Personal Development Qur'an Seeking Knowledge With the Divine

Spotting People of the Qur’an

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


This article has been edited from its original publication in 2009. We pray for the ease and success of the Egyptian people and all those seeking freedom and justice throughout the world.

My parents were visiting me in Egypt. We flagged down a cab for ourselves to get to downtown Cairo. The driver was a young man who was listening to crazy loud music and smoking a cigarette. Within a few minutes, the smoke was too much to handle and we had difficulty breathing.

“Excuse me, would you mind not smoking?” I requested. He apologized and let his cigarette go. A few minutes went by and my dad looked at the driver and politely asked, “Qur’an?” My dad loves listening to Qur’an and was hoping he’d score the opportunity to listen on our drive. The taxi driver didn’t fumble to find the usual Cairo Qur’an channel to which most taxi drivers flip. Instead, he took out a tape and pressed play. We were suddenly blasting Afasy’s recitation of Surah Maryam. For the rest of the ride, the young driver began reciting the Surah, word for word, verse for verse.

Subhan’Allah (praise be to God), I thought. It’s not easy to recite every single word correctly unless you have memorized the surah or listened to it many, many times before. We reached our destination and I took out money to pay the driver. “Keep it,” he told me.

Wait a second, keep it?! The brother just took us from Madinat Nasr to Ramses – this is good money to turn down! We insisted he take it and he eventually did, apologizing for smoking and smiling humbly.

I felt like I had just seen the light of this man’s heart in action. The young man seemed to be so moved by the Qur’an that his entire face changed from the time I had originally requested the cab to when we departed. Subhan’Allah, how we have no idea how close someone really is to Allah, what their rank is with Him, and what their rank might be with him after only a few minutes.

Spotting Companions of the Qur’an was one of the most amazing experiences I had while living in Egypt. From brothers walking on busy streets with their masahef (plural of mushaf, the book of the Qur’an) open to review their memorization, to sisters running local businesses and blasting Afasy, to Khan Khalil bazaar owners listening to the recitation of Faris Abbad… SubhanAllah, I was blessed to spot Companions of the Qur’an everywhere!

But beyond this, there were three instances which really hit me and helped reinforce that those who love Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) and His Book are everywhere, that this Ummah is truly filled with people ready to live for the deen (way of life), regardless of where they are.

One time my friend’s two children really wanted to go to the Arcade, so we took them to play a few games. Being seven and five, both of them were super excited. The seven-year-old decided she wanted to ride an Asteroid ship. As the only customers for the ride, we entered the area and found the young worker around in his early twenties, sitting and working on his Qur’an. It was incredible to see his focus on the Qur’an while maintaining his work responsibilities. The arcade was nearly empty and we were the only customers in the area he supervised. Before we approached him, he worked on his Qur’an. Once we arrived at his station, his attention was fully dedicated to the girl’s safety and working the ride for her. Once the ride was complete and we walked away, he continued with his Qur’an since there were no other customers waiting for his service. He could have spent his time playing games on his phone, but he instead chose to invest in his relationship with the Qur’an. SubhanAllah.


Soon, my friend’s daughter had collected tickets from playing games and she was ready to cash in for her prize. As we approached the prize counter, I noticed there was a popcorn stand and the employee selling the popcorn was an older man reading. Suddenly I realized, subhanAllah, he’s not reading – he’s working on his memorization! Holding the Qur’an, this man, possibly in his sixties, was reading from the mushaf, then darting his eyes to the ceiling while he worked on the verse he had just memorized, and then he would glue his eyes to the mushaf again. Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest)! Two hard-core companions of the Qur’an in an Arcade, two companions who would never leave their Best Friend, could not bear to be apart from their Best Friend during work, and so they took their Best Friend with them! They spent as much time as they could enjoying their Best Friend’s companionship and reaping the benefits of being best friends with the Book that will stay with them in every instance in this life insha’Allah (if Allah wills), and inshaAllah intercede for them in the Next.

Sometime later I walked into an internet café and found two grown men dedicatedly playing a videogame. A few minutes after I had sat down, the employee of the café put on – that’s right, you guessed it – nothing more amazing than the Qur’an itself. Surah Kahf (Qur’an 18) was now surround sound in the café, and one of these two men, still deeply engrossed in the game, began reciting along with Shaykh Afasy’s recitation.

SubhanAllah, how few of us (unfortunately) may judge by deciding that places like Arcades, internet cafes with a focus on games, movie theatres, or other entertainment areas are not places of the Companions of the Qur’an? But these places, because of these people, may actually be filled with so many Angels racing to surround them, to write down their good deeds and to protect them. Perhaps it is because of these people that we too are being encompassed by Allah’s Mercy. Being a companion of the Qur’an doesn’t mean stopping life and work or never being entertained. It simply means committing to that relationship even while enjoying entertainment.

