Quran Focus Academy Blog

Hope Conference; Islam is not what you think – Scotland

Attracting audience from around Scotland, Muslim leaders have organized a conference to correct misconceptions about their faith, and break down barriers with followers of other faiths.

“We wanted to provide a social space, a family-friendly venue, for people of all religions to meet and have free discussions,” Zahid Ali, a spokesman for the group organizing the event, Vision Islam, told The Scotsman on Monday, March 18.

 

Attracting Muslims and non-Muslims from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee, the conference was held to tie in with the end of Islam Awareness Week.

“The problem we have is this – there are people who have a view of what Islam is, but most people don’t interact with Muslims, and if they do it is generally in a shop, so they don’t have a chance to interact on a social level and exchange views.”

Themed “Hope Conference; Islam is not what you think”, the event was designed to bring Muslims and non-Muslims together to break down barriers.

Held at Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange on Sunday, it attracted more than 800 people to discuss all aspects of the religion.

Attendants were also invited to listen to a host of high-profile Muslim speakers including Yvonne Ridley from Britain, Yusuf Estes and Kamal El Mekki from the United States and others.

“This particular event was designed to be a really positive day – to bring people from all faiths together to share their thoughts on Islam,” Ali said.

Attracting Muslims and non-Muslims from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee, the conference was held to tie in with the end of Islam Awareness Week.

It included scores of exhibition boards and stalls about Islam.

The event also hosted a series of lectures tackling topics such as “Islam a Religion of Peace & Hope”, “Islam misunderstood: media’s role” and “Are Women Oppressed in Islam”.

Scotland is home to more than 500,000 Muslims, making up less than one percent of the population.

Muslims are the second largest religious group in the country, which has thirty mosques.

Challenges

Encouraging dialogue with the wider society, the conference has offered Muslims a chance to dispel misconceptions about their faith.

“There is this family side to Islam where we are all interacting and sharing ideas – then there is the darker side of politics and the rise of attacks against Muslim women, against Mosques and the rise of Islamophobia,” Ali said.

The spokesman said Muslims were caught in the middle of far-right radicals and Islamophobes.

“We are caught in a very difficult place,” he added.

“At one end we have been hijacked by radical fundamentalists and on the other side we are being targeted by people who think all Muslims are extremist.

“This is 
always something that is simmering under the surface – an anti-Muslim sentiment – especially in tough economic times.

“In challenging economies, as we have seen throughout history, Nazi right-wing groups rise up. However, we are aware of this, which is why it is so important to get people talking, and break down barriers,” he said.

Ali noted that though Scottish Independence has divided the society, he saw it as a benefit for the Muslim community.

“Like any community there are people on both sides of the argument. My personal feeling is that if we had an independent Scotland then it would be easier to enact some law to protect religious minorities,” he said.

“There is of course the law again bigotry which we think is heading down the right religious lines – and we’ve had some positive noises from the Scottish Government.”

Bringing hope of a better understanding in Scottish society, the Muslim event won plaudits from Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who visited the conference.

“Events like these can help to dispel ignorance,” MacAskill said.

“They can help contribute to the process of dismantling damaging and excluding stereotypes and reduce misunderstanding or misrepresentation.”

Islam Awareness Week Glasgow, Scotland

“We all drink Irn Bru and support Andy Murray. We’re all Scottish. The idea is to bring Scotland together with the things we have in common, rather than highlight our differences.”

Amjid Bashir is a Muslim businessman from Glasgow and is one of hundreds of volunteers behind this year’s Islam Awareness Week (IAW.)

Humza Yousaf: Islamic tartan celebrates Scottish Muslim cultureAzeem Ibrahim

Taking time from his busy job as co-owner of the city’s Newsbox newsagents, Amjid and fellow members of the Muslim community are doing their utmost to break down negative images of Islam and welcome non-Muslims to learn about their religion.

“The whole idea is that much like Glasgow City Council has their ‘Open Doors’ for a week, where they open their doors for the public to have a look around, it’s similar to that,” said Amjid of IAW.

“In recent years Islam has had a bad image in the media in general and this is a way to readdress that.”

From March 11 to 17, IAW gives Glasgow the chance to gain a deeper understanding of Islam and celebrate Scots identity.

This year’s theme is ‘Things We Have In Common – Scottish Islam’ and sees the largest collaboration between Muslims and non-Muslims in the event’s history.

