I remember the year my friend Nur came back from summer break with light shining from her face, pride beaming through her eyes, as she told us all that she had completed the memorization of The Holy Quran with an Ijazah (accredited certificate that allows the holder to teach the memorization of the Quran with tajweed according to the Ijazah type). We were both middle schoolers at the time. I remember feeling inspired to continue memorizing the Quran; she always gave her friends the encouragement we all needed.
My fondest childhood memories are of our friends and classmates memorizing the Quran together in our circles of study during Quran class in our Islamic school and as part of the weekend Quran school we all attended and eventually taught in ourselves.
The recitation and memorization of the Quran was an integral part of our upbringing. Nur was always one of those at the forefront. With her melodic recitation, she continued to perfect her memorization and teach it to others no matter where life took her.
Even until the very end.
Unfortunately, as many of us know all too well, this life is fleeting and deceptive. We are all nothing but a number of days on this earth. A time and date interval. Right when we least expect it, this dunya (life) flips the reality we know upside down leaving us forever shattered, never the same.
My dearest Nur passed away earlier this month after battling a long, exhausting and defeating battle with cancer. Her passing shook myself, all those who knew her, and our entire community to the core. A young beautiful mother of two small children. A fresh graduate of dental school. She was ready to embark on her next chapter of life as a doctor while committing to being a lifelong teacher of the Quran. A loving wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. But this is the way of the dunya. We plan, Allah (S) plans, and He is the best of planners.
Nur's Quran, from her old Instagram page.
Nur’s character embodied the Quran she worked so hard to memorize. She was always there to encourage others to keep going with their own Quran journey. She spoke wisely and gently to those around her and was always ready to lend a helping hand in any way she could. She had a light sense of humor that complimented her calm demeanor. Her gifts were always well thought out and purposeful. Her love for the Quran was radiant in every aspect of her life, and she shared it any time she got the chance.
This Quran is a new beginning. A new time to start the journey of Quran memorization. My advice to you is to pick a surah to start with and go on from there.
Every time you open this Quran, remember me.
Ghallia, the Quran is your best friend. It will never fail you. Whenever you feel alone, open it. You got this girl!
xoxo, Nur [A message written inside a Quran gifted to a friend.]
Nur’s passing has me rethinking my own relationship with my Quran. It is a relationship that has had its highs and lows. I have beautiful memories of my childhood and adolescent years when the Quran was truly an active part of my daily life. But with adulthood, marriage and motherhood come responsibilities and commitments that have taken away the relationship I once had with my Quran, especially when it came to memorization.
But with my children getting older and starting to embark on their own Quran journey, I’ve found myself slowly easing back into memorization and reviewing the short chapters as I recite them with my children.
Inspired to Memorize Quran Again
The Quran that Nur gifted her friend Ghallia.
Over the years I’ve fiddled with the idea of memorizing again, but excuses always fogged my brain. Nur’s passing gave me the clarity I needed to think intentionally about rekindling my relationship with the words of Allah (S) once again. If you are at a stage in your life where you feel like you have lost your spark with the words of Allah (S), if you find yourself reciting the same few chapters in your salah and have left memorization on the back burner, this is my invitation to you to pick up a new surah and start your memorization once again.
I find it most helpful to join a Quran memorization program, or find a teacher, whether online or locally, who will keep you accountable and motivated.
“It will be said to the companion of the Quran: Recite and ascend as you recited in the world! Verily, your rank is determined by the last verse you recite.”
As I ponder on Nur’s legacy and her passing, I reminisce on a time in my upbringing where I was a young youth in the masjid teaching children the words of Allah (S) alongside my friends. We each were responsible for an age group of children, and together we memorized and taught as we filled the main musallah (masjid prayer hall) with the harmonious recitation of the Quran.
I long for that feeling once again. My advice to myself, and you, is to find a Quran circle where you can teach children or others what you know of the Quran.
Memorizing and Learning Through Teaching
Take it upon yourself to be a messenger of the words of Allah (S). Begin with your own children and family members and then branch out to your local masjid Quran school. There is a certain satisfaction that comes with teaching the Quran. Not only are you constantly reviewing your own memorization, but you are also gaining the reward of those who are memorizing and will continue to recite throughout their lives.
