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Why I Let My Child Quit The Quran

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By Hooyo Said (a pseudonym)

I write this on the evening that I told my daughter’s Qur’an teacher that I wanted my child to quit memorising the Qur’an. That’s right, quit.

Who am I? A highly experienced educator mother who’s taught children in Pupil Referral Units, mentored Muslim youth and consoled and advised parents about the ‘plight’ of their troublesome teenagers. Dealing with the challenging behaviour of ‘problem’ pupils has always been intuitive to me. I enjoy the mental gymnastics involved in getting the best out the toughest kids. My husband is a polymath, a multidisciplinary creative and dynamic educator who also happens to be studying for his PhD. So how then have we managed to mould a child who dislikes memorising Qur’an?

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Our home is a loving environment rich in Qur’anic recitation and exegesis. Whilst my daughter was invitro, her father and I would affectionately recite the Qur’an aloud. As a baby, we’d engage her active listening skills by playing short surahs in the car and at home, reciting along so that Allah’s book became less background noise, more immersive audio experience. We’d recite in bed whilst having a cuddle under the duvet. Or pitch a makeshift tent in the living room reciting Qur’an and sharing Islamic stories illuminated by strobe light (a torch) and cinematic sound effects! By the age of two and a half, and without any formal teaching, my daughter knew many short surahs and would eagerly “sing” the Qur’an. At that point, her Qur’anic journey has been entirely organic; absorption by osmosis.

If our daughter’s induction into Qur’anic memorisation had started so well then why would we let her quit? I’m too Tiger Mother, too Dweckian to allow that to happen to my children. My husband and I share an outlook found amongst many Chinese communities in that success (in any domain) is inextricably linked to work ethic before talent (although talent certainly helps). Moreover, we believe in the value of loving to learn as an end itself. So then, how do I reconcile my daughter ‘quitting’ whilst not becoming a ‘quitter?’ Easily. My role as a parent (in my estimation) is to nurture the best out of my children, cultivating their strengths and addressing areas to improve. My husband and I do so by inculcating a reflective/reflexive methodology in our children; we learn from our inevitable faux pas! And this is where my daughter trips up. My girl is a six-year-old going on sixteen: driven yet doting (to her baby brother); creative yet competitive; sensible but sensitive. Hyper sensitive in fact; a highly volatile package!

With such an explosive combination of characteristics, I was cognizant that the Madrasah would be the wrong place for my daughter to learn the Qur’an. Distracted Ustadhs fiddling with phones, reading newspapers or even dozing off; even more distracted children, off-task with their studies, talking amongst themselves and seeking elopement from the “learning” environment at the first opportunity by taking prolonged trips to the toilet. My husband and I knew we could only entrust our child’s Qur’anic journey with the right teacher. Alhamdulilah, after much dua we found just the person. A young sister whose first language was Arabic and had teaching experience in state and faith settings at home and abroad. So we had a great teacher and a child with good tarbiyah a great success story right? Wrong!

My daughter’s first official Quran lesson began well. She was excited, engaged and eager to flaunt her skills of recitation to impress her new teacher. However, as the weeks progressed, she grew more and more frustrated with her errors in memorisation and pronunciation. Time after time my daughter would stumble and trip over the same ayah, not a story to dissimilar to most other children one imagines. I made it clear to my daughter that learning the Qur’an can be a challenge and that experiencing difficulties during the process was okay, in fact Allah would be even more proud of her effort! Nevertheless, I could see that my six year old wasn’t responding to the teaching methods employed by her Ustadah so like any good practitioners, my husband and I ran an “audit.” We switched things up.

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We gave the Qur’an teacher creative license to do whatever it took to engage our daughter. Some weeks that entailed warming up with a chat, other weeks playing with blocks of lego or drawing in her beloved sketchpad, all of this without even touching the mushaf. But my daughter was still stuck, trapped in a place where emotions consumed her. Fiercely competitive yet angry at not “winning,” our little competitor couldn’t overcome her frustrations. Talking or laughing about it didn’t help either. It only edified the emotional and psychological deadlock. So in my Amy Chua “manhaj,” I dug my heels in. Mademoiselle dug them in even further. Worst of all, it became disconcertingly apparent that my daughter’s heart was no longer invested in learning the Book of Allah. In one lesson, she became so incensed that she flung the Qur’an across the room and stormed off! Calm and collected, I didn’t react. I simply wrote my baby girl a note. It read: “When you’re ready to talk, I’m ready to listen. Love Hooyo.” I later find an apology letter she had penned to Allah hidden beneath her story books.

In spite of all the ire and resistance, my daughter had made some progress, but in the process I was losing her; the child whose eyes lit up when we spoke of Allah were now stony cold. The child who would happily “sing” the Qur’an would rather remain mute. I couldn’t shake that image from my mind. I -the self-proclaimed “expert” – had unwittingly excised the love of learning the Uncreated Speech of Allah from her heart. That’s when my husband and I decided our daughter was going to take a hiatus from Qur’anic memorisation – for the time being. Instead, we’ll continue to live and enjoy a halal lifestyle rooted in Islamic identity, aesthetics and ethics with the Qur’an a constant presence, albeit in the background. And, as adoring parents, we’ll continue to support our daughter’s development in “antifragility” (to quote Nasim Nicholas Taleb) so that we may return to learning the Qur’an when she’s emotionally ready for the rigors of recitation and memorisation.

Ultimately, my daughter knows learning to read the Qur’an just like praying salah is non-negotiable but as a ‘stakeholder’ in her spiritual development she will have considerable input in how Quran is officially reintroduced. As emotionally intelligent educators responsive to our pupil’s needs, my husband and I have decided to address the root cause of our daughter’s ‘insurrection’ rather than resorting to extrinsic motivators – be they sugary snacks, sticker charts, high-fives and/or sycophancy – to instill (begrudging) obedience. By allowing our daughter to quit the Qur’an, a bold and somewhat unconventional move for a practising Muslim family, we have emotionally accepted that the process of memorisation will be interrupted in the short-term.

However, looking forward to the future, we hope and pray that our daughter’s relationship with the Qur’an will be edified, enriched and ultimately enduring. Moreover, it is even more paramount that we address her “combustible cocktail” of character traits, as our cold world does not care about her sweet sensibilities. I’m already planning and engineering scenarios where my daughter has to deal with loss and defeat so that she may learn to become more robust and resilient. My baby girl is a work in progress – aren’t we all? With diligence, determination and dua I’m confident my daughter will emerge from her chrysalis and blossom just like Austin’s Butterfly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Sarah

    February 4, 2016 at 2:45 AM

    Hoooooyoo. Mahad sanid.

