All my life, I have shared a room with my older sister. The room would often be messy, and I often blamed her for it. I always thought of myself as a neat person. I liked to have things neat and in order, and I noticed that I was almost always the one who would eventually tidy up the room.
About a month ago, I moved out of my old room. I’ve had my own room for over a month now and let me tell you… It is a mess. I put things in order and shortly after, it’s messy yet again!
I had no choice now but to be honest with myself (and to apologize to my sister). I am a messy person. I was the source of the mess all along! I leave things in random places, I’ll put stuff down on any flat surface, and in the end it looks like nothing but clutter.
The reason this was such an epiphany for me was because of how convinced I was before, that I was the neat one and that the constant clutter in our room was my sister’s fault. You have to understand, I was truly convinced of this.
This just goes to show you what a huge capacity human beings have for self-delusion (as Ibn al Qayyim rahimahullah said). And that is very humbling. It’s humbling to know that your knowledge and awareness of reality is so limited, that the one thing you thought you knew about (you)… you actually don’t really know about!
There are a handful of posts on the topic of removing the niqab and a person’s strong feelings about the decision to do so. Some are more publicized than others, i.e. they come up high on the Google search.
This, however, is not one of those posts.
Alhamdulillah, I have not removed my niqab, and if a day ever came when I did, I would probably not post something with this title. I am sharing my thoughts on these articles and postings that I have seen for years. Although my thoughts towards niqab may change and develop over time, going through periods of fluctuating strength and even the doubts that I believe everyone experiences, my thoughts towards people who post “Why I Took Off My Niqab” articles remained consistent.
It is selfish.
Your decision to remove it was personal, but when you try to publicly justify it, it is no longer a personal decision, it is a public one.
I know that there is a shame associated with removing, or wanting to remove, the niqab. It becomes a part of your identity, and unfortunately it even becomes a status symbol. That does not reflect the wearer’s intentions, that is just what happens. So when someone removes the niqab, she feels like she needs to explain herself. (I have thoughts behind thoughts on many parts of this topic, but I am not sharing them in the interest of time.)
Most articles of this nature, however, are imposing. Despite my feelings towards niqab, even when I was not ready to wear it, or maybe even when I thought it was too much, these posts always felt imposing to me. They had an angry and resentful undertone. The blame was externalized, so that the wearer managed to put the burden of her decision on someone other than herself (even if in a subtle way). And the decision was finalized, as if the niqab is a one-way street, and she never expects to change her mind or develop different thoughts as she goes through life. We are human beings, and we grow and change over time. Just because you feel so strongly about your decision to remove it, that does not mean that you should try to impose that decision on others. By justifying yourself, that is exactly what you’re doing. Many of these posts do have the characteristics of a type of writing I call “persuasive” writing, though it is not very persuasive if you come to it without bias. One of them had an air of, “This is why I did it, and I am sharing it with you so that I can save you from making the same mistake I did.”
The niqab may not have worked out for you at this particular time, and you don’t know what is to come in the future. Something made you want to put it on in the first place, so at least have respect for that. And know that someone is going to come across your post, a sister who desperately wants to wear the niqab but something is stopping her, so she hasn’t been able to start yet. Having seen sisters in this position, and having been in this position myself at one point, I can tell you that this sister’s heart is overflowing with grief because of how much she wants it. And she has enough reasons on her own for why she feels like she can’t. She doesn’t need your article to give her another reason.
Because that is, in essence, all you’ve done. In your efforts to do whatever it was that you were trying to do (you can say that I haven’t even understood your true intentions, still) you discouraged someone else from an act of worship.
