When I first graduated from university and moved back home to begin my new job, I did not know how to start a new life after having lived in another city for four years. I had been Muslim all my life, but it was during my university days that I first rediscovered Islam and re-entered this beautiful faith. I had become part of a loving and nurturing community, who formed a small minority in a largely Western and non-Muslim society; and yet they were united and driven in ways beyond what I could describe. It was also then that I first fell in love with the Qur’an. I remember it clearly: it was the Ramadan of my final year at university. The winter nights had made it possible for long prayers and many hours of worship, but I found the opportunity to attend the taraweeh prayers every night, and thereby listen to the recitation of the Qur’an from cover to cover. During that time, I found some of my favorite surahs (chapters of the Qur’an) and began memorizing them even after Ramadan.
I decided to formally memorize the Qur’an when I moved back home as a personal endeavor to continue the journey that I had started at a time and place much beloved to me. Initially, I had many fears and apprehension, as with any other decision that I make: “How am I going to have the time to memorize the Qur’an while working full-time?” “But I do not even know Arabic!” “Would the school accept me even if my tajweed1 is not up to standard?” “If I tried to learn Allah’s subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) words and did not do it well, surely I would be in sin!”. AlhamdulilLah (praise be to God), I managed to overcome all my self-doubts and the ”what if’s”, and got accepted into a part-time school for hifdh (memorizing the Qur’an), and since then, my life has never been the same.
The start of my relationship with the Qur’an was the start of a relationship with a special friend that protected me throughout what I thought would be a difficult transition in life. True, it was hard to find time to memorize the Qur’an while working 8-5 every day during the week and juggling other commitments. Yet, I always did. During the morning rush hour on my way to work, I would always have my 30 minutes of undisturbed, quiet time where I would do the bulk of my Qur’an memorization for the day. Throughout the day, I would find opportunity in any space of time where I could review what I have memorized – in between seeing patients, during lunch breaks, before salah (prayer), on the way home, and so on. I looked forward to my hifdh class during the weekends, where I would recite the portion that I memorized to my teacher. It was the highlight of my week – sitting among different people, young and old, all on their individual journeys of learning the book of Allah (swt) and listening to the chorus and rhythm of the Qur’an resonate in the room.
Suddenly, my life was filled with the magic of the Qur’an in ways I had never imagined. I began to find the Qur’an in everything I see and hear and in every corner I turned. In the seemingly mundane routine of my day-to-day work, I saw the Qur’an in the diversity of cultures, languages and backgrounds of people that I meet, and that despite the stark differences, we were still able to help one another under the common bond of humanity. I heard the Qur’an at the bedsides of the ill, echoing sweetly in the cold hospital room. I found the Qur’an in the loving words of my elderly patients to me, relating their sadness over the loss of their loved ones and reminding me of our eventual return to God. I was constantly reminded of the cycle of life and death, attainment and loss, sickness and health, and ups and downs, as told in the Qur’an – only as a means to test our faith and to purify our hearts. On the toughest days, I found peace and comfort in the Qur’an, and reveled in the quiet moments where I could read a verse amidst the chaos of work. The world around me never looked the same again. I opened my eyes to the flowers on the sidewalk and the pairs of birds sitting on trees. I noticed the pattern of the clouds in the sky as I walked into work every morning. I found infinite beauty in the signs of Allah (swt), for “Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.” (Qur’an, 3:190)
It was at the difficult juncture of change, and the uncertainty of what lay ahead of me, that I found a special friend like no other. My teacher once said, “Memorize the Qur’an, and it will protect you in your old age.” For me, the protection came instantaneously and continuously. It was in the Qur’an that I found protection from what had always burdened me, like anxiety, worry, and fear. It was my daily relationship with the Qur’an that gave me the strength to wake up each day and strive to be the best person in all that I do. It was the Qur’an that gave me a larger perspective of life and a deeper understanding of the things and people around me. It was the Qur’an that helped me see the light behind every failure and downfall. It was the Qur’an that made me appreciate every little blessing that Allah (swt) has given me, even the smallest things that I usually take for granted.
In a famous Hadith Qudsi, Allah (swt) says, “When My servant draws close to Me by the span of a palm, I draw close to him by the cubit and when he draws close to Me by the cubit, I draw close to him by the space (covered) by two armspans, and when he comes to me walking, I go in a hurry towards him.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) Today, I am still on my journey of memorizing the Noble Qur’an, and am still memorizing from the copy of Qur’an that my parents gave me when I first left for my studies abroad. Indeed, Allah (swt) had answered my du`a’ (supplication) with the gift of Qur’an – making it infinitely easy for me, and opening the doors to all the treasure that it contains, all because I had one small intention of learning His Book. May Allah (swt) answer all our du`a’s with the gift of Qur’an, and make the Qur’an easy for us to learn and live upon. May He comfort us with the Qur’an like He comforted His Messenger ﷺ during the hardest days of his life, answering the du`a’ of the Prophet ﷺ who asked Allah (swt) to “make the Qur’an the spring of my heart, and the light of my chest, the banisher of my sadness and the reliever of my distress.” (Ahmad) May He grant us that very same honor, and let the Qur’an be our lifelong friend in this world, and an intercessor in the next. Ameen.
- recitation of the Qur’an according to prescribed rules of pronunciation and intonation [↩]