  2. Avatar

    Yusuf

    February 4, 2016 at 2:49 AM

    I too went through this struggle when I was young, 60 years ago. My Quran teacher had pronounced I will never be able to learn Quran. Today, I teach Islamic Studies at a major university. In light my childhood experience, I had decided that my children would learn Quran recitation during summer breaks only when not preoccupied with other school work. This way, they would be able to learn intensively and also quickly. And they did well.

    I agree there is a need to change the method too. Unfortunately, the traditionally trained teachers while apt as using all electronic gadgets still use the outdated method when it comes to teaching Quran and they also repeat outdated irrational comments on the meaning of the Quranic verses, which makes today’s well informed children confused.

    It is best to teach it yourself creatively or seek teachers familiar with new methods and are creative too.

    Best wishes.

  3. Avatar

    Moshe

    February 4, 2016 at 10:07 AM

    Hi, “in vitro” is Latin for “in glass” and refers only to a child conceived outside the womb with “in vitro fertilization”. The embryo only stays in the glass or other laboratory equipment for a few days at most, so I don’t think that’s what you meant to say.

  4. Avatar

    Norma Tarazi

    February 4, 2016 at 11:30 AM

    Children develop at different rates. Remember that some start walking at 9 months and some at 18 months. Some normal kids don’t develop their brains for reading until later childhood, while others start reading at 4. Memorization is a skill some develop earlier than others. Some memorize easily and some have great difficulty. I know an imam who is very highly educated but he has always struggled with Quran memorization. He has many gifts and an excellent memory, but rote memorization is very difficult for him. He needs context and meaning for memory storage apparently. Isolated facts don’t stick with him. I’m glad you stopped the struggle for your child. She will pick up enough for salah and if she can read Arabic script, she will memorize what she can when she can later. Allah gives each of us different gifts and different struggles.

  5. Avatar

    Adam

    February 4, 2016 at 12:57 PM

    The title of your piece itself is a scary. Since when we allowed our children decide what is good or bad for them. A practical example, our children will never accept injecting needle in their body if they are given the option to decide. Yet, we force them taking soar medicines antibiotics and painful procedures for a reason.

    Memorizing Quran has a lot benefits and highly encouraged in our religion.

    It is understandable if you have concerns about teachers in your daughter’s Madrasa and their method of teaching. But by saying “she will have considerable input in how Qur’an is officially reintroduced” is beyond comprehension. I strongly believe taking children the Madrasa and attending Quranic sessions weights more by quitting from the Madrasa.

    I can’t agree you more it is time to review and make changes to the traditional method of teaching Quran to our children by incorporating new methods of teaching. But quitting and giving children choices is not an option.

    As a parent we are accountable in front of Allah, teaching our children their religion and Islamic values.

    • Avatar

      Ahmed

      February 4, 2016 at 2:05 PM

      “But quitting and giving children choices is not an option.” Why not?

      • Avatar

        Adam

        February 4, 2016 at 3:35 PM

        Let me clarify what I mean by that. Giving choices and options depends on the age of the child and the nature of the item in question. It is solely the primary responsibility of the parents to decide certain things like treatment options, early education and guidance. There are certain things that children can be left to make their own choices like what kind of game they like playing or which park they like to visit.

        Even if the children are gaining nothing from Madrasa, children will benefit by attending Madrasa environment. They will meet other Muslim children, possibly from different ethnic groups who are there for the same reason. It is an issue of identity and being a member of your own group.

        On the other hand, the monthly fee paid by the parents support the very existence of such Madrasa. When you pull out your child from Madrasa, your contributions is missing. When the number of parents who pull out their children increases, it will eventually lead closing the Madrasa.

        If there are concerns or issues to address about Madrasas, I would suggest parents to be active and involve the admin of the Madrasa.

      • Avatar

        Saharish

        October 12, 2016 at 11:30 AM

        I don’t see why quitting isn’t an option. Love for the Quran is far more important than memorizing it. If memorizing is difficult or frustrating for the child then he/she will associate the Quran with it. I had a slightly similar problem with my children too. It doesn’t hurt to talk to them about it and see how it can work for them. There are opportunities to push and points where pushing isn’t right.

    • Avatar

      Mahamoud Haji

      February 5, 2016 at 3:05 AM

      I agree the title is scary. shouldnt it have been “Why I Let My Child Temporarily Quit The Quran”? Yes, it is tactical withdrawal until an ambient environment exists to nurture the learning and understanding the Holy Qur’an. Although the content of the article explains furthern the ‘quiting’, remember as Muslims we need to communicate effectively at the earliest opportunity to avoid double guessing and misleading headlines.

    • Avatar

      Muhammed Salih

      May 21, 2016 at 11:03 AM

      You did the right thing, I dont get it when people say memorizing Qur-an is encouraged. (hoping for replies), I know learning Qur-an is better for us and reading it without knowing the meaning is discouraged. should we distress kids with Tajweed before they gets the meanings (and thereby deny their chance to be inspired). shouldn’t we rather ensure their faith first and put into kids interests to learn Arabic with regard to faith instead of outright tutions (and even worse, tution on Tajweed before Arabic). We live in an age were kids dont lack sources to learn but lack interests, wouldn’t they do better with enough interest, sense of need and a knowledgeble facilitator.

      In this case, she already had interest and might even have started learning to learn on her own, but some Tajweed issues sticked on to her.

      • Avatar

        Alaza Aj

        October 23, 2016 at 9:57 AM

        Masha’ Allah! Whichever way it is done, it is important to get our children to learn to read The Holy Quraan. More importantly, as you mention, is that they should be aware of the meaning of the verses of The Holy Quraan. This is the stepping stone that is needed to move them to the ultimate step and for which The Holy Quraan is meant for : using The Holy Quraan as a guide in life.
        In the end, I believe whatever efforts we expend on our children, they should be having this as end goal or outcome.

        Maasalaam
        https://alazaaj.wordpress.com

  6. Avatar

    M.Mahmud

    February 4, 2016 at 2:33 PM

    I do not understand this kind of emphasis that people have on memorizing the Quran. It does not seem to me that the first generations emphasized it in the same way as Muslims do today. They seem to have enphasized different things than we do today.

    It is dangerous to conflate parental ego “my kid is a conpetitive champ” with their iman which is tender and fragile.

    I would rather have a kid who only knows the first and last three surahs by heart but he loves Allah and His Messenger and fears Allah and the Akhirah and weeps whenever it is recited and is eager to pray and enter the masjid.

    Of course being an excellent memorizer and having those attributes are not mutually exclusive.