Many of us may not feel we have a strong friendship with the Book of Allah in this moment, but it is not too late! We can start RIGHT NOW, God willing! Here are just a few suggestions on how to begin incorporating the Qur’an into our daily lives, God willing, and make a friend who will always be by our side:

  1. Recite ayatul kursi(Qur’an 2:255) after every prayer: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever recites Ayatul Kursi immediately after each prescribed prayer, there will be nothing standing between him and his entering Paradise except death.” (An-Nasa`i and Ibn Hibban).
  2. Recite Surat al Mulk (Qur’an 67) every night: It was narrated that Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said: Whoever reads tabarak allahi biyadihil mulk every night, Allah will protect him from the torment of the grave.
  3. Recite Surat al Kahf (Qur’an 18) every Friday: Whoever recites Surat al-Kahf on Friday, light shall shine forth for him between the two Fridays. (Ibn Hajar, Talkhis al-Habir)
  4. Last, but not least! Make a commitment to the Qur’an. How subhanAllah insanely cool would it be if we checked our Qur’an as much as we check our email? If we updated our status with the Qur’an as much as we update our status on Facebook? Make time for the Qur’an. Commit yourself to reading one, two, three, ten pages a day—whatever amount is easy for you—and try your best to read that small amount every single day. Reading a translation, if we do not understand the Arabic, will help increase your love and bond with the Qur’an as you will actually understand the message which was revealed FOR YOU from the Lord of EVERYTHING.

Imagine the sweetness we’ll find in our lives, God willing, when we make a conscious decision to make the Qur’an our Best Friend. This is the Book that, in response to Abu Jahl who said: “Say to Muhammad something that would convince your people that you oppose him,” Al-Walid ibn Al-Mughirah replied: “And what can I possibly say? There is not a single man who is more knowledgeable of poetry or prose than I, or even that of the Jinn, and by Allah, what he says (the Qur’an) bears no resemblance to these things. By Allah, what he says has a sweetness to it, and a charm upon it; the highest part of it is fruitful and the lowest part of it is gushing forth with bounty; it dominates and cannot be dominated, and it crushes all that is under it.” (Reported by al at-Tabari in ‘Jami’ al-Bayan’ 29/156)

The Qur’an is waiting for you! It’s ready for you! It’s your turn! Be ready for it!

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


  • Nothing short of excellent… mash’Allah

    Actually this can be a start for anyone who doesn’t have a relationship with the Qur’an they can go from goal 1 ->2->3->4 gradually alhamdulilah….

  • “How, subhan’Allah, insanely cool would it be if we checked our Qur’an as much as we checked our email?” This line was a gem barakAllahu feeki.

  • “May Allah make us all companions of the Qur’an, and let the Qur’an be an intercessor for us in the Hereafter. Ameen.”


    beautiful reminder masha’Allah

    how embarrassed I now feel having just cheked my email for the second time today


  • As-Salamu alaikum,

    The is good suspicion on behalf of the sister, but she is obviously new to Cairo. Sorry to spoil peoples innocence, but truth is truth. I lived in in Cairo for a year and I found that many of them live a hypocritical lifestyle. The likely scenerio- based on experience and not bas suspicion- is that this syoung boy listens to Al-Afasy just as he does the arab musci with immoral themes. He likes the sound of the both and has them both memorized. The smoking is probably just one of the many sins and contradictions to one who has memorized some Qur’an. The take it for free thing they will say to you many times and are not genuine. Almost the same story happened to me and when the guy sweared “khaleeh anna” its free I was like “akeed” for sure and he was like “akeed”. then I left without paying and he got out cussing me in Egyptian wheres my fulus. the only reason I’m telling you so that the reality of secularism in Egypt doesn’t just hit you instead you will expect it.

    And Allah knows best about he reality of this guy in this story

    May Allah guide us to follow the Qur’an as memorizing it won’t do much without application.

    • Wa ‘alaykum salâm,

      I know you probably have good intentions, but just as you have good thoughts about the sister, you should have good thoughts about the cab driver and not make assumptions about how sinful he is based on your year’s worth of experience.

    • AA Realist,

      I think the goal of the article was to focus on the Quran, not Egypt.

      May we be a people who are dedicated and sensitive to Quranic revival– not just the memorization, but also the practice. May Allah help us to bridge the disconnect that sometimes appears before us, hating the Thulm for the sake of Allah, while loving the people.

      I think we can all agree that while Hifz is a start, it is certainly not an end all.


