Overcoming Hardships Qur'an Youth


The Qur’an Series: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX

I was walking amidst worshippers on the third floor of Masjid al Haram. Deep in thought, I was suddenly interrupted by hearing someone’s incredible recitation of the irresistible Qur’an.

I stood still, my heart captivated by the recitation. As I slowly sat in my spot, other worshippers came and began to sit near me, whisking out phones to capture the voice. It sounded like this:

As he finished, the man next to him began to explain that this reciter was Shaykh al-Shirbini, an Imam of a masjid in Cairo. Those around him begged him to continue reciting and he politely refused. The crowd got larger, persisting in their demands until he finally continued reciting and then engaged in conversation with the crowd.

His recitation reminded me of the world renowned Abdul Baset Abdul Samad, the Qari (Qur’an reciter) who almost every Qur’an teacher suggests any new student of tajweed (rules of recitation of Qur’an) to follow in order to perfect their recitation. For so long I had wanted to know how to get the same pitch as the great Qari, having heard more than once that it’s attainable even for those who are not born with it. I couldn’t hold my question in any longer.

He told me: Listen to Shaykh Abdul Baset over and over, focusing on smaller surahs (chapters of the Qur’an)to get the tone and inclination. And over time, the more that I listen, the easier his pitch will come.“Excuse me,” I spoke through the crowd, “I have a question!” The Shaykh and the man sitting next to him looked to me with kindness and welcomed my inquiry. “If someone wants to recite like you—with that same tone inclination—how can they do it?” The Shaykh smiled and responded with one word: “Practice.”

I haven’t attained that pitch yet, although I’m sure many readers have. (If you worked on attaining it, please write an article sharing with us tips on how to do so!) Thus, this reminder isn’t about getting down that type of tone inclination. This reminder is about his one-worded reply: Practice.

When I first started memorizing the Qur’an, my voice, my tone, my melody was horrendous. I hated hearing myself. My teacher would recite with a melodious voice and the words of the Qur’an would just enter my heart. And then I would recite and sound like nails on a chalkboard.

One day, I asked her how I could get to her level. How could I recite and actually enjoy what I heard? How could I not sound so…horrible?

She smiled and replied, “You’re just starting. I’ve been doing this for years. As you increase in your memorization, you’ll get your own flow and your voice will begin to fill. Don’t worry, it’ll just take time and practice.”


And that’s exactly what happened. It took time and practice. And that’s the key; you and I may not sound like a famous Qari, especially when we first begin. However, with time and Allah’s help, we’ll start to carve our own groove with our Qur’an.

Many are those who have lamented to me of their inability to recite beautifully, to memorize quickly or to remember what they’ve memorized. Those who’ve almost given up countless times have told me, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me!” The real question, however, has little to do with what may be wrong and everything to do with how hard or consistently one is putting in the effort.

Shaykh al-Shirbini and all of my Qur’an teachers gave me the same advice. Whether it’s the way one recites, the speed with which one memorizes or the strength of the actual memorization and review, all of these rest on one thing after the help of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), and that is: Practice.

We all have the ability to attain levels we see in others and wish for ourselves. The real question is not why we cannot get there. The question is: Are we willing to put in the effort and dedicate the time to become like those we wish to be?

For tips on how to memorize the Qur’an read: Part I

For tips on understanding the Qur’an for non-Arabic speakers read: Part III

For tips on how to review what one has memorized of the Qur’an read: Part IV

About the author

Maryam Amirebrahimi

Maryam Amirebrahimi

Maryam Amirebrahimi received her master’s in Education from UCLA, where her research focused on the effects of mentorship rooted in Critical Race Theory for urban high school students of color. She holds a bachelor’s in Child and Adolescent Development from San Jose State University, where she served as the President of the Muslim Student Association for two consecutive years. Currently, she is pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in Islamic Studies through Al Azhar University’s distance learning program. Maryam spent a year studying the Arabic language and Qur’an in Cairo, Egypt, and has memorized the Qur’an. She has been presented the Student of the Year award by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and holds a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Maryam frequently travels to work with different communities to address a variety of social issues and writes about topics related to social realities, women’s studies and spiritual connections on www.virtualmosque.com.


