Cold, sitting on a wet rock, he would wait outside his teacher's door for hours, waiting for him to come out so he could ask him a question. That was imam Malik as a child, whose hunger for learning kept him there and respect for his shaykh deterred him from knocking on his door lest he disturbed him. That was a time when teachers of Qur'an were held in such high esteem. Unfortunately now the roles are reversed and we find teachers chasing students, calling them and waiting while they find their hijab, make wudu or drag their feet to Qur'an class. They get the eye roll when the students are stopped if making a mistake.  The empty stares, moms bribing kids to read one more page, mushafs are left in the car only to be hastily looked at for a few minutes before class. The same mistakes of madd, over and over again.

“The best of you are those who learn the Qur'an and teach it to others.”

Despite this hadith being so familiar to most of us, I can not tell you how many times I have heard a Qur'an teacher being referred to in derogatory terms – in some Muslim countries they are treated like servants, worse that the children's nanny. If you don't respect them personally than please respect the Kalam of Allah that they teach and give them honor based solely on the majesty of what they teach: the Qur'an.

The following is advice that Amir Al-Mu'mineen, Ali bin Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, gave: “From the rights of the learned over you is that you do not ask too many questions, you do not divulge his secrets, you do not backbite about him to anyone, you do not look for error in him, if he made a mistake you accept his excuse. It is incumbent upon you to respect and magnify him as long as he keeps Allah's orders; you should not sit in front of him; if he has a need the people should race to serve him.”

In a hadith related by At-Tirmithi the Messenger of Allah, (saw) said, “He is not of us who does not respect our elderly, is merciful to our youth, and knows the rights of those who teach us.”

Qur'an lessons are a combination of effort on behalf of the children, the teachers and the parents. Many of us have played one of these roles, I have played all three. I feel many times the teacher, the child or the parent want to say the following things to each other but don't out of humility, cultural taboos, or just can't be bothered. Hope this will spark some very important conversations.

What a Qur'an teacher wishes s/he could say to the parents:

  1. We are human beings and your child's teachers, please accord us more respect or at least the same that you would give to you child's secular teachers.
  2. If you are paying us, please treat it like any other bill and pay us promptly – we would not charge for this noble cause unless our homes did not run on this money.
  3. Please be punctual – value our time, especially when we teach without payment as it is usually time we take away from our own families.
  4. Inform us in advance if you are canceling the class.
  5. Have the students use the bathroom and make wudu before lesson time as valuable time is wasted.
  6. Have your child dress appropriately for Qur'an class – the adab is head/satr covered, no faces or bad language on clothing.
  7. Please teach your children to respect us – if you call us names at home they will internalize this attitude, too.
  8. Revise the lesson at home especially if your child only comes a few times a week.
  9. If we have moved them back from one lesson to another it is usually because they haven't completely learned the skills in that particular lesson.
  10. Don't be offended or take it personally if your child is not performing well and we talk to you about it – we have their best interests at heart.
  11. If you are unhappy about anything please talk to us without your child present – it weakens our authority when your child knows that you do not respect us.
  12. Many parents question why the child is spending so much time on the “Qaidah” or “Yassarnal Qur'an.” Let the teacher spend the time required to learn the foundations, if the makharij are messed up then it takes a lot of work to fix them at a later stage.

Since I am not a hifidh teacher, I asked what one would say to parents: These are thoughts of a hifdh teacher:

  1. Please don't tell me how to do my job…Memorizing a few surahs is not the same as memorizing the whole Qur'an.
  2. I am a teacher, not a miracle worker.
  3. Don't enforce your selfish expectations on your children. Accept them for who they are and I guarantee they will perform better.
  4. Please do this for the sake of Allah and not as a status symbol. You're affecting your child's education in ways you do not know.
  5. Your child will not die because he has the sniffles…Don't make him miss days unnecessarily.
  6. If you don't make sure they learn their lesson at night…..you can't expect them to become hafidh.
  7. Do not make long term plans, they do not work…make short term realistic plans.
  8. Please do exactly as I tell you, or else don't blame me when things are not going well.
  9. I love my students very much and we have a very deep bond…that is why I am hard on them; not because I have a bad temper.

