“Come in”, Shaykh Haroon Baqai said.
I walked in slowly, shaking from head to toe. I had only applied for the Hifzh School a few days ago, and now I found myself entering his office for a scheduled interview. Alhamdulillah, it went smooth and after answering a few questions and memorizing an Ayah from Surah Saad and reciting it to him, the interview came to a close and I quickly sprinted out of the office in relief.
By the grace of Allah, I was accepted.
For the next few years, I went through an indescribable experience with a close knit of friends. It was truly a time that clearly solidified my identity and clarified for me my purpose in life. In light of these experiences, I have observed that there are certain qualities that are essential in one’s quest to memorize the Book of Allah:
H- Has a good intention at all times.
“Actions are (judged) by intentions, so each man will have what he intended.” (Bukhari and Muslim).
Jannah is promised for the one who memorizes and acts upon the Qur’an. Crowns and coats of light are promised for the parents of those that memorized the Qur’an. In order to attain these high honors, one must make sure that their sole intention is to please Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and that their primary aim becomes Jannah. A lot of attractions and temptations will come in the way, but it’s important to sidestep them for Jannah, the highest attraction of all.
A – Always remembers Allah
“The people of the Qur’an are the people of Allah and His special servants.” (An-Nisa’i, Ibn Majah, and Al-Hakim with a Hasan chain)
Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) holds the people of the Qur’an in special regard and they become equated, perhaps synonymous, with the people of Allah, as shown in the aforementioned Hadith. One of the many names of the Qur’an is 'Dhikr', a remembrance and reminder, and therefore, it’s essential that we remember Allah through our recitation and memorization of this Divine Book.
When I was getting close to finishing my Hifdh (memorization), I tripled my efforts and kept on reading and memorizing throughout the day and night, taking breaks only for eating and sleeping. SubhanAllah, I sincerely felt at that moment that the Qur’an was speaking directly to me; it was as if the events in the Qur’an were taking place right in front of me, and I found myself dually anticipating and trembling when Jannah and Jahannam were mentioned. It was a state of mind that heavily drained me physically, but it was one of the best times of my life as I felt very connected with the book of Allah.
F – Finds himself in the company of good Friends and with the support of his Family.
“A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” (reported by Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee).
The first time that I seriously thought of dedicating myself to memorizing the entire Qur’an was actually during an Arabic class. I had a friend in that class with whom I had some serious rivalry; we used to compete in essay competitions, debate tournaments, science fairs, and various other activities and Alhamdulillah, one year he would win first and the other year I would win first, and this continued for several years. So when he slipped in to the teacher, “You know, I think I might join the Hifzh School this summer”, I immediately exclaimed, “Yeah, I’m actually gonna do the same too Insha’Allah!” without a second’s thought. Only later did I fully realize that I had committed myself to a long journey in a split second, and that was due to a close friend. Alhamdulillah, to this day, we lead Taraweeh together in Masaajid during Ramadan, teach alongside at a weekend Qur’an school, and play on the same soccer team. It takes good friends to inspire you and push you to accomplish greater levels of achievement than you ever thought possible.
In addition to good friends, it’s very necessary to garner the support of your family. After I had suddenly committed myself to memorize the Qur’an, I sought to get the support of my family.
“Ammi, can I join Hifzh School?”, I eagerly asked.
“No. It’ll be too much work for you”.
Hmph. For me, I had to memorize the Qur’an because my friend was doing it (talk about positive peer pressure!) and because I had grown up hearing the various rewards of a Hafidh. My mother also wanted me to memorize the Qur’an but she also knew the amount of struggles that we’d have to go through, and she wanted to make sure I was firm in my decision.
“Please? Please? Pleeeeease?”, I begged her.
I guess that was enough for her.
“Fine. But I’m warning you; there’s a lot of work involved.”
Try explaining that to a 12-year-old. I just excitedly nodded and dashed out, whooping loudly.
My mom turned out to be correct; it was a lot of work, but she was there for me every step of the way. Once she was on board with the idea, she was the one that used to test me on my homework, the one that had to politely decline dinner party invitations on my family’s behalf whenever I’d have a lot of homework or upcoming exams, and the one that was always there whenever I needed her. My father did no less; he used to have to drive 15 miles each way to work, but that doubled as we moved to a house near the Masjid. It used to be only about 20 minutes to drive to work, but it was now taking him almost 2-3 hours each way, but he never complained and made these sacrifice for the sake of Allah (May Allah reward them both with Jannatul Firdaus. Ameen). Get your family to support you, and the path towards memorizing the Qur’an will become much smoother.
I – Is Involved in the community.