    But if putting my kid in a competition will distract him even for a moment from the terror of the akhirah, even for a moment from the love of Allah and His Messenger, even for a moment takes his niyyah from the moment he stands face to face before Allah subhana wa ta’ala then I can’t imagine not taking him out.

    In fact, I cannot see competitions doing anything except that except for a few kids and there is no way I am willing to take that risk.

    I think you did the right thing and I hope she’ll turn to a better way and insha Allah her dunya competition(and despite its “Islamic” veil is truly just that) is replaced with a competition for the akhirah. Insha Allah she will return to the way she was and better.

    • Avatar

      Khatam

      February 6, 2016 at 9:05 AM

      I think it was a wise decision. We push things onto our children which they may not be ready for. Memorising the whole Qur’an is an amazing feat, but not whete anyone esp a child loses the love for it. Adam yes we are accountable in teaching our children however Allah (swt) is most merciful and highly likely understands difficulties faced. The more important point is the child is able to learn when she feels she is ready and does it with love & dedication. There is no point otherwise. Forcing a child is negative and that is not Islam. Ensuring the basics are instilled, the rest will come as she gets older and has a better understanding of why we undertake certain tasks etc.

      • Avatar

        dyana

        February 9, 2016 at 11:57 AM

        I believe not all parents had entered their kids for quran memorisation class jusy so they can win some competitions. I would let my kids enter quran class for the sake of gaining reward from Allah as the one who is hafiz can help their parents in the akhirah.also, memorisation can help one’ s brain become a lot smarter.

    • Avatar

      Amina Ali Abdi

      April 17, 2016 at 4:27 PM

      Well said .kids have different levels of understanding .I have a 8 year old who finds it so hard to memorise let alone read. I will let her take her time inshAllah she will get there

  7. Avatar

    Olivia

    February 4, 2016 at 4:31 PM

    Loved this article. I also pulled my children out of the traditional “madrasah” environment: it was killing their spirits as Muslims, their love and enthusiasm for the Deen. Why did I feel like I had to undo damage from a place that was supposed to be benefitting them? The madrasah outlook is stale and backwards in not all but many places.

  8. Avatar

    RSN

    February 4, 2016 at 5:59 PM

    Seems to me that not learning the Surahs in correct pronunciation later created frustration for the little girl. This is true for anyone, especially for non-Arabic speakers.

  9. Avatar

    Muslima

    February 4, 2016 at 10:07 PM

    I feel the title should be changed. Muslims never quit the Qur’an. It is our oxygen, and we can’t survive without it. I think you should reconsider.

    • Avatar

      Khatam

      February 6, 2016 at 9:10 AM

      The title isn’t such a big deal. It’s the issue which has been written about. It seems the most important point is forgotten but a minor issue such as the title is heightened. You are right the Quran is our life but not where one is brought to the point where they don’t have it as a part of their lives due to having being forced or reprimanded constantly for not reading correctly. It is a hard task and very very difficult for some. As long as we incorporate the Quran into our daily lives, memorisation is secondary.

  10. Avatar

    mohamed Ibrahim

    February 5, 2016 at 6:18 AM

    Although the title is bit mismatching with the content of the article yet your communication is clear. Memerization the holy Quran is not among the fundemental principles of Islam and to my believe the Muslim parents should not of worry their children not memorizing the entire Quran but rather dispose enormous effort on how the children would of good practising Muslims which is very difficult on these days and especially raising Muslim family is a test. May Allah make her those who understand and practise the Quran and Sunnah. Abti soo barbaar.

  11. Avatar

    umm moussa

    February 5, 2016 at 12:25 PM

    Assalam Aleykum , As a parent , I have no doubt you know your child better . I am just throwing some more ideas to think about .Have you considered if she has any form of learning difficulties ? my child has it but he compensates very well with everything english so no one understood his problem until his difficuties becomes prominent during learning Quran & Arabic ( we are non arabic). So he literally ran off where Quran .Adhan ,anything arabic was being played ( Some suggested otherwise !!) .
    However priority in our deen is never as much to memorize but to Understand & Apply Quran in our life . When she is in Love with Quran , she would want to memorize it inshallah .
    But I do not recommend , Quitting quran altogather . As Quran is a healing for us . as per our scholars ,
    ” If you want to rectify your heart, or want to see a change for better , in your child or companion—or whoever it is for that matter, then direct them to places where the Qurʾān is recited and direct them to be in the company of the Qurʾān. Allāh will then cause them to become better, whether they are willing to it or not”
    — Imām ash-Shāfiʿī, in: ḥilyat al-awliyāʾ 9/123.

  12. Avatar

    Wazir

    February 5, 2016 at 9:37 PM

    Dear sister, most of the comments do not appear to touch the crux of the problem. As we all know, there are more Muslims who are non-Arabic speakers and yet we recite the Quran daily in a parrot like fashion. We do not try to understand and ponder upon its meaning. I have only just started to understand now (I am 57 years old), yet I learnt to read and recite when I was very young. I began to read the meanings and tafseer in English but that wasn’t enough. Then a friend introduced me to Quranic Arabic learning a few years ago. Now, although I am not a fluent Arabic speaker, I read the Quran and Surahs and understand (maybe not fully) what Allah is saying, and because I understand the meaning I want to read more, again and again. Each time I read a particular section, I understand more and more. Perhaps this is what is missing in most of our lives and we should strive to understand and ponder upon the message that Allah is giving us.

    • Avatar

      Shafkat

      February 9, 2016 at 2:59 AM

      Masha’Allah … May Allah(swt) make it easy for you …. What ‘Qur’anic Arabic’ course did you participate in ?
      JazakAllah khairan.

  13. Avatar

    NS

    February 6, 2016 at 6:01 AM

  14. Avatar

    Cass

    February 16, 2016 at 10:41 AM

    I think this is a good decision as long as Quran is reintroduced. Forcing her to learn when it’s clearly hurting her is only going to make her hate the Quran and by extension Islam as well. From what has been written in the article, I gather that the child will only be giving up memorising and not listening to the Quran.

