By Calisha Bennet
Very rarely have I ever met someone who said that their journey towards learning, memorising or understanding the Quran was a super easy one. The common experience is that it is an ongoing and uphill journey for most. It’s expressed that there are phases of stopping and starting, of learning and re-learning, of speed bumps and obstacles. Common sense tells us that of course it’s not going to be an overnight or super-easy journey but this doesn’t stop us from wishing it was right?! Deep, deep down in our hearts, we all know that the best things that we can achieve in this life (and the next) will take great effort and sacrifice. The Quran is undoubtedly the Divine Word of Almighty Allah SWT and as Muslims, we all know that we are supposed to hold it near and dear to our hearts. Yet why do so many of us struggle with committing to it’s study?
I have been studying the Quran for many, many years and despite making great progress in some ways, at times I still feel stuck and challenged in other ways. I have learnt and re-learnt how to read Quran correctly; I have studied the science of Tajweed; I have reviewed these Tajweed lessons again and again as I struggled to retain the definitions, rules and exceptions (and the crazy exceptions to the exceptions of rules!); I have started and restarted my hifdh journey; I have tried a few times to learn the Arabic language in order to understand the Quran and overall I have been in what seems like a Quranic marathon with still so much to yet achieve! It’s definitely been an uphill endurance experience for me. I have had to push myself and tackle my internal story about why I’ve found it challenging. I’ve had to commit and recommit to the decision to continue in my various studies and efforts. I’ve assessed and addressed my challenges and my road blocks and I’ve had to question my intentions and done numerous re-sets of my intentions. It’s not easy dear sisters – I feel you and I am with you in the struggle. From my Quranic studies journey so far in life I wanted to share what parts you might find difficult.
Ways in which Quranic learning might FEEL difficult
· You might have learnt an aspect of Quran but be required to re-learn it. This can be frustrating if you feel you’ve already done the hard yards to learn how to read Quran but then an experienced teacher suggests that you’ve got to go back and start again. It might be that you are faced with a situation where in order to improve and correct your recitation, you’ve got to re-learn from the very beginning. Your ego and patience might take a hit!
· You struggle with your time management and commitment and aren’t establishing a strong routine of Quran studies so it impacts and slows down your progress.
· Your struggle with your ability to memorise. Perhaps you didn’t grow up with a second language and Arabic is a bit foreign to you. Perhaps you aren’t an auditory learner and can’t learn as quickly as someone who is, or perhaps you’re a convert and the accents are still quite foreign to you. Many people struggle in many ways (and in their hifdh journey’s especially) so you are not alone. The process of learning new verses and reviewing old ones takes time and dedication.
· You don’t have a teacher or study buddies so you feel like you don’t have any support. Perhaps you’re the only one in your household striving in Quranic studies. Feeling lonely can affect your drive and can impact your resolve to continue in a way that maximises your ability and potential.
· You assume that everyone else’s Quranic study path is easier than yours. Perhaps they grew up with a great environment of Quranic study and had support and a head start. Maybe they know Arabic and are able to understand the Quran directly already? Perhaps they have an amazing gift to memorise easily or maybe they don’t have children or commitments to distract them from studies so have a greater ability to progress than you….the list of comparisons and assumptions can go on. Seeing the path of others as being easier than yours makes way for you to justify your own lack of effort or progress and can be very counter-productive.
How we know that the path with the Quran CAN be easy:
· With a solid intention, commitment, routine and discipline you can literally achieve ANYTHING in life subhanAllah – especially your Quranic goals. Having a sound intention that you are learning for the sake of Allah SWT and His pleasure will make the road ahead easy because all you care about is progress for His sake. Not your own sake, not your ego’s sake, not your parent’s sake, not for your teacher’s sake – only for Allah! A sound intention leads to a committed heart and a committed heart followed by a disciplined routine will deliver amazing results inshallah!
· With teacher support and accountability– having a teacher can greatly assist with accountability, which in turn can also result in steady and consistent progress. A teacher can also guide you in having the right mindset, proper study habits and overall knowledge and wisdom in your area of Quranic study.
· With friends and company who are also studying you will be more driven to keep up with the pace of study and maintain your motivation to continue. Friends who are on a similar journey can serve to remind you of the value of your efforts as well as be a great support in the journey.
· If it is your goal, dream and intention to be committed to the Quran then Allah SWT will only open the path and make it easy for you. Your heart and mind need to trust the ayah where Allah SWT says: And We have certainly made the Qur’an easy for remembrance, so is there any who will remember? (Quran 54:17) Things to remind yourself of:
· One of my favourite saying is: ‘It doesn’t matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.’ And it’s true – Allah SWT doesn’t measure your speed or pace in achievements; he measures your individual efforts according to your unique journey in life. So pace yourself and just do whatever effort you can, as often as you can – consistently!
· Staying in the race to read/understand the Book of Allah is an achievement in and of itself. Over the years of studying in and teaching Quran, Tajweed and Arabic classes, I have watched countless people begin a class and then drop off – never to complete a course or see it through to the end. Don’t be one of those people! Be someone who stays in the race…someone who doesn’t fall of the boat and who doesn’t jump ship! Stay on board! Stay in the race!
· Allah SWT counts your intentions and efforts not your results. Don’t feel bad or sad if you haven’t achieved massive Quranic goals so far – the main thing is that you do have some beautiful rock-solid intentions and are making the effort to work towards making them a reality. Allah SWT isn’t going to ask for your exam results or tajweed definitions or Arabic vocabulary on the Day of Judgement. He is going to weigh and measure how much you intended to sacrifice and strive for in your Quranic journey all your life.
· Comparing yourself to others isn’t helpful. Everyone is on their own unique journey and has their own unique ability, strengths and talents in life. Some people might find some topics really easy and others might struggle. A classmate might look seemingly talented in a subject yet she is actually putting in 10x the effort at home that you can’t see. Perhaps you are making more effort than all of your classmates put together but are still one of the slowest to progress. It doesn’t help anyone to compare yourself to others – least of all yourself. So stay focused on your individual journey to Allah SWT, and stay focused on your own intentions and efforts. Make duaa for your peers and classmates and ask Allah to increase them in goodness and ability.
And finally dear sisters, simply do whatever it takes to give yourself wholeheartedly to the Quran. Submit your entire heart and soul to it’s study and application, as it truly is the only Book, the only knowledge and the only wisdom worth seeking out and sacrificing for in this world. It is the ONLY source of absolute truth and guidance in life – so how could we disregard it and throw it behind our backs? I can’t recall where I read this but I’ll finish with something I recently read about being committed to the Quran:
‘The Quran will only give you part of itself once you give it all of yourself.’ Together, let’s try our best to give ourselves to Allah’s Book.
About the author:
Calisha Bennett is the daughter of an Australian convert father and Cocos Islander mother. She is a home-schooling mother of 5 with over a decade of experience as an active speaker, community teacher and mentor of Muslim women, converts and youth. She is the founder of Developing Diamonds which provides identity and success coaching, workshops, courses and retreats for Muslim women around the world.