Upon my perusal of the World Wide Web for reliable Islamic websites and Muslim blogs I found one "Hafiza Iffath Hasan". Her blog was a beautiful one in its simplicity and her main purpose was to provide 'Lessons of the Day". I was so impressed by her consistency and seemingly vast supply of beneficial information that I knew I wanted to find out about the woman behind the posts. Below you will find the paraphrased interview I had with Sister Iffath.
Please tell us about yourself
I am 55 years old; I was born in India, raised there until I was 18 years old. Then I moved to Canada with my husband, our families arranged our marriage, and then a few years later we moved to America. I've also lived in Saudi Arabia for several years, which I enjoyed. I have two sons, both of whom have received part of their education in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Alhamdulillah, I have been blessed to be hafiz of Quran[meaning: she has memorized the entire book]. I've always wanted to be a teacher, it was really my inclination. I have not received a formal education in teaching but currently I hold Quranic classes at the mosque in Chicago where I live. I also have written a book entitled Quranic Language Made Easy and can teach Arabic on an academic level. So Allah made a way for me to be a teacher even though I have not obtained a formal degree.
What's the story behind your blog?
I've always enjoyed reading; as a child my father saw me reading books and suggested that if I come upon something amazing that speaks to my heart, then I should make a note of those things. So I started taking notes about everything that resounded within my heart as I read. Not my own words, just those of great people that we can learn from. 5 years ago, I started looking through my journals, I have so many collected now, and felt I didn't have time to review or benefit from them. I felt like I'm getting a message from 'up there' so I decided to email part of my notes to a muslim list. So I started doing it for a few days in 2004, then my son in California called me with a surprise. He told me to check online for a brand new blog that he set up in my name. He came up with the motto and designed the blog for me. He taught me how to post and do the basic essentials for maintaining the blog.
Do you really post something everyday since 2004? Rain or shine?
Well, 5 days a week I do try, yes. On the weekends I teach and rarely have time to get in front of the computer.
Who do you reach with your blog, what's the demographic?
People from all over the world. It's international and 1-2 people are added to the mailing list every time I check. Generally they don't mention where they're from but sometimes they do. I don't keep track. I post things that are not controversial; things that can be understood by everyone. If people comment and say "Jazakum Allahu khairan", that's enough for me. They ask Allah to bless me and they thank me and it means that they are benefiting from it.
How is your blog divided?
There are two different posts types. One is the Lesson of the Day and the other one is Pearls of Wisdom. There are 5 categories in the Lesson of the Day post: Ayahs of the Day, Hadith of the Day, Wise Quote of the Day, Guidance of the Day, & Food for Thought. Then there is Pearls of Wisdom which consists of 10 quotes from well known scholars. I alternate, one day this one day that, for variety. [see blog here]
You said you enjoyed living in Saudi Arabia, why did you want to come back to America?
I loved it in Saudi Arabia. But I had to return to the states in 1992 because of my kids' college education and to serve the deen [religion] here in America. I had been doing a few different things for the deen for several years before two great opportunities came. Nine years ago in Elgin, IL, a hifz school or Quranic memorization school opened up for girls, 20 minutes away from where I live now. I landed a job to tutor kids in Quran and also to give Islamic lessons to ladies on the weekends.
Tell us about your process of memorizing the Quran?
Usually Muslims memorize the Quran at a young age, [well before age 20], but I memorized the book when I was 37 years old. At an early age my parents certainly encouraged us to learn to read the Quran, so we were confident when it came to reciting the quran but not all of it was committed to memory. I was going through some difficult times in my life, and I wanted Allah to answer my dua. I wanted to stay living in Saudi Arabia for the next 5 years so that my oldest son could finish his schooling there. I began to pray to Allah on a nightly basis, making an effort to do tahajjud (a voluntary morning prayer) making dua to be able to stay there and for the next 5 years. Alhamdulillah, soon my dua was answered. After my wish was granted, I felt ashamed to stop offering tahajjud; afterall Allah had swiftly answered my dua. So I continued praying these additional prayers and a few months later, I felt that I should learn more quran because every single night I was reciting the same surah (chapter). So I decided to learn at least 2-3 juz so that I could alternate, but then, I ended memorizing the whole thing. Before I knew it a year had passed and at the end of the year I had 10 juz committed to memory. And then I said to myself, "how can I stop now?" Allah made it so easy for me, so I must go on. Less than a year later, the other 20 juz were also committed to memory.My kids would test me on my memorization and help me review what I'd learned. Today, my son is also hafiz of Quran. I make a dua and tell my students to make a dua that asks, 'Oh Allah make everyone of my family members supportive of the things I am doing. People don't realize that they have to spell out their needs to Allah, and then He will answer them. Alhamdulillah, my husband is wonderful and very supportive and it is through my family that I have come a long way.