What a child wishes s/he could tell their Qur'an teacher:

  1. Please do not hit me if I do not know my lesson.
  2. Smell good it is hard to learn when the teacher doesn't smell good.
  3. Tell me if I did a good job – it motivates me.
  4. Please do not humiliate me in front of the whole class.
  5. Urge me to read more even if I am being lazy, sometimes I just need an extra push.
  6. Please do not take me back all the way to the beginning of the Qaidah or Qur'an if I have already done it – it is so discouraging – maybe you can review the past lessons AND give me new lessons too.
  7. Tell me your rules upfront because every teacher is different and sometimes I may do something because my previous teachers let me.

To be fair and since I am a parent, I realize that there are all sorts of teachers – some good, some great and some…let's not go there. When looking for a person to teach Qur'an to your child check and make sure the teacher has proper tajweed. A good Qur'an teacher will not mind if you ask them to recite some verses to you or to someone who knows proper qiraat before choosing your child's teacher.  This shows that you are serious about your child's learning. Ask for references especially from parents in the locality. Ask if they teach individually or in a class format.

What a parent wishes the Qur'an teacher knew:

  1. Please do not hit my child to enforce a lesson – they will start hating coming to your class and in turn have horrible memories associated with learning the beautiful book of Allah.
  2. Please give my child proper attention and inculcate the love of Allah's Book by being kind and gentle with them.
  3. Keep us in the loop – let me know if my child is being rude or not performing properly.
  4. As a parent I know my child better – please listen to our input about their learning styles or issues.
  5. Encourage my child and reward him/her with positive feedback  especially when they did well or learnt their lesson properly.
  6. Let us know in advance if you are canceling a class.
  7. Please be sincere and do not treat this like a money-making scheme.

We would like to make a resource for our brothers and sisters looking for qualified Qur'an teachers for thier children. So if you have had a great teacher and would like to pay homage to them or refer a wonderful Qur'an teacher please leave their name or their school's name contact # ( with their permission) and location. May Allah (SWT) make it a sadaqah jahriah for you.

32 Responses

  1. Zuleyka

    I believe there are lots of good teachers out there to teach Quran but I wish for my kids to be taught on this by their father :-)

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    • Hena Zuberi

      salaams, Sister Zuleykha,
      That is wonderful that your husband can teach quran to your children. MashaAllah!

      I taught my eldest daughter and she was an easy student. But I starting having such a hard time with my second daughter- they have such different learning styles. I started losing my temper with her and felt I wasn’t following the advice I was giving so I started taking her to a teacher. MashaAllah, we have been blessed to have someone, who my children can look up to as a role model, they love going there and are enriched from the environment of a proper hifdh school.

      I think when we teach our own kids we have such high, unrealistic expectations of them.

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  2. Arif Kabir

    Very pertinent article – JazākumAllahu Khayran for sharing.

    As someone who went through the Hifzh Program and later on became a Hifdh and Qur’an teacher during the summer and weekends, I can attest to many of the points that were brought up.

    Parents need to understand that it is their encouragement and diligence with the child that keeps him going more than anything else. Parents need to make sure no distractions get in the way, such as parties, excessive playing times, etc.

    Teachers need to understand that students do indeed take their subject material very seriously and that it may be easy to fail a child with a mere uttering of “Fail”, but that it psychologically hurts the child and the whole family once the news hits home.

    Students need to realize that their teachers have left their secular careers to teach them the Qur’an, and that parents are sacrificing a lot of time, energy, and wealth on their children, so they should be appreciative towards both and try to reciprocate it by doing well in school.

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    • Hena Zuberi

      Alhamdulillah- one of the most pressing we face in our weekend school is whether to teach the whole class one lesson or read individually with each child. How do you teach brother?

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      • muhammad tariq

        “quran teacher”

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      • abdirahman

        I found this post really late but it’s written quite wonderfully! Maashaa Allaah.

        That is a great question and it would be great to get input from other teachers on how they approach this question. I’ve been teaching for two years now with the individual approach where each student reads their assigned portion of their new lesson or the review to me individually. I’ve been considering changing my method and having the class go as a group so I can focus more on pronunciation. If we read as a class, then I don’t have to rely on students reading at home because unfortunately many students simply don’t read at home. What do the other Quran teachers out there have to say about this?

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  3. Asma

    Assalamu ‘alaykum:

    MashaAllah! A very thorough piece that I am sure hits home on many fronts. I appreciate the breakdown (point by point) of issues according to the roles of the various particpants that are involved in the Qur’an learning process.