“Whoever teaches a verse from the Book of Allah will have its reward as it is recited.”
Ibn Shadhan 150
Our relationship with the Quran is ongoing, always improving and we are all lifelong learners of the Quran. However, if you are at a stage in your journey where you still do not feel confident enough to take on the responsibility of teaching the words of Allah (S) to others, I encourage you to at least teach those in your immediate family, your children, spouse, nieces, nephews, some of the chapters that you have memorized and are able to recite clearly during salah. Do not belittle the multitude of reward you will receive every time that person recites the verses you helped them learn.
Pink flowers against an archway in Syria, which is where Nur was from.
You can also work on teaching others the tafsir (translation) and reflect on the meaning of the verses in the Quran. Tadabour– pondering and reflecting on the chapters and verses in the Quran, their relationship to each other and how they apply to our daily lives – is a unique form of worship. Extracting gems and daily doses of encouragement to get us through this dunya is a beautiful way to interact with the verses of the Quran on an intimate level.
My friend Samia Mubarak
who runs Quranic Ocean
on Instagram, does this so effortlessly and shares her daily insights as well as offers tafsir and tadabour classes on various chapters of the Quran.
Nur was a true example of someone who embodied the Quran she read and memorized. Her character encompassed the verses she lived by. Our deen is so beautiful in that it is a complete handbook and guide. Mannerisms on how to handle Allah’s (S) creation, rulings on how to live our life, words of serenity and stories of past prophets to calm our days of hardship, glad tidings to encourage us to strive for the hereafter – these are all found in our Holy Book if we just take the time to read and reflect.
“On the Day of Resurrection, the Quran will be brought with its people who acted according to it in this world. The Surahs of Al Baqarah and Al Imran will be at the front arguing on behalf of their [devoted] reciter.”
Don’t Know How to Start? A Little Quran Goes a Long Way
If you are unsure where to begin, start by embedding the Quran in your daily life by carving out the time for it as you would with any other worldly commitment. I have found that this is the best way to stay consistent and true to your relationship with the words of Allah (S).
Image source: Pinterest
Start by reciting the daily morning
and evening athkar
or The Prophet’s Wird Al Latif
, which include many verses from the Quran. Commit to a specific number of pages, your daily wird
, that you will read. Small consistent acts of worship are more favorable to Allah (S), we know this to be true and is applicable to all aspects of our deen
One of my last encounters with Nur before she got sick was right after I had lost my mother in law and grandfather to cancer in a short period of time, which is uncanny in retrospect. It was during the rise of COVID, so we were both masked up and trying to keep our distance. I was sharing with Nur how hard things have been on myself and my family. I got emotional and began to cry. I will never forget Nur’s warm embrace as she jokingly waved her hands up in the air and said “I don’t care about COVID!” and gave me the biggest hug as we both cried.
She comforted me in a time of vulnerability and grief. Since the day of her passing I find myself consoling myself and those who loved her about her own passing. She was truly a gem of a friend. Nur, light, she encompassed her name in all that she was. May Allah (S) illuminate her grave with light upon light, Nur upon Nur and have mercy on her.
Some people live this life as travelers, their presence is light and quick. They have a better place waiting for them. This world is not meant for them. They pack their bags and move on to a place where they will live in an eternity of happiness and ease. They have passed the test of this life with flying colors. Their grades are high and ready to be accepted by their creator. They are okay, they are where they need to be.
We are the ones that will forever be broken. Forever living this life with a void surrounding us. Forever grieving, filled with immense love for someone that is no longer there to receive it. Until we meet them again in that place of eternal bliss, peace, happiness and ease; Jannah.
Allah (S) sends waves of mercy, patience and ease to nurse the crashing waves of grief that hit hard throughout the days, weeks, months and years. He sends strength we never knew we had. He is Al Rahman (All Merciful), Al Aleem (All Knowing), Al Baseer (All Seeing), Al Samee’ (All Hearing).
Du’a is our best friend. The Quran is our companion. I pray that you and I can make the Quran our companion in this life so it can be our lighting companion in the grave and our intercessor on The Day of Judgement, Ameen.