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National Qur’an Literacy Camp in the Caribbean: Taking the Qur’an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It!

DR.PASHA | July 12, 2008 | Section: Articles | 1405 reads


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Is There a Way Out of this Sorry Mess?

Yes, there is and here it is.

The way out of this sorry state of affairs is for both Muslim leaders and their often clueless followers is to return to the Qur’an as if they just discovered its existence. In particular, they should all try:

  1. To learn to read the Qur’an correctly, well and with as much fluency as they can.
  2. To read the Qur’an as much and as frequently as they possibly can.
  3. To try to understand the meaning and implications of the words and Aayats of the Qur’an.
  4. To try to figure out ways of putting what they read into practice however best they can.
  5. To actually work diligently and tirelessly to turn the teachings and ideas of the Qur’an into practical models of everyday life at both individual and collective levels.

If Muslim leaders and masses both turn to doing this, I have no doubt Allah’s mercy will smile upon them once again, and they will be able to change their own condition as well as the condition of the world for the better – using the light and guidance of the Qur’an.

And now here is what I have to say to Muslims all over the world:

My dear and beloved Muslim brothers and sisters! Start the process of change within yourself; in your families; as well as in your communities and societies. For, if you won’t do it, no one else will.

Turn to the Qur’an, every single one of you – as individuals; as families; as communities; and as societies, cultures, organizations, institutions and governments.

Start out by holding national, regional and local Qur’an Literacy camps in your community, Mohalla, mosque, region, area of the world and wherever else you can. Do it for a few years and then watch the mercy of Allah go to work: in your own life as well as in the life Allah’s world.

As for the non-Muslims, here is what I have to say to them:

“My beloved brothers and sisters, you are a part of my family. Together, we are all children of our beloved father and prophet, Hazrat Adam, may God bless him.

Allah sent his messengers and books in all parts of the world to help and guide you. He did that because he loves you and cares about you and wants you to come back to him.

So, do yourself a favor. And do all of us a favor. And do the whole world a favor. Pick up a copy of the Qur’an today and read it. In whatever language you can.

For a day, week or moment, put aside whatever bad or negative things you may have learned or thought about Muslims. Get rid of whatever prejudices may have entered your minds and hearts from whatever source for whatever reason and go to the Qur’an.

Read the Qur’an.

Read it as much as you can, with a clean and pure heart and with an open mind. Read the Qur’an and find out for yourself what it has to say: about you; about your God; and about your world.

Read about the wonderful life your God has in store for you if you will respond to his call and decide to come back to him.

And then sit back and watch the love, light and mercy of Allah flood your heart, mind and body and radiate and transform your life and your world.

You absolutely, positively owe this much to yourself and to your coming generations.”

That is what I would tell the non-Muslim members of my beloved human family.

The Qur’an Reader

May Allah bless the person who first put the Qur’an Reader together – I don’t know how many decades ago. He used the Urdu language to provide some brief explanations of the various lessons in the Reader. His exercises are such as I have never seen on any subject in any language at any level.

He simply created a fool-proof reader for the least able among us to master the Qur’an in the shortest possible time and with the least amount of effort.

His name escapes me but I have a vague recollection that he was somehow from the Punjab region of pre-partition India – maybe Amritsar. In any case that was the Reader on which I cut my teeth as a child. This fact I never forgot.

Later in life – much later – when I found myself in the West and in particular the West Indies and I looked about for a reader of some kind to teach my daughter the Qur’an, as well as to teach the Qur’an to those around me, mostly adults, who were non-native speakers of Arabic, Allah out of his infinite mercy placed a copy of the old Urdu Reader in my hands.

I set about rendering the Reader in English with some useful elaborations and additions. I could now use this new English Reader, if you will, to teach my little daughter the Qur’an and also to teach others the Qur’an whom I had the opportunity and the privilege to reach.

Thus was born, with help and blessings from Allah, what might very well have been the very first English Reader to teach the Qur’an to those whose mother tongue was English.

The Reader Mashallah proved to be so blessed and so effective and successful that we were able to teach people how to read the Qur’an in about three months or so with a commitment of one hour a day. These were mostly people whose mother tongue was English and who in most cases had never uttered a single Arabic word or sound in their life.

Thus began the story of inviting the people of the West Indies to Allah and of trying to teach them the reading of the Qur’an in the original Arabic text – the only way the Qur’an should be read.

And now after the passage of all these years, we have a second edition of the Reader, which we are using as the basis of our effort to run the 2nd National Qur’an Literacy Camp. And we are doing it first of all with help and mercy from Allah and also with full support and cooperation from local Muslim leadership, organizations, schools, principals and teachers.

