The beginning and The end
The first time I learned tajweed* was when I was about 9 or 10 years old. My parents employed a teacher to teach my brother and I how to read the Quran and the basic tenets of tajweed. I was young, I just went with the flow, I never questioned why I had to learn tajweed or read the Quran. I only knew it was wajib (fardh) upon every Muslim to recite the Quran with proper tajweed.
Suffice to say, I never did give my full attention to the teacher when he taught the tajweed rules. I nodded along, occasionally asked him to repeat the rules just for the sake of asking.
My teacher (may Allah reward him) did he very best but I never quite grasp the concept of tajweed and the importance of it. My recitation was passable, it wasn’t great but I could read the Quran and occasionally hit the right tajweed. As far as I was concerned, I fulfilled the basic requirements of a Malay-Muslim, which was to be able to read the Quran despite not knowing a word of Arabic.
And since I had completed my recitation of the full Quran and completed my lessons with the teacher, by the age of 13 or 14, I decided that was the extent of my relationship with the Quran.
Rekindling The Relationship
In September 2006, in my final year of degree in Australia, I made the decision to practise Islam again. I decided I wanted to start praying again and dress modestly by donning on the hijab. It was undeniably the toughest and most conflicting decision I had to make at that time, but I was adamant. I never left Islam, but I just stopped practicing. And most of my friends at Uni didn’t know I was a Muslim, they never asked so I never told them. Imagined their shock when I walked into class fully covered (long sleeves, long pants, as oppose to my strapless dresses) and with a hijab.
I remembered one of my lecturers did a double step. He walked in, paused then back track, looked at the door and walked back in with a puzzle look on his face.
That moment in time when I decided to be a practising Muslim again, was the rekindling point of my relationship with the Quran. This time I decided to learn the meaning of the Quran. For several years, I attended lectures after lectures, classes after classes just learning about the tafseer, the asbabunuzul* , the stories told in the Quran and the lessons behind it.
Again, I never placed priority to learn the tajweed then. I just never thought it was that important. So while my recitation was mediocre,I had some added value with the knowledge on some of the Surahs in the Quran.
A void to be filled
However despite having that knowledge of the Quran, I didn’t feel my relationship with the Quran was quite complete. While knowing the asbabunuzul moved me, it didn’t ‘soften’ my heart. And I was still in a haze as to what was missing, what did I not do right?
I could recite the Quran, I studied the tafseer, what else is there to do? I think I was too proud to acknowledge that learning the tajweed is actually equally important as learning the tafseer.
In 2016, I enrolled myself in Nouman Ali Khan’s Arabic courses called Access. It was a 3 month course on learning Quranic Arabic. I had an amazing teacher, Sister Fuseina, who made it fun and interesting to learn. She had a way with her which made learning Quranic Arabic enjoyable and pleasing.
It was through her explanation I finally, finally understood why it was important to have knowledge on the tajweed, why the Quran has to be read in a certain way, why precision and good articulation mattered. She made it clear as to how Arabic rules were interconnected with tajweed rules and why it was essential to study tajweed too. After that course, I made a promise to myself to seek out a tajweed class.
My prayers weren’t answered until 2017. A friend of mine asked if I was still interested to learn tajweed and it was an absolute yes! Of course I was! And so with the grace of Allah, I began my journey towards improving my tajweed.
Can I put it down here how Allah had answered my duaa beautifully?
The classes were conducted free of charge.
The Quran center was run by a pious family who had dedicated their time, energy and money in organising the classes. They were masyaAllah, people chosen by Allah. Truly. I had never met a family so generous and giving like them for the cause of Allah.
I had an amazing teacher who planted the seed of love for the Quran in my heart and had since then facilitated and encouraged to keep learning the Quran.
I had supportive classmates who were both encouraging and entertaining. I couldn’t ask for a better support system.
My teacher, Ms Fatma
Since day 1, my teacher, Ms Fatma reminded us that Allah has chosen all of us to have this special relationship with the Quran. He has carefully handpicked us and place us together to study the Quran. I felt special then, and I still do now. I was quite in-love with the notion that Allah handpicked me, me! A nobody, to be part of this Quran squad.
Ms Fatma has a way about her which made me, to be honest, enthralled by her very presence. It was very evident from the way she spoke about the Quran, from the way she share her experiences with the Quran, that she has a very special relationship with the Quran. And I could feel it. Since 2006, I have had a number of Quran teachers but all of them paled in comparison to the love Ms Fatma has shown to me when it comes to the Quran.
