Interview With Chicago Crescent

By Kiran Ansari

What if your whole life revolved around the study of the Quran? What if the Word of God was a part of your day job, your weekend activities and your family life?  That is something Iffath Hassan and her family has strived to accomplish starting with themselves, their children and working outwards to bring the teachings of the Quran to the community.

For the last seventeen years, every Saturday - rain or shine, snow or ice - Sister Iffath volunteers to teach the meaning of the Quran to women at the Muslim Society Inc. in Bloomingdale. Then on Sundays, she shares the knowledge God has blessed her with at the Islamic Foundation in Villa Park. During the week she teaches Quran at the Institute of Islamic Education in Elgin.

But that’s not all – she also tries to spread the message of Islam in cyberspace with her “Lesson of the Day” blog that sends inspirational quotes from the Quran, Hadith, scholars and poets right to your inbox.

“As I always enjoyed reading, my father suggested that if I come upon something that speaks to my heart, I should make a note of it,” she says. “Five years ago, I decided to email part of my notes so that more people can benefit from it. Then to my surprise, my son created a blog for me and taught me how to maintain it.”

Sister Iffath completed Hifz (memorization of the entire Quran) at the age of 37 proving that one does not need to give up if he or she didn’t memorize earlier on in life. What began as a quest to commit two juz(parts) to memory to add some variety to her prayer ended at completion of the entire 30 juz.

“After a year had passed and I had memorized 10 juz, I said to myself, "How can I stop now when Allah has made it so easy for me?”

Her children used to test her on the portions she had memorized helping her review easily at home. The cycle continues as now her son is also a Hafiz and she teaches Hifz to girls in Elgin. Sister Iffath has also authored “Quranic Language Made Easy” to help readers with the grammar of the Quran so they can grasp the meaning of the Sacred Verses more easily.

While Sister Iffath’s halaqas (Islamic talk groups) are well-attended, she believes that there is still a need to invite more youth to spiritual lessons. While she agrees that social work is crucial, and a great starting point to attract the youth, both knowledge and action need to work hand in hand. She also feels a greater variety of people can only start attending Islamic sessions as opposed to coffee mornings and dinner parties if they are open to change and believe they need to know more. If they are content with their knowledge of Islam, they will not have that thirst or yearning to find places that feed the spirit and not just the body.

A few parenting tips from a wise mother

· Always be there for your children when they are young.
· Develop a taste for the deen from a young age. Take them to Islamic talks and events and read Islamic literature so it is not alien to them when they are older.
· Moms and dads should not give mixed messages. Even if they disagree about something, they should discuss it among themselves and have a united front for the children
· Pray for good company for your children. Research shows that up to six years of age, a child picks up 80 percent of his knowledge from his parents. After that, he gets just 25 percent from his parents, 50 percent from his peers and 25 percent from “other sources” like media.
· Teaching deen is not just the mother’s role. Fathers should also take on some responsibility for imparting Islamic education and morals.
· Parents looking for spouses for their children should value piety as one of the main criterion to lay the foundation for families that place an emphasis on religion.