Mspiration catches up with Australia’s Jamal Ud-Din El-Kiki in Dubai as he prepares to compete in The Dubai International Holy Quran Award.
I completed memorising the Quran when I was fourteen, but it’s only when I got older that I began to appreciate some of its deeper meanings. From the moment I started speaking, my parents started teaching me the short chapters like Surat Al-Ikhlas. Over the following years it was a matter of working my way up through the other chapters of the Quran, until I finally completed memorising them all at the age of 14, alhamdulillah.
The key to learning the Quran is consistency, it is truly the most fundamental element. You can be a slow learner or have greater difficulties memorising, but as long as you are consistent over the years, you will eventually reach your goal. It’s a repetitive process but through that it becomes easier as you get more proficient. You may struggle with the Arabic in the beginning but by being consistent, the syntax will be will be easier to process. You have to keep at it; it does get better.Once you learn the Quran or certain surahs you have to vigilantly revise them in order to keep them all in there. It is about being disciplined and constantly revising. For me personally, I always aim to revise one Juzu’ per day which keeps them well rehearsed.
When it comes to learning Quran in Ramadan I think it’s important to come up with a program for the whole month. It is important for the program to be realistic and achievable. You should have a fair idea about what can you do during Ramadan and what you can’t. If you want to read the Quran through out the month then I recommend breaking it up into one juzu’ per-day and spreading them out across the five prayers. This means you can do about four pages after each prayer and that could add up to about one hour at most of your day.
Having a fair understanding of Arabic and learning the Quran helps you see the world differently. I try to make these little connections between the meanings of Quranic verses and events happening around the world as well as my daily life. An example that always strikes me is where Allah SWT says throughout the Quran that He will put people through trials and tribulations as a form of purification. Those verses resonate with me when I see what is happening in places like Syria and Burma. It is a source of consolation. You know that Allah SWT is overseeing these atrocities with His Divine Wisdom and they are not happening for no reason.
( Jamal Ud-Din El-Kiki competing in a 2011 Quran competition in Saudi Arabia)
I was participating in small Quran competitions since the age of about six. These were small events held by different community centres around Sydney. Then, alhamdulillah, I took it internationally by participating in a competition in Libya in 2010, followed by Saudi Arabia, Sudan and now Dubai. Competitions take it to a whole new level as there are multiple aspects of your recitation you need to consider while being assessed. Having a good memory of the Quran is one thing, but being able to recite fluently on the spot while applying correct tajweed to each particular letter, as well as stopping and starting in the middle of verses appropriately, is a greater challenge. It is certainly more than a memory exercise.
One thing I love about these competitions is the diversity of people you meet. Everyone comes from different communities and we all share our different experiences when it comes to learning the Quran. In my last trip I met this Turkish brother who was blind yet managed to learn the Quran. He didn’t speak any English so we couldn’t really communicate but just being with him was subhanAllah so inspiring and gave me a great deal of motivation. Everyone is different but we share this common bond with the Quran. You feel like you are a part of an international Quranic community.
Quran competitions play a very important role for both participants and the audience. For participants, it serves to enable greater precision and fluency in reading the Quran off by heart. For audience, it serves as a platform whereby the Quran can be appreciated as a success story in its own right, in the same way that achievements in arts and music are celebrated.
We need more people to memorise the Quran. Even now in Ramadan, you get communities looking for Imams to lead the prayer for Taraweeh. There is a massive shortage and you get cases in some mosques of people having to read off the book while leading the prayer. We also need people that have learnt the Quran to teach it more and spread the knowledge further. All of this builds and empowers Muslim communities.
For more information on the Dubai International Holy Quran Award (Arabic) click here
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