I am finishing Maghreb Salah at the masjid and the kids from the hifdh program come rushing in. They are reciting Surah tul Humazah, jumping up and down, some standing on their head to change posture from sitting for so long with the Hafiz I presume.
I open the Quran and it is a splash of ice water on my face as I read the English translation……
104:1 Woe to every (kind of) scandalmonger and-backbiter,
And the boys are twisting and turning, laughing and prancing around reciting to their Moms what they memorized today, some lines are backwards and some front to back. Don’t judge them harshly they are young some very young. I realize they have no idea what they are reciting, what it means and what is the context.
I suddenly had a vision of myself studying the Quran as a child with my Ustanijee. My Quran had Urdu translation under every line and I would stop after each line of Arabic to read the meaning silently. She would nudge me to proceed to the next line unaware that I was trying to understand what I was reciting.
After that Magrib in the masjid watching the young children from the memorization class I realized that the immigrant parents still made their children memorize the Quran who did so without a clue as to what they were reciting.
I recalled that Umar RA took fifteen years to memorize Surah Al Baqarah. When asked why so long, he said, and I paraphrase:“ I could not move to the next line until I had made this one a part of my life”
Thus in a moment of bravado on my already full schedule I made up my mind that children should not have to wait a lifetime to know what they are reciting and contacted a young mother and discussed the possibility to start Quran tafseer for little ones.
She was very happy and immediately sent out a group text to their play group.
The responses from most Moms confirmed that they were already tied up into different programs and the rest were in the memorization program.
It confirmed to me that the life of the majority of American mothers, Muslim or not had not changed since I had young kids: They are glorified chauffeurs. The American society has already absorbed their children into parallel activities where you become a part of some team: a sports team, dance team or academic team, but there is no Islam team other than rote memorization and Sunday school at least in our community.
As the children get into middle school and then high school, parents seldom see them as they get their own wheels. The schools have after school practice and events, which return them home after 9 pm.
Muslims immigrant or other wise also get hooked onto this lifestyle very quickly because they feel this is the American way and that there are no other options.
The four hour void in the evening usually with two exhausted parents from their 40 hour week jobs is a recipe for arguments unless filled with TV, electronic games or one of them driving to scheduled events as mentioned above. Dinner as family is a relic of the past, as dinner is fast food on the road to or from these events usually eaten in a suburban.
In short there is no time for a child to reflect on Allah and His creation and wonder how things work, why does the sun come out of the east and why are the tides so punctual.
I see children in my practice with headaches because they are under so much stress from their extracurricular activities piled onto their curricular activities that they don’t even have time to sleep leave alone reflect.
Where are the long boring afternoons after school where we curled up and read a book or watched our cat carry kittens to and fro by their necks and wondered why the eyes of the kittens were closed. Now the kids have “virtual” pets as the parents don’t have time to clean after them.
Where are the long boring visits to our relatives where we watched chapattis being made and wondered why some swelled up like a balloon and others did not.
Nevertheless, the quota of kids for Quran 4 little hearts filled within 24 hours with children from 4 to 9 years of age.
Today was our first evening of Quran for little hearts and we began with Surah Ikhlaas, The surah of Tawheed, which is the backbone of our Deen. We spent two thirds of the time inside and one third outside. The inside curriculum I will discuss another time.
Here is a poem I wrote that we sang in a circle outside as it had just rained:
WHO MADE THE RAIN?
The children answered: ALLAH!
title: RAIN IS THE MERCY OF ALLAH
RAIN RAIN COMING DOWN,
ALLAHS MERCY ALL AROUND
PLANTS WILL GROW
GRASS WILL GROW
DIRT IS OUT! WHEN RAIN WILL SHOW
RAIN RAIN COMING DOWN,
ALLAH’S MERCY ALL AROUND
RAIN RAIN COMING DOWN
ALLAHS MERCY ALL AROUND
And round and round we went……till it was time to go home.
Please keep us in your duas…..