Volunteers have arranged events with non-Muslim organisations to discuss what issues affect Muslim and non-Muslim families, in order to highlight the problems that every household has in common, regardless of its faith.

“Everyone involved has given up a lot of their time to give back to their community,” said Amjid.

“Doctors, taxi drivers, teachers are all involved and the age group varies. There’s an 11-year-old girl doing something for the launch, and in one meeting the guy sitting next to me was 70.

“The beauty of it is that people get to work with each other and get involved.”

IAW Activities include the exploration of art, photography and social issues relating to Islamic culture. A special Islamic tartan, recently modelled in London by prominent Scottish Muslim MSP Humza Yousaf, will also be showcased throughout IAW.

Groups of school children are invited to receive tours of the Central Mosque and pre-school children are able to attend an arts and crafts session at the Scotland Street Museum.

“Glasgow Muslims have a strong Muslim identity, but also a strong Scottish identity,” said Amjid.

“We’re Muslim and we’re Scottish. The Scots identity is very strong and Muslims are very proud of that.

“Young people are proud to be Scottish, and I’m proud that they’re proud to be Scottish.”

The Islamic Society of Britain founded Islam Awareness Week in 1994, to contradict misconceptions surrounding Britain’s second largest faith group.

Scotland has its own version, run across Glasgow, Inverness and Edinburgh, that’s tailor made especially for Scots.

Speaking on inter-faith relations in his home city, Amjid said: “Glasgow is better than most cities, but a lot more interaction has to happen.

“Sometimes there’s a very negative image of Islam, but things like this tell you what Islam is all about.

“Through initiatives like this we can make things better.”

The week of events will culminate in a highly anticipated gala dinner and hijab fashion show.

‘Rocking on Heaven’s Door: From Gok Wan to Islam’, held at The River Palace Banqueting Hall on Saturday 16, will showcase a variety of stunning hijab styles, highlighting the booming fashion industry behind Muslim clothing.

The gala dinner, entitled ‘Weaving the Tartan – Celebrating Scottish Islam’, welcomes members of the public and the Muslim community to come together for a three-course meal, a tour of Glasgow Central Mosque and an open discussion about Islam.

“Ordinary people from all walks of life sit together and dispel myths about Islam,” said Amjid of the gala dinner.

“It’s a good way of letting their hair down and getting to know each other.”

Those interested in attending the gala dinner on Friday, March 15, must register via the IAW event site.

International Quran Reading Competition

The International Quran Reading Competition or Tilawah Al-Quran is the international Islamic Quran reading event that is held annually since 1961 in Malaysia.

History

Tunku Abdul Rahman (first Malaysian premier) was a founder of the International Quran Reading Competition. The program was started on 9 March 1961 at Stadium Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur and 7 countries took part in this competition including Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Sarawak and Malaya. On 1985 the competition was moved to the Putra World Trade Centre.

Youngest Qur’an Hafiz Fascinates Nigerians

CAIRO – A three-year-old girl is amazing Nigeria after memorizing the whole Qur’an, becoming one of the youngest Muslims in the world to learn the Noble Book by heart.

“Honestly, I can’t say much but I am very grateful to Allah for this,” Sayyada Maimunatu Sheikh Dahiru, the girl’s mother, told Sunday Tribuneon February 10.

“This is indeed a blessing from Allah. I’m grateful to Allah for this.”

Her daughter, Rukkayatu Fatahu Umar, has completed the memorization of the Noble Qur’an at the age of three year and eight months.
The young Muslim girl began memorizing the Noble Book at an Islamic school founded by prominent Sheikh Dahiru Usman Bauchi.

“We were using a big parlor, which was divided into classes for the learning of the Qur’an,” Maimunatu, who teaches at the school, said.

“At that time, I always carried her on my back while teaching. From there, she started reciting along with the students and before long, she had memorized some verses.

“That was how she started attending memorization class.  Right now, she has completed memorizing the whole Qur’an,” the proud mother said.

The Noble Qur’an is consisted of 114 Surah (chapters) of varying lengths.

Going to the school between 7a.m. and 6p.m. daily, the young girl found little time to play with her peers.

“It is not as if she does not play with her mates. She does, especially with those who are memorizing the Qur’an like her,” Maimunatu said.

“This makes it easier for them, as their focus and attention are directed towards achieving the same goal, which is memorizing the Qur’an.”