“Be pious scholars of the Lord because of what you have taught of the Scripture and because of what you have studied." (Surah Aali Imran, Ayah 79)
It takes a village to raise a child. Because of this, and because we have an obligation to help those that have raised us, it is important for all of us to give back to our communities. When you start reciting and memorizing the Qur’an, you will realize that your mission is to be a Khaleefah, one who concerns himself with providing help and support to all those around him, on this Earth. What better way to help others than to share the beauty of the Qur’an? The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam) said, ““The best of you are the ones who learn the Qur’an and teach it to others” (Al-Bukhari). If we hope to attain the highest ranks of Paradise and to be among the best, it’s important that we follow the necessary steps in order to achieve that high honor.
D - Distinguishes himself with exemplary Discipline.
“O you who believe! Obey God and obey the Messenger, and those entrusted with authority over you” (Surah Nisa, Ayah 59).
This must be the biggest excuse that I always hear when one shies away from devoting themselves to memorizing the Qur’an: “I don’t think I have the proper discipline. I don’t know how I’m going to memorize and also homeschool. I don’t have any support so it’s basically impossible.” The answer to this, and a huge chunk of our problems for that matter, is that we simply have to work on our discipline. Why do you think we go through more than 16 years of school? It’s because we don’t have the discipline to learn ourselves and we need all these years to merely gain an introduction, otherwise known as a Bachelor’s, in that respective field of study.
When I was first taking my college entrance exam, I was surprised that the exam, as well as the SAT, only comprises of three sections: Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing. I felt very sad as I realized that all those people that went to 12+ years of elementary, middle, and high school, spent all that time for just these three concepts. Sure, they may have taken high school classes in biology, physics, social sciences, humanities, calculus, and much more, but they were going to have to retake that material all over again for the next couple of years. If somebody went to school for that many years just to learn mathematics, reading, and writing, then the sad truth is, all of those years were wasted. One can easily accomplish much more, and all of this is possible with discipline. The difference between an A student and a F student, even in the secular academic field, is discipline; teachers recommend 3-4 hours of study for every hour that one is in school, and it is mainly those that are disciplined and abide by these guidelines that turn out to fare well in the class.
A great example of someone who had exemplary discipline while memorizing the Qur’an is none other than AbdulBasit Khan, a fellow MYM writer. We were classmates in Al-Huda School for a year and two years later, he started memorizing the Qur’an from home, while I began in the local Hifzh School. It was hard enough for us that were memorizing in a school setting, but Masha’Allah, he was able to memorize the whole Qur’an from home. He used to memorize at least two pages per day (his small ‘break’ on weekends consisted of memorizing one page), and on Sundays mornings, he used to recite what he memorized for the week to Br. Karim, a teacher of ours and a local Imam at that time. Alhamdulillah, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) blessed him with a lot of Ajr, and after memorizing the Qur’an and immersing himself with studying knowledge with a high level of discipline and dedication, he became the youngest Imam in the DC Metro Area, leading the congregation of PGMA at the age of 17 Masha’Allah. The giants of our Ummah also accomplished great feats in their early years, many memorizing the Qur’an and several thousand Ahadith before even becoming an adult, because they were focused and had great discipline on their part.
I firmly believe that every single Muslim has the potential to memorize the Qur’an. However, it is only those with discipline that will actually memorize the Qur’an.
H – Holds the Qur’an to be a part of their life.
“It will be said to the companion of the Qur’aan: Recite and rise in status, recite as you used to recite in the world, for your status will be at the last verse that you recite.” (Classified as Saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 5/218, no. 2240)
Aisha (radhiAllahu anha) reported that the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam)’s character was that of the Qur’an; he fully lived out the commandments and teachings of the Qur’an. It is our role to follow in his footsteps and to also try making our characters that of the Qur’an. I once received one of those chain emails, and the title was like, “What were to happen if you treated the Qur’an like your cell phone?” and then went to describe how we’d always carry it with us and check it everyday. The fact that this was taken off of a Christian Bible site is besides the point; it should make all of us think on what is our relationship with the Qur’an. Rasulullah (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam) said,
““The Qur’an is an intercessor, something given permission to intercede, and it is rightfully believed in. Whoever puts it in front of him, it will lead him to Paradise; whoever puts it behind him, it will steer him to the Hellfire.” [An authentic hadith found in At-Tabaraanee, on the authority of ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood]“
Out of the six billion people in the world, only one and a half billion people were chosen to be Muslim. Out of that billion and a half, there are only millions that know how to fluently read the Qur’an. Out of those millions, there are only a select few that were destined to become Huffadh, to become protectors of the Qur’an. Will you make it your mission to be among the best?
I pray that Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) accepts our good deeds, makes us among the Huffadh, and destines our final dwelling to be in the company of the Prophets in Jannatul Firdaus. Ameen…