Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Learning The Quran

Adult learners have many obstacles which prevent them from accessing programs of learning. When it comes to Quran learners who have adult children of their own, you could imagine how delicate the mission of learning the Sacred Text for the first time in their life can become. I don’t believe I am the only one who grew up with one parent not knowing how to read the Quran. Many people from my parent’s generation are unable to read it.

They have spent an entire lifetime in yearning to recite, or in the very least to be able to make the sounds of the letters which form the sacred words. They have spent countless hours focused on the letters, watching the mouths of recitors move as the tongue dances to the coming together of that which forms the Message. Many nights did they spend in Ramadan with ears attentively listening to the Imam's recital during Tarawi Prayer; the 30-day completion of the entire recitation would be the annual gift they would receive so proudly. To have made that connection with the sacred once more, they would wait for next Ramadan in earnest: just to hear those words which neither man nor jinn could compose the like of.

Many would spend the days without congregational prayers and await the Friday so they could once more listen to even a little portion of the Quran. The Quran which they kept on the highest shelf: with nothing else above it not even another book. All the while the desire to read and take from this Book becoming greater, sometimes too much for their beings to cope with, during which times they would wash their bodies and hold the Quran; turning the pages with weeping eyes and a heavy heart, praying with their entirety that they be given the great fortune to read what it says.

Some inviduals braved the odds and began their journey of learning the Quran. This write-up speaks about a few barriers and their accompanying solution which may prevent some adults in their 50s plus from starting a learning regime:

1. Lack of Provision

There are not many places which teach adult members of our community. Adults cannot be expected to sit in classes with children.

Solution: Provision of sessions for adults.

2. Respect The Age Factor

Youngsters learned in Quranic sciences such as recitation and tajwid are not always equipped with the gentleness towards people who have not necessarily had those opportunities. This deters older people from pursuing their learning or even enquiring about tuition available. It’s not easy for Grandpa and Grandma to practise the alphabet when everyone else is reciting like nightingales in their midst!

Solution: We should acknowledge that we have all had different advantages and disadvantages in life. To an extent we are the result of this. If we see this through the lens of Divine Planning then we realise that we all have very distinct journeys. So if our journeys are distinct, then so too are the points at which we learn specific things. If we come across someone who has not had the life opportunities that we have, then shouldn’t we ‘lower the wing of humility’?

3. Passing Judgement

Following on from the above is the speed at which many individuals can pass judgement on those who have not yet learnt what may be termed as the ‘basic’ stuff. Some people can wonder how someone going into their senior years has still not learnt how to pray or in this case read the Quran. Stop.

Solution: Stop wondering about the life others have lived and think about what you can do to make a difference or aid them. A word of encouragement goes a long way, and if one is unable to do that then a silent prayer will speak a thousand encouraging sentiments. We simply have no right to investigate the private lives of other people.

4. Learner Styles

Sometimes we can overlook the fact that we all have different styles of learning! Odd as it seems we seldom think that this may be the case with adult learners.

Solution: Maximise modern technological advances and utilise appropriate resources such as audio recitations of the Quran. Encourage learners to become familiar with certain passages by providing listening material. Hopefully this will initiate familiarity with the Quran and will help motivate learners who are finding it difficult. Essentially we should never forget that those working to do something with difficulty are not the same as those who face fewer struggles (as learners).

These were just a few thoughts on the subject of adult learners attempting to read the Quran for the first time. Inspired by my dad’s recent completion of the Book and the discussion it generated. I am sure that there are many more ways we can encourage adults on their learning journey. My aim was to initiate a dialogue and get a discourse started on this important issue present within our communities.

Late Spring 2008

Image: Qurans in a Mosque in Tarim, July 2008

This write-up is one of many which has been kindly typed by volunteer typists. Please say a silent prayer for them and their families.

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loved the read as always sis :)
Thank you!
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