1. Hafiza Iffath, Please tell us about yourself?
A. I am 55 years old, originally from Hyderabad, India. My parents arranged my marriage at 18 and I came to Canada with my husband, and few years later we moved to Chicago, US. I have two sons, both of them married and working in California. I teach at the Institute for Islamic Education (IIE) for girls in Elgin Illinois, a twenty minute drive from where I live.The subjects I teach are memorization of the Qur'aan and Arabic language.
2. When and how did you begin memorizing Qur'an?
A. I memorized the Qur'an at the age of 37. Generally with difficult situations in our lives we happen to connect with Almighty Allah, so this was one of those situations I was going through, and I really wanted Allah to answer my prayer, I used to wake up for Tahajjud and make my heartfelt duas, with the barakah of Tahajjud Allah granted me my wish, then I said to myself 'how can I stop making Tahajjud through which Allah granted me my wish', and Alhamdulillah I was able to continue my Tahajjud. After a couple of months I felt that night after night I was only reciting the same few long surahs that I knew, I felt I should memorize 3 to 4 juz for some variety in my Tahajjud, and that is how it all got started. Allah Almighty says in His holy book; "It may be that you dislike something that is good for you, and it may be that you like something that is bad for you. God knows and you do not know" (2: 216). In my case the disliked situation became a source two of the greatest blessings---------Tahajjud and Hifdh.
3. Who inspired you during your memorization of Qur'an?
A. I have a friend who is a Hafidhah, I always used to admire her, but I had never thought of ever memorizing it myself. Then when I got started she was there to help me and give me ideas and tips on how to follow the process of memorization. Allah Almighty has promised His special help especially in the matters of deen. "As for those who struggle for Our sake, We will guide them in Our ways. For God is with those who do good" (29: 69).
4. How long did it take for you to complete memorization?
A. It took me one year to memorize the first ten Juz, until then I had not thought of memorizing the whole Qur'an. At that point I said to myself 'Allah has made it so easy for me how can I stop now.' I was Alhamdulillah able to continue with more enthusiasm and was able to complete the Hifdh in two years.
5. What were the challenges that you faced during memorization?
A. I had to fulfill my responsibilities as a wife and a mother of two, and run the household smoothly. I had to make the most of my time when I was by myself. People do ask me about how many hours I used to spend during the day for memorization. During the morning hours I had a few hours to myself but even in between I used to make the most of what ever time I got. And the second challenge was 'my migraine headaches' which used to be quite frequent in those days, which again became another blessing for me, because I really valued my time and tried to make the most of it when I was not sick, because I knew once I get sick there is nothing I can do (i.e. I can't memorize). I am sure Allah gave barakah in my time.
6. As a Qur'an teacher, how do you feel the challenges of past and present students differ?
A. MashaAllah I have come across those students who are still very eager and anxious to memorize, there are definitely more temptations to do all sorts of things with the modern technology and waste their time, but this same technology when used for good is helping the students to achieve their goal with much ease. My students benefit a lot through listening to different Huffadh with their IPods, mp3 players etc.
7. What advise or learning resources would you offer/recommend to those currently memorizing Qur'an?
A. My advise is first and foremost we turn to Allah for help, and do it for His pleasure with utmost Ikhlas, and then we need to commit ourselves just the way we commit for all the other things that we want to achieve in our lives and also make the most of all the resources that are available on an individual basis.
8. What advice would you present to those who have completed memorization of Qur'aan?
A. As we know this is a unique thing in itself, we need to make a life long commitment to review a portion of the Qur'aan regularly every single day -- that portion should be one seventh of the Quraan, I call it 'a seven day cycle', no matter where we are this shouldn't get disturbed, and besides that we should be able to recite a Juz or so in our daily salats. These two things have really helped me and I do emphasize on these when I am asked for advice.
9. Please tell me more on your published work on Qur'anic Language Made Easy?
A. Alhamdulillah I was able to learn the Arabic language with the basic grammar to understand the Qur'an around the same time when I was memorizing the Qur'an. Later on I started teaching, I didn't have a text, I was teaching from the notes which I took from my teachers. Some of my students at the end of their course insisted that I should get my notes published so that others can also benefit from it. Alhamdulillah I hear MashaAllah more and more people are using it now. It is basically written for non Arabic speaking students. Those who want to learn the basic grammar on their own who are fluent with their recitation of the Qur'aan, this book InshaAllah will be a good start.
10. In the past, many parents focused primarily on their sons memorizing Qur'an. In recent years, this has changed, with many more sisters memorizing Qur'an. Why do you think this is so?
A. MashaAllah times have changed and I have also come across parents who want their daughters to memorize the Qur'aan and also sisters who are very much committed to memorizing the Qur'aan. My guess is, in the past girls didn't go into every field of education and compete with men, but now times have changed and they are competing with men in every field, so why not the memorization of the Qur'an. My advice to the girls is "go for it, commit yourselves, may Allah grant you success, ameen."
11. What/who motivates you daily?
A. My motivation every single day comes to me through the realization of the great gift Allah has blessed me with. Every single day I weep, because I am out of words to express my gratitude for the best possible gift I am blessed with after Iman. With this realization it becomes easy to do my review every single day, because I know I can't afford to lose it. And besides that I love doing it, in fact I look forward to doing it everyday as soon as I possibly can.
12. Let's talk favorites- Please share with us:-your favorite verse of Qur'an? -your favorite Surah?-your best memory from the days of memorizing Qur'an?
A. My favorite verses are many, and one of them is: 'Those who believe and whose hearts are satisfied by remembrance of God. Oh, it is by remembrance of God that hearts are satisfied!' (13: 28).
My favorite Surah is Surah al Ikhlas.
My best memories from the days of memorizing Qur'an are two, one is when after quietly doing it on my own without my husband knowing about it for a year, I told him after I had memorized ten Juz, he was really happy for me, and second is in my second year I was able to persuade my son to start memorizing, he was in eleventh grade at that time, we were both doing it together, and MashaAllah later on when he was in college he was able to complete his Hifdh as well. And also my parents I was able to make them soooo happy through this.