    I just wanted to point out that the process of evaluating a Qur’an teacher according to your method is not always easy. You stated:

    When looking for a person to teach Quran to your child check and make sure the teacher has proper tajweed. A good Quran teacher will not mind if you ask them to recite some verses to you or to someone who knows proper qiraat before choosing your child’s teacher. This shows that you are serious about your child’s learning. Ask for references especially from parents in the locality.

    The problem is that in some parts of the world there are parents who do not know much Qur’an but want to get their children to learn it. Such parents do not have a means of evaluating the Qur’an teacher’s tajweed.

    Once again, excellent article! May Allah reward you for this clear reminder you have shared and may it’s message be a means of positive change for all Muslims.

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    • Hena Zuberi

      You are right- that is the sad state that the Ummah is in. But things are changing.

      If parents don’t know proper tajweed, they need to find someone who does- its like if I was finding a math tutor for my kid for trig and I don’t know a hypotenuse from a tangent, I would not hire the first 15 year old on my block- I would research find a appropriate center or tutor, look at their track record- ask for references but with Quran some of us just find an aunti who wears hijab and are satisfied that our kids are learning how to read.

      I think our masajid also need to step up and do some referring especially if they do not have someone who teaches on the premises.

      And we need to develop resources= maybe a Quran teacher directory with ratings?

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  4. Sadaf Farooqi

    This was an excellent, excellent article Hena!
    Barak Allahu feeki. May Allah reward you with immense good for writing up such a great article that covers a core issue from all angles and viewpoints. :)
    May Allah make your children from the اهل القرأن. Ameen.

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  5. UmmNoorUddeen

    AsSalamualaikum waRahmatullahi wabarakatuh

    i am a quran teacher myself by the permission of Allah and i agree with all of the points you have made Alhamdulillah. jazzakaAllahu kairun

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  6. Hena Zuberi

    I am going to start by referring two great Quran teachers in my locality (north of Los Angeles)- May Allah SWT grant them the highest maqaam in Jannah.

    Sister Ambereen 661-299-5810

    Mufti Ibrahim Qureishi
    Alkauthar Academy

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  7. Saifullah786

    Assalaamuwalayakum

    it’s nice to have this type of incite. i’m not a quran teacher, but i used to teach sunday school but had to quit for various reasons. as a sunday school teacher, i was required to teach the very basics of islam. i would always have problems with behavior. only being in high school and not having any experience with children 10 years younger than me, i didn’t know how to handle them. some of the parents would just leave their children at the masjid like we were their babysitters and expect us to “control” them. another problem was getting in contact with some of the parents. sometimes the parents didn’t bother speaking with the teacher and sometimes teachers just gave up on contacting the parents.

    anyway, one of the biggest problems at our sunday school was the lack of proper quran teachers. there were only two brothers and one sister that would try to teach the whole school (about 100 students +). i want our sunday school to improve, but i don’t know what else we can do. it’s so hard to get teachers to volunteer. and with sunday school only being once a week, students suppose to get most of their learning and studying done at home, which doesn’t really happen.

    jazakallahu khair for the points. those are some really good ways to approach problems that students/teachers/parents may be having.

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  8. Nihal Khan

    MashaAllah, great post! I agree and promote this article. As a hifdh teacher I find this process VERY beneficial. A hafidh knows that this is the EXACT relationship (Student, Teacher, and Parent) which is needed to get your hifdh done.

    There was only one point which I slightly disagree on (depending on what situation and school the child is memorizing in):

    – Sometimes a student needs to be taken back to the Noorani Qaidah because it is where one’s foundation begins. The students needs to be told to empty their cup when they want to memorize and should spent a few weeks on the Qaidah as it will solidify their makharij and tajweed (I believe it is very important for the student to have studied some tajweed and makhraj before memorizing). But then again, with systems of learning the Qur’an such as Ustadh Wisam Sharieff’s course is a very productive way of learning w/o having to put in the unnecessary strain which kids end up putting in when doing hifdh.

    EXCELLENT post. Jazakillahu khair Sr. Hena.

