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Blessings of Hifz: A Mother's Story

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umm-e-abdullah, Taalibah, abu mohammed
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#1 [Permalink] Posted on 5th June 2014 11:56
When my older brother finished memorizing the Qur'an and started leading taraweeh back in the late 90s, it wasn't all that common for children born in the US to have completed hifz, especially without going overseas. An LA Times reporter interviewed my family for a story on his accomplishment. She asked me, then 11 years old, if I was also planning to memorize the Qur'an like my brother. I told her I wasn't sure yet and then she asked me, "Do you feel that boys are encouraged to memorize the Qur'an more than girls?"
"No," I replied. I didn't want the story to take an "Islam's treatment of women" turn, especially by someone who wasn't aware of the whole picture. But my answer was only half true.
I had started memorizing the Qur'an with my older brother, but then paused after memorizing only two of the thirty juz. He was more dedicated and continued. But it would be exaggerating to say the issue was only about dedication. Although my parents encouraged all of us children to memorize and study the Qur'an, the general belief then was that memorizing the Qur'an was not a thing girls needed to do. Most of the few hifz schools that existed then only catered to boys. "A girl can't lead taraweeh," I would often hear people saying. "How will she keep the Qur'an memorized afterwards? Especially since she won't be able to read during times of the month. So what's the use of doing hifz anyway?" There was no need to burden a girl with this responsibility of reviewing the Qur'an for the rest of her life. Especially when she couldn't use it to benefit the community by leading taraweeh prayers or the like.
Despite this, I started memorizing again at home. This was an unconventional way to memorize, as children interested in this achievement usually go to a hifz school and follow a rigid routine. I took it one surah at a time, with no clear end goal in mind. I wasn't sure whether I was going to complete memorizing the entire Qur'an or stop before that. I had pauses here and there, but eventually, by the grace of Allah, I finished in 2004.
I loved having the relationship with the Qur'an that memorizing the Qur'an gave me, but there were no practical benefits or uses of my hifz in sight then. By the next year both my older and younger brother were leading taraweeh at the masjid and everyone in the community appreciated the fact that they had memorized the Qur'an. As far as me though, most people didn't even know I had memorized the Qur'an and even if they did, it made no difference.
But, ironically, I only truly started appreciating what a great, great blessing hifz is after becoming a mother.
The first time I found myself really appreciating my hifz was when I went to Pakistan to study Islamic sciences. That is also the first time I learned that it's not an uncommon thing at all for a girl to have memorized the Qur'an. About one third of my classmates were hafizas and I was fortunate to be among them. There were many advantages of having memorized the Qur'an while studying Arabic and Islam. While other students had to struggle to remember ayahs that teachers quoted fordaleels, look up the proper wording of ayahs, etc. hafizas had a headstart. The Qur'an, the base of all Islamic knowledge, was in our hearts. Just a simple reference to an ayah was all we would need to understand and remember an issue. Often, teachers would ask us to help quote an ayah they couldn't recall. The subjects of Arabic and tafseer, especially, became easy. Needless to say, having memorized the Qur'an helped me excel in my studies. When I returned and started teaching classes, the benefits of hifz were obvious in everything. I could quote ayahs easily without having to look them up, something that was especially useful intafseer.
But, ironically,............
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