It was through her the miracle of the Quran presented itself. I could finally feel the void gradually filled up. Her words of encouragement would always be at the back of my head.
The Littlest Things
One of the earliest things Ms Fatma said was that to observe the positive changes in our lives once we started a relationship with the Quran. It doesn’t have to be huge changes but keep a lookout for it, no matter how small it may be because that is the miracle of the Quran. And I did start noticing these changes. Well, I wasn’t the first, my husband did.
One night he commented how much nicer I was to him and to the children these past few months. side-eye emoji -.-
I’ve also noticed how attentive I became whenever Quran is recited. I would mentally go through the tajweed rules upon hearing the recitation and truth be told, it made the recitation more endearing and closer to my heart. I truly appreciate the Qari’s effort in beautifying the Quran for the listeners.
An ongoing journey
This is my second year in tajweed and now I am learning the makhraj** rules. I have to say this is one of the toughest challenges I have to face since I began my tajweed classes because I have a number of problems when pronouncing certain huruf. And this is how I look like every single week.
Also in addition to that are the letters:
ح، ع، ص، ض، ش، ر،ط ،ظ
I would listen to youtube videos on the specific huruf, practise until my tongue had ulcers and come to class with confidence that I got this huruf down.
Only to be told by my teacher it’s not what it seems to be. Ugh. But I never gave up. I kept trying week in, week out.
I never thought I would put this in my duaa but having the perfect and precise makhraj has now moved up the ranks is in the top position of my duas.
Again, what made the classes enjoyable was the teacher. This year my teacher was Ms Malak. Her superpower is that she can tell how incorrect my tongue position would be whenever pronouncing the huruf.
It often baffles because even I wouldn’t know it was at the wrong place until she pointed it out. MasyaAllah. A gift!
Recite, reflect, remember
Aside from the formal tajweed lessons, both of my teachers encouraged my classmates and I to start memorising the Quran. It doesn’t matter at which Juz or Surah, but what mattered was start somewhere.
My Quran memorisation started years ago but I abandoned it because I just didn’t feel the importance of memorising it. My reason for continuing wasn’t strong enough and so I stopped. My heart wasn’t into it and I feel for something as important as the Quran, the ikhlas (sincerity has to be there).
After learning Quranic Arabic and tajweed, I decided to give memorisation another go, in hopes that I will be able to stick to it and this time align my intentions so that it will be keep me going on the days I feel like giving up.
Subhanallah, the combination of knowing the Asbab al nuzul, understanding Quranic Arabic and tajweed made memorising the Quran more alluring and enjoyable. I had never felt this way before. Truly this is the miracle of the Quran. Remember when I mentioned that my heart didn’t feel soften when learning the Quran?
Well, now it did. It blooms and it filled with so much joy. It is something that I wish I could share with you how I felt whenever I open my mushaf and gaze upon the surah that is waiting for me to recite them. Such an extraordinary experience. It feels like I was enveloped with Allah’s love, all warm and fuzzy inside.
Remembering the Quran is a struggle for me, I must admit. But it is a beautiful one. One which I do not mind at all. I’d remember and then I’d forget, and I’d try again and I’d forget. While sometimes it leaves me frustrated but I hold on to the promises of Allah that everything I do for His sake, I will be rewarded with His Paradise.
Start now, start soon.
I hope my story has inspired you to establish a relationship with the Quran.
Make the intention to want to be the people of the Quran and make duaa that Allah will open doors and facilitate opportunities for you to be part of the Quran squad, His elite squad. Keep asking, keep searching, keep seeking. InsyaAllah the opportunity will arrive and present itself to you in the most beautiful of ways.
My journey of returning to God has been one filled with trials, tests and challenges. But along the way, I have met a number of beautiful souls (Dr Intan, Fizzah, Iche, Xiet to name a few) who have changed my life forever, who have so much love for Allah, Quran and this Deen, that it shadowed all the challenges I had faced previously.
I would like to end this entry with a duaa that is close to my heart:
May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon you and upon your journey in becoming a better servant to Him.
Ness + The Osem Ommey
(Asbāb al-nuzūl, meaning occasions or circumstances of revelation, refers to the historical context in which Muslims believe Quranic verses were revealed
Tajweed is a set of rules for the correct pronunciation of the letters with all its qualities and applying the various of recitation
Makhraj (Points of Articulation of Letters): The place from which the sound of a letter originates.