By Ruqaya al Kindi
Ramadhan is the holiest month for Muslims when everyone aspires to do as much good as they possibly can. The reward during this month is maximised and Muslims are keen to use every minute to be close to Allah.
With religious gatherings being an important part of any day, holy Quran memorization and reading sessions also take centerstage in different places like mosques, majlis, or even at homes. But with strict physical distancing directives enforced to limit the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 disease, many of Ramadhan’s rituals and traditions were temporarily skipped this year.
“It is usual in Ramadhan that the number of people who attend the reading and memorizing sessions of the Qur’an are increasing,’’ Jokha al Shiryani said, a teacher of the Holy Quran for years.
“In our neighbourhood, like the rest of the neighborhoods in the Sultanate, in the women prayer rooms, I teach the elderly women in the period after dawn prayer and then children around ten o’clock in the morning,” she shared.
“Girls can join the sessions from the age of seven, and boys from the age seven to ten. Beyond these ages, they can join the mosques with the rest of their peers,” she said.
During the sessions, students and teacher sit in a circle so they can see each other and listen to each other well.
“I dedicate the beginning of the session only for reading Qur’an. I let students read one by one, and I correct them along the way . I teach them how to read correctly as well as how to pronounce the words correctly. This is because reading Qur’an is not like reading any other book as it has special rules,” she explained.
Jokha said that in most sessions, she has to pause the reading so that she can explain the meaning of the words.
“This is very important because Quran is not just words to read, but it is an integrated approach of life for Muslims,” she said.
After the reading session, Jokha then proceeds the day’s session to Qur’an memorization.
“As there are thirty parts in the Qur’an, I start teaching children the easiest parts and I make sure to divide them in groups according to their ages,” she explained.
She mentioned that some children usually can memorize one part in Ramadhan (the part include about 20 pages) and others are less than a part; because there are children who can memorize a page per day and others reach two pages.
Many other teachers help Jokha in the memorization sessions because of the many steps one has to go through, and the children are also divided based on their ages.
Because of its importance, she has to sit one by one with each children making sure that they memorize the pages properly. “Then we sit again in a circles according to their ages and move to the next pages where I read first and then they copy how I pronounce and read them correctly,” she shared.
“Children, then, complete their memorization at home and then come to recite it in our next meeting,” she added.
Other than the reading and memorization, the getting together also are avenues for other events.
“We spend a time for many other things like teaching the correct way to perform prayer and its value and importance, teaching good behaviors and ethics in dealing with people,” she said.
“We also do visual presentations (cartoons) or oral stories about the prophets’ stories. We explain to the children the lessons that can be learned from these anecdotes,” she said.
Sometimes, she adds entertaining things so that children do not get bored, such as the art of paper formation “Origami”.
“This time can also be spent in teaching Islamic ethics like etiquette of drinking, sleeping and eating. Teaching some Islamic morals such as honouring and respecting parents, relatives and neighbors,” she added.
Teaching Qur’an to the children is an integral part of growing up allowing them to have the proper education and understanding in how it is to live a good Muslim life.
Since the beginning of Islam, people are keen to teach and learn Qur’an. The first model was the Prophet Muhammad, BPUH. Then he taught Muslims in a systematic and wonderful way. Then he ordered his companions to hold sessions to memorize the Qur’an.
His Companions used to read the Qur’an and strive to read it during Ramadhan. Their relationship with Qur’an was very strong, and they were keen to finish reading the whole book more than once especially during this month. (Photo by Ahmed al Saidi)