  • Jazakumullahu khayran sister! I love Qari AbdulBasit Abdussamad and spent all of Ramadan trying to imitate him. You not only reminded me of this, but of going back and reading the Quran everyday as I did then.

    • ALHAMDULILAH! Beautiful commitment. May we all go back to the Qur’an daily and live it and long for it. ameen

  • This article is indeed lessonful. I have always admired the recitation of Mishary Al-Fasy. It isn’t like I want to recite like him though. My recitation isn’t that bad but alhamdu lil Laah, gotten someone who is helping me at reciting well and also memorizing. I recently just finished memorizing Surah Ya Sin and I’ve moved to Surah Ah-Kahf. I really believe all that is about practise as the writer says because when I was younger, my mum enrolled me in an Arabic school that only concentrated on Qur’an memorization and I was one of their best because I could recite nicely and I was fast at memorizing. Today, I hardly remember all of that because of lack of practice over time. I hope to regain it all though and use that advice ‘PRACTICE.’ Jazaakumul Laahu khairan for sharing.

    • jazaki Allah khayran for sharing a real-life example as a follow up to the article. may Allah give you success!

  • Maryam, it’s wonderful to learn from one of my students. Proud of you! May Allah increase you in knowledge and sincerity.

    • Khala Nihad, your words are too kind and mean so much. how could someone like you learn something from someone like me? I often remember your lessons of ilm and character ya Ustadah alfadeelah!

  • Jazaki Allahu Khayran for this article!

    I actually gave up recitation for awhile and just listened to recitations because my recitation was so bad. But I guess that was a trick from Shaitan because my recitation only got worse!! Now I am back with the struggle…Please make Dua for me that Allah gives me tawfiq and success!

    • may Allah give you tawfiq! Yes, go back to it! Keep listening, practicing, and find a teacher to help you. Follow the steps in the other articles if they may inshaAllah help you reach your goals.

  • I think having a teacher is necessary. Beauty in the recitation comes from the proper implementation of the tajweed and pronunciation rules. Plenty of practice is required. Many reciters try to imitate likes of Sheikh Abdul Basit but end up making mistakes that the Sheikh himself did not make. Also, reciting with sincerity and “khushu3” is necessary or else one can fall in committing riyaa’, which at the time of the prophet (s) was considered as a minor shirk.

    The point: Finding a proper Sheikh to help develop ones recitation is necessary. (if not in person, online over skype or Paltalk) Understanding and pondering the verses recited is also necessary for “Khushu3”. The beauty in the recitation will come with effort and purity in intention.

    • jazak Allahu khayran! Many of these points are mentioned in the other articles which cover steps on approaching the Qur’an for hifdh and review. This article was meant to serve as a supplemental reminder. barak Allahu fik for your suggestions!

      • Jazakallah for sharing with us your valuable advice with regards to Qur’an Sr. Maryam. May Allah grant you the highest place in jannah.

        I was very vague in my original point trying to be sensitive to a beginner’s audience.

        In regards to just Maqaridge and implementation of tajweed correctly, my sheikh would say, “If you even listen to a reciter, listen to Sheikh Hosari”. This may seem extreme to others and not everyone can become teachers of Maqaridge itself, but this is the path I chose after imitating the famous Qurra’. Not everyone has access to a maqaridge al-huruf sheikh or sheikha, and as you said practicing your voice and quranic recitation is a step. The next step is to develop one’s own recitation; based solely on the sunnah (upon sanad of Maqaridge and tajweed). This is indeed a high level and is not for everyone I guess. But if it weren’t for such people, where would proper implementation of Tajweed exist today. What about the 52-58 ways that exist in just the Hafs ‘An Al-Imam Aasim riwayah? What about the Tariqa of Tayyibah, tariqah of Shatibiyyah and the rarely known At-Tayseer?