I have only ever come across one article of this nature by a sister, who I felt took a different approach. Although I did not fully agree with the article, I recognized and appreciated her balance in where she placed the onus of the decision. It was a mixture of external and internal reasons, and she was willing to admit to those internal reasons, which can be a difficult thing to do. Furthermore, she was even braver in saying that she still wholeheartedly believes that niqab is wajib. That took guts, because the theory of cognitive dissonance would assume that she would say, “Well, I don’t follow that it’s wajib anyway, so…” (It is important to note here that I am not asserting one opinion over the other, as that is not my place nor do I have the qualification to do that; I am only giving props where it’s due.) Finally, she showed that niqab is a journey when she said that she plans to put it back on. I considered posting her writing here, but I would have to seek her permission first, and I do not feel comfortable possibly revealing her identity.
These are my thoughts, and I am interested in hearing yours.
My nonMuslim classmates are impressed with my memory. (All praise is due to Allah swt for what I have, but I have to be honest and mention that they have low standards for what is impressive). Some of them might even think something is wrong with the way that I remember details about events or things that they said – details they don’t even remember. But really, Allah swt blessed each of us with a powerful mind with great potential for reasoning and understanding and even memorizing. And while some people are given a greater gift than others, anyone can develop these gifts. Some of my classmates waste this potential by exposing their mind to toxic substances like drugs and alcohol. But toxic substances also exist in the form of time-wasting activities (social media, anyone?), temptations, unrestrained anger, and more, which many of us are not free from. May Allah swt protect us. When we come across stories like the ones below, we shouldn’t think, “This is nice… but impossible for me.” These stories are meant to show you possibilities for you.
A discussion regarding the powerful ability to memorise of the Shanāqitah tribe of Mauritania, with Sh. Muhammad Hassan ad-Dido ash-Shinqeeti.
The presenter mentions that Sh. Hasan ad-Dido memorised the entire Qur’ān in two years, between the age of 5-7. The Shaykh replied that in reality this isn’t such a short period of time and then mentions some mind blowing examples:
- One of his great grandfathers memorised the entire Qur’ān, along with its Tafsīr by al-Jalālayn by simply LISTENING to it once.
- His mothers uncle memorised 3 (out of the 4) volumes of al-Qāmūs (an Arabic dictionary) by al-Fayrūz Abādi in less than 1 month!
- One judge who the Shaykh knew memorised the Muwattā of Imām Mālik, whilst he was very senior in age (passed 80 years). The manner in which he’d memorise was that he’d ask one of his students to dictate to him ahādīth before he slept. The next night, he would essentially repeat what he heard the night before!
- The Shaykh mentioned that there is a 17 year old boy currently studying at his institute who has memorised 28000 lines of poetry, whilst another Moroccan boy memorised the Qur’ān, and various other texts including Bulūgh al-Marām, `Umdat ‘l-Ahkām etc despite being blind.
When the host asked him, who actually takes care and pays attention to children memorising like this, he replied: the mothers! (he himself memorised under the tutelage of his mothers aunt, his aunt and of course his own mother).
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It just occurred to me that all of my HD posts are stemming from my own mind – so they must only be helping like-minded individuals. So I thought to talk about something that I think I haven’t experienced so far (wa lillahil hamd), but I get the feeling that others out there might have. It is the feeling of just wanting to give up. See, now I’m facing a writer’s block because I can’t say too much about something I can’t remember having felt myself, but I will try to do my best, and I hope that those who have actually felt this can come forward with their experience.
Here are some tips:
1. Never stop making dua. Where your self-motivation and energy fail you, a dua that you once made will kick in and take over where you left off. All of a sudden, without being able to explain it, you will feel motivated to keep going. So never get tired of making dua for your hifdh. Put it in your dua-list (if you don’t have one of these, you need to make one ASAP), say it often, and always be on the look-out for those special times when dua is being accepted.