  15. Avatar

    Moumina

    February 19, 2016 at 5:53 PM

    Assalaam aleikum. May Allah Azza wa Jall reward you all, and especially sr Hooyo who put this issue in the open. I fully understand your decision, but yet again; your daughter seem to be so very young. Yes of course it is the best age to develop an excelent memorization skill, though every child is different, as sr, Norma Tarazi mentioned. By the way, I like to take the opportunity to thank sr Tarazi so much for her book “the child in islam”. It has truly been a mentor for me. Jazakamullahu khairan. I only like to comment on this to share my own experience. Yes, absolutely its important to learn our children to memorize al Quran al Kareem, but sadly I have to say that it havent worked so well with my children when it comes to hafizh. First of all, arabic is not my language, not even english. Their fathers mother- tongue is arabic, but the way he started to them suras was with anger, pressure, insult and harshness. He wouldnt let them go to any madrasa, because according to him none was good enough. We live in a non muslim country, so the madrasas was put up by local mosques with different nationalities. I was scared that my children would end up hating to learn quran, so little by little I tried to learn them arabic letters and script and to read arabic from the little I new, and go for small suras for memorisation to at least to be used in salaat. Most of the time we did this when the father was not home, otherwise they woldnt dare to recite anything loudly with what was doomed to be with mistake. My biggest concern was that they could develop a steadfast islamic identity, to have a personal relationship with Allah, and to reflect over verses from the Quran in our own language. When we went to learn a sura, short once, I made sure they also understood the meaning of it as well. Stories from Quran, from seerat, from prophets and ahadith, became more in focus than memorizing. Yes, I have to admit that I felt some envy on sisters I met who could tell how much their children had memorised from the quran, how much they learned from the madrasas and so on. But again, I could only make my dua towards the Almighty that my children would be steadfast in their deen, and alhamdulilleh now when they are big I feel my duaas answered. Because growing up in a non Muslim country is not taken for granted that a child would never be affected from the society around. Sadly, I’ve also seen children I new from they where very young, who memorized big part from Quran, have fallen far away from the religion and its practise. Others again, have gone to the very extreme; hating everything and everybody who’s not muslim! So there is a challenge in keeping a balance, no matter where we live; in a muslim or non muslim country/enviroment.

  16. Avatar

    Umm hadi

    February 21, 2016 at 12:27 PM

    Asalam a laikum,
    May Allah protect us all and make our children the coolness of our eyes.

  17. Avatar

    Masjid Al Aqsa

    April 7, 2016 at 1:07 PM

    I agree there is a need to change the method too. Unfortunately, the traditionally trained teachers while apt as using all electronic gadgets still use the outdated method when it comes to teaching Quran and they also repeat outdated irrational comments on the meaning of the Quranic verses, which makes today’s well informed children confused.

  18. Avatar

    Mohsin

    July 30, 2016 at 7:57 AM

    My mother forces me memorize the Quran and I dont know what to do. The more she forces me I can see the more I lose love for the Quran and deen. For example, when I was not forced to memorize, I would read Quran aloud and read Quran on my free time and I would also go to the masjid frequently. But when my mother started forcing me to memorize, I started to not read Quran on my free time and I would not like going to the masjid and I am slowly losing more and more love for Islam and the Quran. I dont want to lose the love for Islam and I dont know what to do.

    • Avatar

      An new

      February 10, 2020 at 5:21 AM

      Hang in there. Keep memorising, but read the meaning as you memorise. Don’t let shaytan win. One day you will look back and be so grateful for your mother.

  19. Avatar

    Mustafa

    October 16, 2016 at 8:31 AM

    What if the title of this article was something like, “Why I let my child quit school” … Would the responses be the same? Would everybody take it positively? Would everybody support?

    The answer is a big fat NO.

    Look around, and you’ll find that many, many, many children are regularly forced to go to school and get “worldly” education just so that they can grow up and make money and have a better, more luxurious lifestyle. Children are regularly forced to compete with other children in subjects such as science (with evolution being taught in many schools) and history (most of it being about non-Muslims). Children are regularly forced to get higher grades and excel in their studies so that the parents can feel “proud” in front of others and show-off.

    When a Muslim makes their children work hard, give up on sleep and even miss obligatory prayers for the sake of school and worldly education, nobody bats an eye. But when a Muslim makes their child to memorize the Holy Quran and live their life strictly according to the Sunnah, everybody loses their mind.

    This just goes on to show that DUNIYA is the top priority and is the BELOVED of the majority of people in today’s world. When the AAKHIRATH should be the top priority and REMEMBRANCE/WORSHIP OF ALLAH should be their main aim. And the sad part is that most Muslims doing this will never realize it and admit the reality.

  20. Avatar

    Zia-e-Taiba

    November 12, 2016 at 7:47 AM

    Nice Article!! Everybody should also visit the link for complete online Quran Tilawat with Translation

  21. Avatar

    Gabe Dertz

    November 12, 2016 at 6:47 PM

    Forcing children to learn the qu’ran is child abuse and you should be ashamed of yourself.

  22. Avatar

    Salma

    March 18, 2017 at 8:10 PM

    I stopped going to Madrassah at around 15 years old. It was my decision and my parents fully supported me. I was half way through the Qur’an but the envioronemnt was killing my spirit and I was losing my Deen. I didn’t know the meaning of the words I was reading and at my Madrassah, they didn’t tell you the meaning. They put emphasis on just memorizing it. How can I learn something without knowing what it meant? Even when I read the translation, there isn’t enough time to truly understand the meaning and let it resonate within you whilst trying to memorize pages. I needed to find my passion and love for becoming a Hafiz again. I continued to read the Qur’an myself in my free time and was very strong and outspoken in my Deen. Here I am at 18 and I am back to where I was in the Qur’an and will soon finish memorizing it. I have and always will have a strong relationship with Allah. I am older than her but I agree that you should give your daughter time. If you continue to raise her in an Islamic household she will find her way back. I am lucky my parents are very Islamic and accepting. They knew I wasn’t lost in my Deen but I just couldn’t find my footing at a Madrassah.

    • Avatar

      Salma

      March 18, 2017 at 8:13 PM

      I would just like to add that you shouldn’t let her ‘quit’ the Qur’an. Let her read it when she wants. Let her open up pages and read where she wants. Don’t pressure her. She’s young, let her understand what it is before you make her learn it. When she understands, she will come back to learning.

  23. Avatar

    Rafeeque

    August 25, 2018 at 7:51 AM

    Assalamu Alikum Warahmathullahi Wabarakathuh,
    To the Author,
    I can relate with what you have gone through. Initially, I was impatient with my daughter when she started around same age. It was so slow. It took years. Felt like dream will never come through. But Alhamdulillah, after some 6 years, she has memorized completely and with advanced level of Thajweed. Now working on Ijaza program. Alhamdullillah. Praises are due only for Allah.

    Keep in mind that there are some but a very few teachers with whom they enjoy memorization. Those kind of teachers make a huge difference.

    Insha Allah my next 2 daughters are on the way.

    Request to you. Keep it slow now, but never give up. May Allah Almighty help all in memorizing Quran…aameen.

