Wednesday, 8 July 2009

The Right Age to Teach Quran

Learning to read Quran is a subject I return to again and again, because it is so important to me and also because it has been a journey for both me and my children.

At times I struggle to ensure that there is a lesson everyday, but I am seeing the benefit of five straight lessons over five days as Little Lady slowly progresses and gains confidence in her reading.

One issue that has come up is the right age to teach your child Quran and by what age they have finished. An Alima (lady scholar) once advised me that a good age is four for girls and five for boys as she found them harder to get to sit still. Children younger than this would get told off for making mistakes, but not really understand why they were being told off. In contrast the excellent teacher who taught my younger cousins used to take children as soon as they were potty trained, rewarding them with sweets and praise when they did well.

My dad started teaching me when I was five and I finished Quran when I was seven. I don’t want to set the same standard for my children. I had no understanding of the gravity of what I was learning and I made mistakes in my pronunciation. I also stopped when I was in my early teens. When my periods started, I used it as a reason to skive off and my dad couldn’t pick me up on this even when he knew I couldn’t be telling the truth. Accordingly I forgot a lot of what I had learned and memorised.

Recently a very good friend reminded me that the daughter of an acquaintance had just finished Quran – also reminding me she was Little Lady’s age (who hasn’t yet started Quran). On another occasion she reminded me that I really should send Little Lady to the mosque to learn Quran because she was growing up and she only had until she was 13 or 14 to learn. I didn’t agree with this. In fact the more I thought about this, the more it troubled me. I wasn’t in a race with anybody else’s children, each child learns at his or her own pace. Perhaps also we have different aims: for some to finish quickly, for others to read accurately, for other’s still to understand what they read. You can’t put an equivalent time-scale on these things.

Also I don’t want Little Lady to stop reading when she hits her teenage years. I want this to be a life-long endeavour for me and my children. Our holy book is not just a book, but the living, miraculous, perfect word of our Creator (SWT) – to be read daily, to be instructed and guided by and for us to check and correct our understanding and reading of.

So for me there is no right age to begin and finish. I love the stories of the women who recite whilst pregnant and breast-feeding in the hope it will impact on their children, I love the grandmother’s who teach the toddlers to say “La-ilaha-il-Allah” ("There is no God but Allah"), I love the teachers who sit their students down for the first time and ask them to recite “rabbi zidni ilma” ("O Lord! Increase me in knowledge."), I am as impatient as any mother for the day each of my children finishes Quran. Still, I am in no rush. As long as we study together a little every day, I feel that I am going some way towards not shirking my duty. I hope this journey brings us closer to pleasing Allah (SWT) and he allows each of us to benefit from his Book.

Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “The best of you are those who learn the Qur’aan and teach it. ~ Bukhari Vol 6 - 61:545

6 comments:

  1. i totally agree with you sis inshaAllah your children will grow up with more understanding of what they are reading and how it impacts thier lives,
    what you have mentioned is very common as i find among many parents who expect thier children to finish reciting the Qur'aan as soon as they can and after that they are taken out of mosque/madressah. Those same children hardly read the Qur'aan after that and unfortunalty don;t connect with it. I think i was in my late teens when i began to read a translation of the Qur'aan.

    I am talkign here as a lay person as i'm no scholar but i think for children a good thing would be start memorising as they are really good at age also sharing stories from the Qur'aan. My 3 year old nephew loves surah fil and the story behind it i think he finds the little birds amazing! and then i introduce the surah and see if he can memeorize parts of it.
    And Allah knows best
    p.s sorry for such a loong comment its become a habit!

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  2. Umm Nassim08 July, 2009

    Assalam Alaikum,

    Loved reading this post! As for Quran stories, I find some books not appropriate for kids and some are even fear inducing. Any leads?

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  3. Anonymous09 July, 2009

    Assalamo elikuim
    I have been reading your blog for a while now but posting first time.Mashallah reading your blog shows how amazing you are with your kids, family and in-laws(which is very rare these days :)) May Allah swt keep you like this and bring barakah to you and your family, Ameen.
    I 100% agree with you, it seems like there is a race going around. Everybody seems to be braging about how early and how much Quran their kids know. I believe reading correctly everyday and understanding it are more important than finishing it early. And also each and every child is different, it depends on ndividual child also. We should be focusing on reading everyday then rather completely it quickly.

    Wasalam
    UmmOsman

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  4. Assalam-alaikam,

    Reading the comments above, I'm seeing that I am not the only way that thinks this way and that other sisters feel unneccesarily pressured too. One of the reasons I blog is because I want to learn from my sisters so your comments are welcome and appreciated

    Sis EP,
    i always though the younger children start the better too as they have memories that soak things up like sponges, but I just wonder how to start off.

    Sis Umm Nassim,
    I have found for younger children, that reading a book off straight is sometimes a bit dry. The best way I have found is to read the Quran story or the event that happened and re-tell in my own words. This works even better at a time where the story and situation at hand are linked in some way. So for instance telling the story of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) when you go to visit somone returning from Haj or just before Eid-ul-Adha, or maybe tellling the storu of Prophet Nuh (AS) on a rainy day. I think that maybe because of the situation being linked and because of our passion for what happened, the story might stick in their minds betetr and be more real to them insh'Allah. Worth a try. If I come across anything particularly useful, I'll let you know.

    Sister Umm Osman,
    Jazakh'Allah-khairun for your comment. Alhamdulillah, you only get to see the sanitised version of me on this blog. Not the shouting, impatient or air-brained version. Like all of my sisters I am learning through my mistakes and starting afresh each day.

    I agree, some of the kids I am seeing finishing quickly are reading incorrectly (South Asians read Arabic as Urdu because they have the same alphabet, so we often make two or three common mistakes such as Saa for Tha ﺙ‎ and Zaal for dhaal ﺫ‎ amongst others)and without the interest, understanding or passion for what they are learning that might help Quran become a life-long passion.

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  5. Umm Nassim10 July, 2009

    I think the art of storytelling somehow got lost in my cultural background, unfortunately. Not growing up in a Muslim community adds to the fact that I must sound "mechanical" when I read Islamic stories to my kids. But no despair...yesterday I managed to read a story about the birth of the Prophet (peace be upon him) whilst also adding some Michael Jackson clips on YouTube...I just have to play all my cards...

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  6. In my opinion the minimum age to start the recitation of Holy Quran should be 7 . Teacher should start from selected surah and try to explain some too. In this way the child will learn what actually Allah wants from us. After puberty , the proper responsibilities implemented by Quran should be taught. According to islam, a person is considered as an adult after puberty and proving some sense. There is no numerical age

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