2. The mind is a powerful tool; you can work it in many different ways. We all face a lapse in our memorization, some more than others. (It probably happens more to those who are not enrolled in a timed program, like myself.) When you find yourself in a lapse, control your thoughts. DON’T think, “I’m taking a break.” DON’T think, “I’m going to stop my memorization until ____.” Each day that passes without you making a move forward, censure yourself and make a firm resolve that tomorrow will be different. Don’t beat yourself up (some people can take that to another level); just acknowledge that you made a mistake and that you don’t want to make it again. I believe this mindset has helped me to move forward. I try not to tell myself that I’m “taking a break,” regardless of the circumstances. Even if it is Finals Week, don’t tell yourself you’re taking a break from your hifdh. You’re just letting shaytan delude you. The truth is, reciting and memorizing Qur’an puts more barakah in your time and makes your day easier, so you never actually need a break.
3. Never miss a day of class. Even if you did 5% of the homework, travel all the way to your teacher just to take the beating. I guarantee you, you will find yourself with motivation you didn’t have before, inshaAllah. Even if this happens countless times, don’t miss class. As much as your teacher is disappointed in you, he or she is also secretly impressed that you keep coming back to them. They see your consistency in attendance as a sign of your commitment. As long as they see that you haven’t given up, they won’t give up on you. Teachers are also greedy for that ajr of helping someone memorize Qur’an. :)
4. Set end dates. Have a date in mind where you would like to finish your hifdh. I will be honest and say that I have had many dates, some more realistic than others, but all have passed without me making the deadline. The last time this happened, I picked a new date and asked someone who intimidates me to help me meet this deadline, inshaAllah. Always have a date in mind. And watch the countdown. If it passes, figure out what went wrong, how you can change it, and PICK A NEW DATE. I have an app on my phone that counts down the days to a certain event. So I titled the event “Hafidhah” and I watch it countdown every day. You can understand that if you don’t even have an end date in mind, you are more likely to face a moment where you think “I’m going to stop” or “I’m taking a break.” On the other hand, if you have an end date, it’s like you can always see the finish line. Let’s do an imagination exercise:
Imagine being in a race. You have been running for miles and you stop to take a breath. You look up and you see in the far distance – the banner that signifies the end of the race. It seems so far away, but at least you can see it. The finish line is in your view, so even if you stopped running for some reason, you have every intention of making it to that finish line. Now imagine you are in the same race, and you stop to take a breath. You look up and all you see is more track. The finish line is not in your view…you walk off the race track, and take a bus home.
5. Let people know that you’re memorizing. Understand this carefully. I’m not telling you to rent a blimp and advertise to your town that you are memorizing. I’m saying, let your family and a few close, trusted friends know about your intention and efforts towards completing your hifdh. Let them know you are memorizing and that you would just like for them to check up on you every once in a while. That way, if you lose some internal motivation, you can have an external push. And find other ways to surround yourself with reminders – like quotes on your wall or refrigerator.
6. If you can’t run, walk. Remember that the point is that you should not give up, but that doesn’t mean you are expected to always keep the same pace. Things happen. So no matter what, keep inching towards your goal. If I feel like I can’t do anything else, I might just lay down and listen to a recitation of what I need to memorize or review. Even small efforts go a long way.
7. Recite Qur’an. Memorizing Qur’an does not mean that you turn your relationship with the Qur’an into a purely academic pursuit. Have a portion of Qur’an that you recite daily – keep yourself connected to Qur’an, always. As long as you have some sort of connection to it, and some source that is strengthening your imaan, you won’t be able to reach a place where you are going to give up.
WaAllahu Ta’aala ‘Alam
Posted by: The Ideal Muslimah January 15, 2014 in
Here’s my quran story summarized with my tips.
First of all, alhamdulilah … alhamdulilah.. Allah has blessed me with this great Amanah (trust) and this great gift.. Alhamdulilah.. And I ask Him humbly to allow me two things: to revise the quran, and to inspire others. May Allah bless you with this great gift. It can be done. All you need is determination and duaa. You don’t even need all the time in the world.
It was a crash-memorization camp, and alhamdulilah/mashallah I finished in about 2 months and half. Alhamdulilah I was on vacation for part of my memorization journey, but for the majority I was busy, still going to school (the hospital, 5 days a week). Still having to see patients, still getting in trouble with doctors for slacking off. Although I wasn’t studying, time really was not on my side- but I realized that’s not what’s most important. Many girls in the actual camp finished in 2 months, and the first girl finished in one month. It really is possible!