        Copying styles of a Qurra’ is different from imitating them, and to do so, one needs to proceed with caution. The more we educate ourselves of just how to recite Quran, we learn that there is a lot more.
        So, sure this Sheikh in Makkah may be reciting very appealingly … but why did he not want to continue but was convinced to do so a little?

        The one we should try to recite Quran like is the Prophet(s) and our own style and voice will come inshallah and won’t lead us to over beatify our recitation into a song like melody.

        May people nowadays focus on what is referred to as “Maqamaat” citing that such and such qari did it. Those such and such Qurra’ never called it maqamat saba’ or what have you. They tried their best to stay close to what they were taught by their shiyookh who had a direct sanad to the prophet(s), and they defined their limits down to the minute technicality in sound why becoming pioneers in what others that came later called Maqamaat fil-Quran.
        In Egypt as you may know, scholars of recitation have sessions of “gheebah” regarding what is within the confines of sunnah and what is not to make a clear differentiation. In these sessions of “gheebah”, the scholars identify what some qurra’ recite wrongly, and again, they only do this to differentiate the right way.
        Finally, this may be only an opinion and there are other opinions.

        Anything I said well is from Allah and anything that I have proclaimed falsely is from my mistake.

  • Jazakallahu Khayran. As-salam sister, may Allah be pleased with you. This article has helped me, especially in this very day where I am procrastinating with my academic studies. It’s ironic, because I’m constantly devoting my time to replying to friends in texts, or advance my knowledge on numerous Islamic topics through Google, so I can be a better muslimah, yet I’m not getting any studying done because I’m so focused on the other things.I guess I must practice to balance my academics and my life in general.Thank you.These articles help me get through the day so once again, may Allah be pleased with you and the entire staff of this website.

    • wa alaykum as salam warahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

      ALHAMDULILAH! great personal recognition of your situation and what you need to do inshaAllah. Please keep us in your duaa and may Allah give you success, focus and persistent determination!

  • Dear sister thank you so much again for posting on this, it is very very helpful!
    I left a question for you in one of your previous postings, I asked (after reading your father’s story) how was it that before going to Mecca you were interested in being popular etc.. I mean, how come you brought up into your family’s discovery of Islam experience…?

    Just wondering and thanks..

    • The son of Nuh alayhes salam did not believe. The wife of Lot alayhes salam was punished with her people. The father of Ibrahim alayhes salam cast him out for his belief and dawah. The beloved uncle of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhe wa sallam did not die a Muslim.

      If the beloved relatives of these incredible Prophets alayhim as-salam did not accept the message, how can we expect even the best parents, with firm belief and incredible parenting skills be successful in ensuring their kids love to be Muslim?

      After the blessing of Islam, my parents are the biggest blessing Allah has gifted to me. Did I always appreciate either of these blessings? No. But that shouldn’t reflect on them, as the lack of acceptance of the message of Islam by the relatives of some of the Prophets alayhim as salam does not reflect on the Prophets alayhim as salam not doing their duty.

      That being said, I’m constantly in a state of sadness for those whom I love greatly but have chosen in their adult life to not life an Islamic lifestyle. It pains me deeply and I often think about the verses where Nuh alayhis salam is speaking to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala about his son. This isn’t all in our hands even if we want it to be; the matter is with Allah. We just beg Him to keep our hearts and actions firm on His pleasure and guide those whom we love to do the same.

  • AsalamuAleikum wr wb,

    Thank you for the wonderful article , may Allah bless you for this wonderful reminder. This article reminded me how blessed I am, with the help of Allah I am able to recite almost like any Qari I wish. I didn’t start out like this , as a kid I always aspired to be like Abdul Basit , my love for recitation was/is a drive like that of a bee to a flower, even now I am mesmerized by it. Fortunately I wasn’t born with the “voice” and was mocked and laughed at by everybody, from the Quran teacher to the brothers at the Masjid. To the point when I use to recite people thought cats were fighting or somebody was choking and was told to give up my dreams. Regardless I prayed and practiced and 15 years later, I am man that is blessed, I am requested to recite from sheikhs and the community. I mention it not for self praise but to show that Allah blesses those who strive in his path, and honestly I don’t deserve this voice or the respect for what I put in. I continue to learn and practice and will continue to do so until I die inshaAllah. One last point I want to make is the difference between a great Qari and someone else is the heart. We all know the same pitches and melodies but when someone that is connected with Allah recites the ayat with belief, is when it sounds most beautiful. As my sheikh always told me “reciting from the heart will always out shine any melody or pitch, you have to work on your heart”. All praise and glory is for Allah and everything good is from him, may Allah make it easy for everybody that is striving in his path.

