Allah as He has ordained, you’re going off balance. And you can worship Allah all you want in terms of rituals, but if you don’t fulfill the rights of His creations, you’re going off balance. You’re being an extremist.

Praying in awkward circumstances is one of the challenges of living in a majority non Muslim country. Ever since they were young, we’ve struggled with this and we kept training them to excuse themselves or just take a few minutes from class, soccer practice, games etc, to pray when the time comes, whether it be in a secluded corner, on the soccer field, in a hallway, behind the staircase, etc. But they have to pray. This is one experience they have that Muslims living in Muslims countries are probably not familiar with as Musallah are easily found in Muslim majority countries. It makes it easier to just go to a masjid or musallah and do your prayer when the time for that prayer comes in, but here, you have to be creative while also keeping in mind the Islamophobia that is going on. They might think we are warming up for a ‘terrorist’ attack of some sort when they see us in bowing and prostrating positions in a weird place like a parking lot. You never know. People think all sorts of things, and so this is the challenge we have to face in practicing our religion where Islam is seen in a horribly bad light. But alhamdulillah, I hope the kids are pretty established in their prayers so far, that they know what to do even when we’re not with them. Prayer is non negotiable. They know that.

Rabbij ‘alnee muqeema salaati wa min zhurriyati Rabbana taqabbal du’aa. Ameen!

Oh my Rabb, make me of those who establishes prayer and from my progeny too, Oh our Rabb, You are the acceptor of supplications. Ameen!

Categories: Community, Family, Living Islam, Quran, Soup Kitchen, Tafseer, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Your God Is So Vengeful

We continued with our Tafseer of surah Al Ma’oon this morning. As usual, after the session, we had a discussion based on the notes they are able to get from it. Before I get on to that, I just want to say that mashaAllah, the effort put in by the brothers and sisters towards Linguistic Miracle is amazing. May Allah reward them abundantly in this life and in the hereafter! AMeen.

Everyday (well, almost everyday) we listen to Ustadh Nouman’s Tafseer podcast for about 30 min max, the kids take notes, I use the notes on Linguistic Miracle, and then I ask them to share their notes. As they share, I would ask them what it means, how that would apply to our daily life or with people we encounter, or just go off tangent and do a whole other discussion. It’s all impromptu. I wish I can document or record these discussions because some of them are really good mashaAllah.

So I thought I’d document today’s discussion.

We were discussing the word da’a in Fazhaalikalazhee yadu’ul yateem (ayat 2).

This is part of the notes in Linguistic Miracle:

Da/’a push someone far away, without expecting that they will push you back. Push someone afar.

to intimidate someone by ‘kicking them out’ of a gathering. I.e. “get out of here!” = da/’a.

Surah AL Ma’oon ayat 2

107:2
Sahih International

For that is the one who drives away the orphan

Then I asked for specific examples of how someone would behave like this towards an orphan. Think Oliver Twist.
H’s example: An orphan is eating a cantaloupe rind and the person takes it away from him, reprimanding the orphan for it. So this person even deprives this orphan of a fruit rind.
Or in the case of the Arabs at that time, treating the orphan like a slave.
I also asked H to recite that ayah that has da’a in it. For a while, he couldn’t recall it, but I know he had gone over it in hifdh. I remember it because Sh Waleed had explained it in one of the AlMaghrib classes, and I remember because he was explaining that the sound of the word even indicates a violent and forceful pushing, subhanallah.
H couldn’t recall it, so I just explained that ayah as, “The people will be pushed into the hellfire with a forceful pushing.”
And all of a sudden, H recalled it,
Yauma yuda’oona ilaa naari jahannama da’a.
On that day, they will be pushed towards the hellfire with a definite pushing.
He still doesn’t remember which surah it came from.
Then I asked them,
“Hmm…so what if someone tells you, ‘Your god is so angry, so vengeful, all He talks about is hellfire!’ what would you say?”
Their replies (I forgot who said what, so it’s easier to just put it in bullet points like this)
  • He talks about rewards too
  • He gives you warnings so you won’t go to hellfire
  • He doesn’t want you to go to hellfire so He warns you

“So how can you explain that He is actually Merciful through His warnings?”

I asked them to explain it. Then I asked for examples.

“You need to know this. You have to give your explanation and then give examples. Explanation and examples are two different things, okay?”

Their examples:

N: Your mother tells you not to touch the hot pots on the stove because she doesn’t want you to burn yourself.

H: a person is running towards a cliff, and someone trips him. He is blind. He trips but is saved from falling off the cliff.

