Ma Sha Allah! I really love her recitation and she is so young. Watching her make me wish I had learnt the recitation of the Quran properly when I was at her age. But I remember I did learnt the Quran for many years but things went on that kept me from perfecting my recitation and now I am trying to catch up with my Tajweed.
In my very early years, I was sent to madrasah to learn Quran by my grandmother who brought me up since I was a baby. I went but I wasn’t happy learning from the Teacher then because he was so stern and will hit me on the head with a fat cane if I got anything wrong. The hitting actually stopped me from learning, even if I had wanted to, the hitting made it very difficult because my mind was always set on the next moment the fat cane will land on my skull. Subhanallah, it was very very painful, imagine a fat cane landing on your skull and you will understand me. Then, going to the madrasah was like going to the slaughters.
The last straw that broke the camel back came when I was severely beaten by the Teacher when it came to his knowledge that I attended a Church Prayer Convention. Yes, I did attend the prayer convention at a Catholic Church attended by my Aunty. My maternal family is mixed Christians and Muslims. My maternal grandmother was a Christian as a maiden but became a Muslim when she married my grandfather who was a Muslim and almost all her family converted to Islam too, including my great grandma. I don’t know the story properly but from what I knew of the family, that was the case. I remember my grandma telling me that, she was working hard to save money for her Baptism at the Church but then she found herself in a marriage to a Muslim man chosen by her family and so her dream of becoming a Baptized Christian ended with her marriage to a Muslim man and for this she became a Muslim herself.
My grandma had seven children, four of whom were female including my mother, all the female children married Christian men or converted to Christianity at a stage in their life except for my mother who remained Muslim, having married a Muslim man. As a child, when my Christian Aunty took me to church, it was nothing strange or bad in my maternal family. Though, going to church with my Aunty was not something that usually happens but it was a special occasion in the church and all family were invited. So, my Aunty taking me was not out of place and I going willingly was to be expected as an innocent child.
When the Mu’allim at the Madrasah got wind of the news, he was set to make example of those who attended the prayer convention at the church. When next I went to the Madrasah, the Mu’allim asked all the children including me, “Which among you was at the Church prayer Convention the last weekend”. Of course, fingers were all pointing at me, I can’t remember exactly if I was the only one or there were other children along with me but I remember clearly I was pointed out even before I was given the chance to answer for myself. At this, the Mu’allim beat me with no explanation as to why other than I was not supposed to go to the church, especially their prayer convention.
Not once before has anyone told me at that age that I was not meant to be going to church, it’s not what you get told as a child, you just do what the others are doing. So being punished as a child, not even by my own parents for going to church was just irrational, I could not understand and no good explanation was given. From that very day, I remember clearly, I stopped going to the Madrasah and my grandmother did not force me to go either when I told her I don’t want to go anymore. Not going to the Madrasah did not meant I wanted to continue going to the church either, I just do not want to continue at the Madrasah, if it means facing harsh punishment at the hands of the Mu’allim, be it because I got my Quran recitation wrong or I did something I was not meant to do. The next time I want to the Madrasah was when one of my friends was celebrating her finishing a part of the Quran and food got served, I sure do went to eat the food and that was it.
On a side note, I am from a culture where there are many Muslim apostates who actually delight in their apostasy by stating instances of these kind of punishments they received from Mu’allims or their parents as reasons why they apostate from Islam. Harshly punishing children while they were supposed to be learning the Quran at Madrasah or at home does not do anything to encourage the children rather, it put fear in their mind and ultimately hatred of the religion if they grow up with this kind of fear. Mockingly, they will call Islam “Esin imolile” meaning the religion with difficult learning, in other words, there is too much difficulties in learning the deen of Islam.
Many years later, aged 12, out of my own volition I started learning the Quran again, this time I had left my grandmother’s care , got sent to boarding school and moved on from there to live with a family friend while attending secondary school aged 12. Then, I had to force the lady to give me permission to attend the next door mosque to learn Quran from the Mu’allim there. I had no freedom living with the lady and her family; the lady who was supposed to my guardian was very harsh on me and made every moment of my time with her family a nightmare. I became an obstinate child as a result, set on my own ways, what I want I must have. When I said to her I wanted to learn the Quran from next door Mosque, she came with all sorts of excuses to stop me from going, as a last resort I got my father’s backing and she had no other alternative but to allow me. I remember I was practically on a stop watch, a minute later than I am supposed to be, I must explain or get punished.
When my father sees my enthusiasm about learning the Quran, he used it as an opportunity to employ a Mu’allim to teach the rest of my family at our home. Because I was not living with my family, I was only able to benefit from the family Mu’allim whenever I went home on holiday which was not very often as the Lady I lived with always find ways to prevent me from visiting my family on my school holidays. Still young at the time and I had the opportunity despite the obstacles, the chances were still there for me to learn and perfect my Quran reading. The problem I had at that time perfecting my learning of the Quran was because both of my Teachers were males.
I was painfully shy as a child and very self conscious too, it was quite uncomfortable for me to learn from the male Teachers but there were no alternatives. So, whenever I learnt from the Teachers, I never repeat my recitation back to them, I listen to them and then I read by myself and go back for what I had forgotten or could not read properly till I think I am able to read it well. Then, I did not give myself the opportunity to get my recitation corrected properly by the Teachers because I was too shy to recite to them, so I ended up listening to myself and correcting myself in a way.
Now, as an adult, I felt I had missed out on those golden opportunities as a child and I am now trying to catch up, learning Tajweed (the art and science of reciting the Quran with perfection), Ma sha Allah, it’s been a year now. Seeing this lovely recitation by the little girl reminded me of those years, when I should have seized the opportunities I had.