    Allahumma Salli alaa Muhammedin wa alaa Aaali Muhammed…aameen.

  24. Avatar

    Umm Riyan

    January 13, 2020 at 8:19 AM

    This is what happens when we teach our kids Arabic letters without proper makharij at home. They grow up memorizing, reading surahs with wrong makharij, wrong Madd and getting praised for being able to recite so many surahs, but when they go to the proper place or person, they find out that there are many mistakes. And it is very frustrating, even for adults, to correct the already memorized surahs. It’s frustrating to be corrected at every word.

    This is why we, as parents, should be careful not to let our little kids memorize surahs after surahs without the proper makharij and madd.

    Remember, wrong pronunciation and wrong elongation of the letters change the meaning of the word. I’m not talking about Tajweed. That could be taught later on, once the basic is well taught, inshaaAllah. May Allah increase the love of Quran in our lives and in our kids’ lives. Ameen

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#Life

OpEd: Muslims Connect Over ImamConnect

Muddassar Ahmed, Guest Contributor

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How do you live a religious life when religion feels far away and inaccessible to you? For me, growing up in Britain, I came across plenty of Muslims like me. It wasn’t that we didn’t care about our faith or take Islam seriously. It’s that we had no idea how to integrate the Islam on offer with the realities of our lives. Many of my peers stopped attending the mosque not because they didn’t want to be Muslim, but because the Muslim life that existed around them was designed for another place and time.

While the picture has changed somewhat with a global pandemic, some of these original problems still remain.

I, for one, grew up within five minutes walk of a mosque, but felt unexpectedly disconnected when I moved to an area that didn’t have one. My desire to be connected to my faith traditions did not disappear – the gap just felt wider than ever before. And, I am not alone. For a variety of reasons, fewer than twenty per cent of British Muslims and fewer than ten per cent of American Muslims regularly attend a mosque. (That’s before the pandemic, by the way.)

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These lacklustre numbers, however, do not reflect a lack of religious enthusiasm or commitment on the part of many Muslims. It’s rather that mosques can often be unrelatable or inaccessible, whether physically, spiritually, or emotionally. In some cases, mosques can be downright unwelcoming.

The more I talk to family, friends, and fellow Muslims, the more I notice a worrying pattern. It’s not that Muslims don’t want their religion to be a vital part of their daily lives, but that their institutions don’t always work for them. And there’s apparently nowhere else to go for authentic, reliable, and trustworthy religious life services. And the modern reality is that, like many of you, I have friends and colleagues all over the world. When they ask me for help or a recommendation, sending them to a brick and mortar mosque down the road doesn’t even begin to cut it.

Meanwhile, the very people who can best provide the religious services Muslims long for don’t know how to reach the people they can serve.

The great crisis afflicting modern Muslim communities is one of connection.

Or rather, the lack of it.

I turned to technology to help solve this problem, creating a website that will be the “mosque” more Muslims wish they had. This simple gesture, of connecting Muslims looking for religious services with the Muslims who are best qualified to provide them, will revolutionize Muslim life across the world. It’s called ImamConnect. You might think of it as an ‘Uber for Imams’ but that doesn’t do justice to the service, the connection, or the vision we’re building.

“And help one another in goodness and piety”

– The Noble Qur’an (5:2)

ImamConnect is a digital platform that’s designed to be accessible to a wide range of users, with different backgrounds, needs, and priorities. It’s a one-stop-shop, a place where users can find qualified, vetted experts to meet their religious life needs, offering services like marriage ceremonies, advice on wills and guidance on inheritance laws, as well as religious classes, like Qur’an tutoring for the young and the old–and so much more.

Developed by a team of Muslim communications experts, entrepreneurs, technologists, and community leaders based in Brussels, London, Granada, Kuala Lumpur, and New York, ImamConnect launched with over 70 background-checked service providers offering their expertise from countries around the globe, like Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

It works very simply.

Religious service providers create profiles with their relevant information, which we carefully background check. They list out what services they can provide and how much they charge. Users visit the website and simply enter what they’re searching for. ImamConnect presents them with a list of the experts who offer requested services.

Maybe it’s Islam 101. Maybe it’s marriage counselling. Maybe it’s tajweed classes.

Maybe they’re a junior scholar looking for more senior scholars to help them advance in their studies. Maybe they’re a parent looking for pastoral guidance amidst a crumbling relationship with their teenager. (All examples of bookings so far made on Imam Connect).

Whoever they are, we hope to help provide them with exactly what they need.

When booking a service provider, users have access not only to a service provider’s biography, available services, and rates of service, but reviews from other users too. This helps ensure user safety and access to high quality, professional services. For the religious service providers, then, ImamConnect means a source of new clients and students. For the users, ImamConnect is a religious lifeline–the services they need designed to meet them where they are.

They can find scholars, specialists, and experts who know their context, their local customs (‘urf), their realities and circumstances—people who have religious authority and nuance, who would be the right pick to provide, say, premarital counseling to a mixed-race couple, or a pair of new Muslims negotiating relationships with families that maybe aren’t fully onboard with their life choices yet. The kinds of challenges that, unfortunately, a lot of communities don’t have the on-the-ground resources to provide.

For now, of course, all services have to be virtual, but when circumstances permit, users will be allowed to book in-person services, too.

What makes us different from many community institutions, however, isn’t just our global reach or intuitive accessibility.

It’s the vetting and the variety.

“And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and earth, and the diversity of your languages and colours. There truly are signs in this for those who know.”

– The Noble Qur’an (30:22) 

Background checks are critical components of the ImamConnect service, ensuring that the religious service providers on offer are free of any history of fraud and criminality. Vetting is intended to ensure users can feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually safe with their service provider.

On top of that, users have a menu of religious service options. We acknowledge and celebrate our communities’ diversities. Mindful of the amazing pluralism that characterizes modern Islam, ImamConnect welcomes religious service providers from a variety of backgrounds, from conservative to contemporary, liberal to traditional, and including Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, among others. This not only means that religious service providers from diverse traditions can connect to the individuals most in need of them, but also that users are no longer limited to the services available in their neighbourhoods.

“The whole Earth has been made a Mosque”

– Prophet Muhammad (Bukhari 335)

People have many questions, naturally. For one, people ask if we won’t just enable people to engage in fatwa-shopping, as opposed to the robust values they should aspire to. I think that’s an unfairly pessimistic characterization of our communities. People look for communities that help them grow and foster a sense of belonging. When they become disillusioned by institutions around them, it’s often because these institutions offer them no point of entry, no way to begin connecting. And a chief motivation of mine has been that I fear Muslims today are losing touch with our Islamic traditions due to this inaccessibility.

