بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

Br. Sumair's Notes from the 11/8/97 Teachers' Workshop

"A Topical and Critical Approach to Teaching the Quran" by Dr. Maher Hathout

Hosted by the Bureau of Islamic Education

 

I. Introduction

The Quran no longer occupies the consciousness of Muslims.

We have made two major mistakes in dealing with the Quran:

1. Reduction: We have reduced its power to transform and change people and societies.

2. Creating Barriers Between People and the Quran: Out of love for the Quran, and out of fear of mispronouncing and misunderstanding it, we have erected a special class of people to tell us how to understand the Quran. In this fashion we lost contact with the Quran: most people in Pakistan, Egypt, etc. do not deal directly with the Quran, or interact with it.

We must therefore change our methodology of teaching and connecting with the Quran.

Your job as a Quranic teacher...

1. ...Is: to remove the hindrances for children, so that they can understand the Quran as a dynamic force in their lives.

2. ...Is Not: to be intimidated by the demands of parents and the administration, if those demands deviate from your (1) above. Some parents only want their children to memorize large amounts of Quran, so that they can usher their kids in front of friends and relatives and brag about them. Do not cater to this habit!

 

II. A Generalized Analysis of our Present Teaching Methodology

READING + + +

MEMORIZATION + + –

UNDERSTANDING + – –

IMPLEMENTATION – – –

We place tremendous emphasis on READING the Quran properly because of the hadith regarding the reward for reciting (30 rewards for saying ا ل م ). But surely the Prophet did not mean that reading and reciting should be goals in themselves!!

We place similar emphasis on MEMORIZING the Quran because this is what we perceive what the parents want. Memorization is indeed important, and it is an easy gauge of progress. But focus on memorization itself can not, however, impact a student's life in the way the Quran should.

Our treatment of Quranic UNDERSTANDING is substandard. Indeed, If we were truly concerned with a child's ability to understand the Quran, we would not place so much emphasis on Part 30 of the Quran...it's Arabic is too complicated for most adults and scholars to understand! We need to take select verses of the Quran—not entire chapters—and focus upon them; needless to say, children must be able to relate to the verses taught to them.

Generally speaking, we have thoroughly neglected activities to help our children IMPLEMENT, or put into practice, what they read and memorize from the Quran. This is our most fatal flaw. Remember that the Companions of the Prophet (ص) would only memorize 10 verses of the Quran, learn to practice them, and then memorize new scripture.

 

III. Thoughts Toward Quranic IMPLEMENTATION

1. Connect the Quran to Behavior

2. Connect the Quran to Imagery

3. "Act Out" the Quran Wherever Appropriate

 

By way of example, TEACH THE CHILDREN TO...

 

...do something nice for their parents every day for a week when they study

[17:23] "Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be kind to your parents. When one or both of them attain to old age, do not say words of contempt to them, but address them with honor"

...give something of theirs away when they study

[3:92], "By no means will you achieve righteousness until you spend freely from that which you love. And whatever you give, Allah knows it well."

...do an act of kindness for (1) a neighbor they know, (2) a neighbor they don't know, and (3) a peer when they study

[4:36], "Serve Allah and do not join any partners with Him. And do good to your parents, relatives, orphans, neighbors whom you know, neighbors whom do not know, companions at your side...For Allah loves not arrogant people."

...put together a leaf collection when they study

[6:59], "With Him are the keys of the Unseen world, which no one but He has full knowledge of. He knows whatever there is on the earth or in the sea. There is not a leaf which falls, but He knows it..."

...do a collage with pictures of animals which crawl, slither, walk on two legs, etc. when they study

[24:45], "And Allah has created every animal from water. Of them there are some that creep on their bellies, some that walk on two legs, and some that walk on four. Allah creates whatever He wills to, for verily He has power over all things."

...dig in their back yards and look for seeds in the ground when they study

[31:16], "'O my son!' said Luqman, 'If there is a mustard seed—even if it is hidden in a rock, or elsewhere in the heavens and the earth—God will account for it, because He is subtle and aware of all things.'"

...get up for the dawn prayer when they study

[3:17], "His servants are those who say, 'Our Lord! We have indeed believed. Forgive us, then, our sins, and save us from the agony of Hell Fire!' They are those who show patience and self control; who are true in word and deed; who worship devoutly; who spend in the way of Allah; and pray for forgiveness in the early hours of the morning."

...be honest and trustworthy (see reference at [3:17] above) by giving them tests which have answers on the back of the page. In this fashion they can learn to overcome their urge to cheat.

...smile in the mosque when they study Traditions of our Holy Prophet

...to keep the masjid bathroom clean

 

The above-mentioned guidelines, let it be emphasized, need to be done in an organized and systematic fashion. A curriculum must be put together so that the same verse of the Quran is not studied—and identical activities not repeated—at different grade levels. The New Horizon Press has already done some work of this nature.

 

IV. Brother Sumair's Thoughts

 

With all the above in mind, it may not be a bad idea to focus upon RECITING and MEMORIZATION while the children are still young. Certainly they must learn to read the Quran properly early in life. Moreover, it is generally accepted that a child has a greater ability than an adult to retain material through memorization. Perhaps it is best to focus on RECITATION and MEMORIZATION until nine or ten years of age (through 4th or 5th grade).

 

Girls and boys reach puberty at approximately their eleventh and thirteenth year of age, respectively. These are the ages when Allah turns on their faculties of deeper understanding. Perhaps it is best to focus on UNDERSTANDING and IMPLEMENTATION of the Quran at those ages (6th through 8th grades).