I was supposed to finish in 2 months exactly- 10 pages a day. Most days I could do this, but on days I couldn’t I would make it up the next day if possible.. which is fine- still worth it. Still, make your goal big.. Reach for the moon and you will land among the stars!
Here is a general idea:
How long to finish
Nice if you have a month off, and can use your time only for Quran
Very feasible- long enough to finish, short enough not to lose motivation
2 months and 3 weeks
Nice if you have semi-work load.
Worth it if you have a good one hour a day.
20 months (1 yr, 8 mo)
Here are my humble tips:
- Seek Allah’s help. Make duaa. When you reach Juzu 7.. or 14.. or anything.. and you start to lose motivation- turn to him. They are His words and He alone can teach you them.
- Get a portion done in the morning, especially if you are busy. The days where I could manage at least 1-2 pages before noon, made the 10 pages much easier. If I started after noon, it would take longer. #EarlyBirdBarakeh
- Cancel Stuff. Say No more often. You have to cut back on some things you are used to. Its just the way it works. Even if you do have time to do other things, you don’t have the energy. Too much non-quran things really takes you away from the mood. If your friends start to get annoyed by how much you are saying no recently- then you are doing it right.
- Find Recitation Coach(es). I couldn’t stay with the camp the whole time- so I would recite to my mom, sister, and friends. Try to stick to a couple people but have more than one person. If you need to recite and the person is busy you will get discouraged- so try to have a back-up. I used to even recite on the phone sometimes!
- Memorize and recite DAILY. No days off. None. Even if you memorize only page and your goal is to memorize 10. It has to become a habit. Plus, you start one page… then the next page looks easy.. then the next one goes fast..
- Big chunks are easier! I used to think memorizing one page a time is faster- but actually.. memorizing 4-6 pages at a time makes it go faster. Its like your brain gets into “memorization” mode-and whats you recite to someone else its hard to get back into “memorization” mode to start again. So if you are doing 10 pages, try to memorize 6.. recite them to your “coach”, then the 4 pages will be easy inshallah. Even memorizing all 10 is not that hard!
- Don’t tell too many people at first. Because it gets kind of stressful when they keep asking where you reached, how many pages you’ve done, etc. Tell your “coaches” and tell your close friends for motivation and to not lose sight of the goal.
- Free your Mind-more than your time! It’s not about how many hours you have a day as much as how much you need to reduce mental clutter. I can get much more done in 2 hours relaxed than in 6 when I am worrying about something. The Quran does not enter with chaos. So before you start, make your to-do lists and put them aside, get essential things done, free yourself from worries and commitments. If anything worries you while you are memorizing, remember Shaytan doesn’t want you to focus and that the Quran will take care of your worries.
- When you are sleepy-do one more. I don’t even know why. I guess its just about pushing yourself. But I always felt barakeh when I did 1-2 more pages at night when I was getting sleepy rather than giving up.
- 10.Motivate yourself with baby steps. Its daunting to be in Surat AlBaqara and be dreaming of Surat AlNaas. Just keep imagining how happy you will be to be in the next surah or next few juzu2s. When I was in the 13th I would be like: ya rab.. I want to reach 15…the middle. Then in 15- Ya rab, I want to reach 20th juzu2.. the majority. Then in the 20th.. Ya rab- till the 25th so almost nothing is left.. Then, ya rab- I have to finish!!
- Use one Mushaaf . Don’t switch around. I used mine every single day. And I used a pencil to mark around words and underline ayahs. And post-it notes for the next juzu2 so I would get excited to reach it. Try to get a standard size quran- too small is hard to memorize from. Too big is hard to hold. Avoid electronic Mushafs- they personally give me headaches and I find take more time. Plus you cant write on them.