Indeed, as it turns out, ImamConnect is a valuable resource for scholars themselves, whether looking to increase their learning or find independent revenue streams, which would give them the autonomy and liberty to pursue research and studies they deem to be of value to the community. In the absence of well-endowed institutions that can offer research fellowships, ImamConnect has the ability not to undermine scholarship, but to enrich it and enable it.

Another concern people may have is whether we’re undermining mosques. The fact of the matter is, we haven’t received any pushbacks from mosques—because our model is not a combative or confrontational one. Where we can, we seek to be complementary and collaborative. Where there’s simply no alternative, then we present ourselves as the obvious choice, but by emphasizing what we can do, not what others do not.

It would be ideal, of course, if local mosques welcomed and embraced pluralism, and had the resources to meet the broad spiritual needs of their diverse communities, but this is not always or even frequently the case. Muslims should not be forced to go without religious life services because of no fault of their own. Excitingly, however, we have received offers of interest from community institutions like mosques, who see the potential in what it is we are trying to do.

Many mosques, for example, want to make themselves more accessible to their communities, but lack the know-how or the bandwidth. They recognise ImamConnect as a service that can bring their staff into better and easier contact with their local communities, and potentially, well beyond that in a tech-savvy way. During a time of pandemic, this is especially valuable.

The potential for applications is vast. And rightly so.

To those who argue that the failure of our communities to serve the needs of our people can be attributed to a fundamental flaw in our faith tradition, I beg to differ. This is a tempting and false narrative. I am an optimist. I believe that many of our problems can be solved by simple solutions, if only we have the wherewithal, wisdom and foresight to pursue them.

When the circumstances surrounding our religious life are holding us back, or holding us down, we need the tools to go around them. ImamConnect is that kind of technology. It’s an answer to an ongoing prayer, a way for Muslims of all backgrounds to connect with the resources they’ve been looking for but for too long have been unable to find–or avail themselves of. ImamConnect is like ‘Uber for Imams,’ yes. That’s an easy way to describe a service with transformative implications.

Instead of going to the mosque, which manifestly isn’t working for many Muslims in many parts of the world, why not bring the mosque or the imam to you?

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Tech

6 Phone Hacks to Stop Muslim Pro from Selling You Out to the Military

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Vice News has released an article stating the popular app Muslim Pro has been, perhaps unknowingly, selling location data to military contractors. Essentially, this means that your information ends up in the hands of the military itself.

Apps can be monetized a number of ways beyond the one-time app purchase or subscriptions.  Different types of data can be gathered from your phone by the app.  That data can then be sold to others who are interested in harvesting that data for different uses.

In the case of the Muslim Pro app, it’s been found they have been gathering location data from user phones and selling it to the company X-Mode, which in turn sells this to various entities, including military contractors.  Regarding X-Mode clients, the Vice article notes:

Those clients have also included U.S. military contractors, Motherboard found. Included in archived versions of the “Trusted Partners” section on its website, X-Mode lists Sierra Nevada Corporation and Systems & Technology Research as customers. Sierra Nevada Corporation builds combat aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, and supports contractor Northrop Grumman in the development of cyber and electronic warfare capabilities for the U.S. Army. Systems & Technology Research works with the Army, Navy, and Air Force according to procurement records, and offers “data analytics” support to intelligence analysts, according to its website.

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It’s important to note that the Muslim Pro app isn’t the only app that makes use of X-Mode. As well, many app developers who were available for comment stated that they did not realize their data was being resold for military purposes.  Muslim Pro has not yet responded to inquiries with Vice.

By no means is this problem limited to the Muslim Pro app, nor is selling our data to the military the only nefarious use of our data. It is troubling nonetheless to know that this practise is occurring.  Irrespective of whether this was or was not done with bad intentions, we should still understand how to protect ourselves from inadvertant breaches like this.

Location Services: Privacy Concerns and a Major Battery Drain

Many don’t realize that having location tracking constantly toggled on by default on one’s phone is a major drain on the device’s battery.  Add to that various apps that have asked you to opt in on gathering your location data (which they send to others), and you’re looking at multiple recharges daily, even on brand new phones.  Let’s review how you can increase your privacy and battery life.

1. Toggle Location Setting to “Off”

The first is to simply toggle your Location setting to off.  This prevents the phone from gathering location data.  There’s usually no need for it to be on, and it’s a huge drain.  Google will try to sell you (well, they already do) on the possibility of losing your phone and better customization of services.  Ignore it.  Here’s how you turn it off:

2. Remove App Permissions’ Access to Your Location

There will come a time when you want to toggle Location on, such as when using a map-based app to travel.  You probably don’t want 100 apps sending out your location info while you make legitimate use of location tracking for your personal benefit.  You may also want to keep location tracking on your kids’ phones for tracking their whereabouts.  Here’s how to prevent specific apps from tracking you:

One caveat to keep in mind – many apps that give you the option of “Only while in use” are still in use even if you’re using another app – they’re sitting in the background until you truly close them out.

3. Turn off Location History Tracking

Google keeps track of where you’ve been if you’re signed into a Google account, have location history turned on, and you have location reporting turned on.  They do this on both Android and Apple Devices.  To turn off tracking, and to automatically have it deleted:

Apple doesn’t have a good support article describing how to disable Location History tracking under their Significant Locations settings, only delete.  Here’s a straightforward article on both deleting the history and disabling tracking:

4. Mask Your Online Activity with a VPN

A vpn (virtual private network) hides your online activity, identity, and location information while browsing or making use of streaming services.  Some commercial providers include:

To learn more about VPNs, read this article.  Please note that many use VPNs to perform illegal and unethical activity anonymously, such as downloading copyrighted material from torrenting sites – as Muslims, we do not and should not condone such behavior.

5. Turn off Ad Tracking and Location-Based Ads

Based on your online behavior and search history, ads will be targeted at you, and there are location-based ads shot your way as well.  Here’s how to turn them off:

Please note that this doesn’t prevent you from seeing ads.  This prevents advertisers from gathering your personal data and then retargeting ads specific to what they know about you.

6. Turn off Bluetooth

It’s not just for connecting AirPods and Beats headphones.  While GPS tracking can get your location over a wide range, its precision is limited.  Bluetooth beacons in stores can talk to your phone’s bluetooth and pinpoint your exact location and tell stores how long you’ve been in a particular area.  If you’re interested in learning if there’s a Bluetooth beacon in your store talking to your phone, try using the Beacon Scanner.