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  9. Hebah Ahmed

    Jazak Allahu Khair Sr. Hena! Great topic written by someone obviously well aquainted with the Quranic learning triad. :)

    I think underlying all of the advice in your article is the very important point of actually pushing ourselves (in effort and money) to raise children who are memorizers of the Quran. Once we make that committment, Insha’Allah our children will mimic us in this prioritization and will thereby respect the process as well.

    I truly believe children take on the values of their parents. When they see their parents picking and choosing Islamic values and rules, expecting things of their children they do not expect of themselves, the children will also pick and choose, and usually not the same choices as their parents. On the other hand, when they see their parents consistently reading and memorizing Quran, respecting those with more knowledge and seeking that knowledge, and not compromising on the Islamic way of life no matter who they are with, then they will automatically do the same Insha Allah.

    Jazak ALlahu Khair for giving us the tools to improve the process and give us hope that our children can aspire to the same degree of Islamic knowlede as they strive for in secular knowledge.

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  10. Kashif Naseem Dilkusha

    Assalamoalaikum

    Masha ALLAH, very well written article. I believe these thoughts should be posted in our quran schools and should be shared with parents and teachers.

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    • Hena Zuberi

      I don’t know if online quran reading is really the answer especially for little children who need face to face instruction. There are so many online quran schools now- maybe another post is due.

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      • kamran mirza

        well sister Hena i have don research on that as well like there are negative and positive aspects of on both end like if going to a Mosq the kids read quran in groups most of the Mosqs teachers just give them one or 2 lined and ask all of them to read it like 20 times or as many as they could without seeing that the kid is even actually looking or reading it with our looking and like a kind of memorizing without knowing that what written in front of the kid and after like 1 para or so the kid stops because it becomes heard from him to memorize it and some of the kids if they do not learn there lesson they are not taken separately or said that to read again there lessons they are given the new lesson and if any body asks to them of read to me from 2 pages back they have for gotten all

        on the other hand the online institutes have one teacher per one kid so the lessons are focused and prepared differently for each kid according to there nature the lesson which is given is tough constantly by teacher by him reading and the kid repeating after him and certain question like what is on the top of ra , kaf meem and i am on which word move your mouse where we are reading or even asking about the colors and having a cam interaction on both site so they can view each other make it more effective along in the next class the listening of previous lessons and a weekly test of the lessons that the kids have read makes it more intact that what is the process of kids learning the Quran and what extra efforts can be pulled upon to improve the kids ability and with the parents having kids in front of there eyes makes it more approachable

        http://www.learningquranonline.com

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  11. Quran

    MashaAllah your post is very effective, specially useful for those who want their children to learn Quran education from some institute or at home tutor.Our site http://www.quranreading.com gives online tutoring program which provides the clients the comfort of their home. They can learn Quran online with our experienced tutors.

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  12. Learn Quran Online

    My Quran Lesson is an easy way for you and your kids to learn the Holy Quran. All you need is a PC, headset with a microphone and a broadband internet connection.

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  13. Mark

    Online education is not a new concept. There are hundreds
    of universities, colleges and entities who are providing
    online Quran education. Hundreds of adults and children
    have successfully learned to read Quran from our qualified
    live tutors. Parents have been pleased with this service and tutors

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  14. Hassaan Ahmad

    Splendid article! I really appreciate you for writing this wonderful article. I’m also a Quran teacher and I teach my students with encouragement and give them confidence. I treat them with respect and sprinkle some interesting Islamic stories once or twice a week, which develops more interest in learning and they don’t feel any sort of burden. I give respect and teach them kindly and provide them a comfortable environment which helps them to learn more effectively.

    It’s not only about teaching. It’s about character building. Teachers and parents are role model for kids. Kids imitate elders. If we treat them nicely and teach them the right way they’ll do the same and it will lead them to built a great character. Moreover, it will help you to play a vital role in society.

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  15. mummyjaan@gmail.com

    This is an old post and I happened to come across it while doing a search about online Quran tuitions.

    I must say that I am *stunned* with the references to hitting; does it even happen anymore? I remember about 30 years ago hearing about cousins whose “Quran teacher” would arrive with a stick in his hand – he didn’t use it as far as I know.

    Isn’t it time the “fear factor” was permanently put in the bin with respect to religious education – or any education, for that matter?

    In this century, does a child or a parent actually need to say something like, “Please do not hit me/my child if I don’t know my lesson”? Surely we’ve moved on from these kind of attitudes?

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