The Plan

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

We planned and planned for the end of Juz Amma. At first, it was to happen in March, then April. Those months came and went, and we were still struggling with Surah Al Inshiqaq, then Mutaffifeen. A trip to Dallas was deferred, in part, as that was to be our celebratory spot. Day after day, we worked (albeit after my son’s Kindergarten classes and with the constant interruption of his younger sister) learning and reviewing. Sometimes the ayaat were difficult; sometimes they were less difficult, but they were never easy, and the end-date kept being pushed out. In June, I stopped planning. My six year old son would reach the end of Juz Amma when it was right for him. We would continue working, but I wanted to do away with the pressure for fear that it might take away from the fun and ultimately the true learning of hifdh al Qur’aan. We resumed more drawing and calligraphy, more translation, more recitation while walking, more hifdh games, more focus
on the sequencing of surahs—an area he loved, and one that his sister could enjoy as well. Of course, somewhere in the back of my mind, I wondered how we would ever reach the end, but I no longer communicated it to him. Meanwhile, I completed my own memorization of the Juz, approximately a month before Ramadan, but deferred any family celebration of my own for a later date when my son would join me (followed, hopefully, by his sister, one day, as well).

And then Ramadan dawned, and my son grew up, or so it seemed. He made Taraweeh a top priority. He integrated fasting and charity. He chose tilawaat as his pre-magreb activity, with very little to no cajoling on my part. We were still in Surah An Naziat, and I concluded that it would take us at least two more months given the pace of the previous months before we would be near the end of the Juz. But it was Ramadan, and miracles were in abundance (or perhaps we were simply more open to noticing them). And so, with the miraculous backdrop of Ramadan, my son approached the end of Juz Amma, with his sister repeating, all along the way. What I was expecting as an Eid gift did not, however, happen. On Eid, he was a good 10 ayaat off, and the following day he felt ill. And yet, it was in his illness that our little miracle finally occurred. Idle on his bed, we worked over the last 10 ayaat. Previously he had managed one, max two, ayah per day. Ten was unheard
of for us, and yet the day after Eid, we had another small celebration.

Meanwhile, we had long since re-planned the Dallas trip (over the weekend following Eid); it was simply intended to be a family, Eid get-together. On Saturday evening, three days after he had completed the Juz, the children were playing late into the night with their cousins. I tried to convince them of bedtime. In our midst was their father and four uncles. Remembering the recent accomplishment (and still trying to engage the children and get them off to bed), I beckoned for them to join the men who were seated on the couch. “Does your Uncle M know you completed the Juz?” I asked my son. He shook his head ‘no’; his sister mimicked him. “Do you want to recite something?” I suggested. He slowly found a seat on my lap, while his sister took up a spot in his father’s lap. One of their uncles who was nearby moved to give us space, not quite understanding our intentions.

I asked for the men’s attention, and whether they would be open to hearing my son recite. At once, there was quiet. I could feel my son’s palms press gently against mine. He looked at his uncles and then directly at his father, who had not yet heard him recite Surah An Naba, and he began. The recitation was not perfect, but it was beautiful masha’Allah. There were three instances where he lost his way, but I was there holding his hand, and he was able to navigate swiftly and smoothly back on course alhumdulilah. For both of us, it was a rite of passage (me as one of his coaches and him as the aspiring hafidh) in the company of his uncles and father. On some level, it was also a rite of passage for his sister, as she was the only voice, other than his and mine, occasionally, which could be heard —as she softly repeated ayaat she had heard her brother practice, over and over again. It was not the party for which we planned, but it was a celebration, of life, of family, of maturing into the Qur’aan and letting the text animate and shape our lives. Suffice it to say, I am humbled and very grateful for having had the real plan change me.

In faith, and constant awe,
Umm Muhemmed

Umm Muhemmed, a student together with her children of Hafidha Rayhaanah Omar, is a Houston-based, development economist and writer; her first piece of fiction, Ibrahim and Amna’s Story: Aspiring to Juz Amma, based on a home-based hifdh experience, will be published later this year by Greenbird Books inshaAllah.

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