  • Disable bluetooth on Apple
  • Disable bluetooth on Google Android:
    Go to Settings > Connected Devices > Connection Preferences > Bluetooth
    – Toggle the button from On to Off

Conclusion

We hope that the makers of the Muslim Pro app are more careful with whom they sell our data to.  I would recommend they remove any SDK code that sends location data of users to them and others.  It can be lucrative to re-target customers by selling their data, but this shouldn’t be done unless the reseller’s partners are thoroughly vetted.

For the rest of us, it’s important to closely monitor how our phone data is used to make money from us.  It’s better to have a minimalist approach to phone and app usage and invasiveness.  This article isn’t exhaustive in covering all the ways one can truly secure themselves; however, these are some significant steps one can take to begin protecting themselves and their families.

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#Islam

Undisputed And Undefeated: 13 Ways Khabib Nurmagomedov Inspired Us To Win With Faith

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Many fans anxiously watched UFC 254 with bated breath as Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov went head-to-head with Justin “The human highlight reel” Gaethje. The latter had just come off a spectacular TKO win against a formidable and feared fighter in the form of Tony Ferguson, beating him over 5 nerve-wracking rounds by outstriking him with a combination damaging head shots and crippling low kicks.

We all knew what both would do – Khabib would go for the takedown, and Gaethje would try to keep the fight on the feet and opt for stand-up striking – which fighter’s strategy would prevail? Alhamdulillah, it was Khabib, in a mere 2 rounds.  We weren’t in the fight, but we are all nervous and supplicating, making du’a to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to give him another victory.

And so it was that after the win, he collapsed in the middle of the ring to cry, as this was his first fight after the loss of his father due to complications with Covid-19. He cried, and many a man cried with him, feeling his pain. Gaethje revived from his triangle choked slumber and consoled his former foe, telling Khabib his father was proud of him.

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We were all sure when “The Eagle” got on the mic, he would say he wanted to fight GSP, George St Pierre, and then retire 30-0, as he had said in previous press conferences leading up to the fight.  Instead, he surprised us all by announcing his retirement at 29-0, and I couldn’t help but marvel that not only was he turning away from a lucrative final fight, but the way in which he announced his retirement reminded us of our faith, our deen, our religion, Islam.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Qur’an

“And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers.”

Throughout his MMA career, Khabib has proudly worn his faith on his sleeve. As he has risen to become the current pound-for-pound #1 fighter in the world and arguably the GOAT, the greatest of all time, his unwavering example as a practicing Muslim transformed him into a global phenomenon and role model for many of us by reminding us to be better worshippers, to be closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Let’s look at a few of the ways he did this:

1. Beginning with Alhamdulillah

The announcer at UFC 254 began by congratulating Khabib on a job well-done yet again by praising him, stating, “The world is in awe of your greatness once again…your thoughts on an epic championship performance, congratulations.” Khabib didn’t immediately begin talking about himself. Instead, he said:

“Alhamdulillah, SubhanAllah, God give me everything…”

After stating this, he went on to announce his retirement, his reasons for retiring, and thanked everyone who supported his professional MMA journey.

The Reminder

Alhamdulillah is literally translated into “All Praise Belongs to God”. Khabib begins by thanking Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), pointing out that his talents and abilities are a gift, a blessing from the Most High. When we have any blessing from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), we must remember that whatever our own effort, our abilities, our support, and our achieved outcomes ultimately tie back to support from our Rabb, our Lord, who controls all.

Khabib pointing to Allah

It’s not from me, it’s from Him

If you’ve ever seen Khabib point at himself, shake his finger back and forth as if to say, “No” and then point up to the sky, this is a nonverbal way of him saying, don’t think all these great things you see are from me – they’re from Allah above.

2. The Prostration of Thankfulness – Sajdat al-Shukr

You may have noticed at the end of Khabib’s victory, when the announcer states that he’s the winner of the bout, he falls into a prostration known as Sajdat al-Shukr – the Prostration of Thankfulness (to Allah).

Khabib and his sons prostrating

The Reminder

Performing this is recommended when someone receives something beneficial (eg good news, wealth, etc) or if they avoided something potentially harmful (e.g. job loss, healing from a disease, etc). The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would do this when he received good news. The believer should remember to be thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) as much as they can.

See also:

3. Establishing the 5 Daily Prayers

Khabib and me, don’t be jelly

Years ago (early 2018), Khabib visited my local masjid in Santa Clara, California (not far from where he was training in San Jose at the AKA gym). Many at the masjid didn’t know who he was, but we heard he was the #1 contender for the UFC Lightweight championship belt, at that time held by Tony Ferguson.

He did a Q & A with the community, and someone asked him a general question about what he would recommend for the youth.  He said, and I’m paraphrasing:

Take care of your prayers, if you come to Day of Judgment not take care of your prayers, on that day you will be smashed.

The Reminder

The second pillar of Islam that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has commanded us to follow is to pray to Him 5 times daily. Khabib was no doubt referencing the following statement of the Prophet (saw):

“The first action for which a servant of Allah will be held accountable on the Day of Resurrection will be his prayers. If they are in order, he will have prospered and succeeded. If they are lacking, he will have failed and lost…”

 

 

Shaykh AbdulNasir Jangda notes that when the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) first began his mission of da’wah and faced devastating rejection from family and community, Allah told the Prophet to stand and pray. The reason for this is because when we are weak and suffering, the place to turn to for strength is back to Allah in prayer. There is no doubt Khabib’s strength came from his connection to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) which in turn came from his 5 daily prayers.

Praying multiple times daily, consistently, can be challenging; when it was legislated by Allah to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) kept telling him to go back and ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for a reduction, saying, “Your people will not be able to handle it.”

Khabib is a great reminder that no matter how high you climb in life and career, no matter how busy you think you are, worshipping Allah is the most important deed one can do, and this discipline is the most important habit to build.

4. Strong Wrestling Game

Some say Khabib is already 30-0 for wrestling a bear

In a sport that sees far more striking and kicking than it does wrestling, Khabib came to dominate the lightweight division of the UFC with a strong grappling style that is a combination of sambo (a Soviet martial art), judo, and wrestling. Famously, he outwrestled a bear when he was much younger.

During his fights, he doesn’t close out his bouts by pummeling his opponents and causing them damage as most strikers would. Most of his hits open up his opponents to being forced to tap out via submission. Even his last opponent, Justin Gaethje, noted that he was much happier to be choked out in a submission, as all he would get is a pleasant nap, as opposed to striking, which could have long-term health consequences.