  • Excellent article mash’Allah
    I know a driver here in Cairo who only listens to the Qur’an radio station and mash’Allah, he recites every surah that airs!
    @realist: forgive me for saying this, i’ve been in Egypt for a long while, and yes there are a lot of hypocrites like every other part of the world.
    it is our duty as muslims to look at the positive side of our muslims brothers and sisters, forgive each other, never think bad thing about one another… how else would this Ummah stay united?

  • Amazziinggg Article–ma sha Allah. Love it.


    Although these ideas that you have are based on experience–be sure to have husnudhaan. Also–we are all sinners—but the sinner who recites the Quraan is by far better than the sinner that does not…check out this hadeeth:

    “The example of a believer, who recites the Qur’aan and acts on it, is like an Citron (an aromatic lemon fruit) which tastes nice and smells nice.

    And the example of the believer who does not recite the Qur’aan but acts on it is like a Date that tastes sweet but has no smell.

    And the example of the hypocrite who recites the Qur’aan is like a sweet Basil which smells good but tastes bitter.

    And the example of a hypocrite who does not recite the Qur’aan is like a Colocynth (bitter apple) which tastes bitter and has a bad smell.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee (vol. 6, no. 579)]

  • Assalam Alaikum Wr Wb,

    Sr. Maryam, I am so glad you are back from Egypt and sharing this article with us. This is such a motivational piece of work just practical and inspirational. So many of us have dozens of excuses for not memorizing or not reciting because busy at work or being too old to memorize etc. etc.
    Jazakallahu khairun for showing this side of life in Egypt. May Allah SWT bless you immensely for that. Ameen and Ameen to your Dua you made for all of us. InshaAllah, Tawfeeq

  • oufff this was like a bullet in the head, thanx for reminding us.
    Realist, that one encounter doesn’t make up for the whole of egypt. and yeh to what Farida said, hypocrites are everywhere and we have nothing to lose if we see things positively and treat people nicely. whatever Farida said is so true.

  • wa alaykum as salam warahmatullahi wa baraktuhu

    @ realist: Barak Allahu feekum for the comment. Quick response insha’Allah: I was told horrible things about Egypt and Egyptians before I went [I should have clarified in the article; I was in Egypt for about 11 months. Alhamdulilah I returned earlier this year], and so when I went I was expecting to be ripped off a lot, for just about every Egyptian male to hit on me since they supposedly do that to every female, to expect bad treatment, etc, etc….

    ALLAH MUSTA’AN wa Allahu Akbar! SubhanAllahil atheem I cannot tell you how WRONG EVERYONE IS. SUBHAN ALLAH, Alhamdulilahi Rabil`alameen, there is so much good there Alhamdulilah, barak Allahu feehim.

    I asked my teacher specifically about this one time. I asked her something like- “Why is it that so many people told me so many horrible things about Egypt, and so many people have so many bad experiences? Alhamdulilah I love it here and have had so many amazing encounters!”

    Her response- “When you’re expecting good from the people, you’ll receive and see the good. When you’re expecting bad, looking for only the bad- what do you expect?”

    Why is it that it’s so hard for us to remember the trillion amazing things we see and have been blessed with, Alhamdulilahi Rabil`alameen, and so quickly blame and complain?

    I definitely had “not so cool” encounters in Egypt as well… I was ripped off, men did shout out…what I was warned about happened. BUT subhanAllah, those things were the exceptions, not the rule. And when they did happen, Alhamdulilah what better time to practice Arabic? Once I realized I was ripped off, it was the perfect opportunity for me to go back and practice my speaking skills in an angry, yet controlled tone. And when a male would say something inappropriate, what better time to remind them of Allah by shoutiing back at them: AUOTHOBILLAH!

    And yes, there are people who seem “two faced”, but subhanAllah how many of us are 24/hour dhikr sticks? SubhanAllah there was a bagal [corner store] that used to play Qur’an regularly near my school. One time I walked in and the employee was watching some crazy music video with a very undressed woman doing some haram stuff to watch. In Egypt, on the street, this was one of my first times seeing fasad so openly. Seriously, subhanAllah, this stuff exists for sure, but out in the open, I BARELY saw that Alhamdulilah in the streets. I went to the employee and I told him (in Arabic- this is a practicing opportunity to inshaAllah correct a fasad and use my “American” status to make it seem even cooler not to do this) that I’m a student from America and spoke to him about how crazy this stuff is to watch where so many shabab can see it, and how amazing it would be if we changed the channel. And Alhamdulilah, thereafter, when I would pass by or go in, Qur’an again mashaAllah.

    The point: yes, people make mistakes, just like you and I. And yes, people can live ‘two lives’.However, I had more than a handful of “bad” experiences like the one above, and Alhamdulilahi Rabil`alameen, I found that people were generally genuine and sincere…that their love for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and Rasulilah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallama is great, and they, just like I, need reminders to help stay on track.