Education

The Muslim girl does not believe she has completed the memorization of the Qur’an as this young age.

“I thank Allah,” she said.

The young Muslim girl is now preparing to go to school soon, breaking a family tradition of sending girls to study at the age of ten.

“My husband has, however, said that the world is changing now, and that there is civilization all over the place,” the mother, who herself memorized the whole Qur’an at the age of 12, said.

“As such, our daughter will have the opportunity of going to a proper school whenever she reaches the age of six.”

The Muslim mother has paid tribute to her father for offering her child the chance to memorize the Qur’an at this young age.

“I’m also grateful that I have a father like Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, who planted my feet, like other people, on the path of Islam,” she said.

“May Allah grant him longevity of life so that he will continue to serve Allah and be useful to Islam and humanity in general.”

Teaching children the glorious Qur’an and the Islamic principles is the responsibility of their parents from an early age which is the best period for implanting Islamic ethics.

Memorizing the Holy Qur’an is one of the most important ways to preserve Allah’s message.

The others are to publish and distribute the book, or the text on the Internet and to recite the parts that one knows to other people.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) said: “The best amongst you is the one who learns the Qur’an and teaches it.”

Oldest pieces of the Quran discovered

The oldest excerpts from the Quran have been discovered in the cellars of the Yemeni capital Sanaa’s Great Mosque, daily Bugün has reported, adding that former Turkish Religious Affairs Director Tayyar Altıkulaç has gone to examine the pieces.

The Quran pieces have been found in the cellars of Sanaa’s Great Mosque.

“Workers saw the Quran pieces when they opened the cellar. Why do we call them pieces? Because in the early periods of Islam, there were not too many Qurans and people used to read it by cutting it into pieces. These pieces were worn down as they were transferred from person to person. After the development of writing, Qurans increased in number and these pieces were gathered and kept in a place.
When the door of the cellar was opened, snakes came out. The cellar has a window and water came in from there. This is why some of these pieces decomposed and got dirty,” said Altıkulaç, underlining the importance of the discovery.

According to the daily, the pieces of the holy book were discovered during restoration works that started on the mosque after a collapse in the structure.

Some of the pieces have previously been sold at London auction houses by former governors, he said.

“The Quran pieces need restoration at the moment. They have been kept randomly in 20 sacks.”

He said the pieces were under the responsibility of the Yemeni Culture Ministry and that they should be handled one by one and restored.

“Some of the Quran pieces are from the companions of the Prophet Muhammed and some date back to second and third centuries. They are very important sources for the academic world,” he said.

February/11/2013

Quran Reading with Tajwid

Literally, ‘tajwid‘ means improvement and perfection. If you do something with tajwid it means you are trying to do it with the utmost quality and in the most perfect way possible. The term is technically used to refer to the science concerned with correct recitation and pronunciation of the Qur’anic words and verses. The relationship is clear between the literal meaning of the word and its technical usage; the literal meaning revolves around perfecting an action or a performance, which is the recitation of the Qur’an as far as the science of Tajwid is concerned.

After the rapid spread of Islam in its early centuries, especially among non-Arabs, Muslim scholars deemed it necessary to put down a set of rules that serve as a reference for the Qur’an learners. So, Tajwid has been the reference for people who wished to recite the Qur’an in a correct manner. This, however, does not deny the fact that the Qur’an cannot be learned independently, without the assistance of a skilled teacher. The unique isnad-based system of learning Qur’an continued to be the recognized way for teaching students how to recite the Qur’an and for training them on Tajwid. In the isnad-based system, a student recites the whole Qur’an by heart, from the beginning to the end, fulfilling the rules of Tajwid to a certified Qur’an teacher, and then the student is certified by the teacher to be qualified to recite and teach the Qur’an. The certificate is called ijazah (license). A typical ijazah lists the teachers of the granting sheikh (the isnad or sanad , an unbroken chain of teachers that goes back to the Prophet).

Tajwid, according to the scholars’ definition, is all about “articulating (the sound of) each letter from its proper point of articulation, and ensuring the correct pronunciation of the genuine characteristics of each sound as well as the occasional ones.” Here, by ‘genuine’ scholars mean the permanent features of a sound without which the sound is never pronounced correctly. The occasional features are those affecting a letter sound due to certain occasional reasons such as the place of the letter in a word, its tashkil, the features of the letters coming before or after it, etc.