His example didn’t really answer my question but it led to another discussion and another concept that I went ahead and discussed with them anyway.
“Your example is a very good one. It actually gives an example of another concept though. What is it?”
“Punishments.”
“Well, yes, but I’m looking for another answer.”
“Tests.”
“So why are we tested?”
“So we can grow stronger, to strengthen us.”
I wanted to explore this topic a bit further, so I said,
“Ok, you have two people. One person is doing good, and obeying Allah, then Allah tests him. For what?”
“To make him stronger and rise to a higher level/status.”
“Ok, this other person, he is not obeying Allah, then Allah tests him. For what?”
“So, he would do good and be saved.”
I then said,
“So sometimes, this test is like a wake up call. Sometimes it’s just a nudge, like when you get sick. At other times it may be a vigorous shaking, like maybe an accident. But through these tests, we are being called to Allah. Because He wants us to succeed. Allah wants us to go to Jannah. He doesn’t want us to go to hellfire, that’s why He warns us about it.”
I gave an example of my own,
“For example, let’s say H is going to participate in a marathon and I’m one of the organizers and I don’t really want him to win the race. So I will just let him practice without giving him tips and warnings. He does the race and realizes the difficulties at this corner or that corner for the first time and gets stuck or struggles and gets over it but he will be behind by that time and doesn’t reach the finish line in good time. If I want him to win, I’d give him warnings and tips, this corner is dangerous so take extra precaution, do some more extra stamina building training, slow down on that corner etc, and then he wins. I can’t actually just pick him up and put him at the finish line, I want him to win but I can’t do that. He has to do it himself. Same thing, Allah wants us to go to Jannah, but we have to put the effort ourselves, so He gives us tips and warnings. He’s actually rooting for us, cheering us on.”
Then I went to another issue,
“So, He gives us tips and warnings so we don’t end up doing them. We’re not supposed to even go near them. As a parent, I tell you not to do this, do your homework etc etc because I know my mistakes, others’ mistakes and I don’t want you to have to make those mistakes and then struggle through them yourself and then figure it out. I want you to be better than me than other people who have made mistakes. So Allah gives us tips and warnings too so we don’t fall. It’s actually out of wanting so much good for you. It may seem hard to you now, but it’s actually for your own good.”
It’s hard for me to blog about this because in the time between after our discussion and the time I begin to write this post, I had forgotten the minutes of our discussion. So this is like some of it or the gist of it. I wish we had recorded it. Maybe I will do that next time. It would be nice for the kids to be able to listen to it again in years to come.
I think these discussions actually help train critical thinking, as how it’s also done in learning literature. But with these topics, it’s even more, because they relate to us as Muslims living in the west where we are always bombarded with these types of questions. Listening to Ustadh Nouman is a good way to also train our critical thinking as he does a lot of it and shares it with his listeners, mashaAllah. I also want the kids to really have a good grasp on the Quran, because that really is our book of guidance. Without it, we’re like floating dust particles in the air, blowing wherever the air carries us to. Helpless.
Sometimes I feel like our Tafseer sessions are boring for them, but I do hope that at least, if not all of it, they would at least take some things out of it to benefit them long term. It’s easy for me to think that ahh, maybe I should just stop this since they look so bored anyway, but with Allah’s taufeeq, they can benefit from it. I just have to remember to say my Rabbish Rahli dua before I start our discussion. I really need to treat it like a proper halaqa. Sometimes, it happens ‘on the run’ because I want to get the tafseer session in for the day, and sometimes our schedule is chaotic.
Like today, I had hifdh right after Fajr, so we didn’t have our tafseer at our usual post Fajr-before-we-get-up-from-our-sitting-position time. I had gone downstairs and then I called them to do tafseer. The ideal time would be right after fajr. They would bring the Mac upstairs and we would do it where we were sitting. But some days, I have group meetings/hifdh on Skype right after fajr, like today, so then we have to kind of adjust. May Allah keep us steadfast and istiqamah on this and other good things we do. Ameen.
Categories: Living Islam, Quran, Tafseer, Thoughts | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Understanding the Quran

I asked S how she likes Taleem Quran course so far and she said,

“It’s fine.”

These older kids always give me these dull toned-down, unenthusiastic answers, so I asked her,

“Are you liking it more and more or how, how do you feel about it, or the Quran?”

“When I listen to the Quran now, I understand it.”

“Yeah, there is something about the way they teach,” I agreed.

“Yeah, and you’ve taught me all that before, but…”

“How offensive,”I replied jokingly.

But it’s true. These kids need to hear what I’ve been telling them from someone else. They’re just reached that age where what their parents know don’t faze them anymore. We’re not considered the only authority in matters now. They realize that we’re infallible and that we don’t really know everything. Not that we give them that impression, for I’ve always told the kids to ask us the source of something if we say anything.

But, even so, it makes me feel quite …ancient. Not necessarily a bad thing however. I’m very ready to hand them over to some other authorities, especially in furthering their Quranic and Islamic studies because I’ve reached my capacity. I myself am still learning and will always be learning hopefully inshaAllah till the day I die. We are now peer-learners. I’m finishing up my TQEE inshaAllah next Feb, and S just started her journey.