    • mashaAllah, incredible story! You should submit an article about this to our website! If you feel more comfortable, you can speak to the staff about submitting it under a pen name. jazak Allahu khayran for sharing!

    • Jazak Allahu Khayran Brother Fahd! Your story is an incredible inspiration and a great source of hope to all of us trying to improve our recitation and our relationship with the Quran.

    • Walaykum assalaam warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu, JazaakAllahu khairan…your comment has provided some really useful insights maasha’Allah

  • No doubt Islam is a complete and perfect religion shedding light on all significant issues of humanity.
    Muslim wants to enjoy the coming life as a true Muslim is promised then you need to maintain a constant contact with Allah Almighty through Quran reading.

  • Assalamu Alaikum

    Should one focus on tajweed, tafseer, hifz or arabic language learning?

    I am a 3rd year student (final semester and then insha’Allah I can dedicate more time – but I’m afraid if I can’t make time now, I’ll always just make excuses)…

    and I find when I am in class, I am so motivated. (Islamic class or uni class)
    But at home, by myself, I find it very difficult to recite quran, to learn arabic, to study tajweed, tafseer etc.

    I think to do hifz, one needs to have excellent tajweed so one does not have to relearn everything, right?

    At this point, I’m only wishing to memorise Juzz Amma, woith correct tajweed. My primary passion with Qur’an is to be able to hear it and understand it as it was revealed back in the day. Some peoples’ primary passion is to recite like Qari Abdul Basit, others, to have done hifz, mine is to understand Quran when I hear it, so that my salah is really good and so that when I hear it recited, it changes my heart.

    So I feel like I should put hifz to one side except for the shorter surahs, and focus on tajweed and studying Arabic so I can fulfill these goals for now.

    What do you think?

    I don’t have any good tajweed teachers in my area and can’t travel unfortunately (female, and parents wouldn#t allow me)

    Should one focus on hifz? Or language studies? Or tafseer of Quran? Or tajweed?

    Please help! I feel like I’m just wasting time time thinking, I’ll do this, I’ll do that. I feel I’m just wasting time debating which field of Quranic study to put more focus on, that I’m not doing any of them! I’m afraid a couple of years will pass and in my confusion as to what to put my focus on, I’ll not have made any progress at all.

    (I’m currently attempting to use Shariah programme and the bayyinah TV for arabic studies, and the bayyinah institute podcasts for tafseer studies)

    I find the English translation of Quran to be really dry – so maybe I’ll try to find an audio of the English instead insha’Allah

    PS – I’m recently married too. I make lots of dua to have understanding of Quran but I fear that since I’m married and will no doubt have a busy married life ahead, I won’t have time for these things. That’s why I want to start now, ASAP.

  • Salaam sister Maryam

    Your posts have really inspired me, and also given me some home. As someone who is a girl and memorised the Quran, I feel like I can relate to you

    I recently started memorising the Quran full time, hoping to come closer to Allah and His book

    However, ever since I’ve started, I feel like its been the opposite. I feel like I’m distancing myself from Allah. Maybe its because i’m finding it difficult to keep a balance, as I felt it was a big change from being a full time student. Maybe its also because I haven’t been learning the explanation of what i’m memorising. I want to also study the meaning, but I find it difficult to find time

    Along with that, I also feel alone in this journey, and this leads me to question, is this what Allah wants me to do?

    My iman has changed from before I started. Before, you could say I could taste the sweetness of iman and loved to read Quran. But since I started memorising, my iman has greatly deteriorated.

    If you could offer any sort of advice, it would be very much appreciated

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