A typical Tajwid book starts with an introduction clarifying the significance and manners of reciting the Qur’an, the prerequisites of a correct recitation, the Islamic ruling of observing Tajwid when reciting the Qur’an and the types of recitation in terms of speed. The main body of Tajwid, as clearly stated in the above definition, is concerned with the correct pronunciation of the Qur’an. This is dealt with in the following basic topics:

  1. Points of articulation (Makharij Al-Huruf)
  2. Letters Characteristics (Sifat Al-Huruf)
  3. Other rules of Tajwid related to the sound changes of certain letters due to their places in the word or their surrounding letters, such as the rules of a non-vowel N and M (ahkam an-Nun wal mim as-sakinah) and the types of long vowels (mudud.)

Students of phonetics will find the above topics familiar and similar to what they study. The concept of idgham, for example, is similar to that of assimilation as far as the phonetics is concerned.

It is obligatory, according to the scholars of Tajwid, to observe its rules when reciting the Qur’an. Allah Almighty said, {…recite the Qur’an (aloud) in a slow, (pleasant tone and) style} (Al-Muzzamil 73: 4)

The verse means reciting the Qur’an slowly with humility (khushu`) and reflection observing the rules of Tajwid such as lengthening the long vowels (madd al-mamudud) and shortening the short ones (qasr al-maqsur)… The command in the above verse indicates obligation as this is the original usage of the imperative form. There is nothing here to indicate otherwise. (Al-Marsafi, Hidayat Al-Qari’ ila Tajwid Kalam al-Bari)

Imam ibn Al-Jazari, one of the earliest scholars of Tajwid, maintained in his Tuhfatul-Atfal, a famous beginner-style Tajwid manual, that,

It is incumbent to observe the rules of Tajwid; those who fail to do so are incurring a sin because the Qur’an was revealed by Allah and transmitted to us with the rule s of Tajwid.

Some scholars, however, hold that it is recommended (mustahab) to follow the rules of Tajwid rather than being wajib(obligatory), as long as the words are pronounced correctly in terms of Arabic and no mistakes are involved of course. Nevertheless, it befits a Muslim to try his best to perfect his recitation. `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

The one who is proficient in the recitation of the Qur’an will be with the honorable, obedient scribes (angles), and he who recites the Qur’an with difficulty and find it hard to recite will have a double reward. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Tajwid is just one of the manifestations of Allah’s protection for the Qur’an from any kinds of corruption. Going through books of the Tajwid shows the extreme care given to the minute details of the pronunciation of the Qur’an. All of this is to ensure that the way the Qur’an is recited fourteen centuries after the demise of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is exactly the same as how the Prophet recited the Qur’an. Besides, the isnad-based transmission of the Qur’an guarantees that the rules of Tajwid are fully put into practice in a way that ensures the highest quality and accuracy level when transmitting the Qur’an from one generation to another. Tajwid, after all, is one of a group of sciences created initially to serve the Qur’an and to guard it from corruption such as the Qira’at (science of the recitation versions) and the scripting of the Qur’an (ar-rasm wad-dabt.)

By Muhammad Fathi

Muslim parents bid to set up private Islamic school

MUSLIM parents are hoping to raise more than £300,000 to buy a disused former Glasgow primary and turn it into a private school for their youngsters.

The school, based in the former Holmlea Primary building in Cathcart, would have separate entrances and facilities for boys and girls if a fundraising appeal is successful.

The school would offer a range of secular subjects, as well as Arabic and Islamic sciences.

The bid is being led by parents and professionals concerned about the environment in Scottish schools.

Glasgow Community Education Association (GCEA), which is behind the project, claims attending mainstream schools is resulting in “unsocial behaviour” among Muslim youngsters and that the lack of Islamic schools is forcing Muslim families out of Glasgow.

On a website set up to raise money for the project, the association says: “There is a huge demand in the community for a high-standard local facility providing good secular education together with moral guidance in order to produce well-balanced upright individuals.”

Some previous attempts to establish Muslim schools in Scotland have been unsuccessful. Both the Iqra Academy in Glasgow and the Imam Muhammad Zakariya School for girls in Dundee closed after receiving negative inspection reports.

The Iqra Academy, which shut in 2003, was criticised by inspectors for giving pupils no opportunity to mix with the local community and for its treatment of girls at the school.