Since H is having trouble with his Juz 28 review and also Hadeed, I told him to listen in to my class this week because we will be covering Surah Al Hadeed. I notice that his mistakes in revision is because he hadn’t memorized the pages and is just relying on the sound. It’s about time he listens to tafseer. But at the same time, he would still be working on his hifdh, but he just needs to increase his understanding of what is being recited. The latter is more complex than the former. Memorizing the Quran is (I can’t believe I’m saying this) easy. Allah has said that it has been made easy and now, after trying it myself, I can see why it’s easy, subhanallah. It’s retaining it and understanding it that is quite challenging. But alhamdulillah, at least H is interested in learning and understanding it and he seems to have quite a fair grasp of Arabic too. I review with him everyday after Zuhr, and because of that I think I’ve been abandoning N. At least with Z, I’ve switched from having him read a page of his IQRA to half a page and then to one line before letting him watch a video of his own choosing. When I cut down the amount to one line, he actually comes to me with his IQRA and reads the line willingly. I just have to keep it consistent. That’s the real challenge.

They’ve stopped listening to Arabic with Husna because they’ve finished listening to all the videos. So now it’s hubs’ task to continue working with them in Arabic as that is right now, still my weak area. Hubs is the one who masters it more. Right now, N is not that interested in Arabic. S, I think , as she progresses more in her Taleem Quran, may find Arabic as rich and interesting as I do. H, I think can at least appreciate how rich the language is and through Arabic sessions with several brothers at the masjid, knows it somewhat. N is still in her own world. I hope she ventures out soon, because even though I feel it’s a wonderful safe world for her, I have trouble dealing with it. I ask that Allah gives her maturity, comprehension and wisdom, and me, patience. Ameen.

Alhamdulillah for the many and increasing resources towards understanding the Quran for non Arabic speakers. Alhamdulillah. It seriously, I feel, makes the world a better place for all, for when you truly understand what the Quran teaches, it beautifies your character with knowledge and wisdom.

 

 

Categories: Al Huda Institute, Juggling Multiple Kids, Living Islam, Memorizing, Quran, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Z Books: Yunus a.s. and the Whale by Noura Durkee

Today, I picked this book, Yunus a.s. and the Whale by Noura Durkee, from our shelf to read to Z. We’ve had this book for a long time, as I had originally bought this and others written by the same author when the 3 older kids were younger. Usually, I’m not too fond of Islamic books on prophets because I feel that the language is too high level to engage the younger children. But these books written by Noura Durkee, I love! I’m glad I rediscovered these on our shelf.

I looked for Youtube videos on Sperm whales for Z, and he picked this one to put on the blog. He now watches the videos from my blog posts.

This one is a good one since it compares and contrasts the size of a sperm whale to a human. I was able to show and remind Z of how Yunus a.s. was swallowed by the whale, and how dark it was inside and how small Yunus a.s. was compared to the whale. I think that aspect of the story probably held his attention. I was actually surprised that he was able to pay attention throughout the reading.

We haven’t been doing much hands-on activities, but I think Z’s learning style is not necessarily hands-on, though that would certainly make it more wholesome. So far, he seems to think and ponder a lot, which is a good thing. He seems to be digesting the information given for a long time. My break will end next week, so I wonder if I’ll be able to do this and more with him once my classes starts.  At the very least, I hope to keep up the daily reading with him, and of course his IQRA (which is a struggle).

I realize and observed that teaching the kids how to read Quranic Arabic is and will be a struggle but it’s something that you have to do. Once they get past that and start to be able to read the Quran, then you enter the next phase. I’m still at that phase with N. I’m still working on her fluency. Her enunciation is very good, but her fluency needs more work. Once they get more fluent, then you can focus more on understanding. Though we also still do tafseer on the shorter surahs, thanks to Nouman Khan’s Tafseer Podcast, and hold discussions based on that.

This morning after Fajr, we started tafseer on Surah Al Kauthar. One of the lessons shared was that the more Allah gives you, the more you have to give/share with others. So we discussed what things are given to us by Allah, both tangible and intangible, and how we can share them with others. Some snippets of the discussion:

Blessing of money and material wealth:

  • give in charity
  • give to the poor
  • donate

Blessing of talent and skills:

  • teach the skill and talent to others
  • use it to benefit others in  many different ways

Blessing of health:

  • help others while you’re healthy, especially when others are sick and need help
  • do a lot of good while you are healthy

Blessing of happiness and love:

  • give gifts to make someone happy
  • something as simple as a smile can lift a person’s depressed mood
  • volunteer to entertain sick kids at the hospital
  • volunteer at the soup kitchen
  • visit the old at the hospice (we talked about how grown adult children leave their old parents and these parents are mostly lonely and maybe feel abandoned, and so would cherish talking to a child or anyone)
  • spend time and talk to someone

 

Categories: Animals, Books, Quran, Reading, Tafseer, Z's learning | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meaning of Samad

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