To become a Hafiz is an honored tradition among Muslims and has the promise of great reward; let us learn from the experiences of these young men.
Three young men in our community have recently been recognized as Hafiz and are leading taraweeh here in Charlotte during this Ramadan. The Arabic root of “hafiz” directly translates to “guardian” so literally speaking, these young men are guardians of proper recitation and thereby protectors of the perfection of the prayers of those they lead. After speaking with them, it is clear that they take this task very seriously.
Arslan Ahmed (aged 15) and Usman Matin (aged 16), both studied for four years to complete memorization of Qur’an. Fayzaan Rafiq (age 14), however, began when he was 7 and took only two years to complete memorization. These young men were focused on the rewards of akhirah and the virtues promised by Allah for memorization of the Qur’an and this became their core motivation and focus. Fayzaan adds that since he lived in Riyadh, he was able to hear so many beautiful recitations which inspired him toward hifz. They all enjoyed strong support from their parents who reminded them that they didn’t have to push themselves if they didn’t want to. Fayzaan adds “I don’t think it would have been possble without their help and encouragement.”
Fayzaan had the pleasure of living in Riyadh while he was studying and learned from many accomplished qari, the primary teacher he had was Qari Munir who he describes as an incredibly supportive teacher who guided him through the course.
Arslan studied years under Sheikh Abdullah Marhoum and then had to transition into finishing up via Skype instructions from Sister Aqsa who is located overseas. He said that it was difficult to make this transition at first because the use of Skype presented new challenges. Ultimately it was the best option at the time and he was able to complete due to added effort on his own.
Similarly, Usman has to switch teachers. While he began with Maulana Sajid in Atlanta, he decided to take an opportunity to study in England and finished his hifz training under Maulana Muhsin in Manchester. Usman absorbed a British accent over the two years he spent there and he says that in England he was able to experience a larger and more structured Muslim community. He hopes to see such a strong effort towards structure here in the USA as well.
They all agree that it becomes hard at times because of the amount of dedication that has to be put into it. Usman said that he missed a lot of time with family and friends because of the daily dedication that becoming a hafiz required. Fayzaan said that he was focused on daily, weekly and monthly goals and that meeting those was a challenge. Arslan said that there were many times that he wanted to quit and he gave himself breaks of a day or more to calm his mind down.
Arslan said that Surah Al-Baqarah was the most difficult, while Usman had trouble with Surah Yusuf, then immediately said that the entire 16th Juz was definitely the easiest to memorize. Usman enjoys Surah Mariam and Rahman the most while Fayzaan prefers Surah Al Anbiyah and Arslan prefers the flow of Surah Mulq.
What’s next for them? Both Arslan and Usman have set their sights on learning tafsir of the Qur’an and they agreed, “What is the use of memorizing if you don’t understand it?” Fayzaan has said that he wants to attend Al-Azhar or Al-Madinah universities to expand his knowledge and become a scholar (insha’Allah). Usman has also said that he is looking toward an Alim course once he finishes high school.
In giving advice for prospective Hafiz, Usman encourages “Do it! Maybe it’ll be hard at first but then it gets easier and you’ll realize that it was a great decision to make.” Arslan encourages moderation “Don’t feel rushed; it took 23 years for the Qur’an to come down so don’t be discouraged if it takes you a while to learn.” Lastly, Fayzaan says, “Start without worrying yourself too much about completing. I firmly believe that once you start and then you pray to Allah (SWT), His help comes and it becomes easy.”
Insha’Allah, there will be increased rewards for every Muslim who dedicates a portion of their lives to the cause of Islamic knowledge. Especially these three young men who focused during the age that most are running around enjoying nothing but the diversion of this world.
It is never too late to learn, ask your Imam about hifz programs available in your own community. No one should miss the opportunity to learn more about the word of Allah (SWT).