However, more recently the Qalam Academy has been set up in Glasgow, an independent Islamic Educational Institute providing primary education.

Hanzala Malik, Glasgow MSP, disputed the need for a Muslim school.

He said he was a firm believer in public education and urged those behind the school to redirect their energy into improving mainstream provision.

He added: “When children leave school they are all going to have to live in the same world.”

Holmlea Primary in Cathcart was declared surplus by Glasgow City Council in 2006 and put up for sale. Six bids were made for it last year, with the GCEA putting in the highest offer.

It describes itself as an organisation formed by “local professionals and parents” to establish a private educational facility for Muslim children. The GCEA envisages it as catering for pre-school to secondary pupils.

The purchase of the school will cost £225,000, exclusive of VAT, and further funds will be required for refurbishment. The GCEA is currently trying to raise the money it needs online.

Andrew Denholm – http://www.heraldscotland.com

 

In heart of France, Islamic school trains imams

By Pauline Talagrand

SAINT-LEGER-DE-FOUGERET — Deep in the wooded hills of Burgundy in central France, an unusual institute is training unusual students: aspiring French imams who hope to minister to the country’s large Muslim population.

Early in the morning, some 200 students from across the country stream into the European Institute of Human Sciences de Saint-Leger-de-Fougeret, where they learn to chant the Koran and study Islamic theology and Arabic literature.

After seven intensive years of study, only 10 or so graduates each year to lead prayers or preach at mosques. There is no doubting the need for new imams.

Estimates of France’s Muslim population vary widely, from between 3.5 million and 6.0 million, though there is little hard evidence as to how many are practising. In any event, France’s Muslim community is the largest in Western Europe.

Relations between the authorities and Muslims, many of them second- or third-generation immigrants, chiefly from North Africa, have often been tense.

Some younger Muslims have been tempted by extremist jihadist views and France has implemented a contentious ban on women wearing full veils.

Over the past nine years, various governments have encouraged the professional training of local religious leaders. Interior Minister Manuel Valls recently backed the practice, even if the job of imam is badly paid, if at all, and enjoys no official recognition.

The initiative goes back 20 years when the Union of Islamic Organisations in France, which has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, converted a former children’s holiday centre into the institute. Its stated aim is to train imams equipped “with a solid knowledge of Islam and the socio-cultural realities of Europe.”

The idea was to provide an alternative to the recruitment of foreign imams, who often spoke no French and had little or no knowledge of French lifestyles.

“The training of imams who are products of French society is vital: Today 70 percent of the faithful don’t speak Arabic,” said the institute’s director Zuhair Mahmood.

Initially financed by the Gulf States, the school depends heavily on fees of about 3,400 euros ($4,400) a year — board and lodging included.

“Since I was small I have dreamed of becoming an imam,” said 18-year-old Wahib, who did not want to give his last name, “but seven years is long and there are no grants.”

Apart from the rural setting, the atmosphere in the run-down prefabricated corridors of the institute is like that of any other college.

At break time men, often bearded, and women, all of them wearing head scarves, wait for coffee. The women can follow the 20 hours of weekly courses but cannot become imams.

Said, who also did not want to give his last name, was born in Morocco and now living in Nice in southern France. He took correspondence courses for two years and has now left his family to “deepen my knowledge of Islam” and “if I succeed, become an imam.”

“It’s my vocation,” he says. “I would love to pass on my knowledge to others and above all fight against extremism.”

There are about 10 people in his class. They listen to the interpretations of a Koran sura, or chapter, as part of a third year theology course, which also includes an introduction to French law. They then recite a passage from the Koran.

“Being an imam, it isn’t something that happens,” the 33-year-old Said told AFP. “It’s a real responsibility, We have to be safeguards. He lamented the fact that “moderate imams are ignored by people in the middle of an identity crisis.”

“Radicalism is always the result of ignorance,” Said’s theology teacher Larbi Belbachir added.

“You cannot pass on a message without knowing French. Islam can adapt and does not forbid you to respect the law.”

Traditionally, congregations of the faithful choose their imams, who carry out their duties as volunteers or are paid by gifts. Those presiding in large mosques can earn 1,500 euros ($1,950) a month. They are classified as educators or teachers but never as imams.

“When this profession is recognised and paid as such,” Said suggested, “perhaps there will be more vocations.”