    And Alhamdulilah, I just wrote another article in this response, fa sorry about the the length.

    Let’s focus on ourselves inshaAllah and just try to take the benefit from every situation, for there is khayr for the believe whether s/he is patient or grateful in hard times or ease. wa Allahu ‘alam

    Jezakum Allahu khayran

  • jazakallahukhair for the reminder and inspiration to make the Holy, Amazing, Wonderful Quran our best friend.
    subhanAllah! beautiful. 🙂

  • SubhanAllah Maryam, another beautiful article. Baarak Allahu feeki!

    I’ve been here for only two months and I’ve also noticed the same thing. I realized how we neglect the Qur’an so much in the West and even though we see some questionable things in Egypt, they still read and have a relationship with the Qur’an.

  • Bismillah ArRahman Ar Rahim
    Just a reminder that one of the worst enemies of Islam became one of the greatest men to ever stand in the presence of Rasullulah Sallalahu alahi wa salam-Umar RA. Subhanallah-revelations were sent down based upon his concerns (Asbāb al-nuzūl (أسباب النزول),A narration attributed to Umar reports:
    “ I agreed with my Lord in three things; I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, if only we were to take the Station of Ibrahim as a place of prayer,’ and there was revealed, ‘… and take the Station of Ibrahim as a place of prayer.’ (Qur’an 2: 125). I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, both good and bad people come to visit your wives; if only you would order them to wear hijabs,’ and the ayah of the hijab was revealed. The wives of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, united in jealousy, and so I said, ‘Perhaps his Lord, if he divorces you, will give him in exchange wives better than you, …’ and it was revealed just like that (with exactly the same words, see Qur’an 66: 5). [1]
    This is proof that a man who did not even care about the Quraan or Rasullulah Sallalahu alahi wa salam became transformed by Allah’s words to become one of the greatest Mum’in that ever lived. So despite the outer perceptions only Allah subhana wa Taala can truly see the condition of a man’s heart. Remember this dunya is an illusion. The man smoking a cigarette and listening to carnal arab music may not be a man at all but an illusion. Yet, the man who emerges from that scenario and begins reciting quraan may very well be the true reality. You make the choice…which perception will you embrace??? Go figure!!

  • Masha’Allah Maryam, this is an amazing reminder for the rest of us not to take life fore granted and take advantage of our short time in our life and build a nest for Akhira biIdhni’Allah. Its so easy to get distracted with work, email, relationships, studies and all, and so easy to feel trapped doing stuff that is not even important in our lives.
    BarakAllahu Fiki

  • Masha-alah, an excellent article! Shukran for sharing such positive experiences of the Ashaab al-Quraan. Its very motivational. I’ve also been amazed at spotting ‘ashaab al-Quran’ in Cairo, and finding people who dont miss their prayer at any cost. I’ve seen them pray in Malls, in the street, in parks, just about everywhere, and i found that to be an excellent reminder also.

  • I loved this article, Maryam! MashaAllah very nicely written.

    The story of the taxi driver reminded me of my own experiences in Egypt, especially this year. There were so many people that I met who when you look first look at you may be quick to judge them, to assume that they’re far from the Deen of Allah. But subHanAllah how Allah proved me wrong is multiple cases where people I would have never expected were of the hufadh (memorizers of the Quran) or had amazing character, or prayed in such a peaceful manner. May Allah help us all to control our thoughts and help us to stop judging people for only He is the true Knower of the hearts. Ameen.

  • Having been to Egypt and experiencing both what you talked about and what realist talked about, how refreshing to see someone looking for the good. Im so used to hearing lectures and khutbas where we lament the sorry state of our umma. While it is true, I often feel that the extent to which we disproportionately focus on our flaws is the extent to which we aid Shaytan in his appearances and in broadcasting the hold he has over people. Dont give him more airplay than he already gets.

  • awesome article masha’Allah! The relationship one has with the Qur’an is truly so beautiful that it’s inexplainable! May Allah (SWT) give us all the Hidayah and Tawfiq to become friends of the Qur’an, memorize it, implement it, and live by it our entire lives!!! AMEEN!

  • I am often so torn. I want to read the Qu’ran but I can’t maintain wudu for a long time. Is it assumed that all the people who are studying at work and walking down the street are only doing so in a state of ritual purity?

  • subhanALLAH i was listening to Surah Maryam when I started to read this article…..touched me even more!! ALLAH-U-AKBAR!!!

  • Mashallah, this very inspirational post has truly encouraged me to spend more time reading the Quran. Jazakallah khair for this lovely post!

Leave a Reply to realist X