It took a few years time and a bit of hard work on the part of a lot of dedicated people working for Allah with full devotion and sincerity. But the day is now upon us. And Mashallah and Alhamdulillah – what else can I say or what else can anyone say who has any sense of how this world of Allah works? – the 2nd National Qur’an Literacy Camp is now under way.

The goal is to be able to teach people how to read the Qur’an, starting out with basic letter identification and pronunciation, in about 12 sessions of about 21/2 hours each – from 4:00 to 7:00 PM, allowing time for Maghrib Salah and all that.

If this were a commercial enterprise, we would say: “Money-Back Guarantee.” But the way things are, and this project being what it is, all we can say is Inshallah – should Allah’s mercy make it possible for us to realize our goal.

For, not a blade of grass or a grain of sand on this earth, or anything else anywhere else, moves or exists without his will, permission and command.

Campers Who Come to Learn the Qur’an

In many ways this is a most extraordinary camp.

For one thing, the people, (men and women), who come to learn are mostly adults of ages ranging from 20 to 70 or in some cases older than that. Almost all of them cannot read the Qur’an Nazirah – by looking at the Arabic script. Many of them cannot identify or utter the letters of the Arabic alphabet.

The mother tongue of all of them is English and has been for generations. They are mostly the descendants of contract workers – indentured laborers – the British brought from India toward the middle of the 19th Century to replace the Black African slaves who had now been set free with the abolition of slavery in the Caribbean.

Muslims of the Caribbean are perhaps the oldest and the most authentic and original Muslim community in the West and one of the most devout and Islam-loving in the world. So, whenever someone refers to Islam and Muslims in the West, at the top of their list must appear the name of the Muslim community of the West Indies and the Caribbean.

The camps over the years – for, these camps have been run for decades under different names and with differing focuses and emphases – have also been attended by the descendants of the former slaves as many of them have embraced Islam and become converts.

I am deliberately avoiding here a newer expression “reverts” that has more recently found its way in Muslim vocabulary in some parts of the world for reasons that are not entirely clear to me, even though I have my own suspicion – theory if you want to call it that – where and how it came to be.

Number of students in these sessions are usually 15-25.

All participants are asked to bathe and make Wudu before they come and bring with them the following:

a) Purity of Intentions.

For, without them nothing in Islam works or counts. Part of the reason Muslims are in the sorry mess they are in today is due to problems with their motives and intentions at a lot of different levels – mostly on the part of those working in various positions of influence and leadership among Muslims.

It is a terrible thing to say, but it is something that bears looking into.

The very first Hadith recorded by Imam Bukhari – not one of the new American-type pseudo-Imams that Muslim national and other organizations have foisted on the Muslim masses, but a real spiritual and intellectual leader and by acclamation the greatest and most trusted and respected scholar of Hadith in history and therefore a real Imam of Muslims – is on the subject of motives and intentions.

The exact words of the Hadith are: Innamal a’amaalu binniyyaat.

Paraphrase: Actions count and they matter and work only when they proceed from right motives and intentions.

b) Willingness to Learn.

This goes back to the old saying: You can take a horse to water but you cannot make him drink. Meaning it is the horse that eventually will have to do the drinking and not you. That means unless people are personally motivated to learn, they are not likely to make the effort that is needed for success.

Poor motivation is often the problem with those who have difficulty dealing with learning situations and challenges. In general, it is one of the underlying causes of the backwardness of Muslims across the board, which is a mark of failure or serious limitation on the part of Muslim leadership, also, across the board, which has failed to do what it takes to motivate and inspire their flocks.

The Qur’an is as clear on this subject as it can be. It says: Laisa lil insaani illaa maa sa’aa. The implication is that, in Allah’s scheme of running this world, outcomes and results are going to be firmly rooted in people’s motivations and efforts.

c) A Respectful Attitude.

Good attitude is key to success with regard to every thing in life. Without it, life becomes dull, work becomes drudgery and success becomes moot. Learning-teaching situations are no exceptions to this general rule.

That is why the camp insists that those who come to attend do so accompanied by an attitude of profound respect: for themselves; for the environment of the class or the camp; for their fellow campers; and for the teachers, guides and camp counselors.

In addition, they should also display the greatest respect for Allah; for the Qur’an; for Islam; for Muslims; and for the entire teaching-learning enterprise. Absent that kind of pervasive respect, effective learning cannot take place: Teachers will find it hard to teach and students and campers will find it equally hard to benefit from the strivings and talents of their teachers.

 

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