- Phone- silent. Far away. I muted almost all notifications.
- Find your memorization-style. My best memorization technique is sign- language! I look hilarious when I recite something I know well. I memorize it all with hand gestures. It really helped me. I also sometimes would write them out, or write out the beginning of each ayah. Walking also helped because it gave me energy-but only for a few pages at a time. Listening to ayahs is nice-especially if you have trouble reading- but is time-consuming. But please do this if you can’t read it well because the worst thing you can do is memorize something wrong the first time.
- Divide page into halves or thirds-then glue together. Do one ayah, repeat a couple times. Do the next ayah, then repeat it with the one before it. Divide the page in halves or thirds depending on how many ayahs a page, then try them together at the end.
- When reviewing a large amount, review the BEGINNING of each ayah. When you keep repeating an ayah, chances are if you can start it you can finish it. So don’t waste your attention re-reading the whole page. Just test if you know the beginning of each ayah.
- Stay away from sins… but when you mess up- repent and keep going.
Shaytan will tell you: there’s no point to memorize- you are a sinner. Or will remind you of a sin so that you feel that you can’t memorize. Seek refuge from Allah and keep going. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need a Holy Book from Allah teaching us how to live our life. You won’t be perfect by the end.
This is us trying to come closer to Allah as humans. Seek refuge from the shaytan, say Bismillah- and #justkeepmemorizing.
- Take breaks after reciting to someone- not after memorizing. I don’t know if this just worked for me- but I always found it more efficient. And don’t make them long. 10 minutes are a good refresher. More than that and you will lose the “memorization- mode”
- Find a partner. Or a group! Make it a challenge for those around you. Even away from the camp I was motivated thinking of the girls sitting memorizing at the camp working towards my same goal.
- Try to stay focused. When you take too long on one page because of distractions or daydreaming- it takes extra extra long. Stay focused, finish the page, then take your break.
- Not all ayahs are the same. Some ayahs are harder, you will have to find new ways to memorize them or repeat them more. That’s fine.
- Set time goals. I used to always have a max goal of half an hour per page. More than that- and I knew I was doing something wrong or not focusing. Sometimes it takes less- which is great! Just don’t lose track of time.
- Make connections. Sometimes I would relate one word with one word in the next ayah. It really helps. For example.. an ayah that has my friends name, and the next ayah would remind me of another friend. So I would connect those two words to tie the two ayahs together..
- Look up tough words. Sometimes understanding that ONE hard word in the ayah- makes you understand the ENTIRE ayah which helps you understand the page and really helps you memorize. Too much tafseer while memorizing makes it harder- you start to understand it but forget the actual words.
- Tarteel later.. (Tarteel: slow, beautified recitation) I suggest that you don’t keep repeating each ayah with full tarteel when memorizing- it takes too long if you are aiming for a short time-frame and sometimes you memorize the “sound” and not the actual words. When I would memorize I would repeat them relatively quickly- to not lose energy or focus. (When you are done memorizing- enjoy your tarteel.)
- Once you finish, start planning your revision strategy. It is not a once and for all thing, and revising is essential! Especially if you finish it in a short time period.
- Ayahs about stories are the easiest! Enjoy them!
A few Notes:
For all those who asked, I do speak and read Arabic, and I have been alhamdulilah learning tajweed and Arabic for years. For those who do not speak Arabic or know Tajweed it would be best if you spent some time learning those first so you can memorize it correctly the first time.
Also, I know from all my role models who memorized the Quran before me that you must memorize it several times. I realize that I have a lot of revision to do, and May Allah forgive us for our shortcomings, but we really do have to start somewhere..
Hope these help.. I ask of whoever is reading this to please keep me in your Du’aas..
May Allah bless you with memorizing the Quran and practicing its meanings.. And May the light of the Quran illuminate your path always.
And Allah Knows Best…
Bushra Tbakhi is a medical student in her final year. She loves writing.
Edited by Shamsiya Noorul Quloob ♦