The Reminder

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was not only able to wrestle, he took down the strongest wrestler in Makkah. Rukanah, the famed Makkan wrestler, challenged RasulAllah because of his hatred for the da’wah. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) accepted his challenge and took him down multiple times, body slamming him again and again. It was said that after the conquest of Makkah, Rukanah accepted Islam.

5. Fighting / Training through Sickness and Injury

During the post-fight press conference with UFC President Dana White, it was revealed that Khabib had broken one of his toes 3 weeks before the fight. Prior to that, he had taken two weeks off upon arriving at Fight Island having contracted mumps, according to AKA trainer and coach Javier Mendez. Khabib is quoted as having told Mendez, “My toe may be broken, but my mind is not.” In addition to this, his father had just passed away months earlier, and this would be his first fight without his father present.

Mumps, broken toes, and the emotional turmoil of family tragedy

The Reminder

In addition, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) has told us, “A strong believer is better and is more beloved to Allah than a weak believer, and there is good in everyone…” This strength includes strength of body, mind, and spirit; not just when conditions are perfect, but when trials surround you from every conceivable direction.

6. Relationship With His Father

After defeating Justin Gaethje, Khabib went to the center of the ring and cried, and everyone cried with him. We all knew his father’s death weighed heavily on his mind and his heart, and this was his first fight without him. His father was his mentor and trainer, whom everyone could obviously see he both loved and greatly respected.

In the post-fight question and answer with Dustin Poirier, Khabib was asked, “What’s your message for your young fans out there who look up to you so much?” he responded:

“Respect your parents, be close with your parents, this is very important. Parents everything, you know, your mother, your father, and that’s it, and everything in your life is going to be good, if you’re going to listen to your parents, mother, father, be very close with them, and other things come because your parents gonna teach what to do.”

The Reminder

There isn’t enough space in this article to go over how much emphasis our faith places on respecting our parents. Allah says in the Qur’an:

Your Lord has commanded that you should worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say no word that shows impatience with them, and do not be harsh with them, but speak to them respectfully. [17:23]

7. Relationship With His Mother

Our parents ultimately want us to succeed, but also want us to maintain our well-being. Without his father’s presence, it was clear that Khabib’s mother didn’t want him continuing in the Octagon (the UFC ring). After 3 days of discussion, Khabib gave his word to her that this would be his final fight. After beating Justin Gaethje in UFC 254, Nurmagomedov announced he was retiring because he promised his mother that he would retire and that he’s a man of his word.

The Reminder

This hearkens back to a statement of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) about how much respect mothers deserve. A man asked the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, “Who is most deserving of my good company?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man asked, “Then who?” He (saw) said “Your mother.” The man asked again, “Then who?” The Prophet again said, “Your mother.” The man asked again, “Then who?” The Prophet finally said, “Your father.”

Khabib easily had millions more to make on a journey to hit 30-0 in his professional fighting career and decided to hang it all up to make his mother happy. This is true respect and obedience, and for that matter, the love of a mother for her son and his well-being over monetary gains.

8. Respect for Muhammad Ali

When asked about the comparisons between himself and Muhammad Ali, Khabib stated that it was an inappropriate comparison. He noted that Muhammad Ali didn’t just face challenges in the ring, but challenges outside of it due to racism, and that he was an agent of change with respect to bringing about greater civil rights for African Americans.

The Reminder

In his final sermon, Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, or of a non-Arab over an Arab, and no superiority of a white person over a black person or of a black person over a white person, except on the basis of personal piety and righteousness.”

From the 7th century until today, our faith recognizes that people are not judged by their race, but by their actions and the intentions behind those actions. In the video above, Khabib recognized both the wrongness of racism, and the challenge it posed along the way of Muhammad Ali’s own journey, and that his contributions to social justice transcended his involvement in sport.

9. His Conduct with Other Fighters

With the exception of the fight with Conor McGregor, Khabib always dealt with his opponents with respect. He hugs them, shakes their hand, and says good things about their accomplishments and strengths both before and after fights. In a sport known for heavy trash talking and showboating to build hype, Khabib kept his cool and his manners.

Champion vs Champion, the respect is mutual

The Reminder

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“The only reason I have been sent is to perfect good manners.”

Maintaining good character and conduct during press-conferences was Khabib’s calling card; even when trash talkers like Tony Ferguson tried to go after him, he would still recount Ferguson’s formidable stature as a fighter.

When reporters tried throwing him a softball opening to insult Ferguson’s mental health, Khabib responded that he didn’t want to talk about Tony Ferguson’s problems if he they were real; if Ferguson truly has a problem, then we should help him, as we all have problems.

10. Fighting Those Who Dishonor Faith and Family

As mentioned above, Khabib is known for being very respectful of his opponents during press conferences. He speaks well of their strengths, shakes their hands, hugs them; he even runs up to his opponent after a fight and hugs them, consoling them and wishing them well. After his win against Poirier, he traded shirts with him and donated $100k to Poirier’s charity.

Khabib vs Dana’s boy, the chicken

The exception was the infamous UFC 229 which Muslim fans watched holding years, maybe decades of pent up anger at the type of crass secular arrogance represented by Conor. We desperately wanted Khabib to maul the mouthy McGregor. The latter had gone after his family, his faith, his nationality, anything and everything to hype up the fight and try to get under the champ’s skin. Some people lose their calm, and others, well, they eat you alive.

Khabib made it clear he wasn’t having any of that. He took the fight to Conor and choked him out with a neck crank. We then learned why he was called “The Eagle” as he hopped the cage and jumped into the audience to go after other members of Conor’s team who had spoken ill of him, giving birth to “Air Khabib”.

The Reminder

When our faith and family is spoken of in an ill fashion, it’s not appropriate that we sit there and take it. Khabib never cared when it was criticism against him, but once it went to others around him, he took flight. We as Muslims should never give anybody who tries to attack and dehumanize us a chance to rest on their laurels. We should strive ourselves to take the fight back to them by whatever legal means necessary, as Khabib did, whether it is cartoons of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) or political pundits and satirists who monetize hatred against Muslims.

11. Shaking Hands and Training with Women

In numerous public instances, Khabib reminded us that our faith demands we don’t shake with the opposite gender. As one of my teachers taught us, the Qur’an instructs us to “lower our gaze” when dealing with women. If we shouldn’t even look at them out of respect for Allah’s command, how can we take it to the next level and touch them?

Extended to this is even more serious physical contact like training at the gym. Cynthia Calvillo, one of Khabib’s teammates at AKA gym, said the following about Khabib and his unit:

“It’s a little bit weird because of their religion and stuff…They don’t talk to women you know. I mean we say ‘hi’ to each other but we can’t train with them. They won’t train with women…I don’t think any other woman does.

The Reminder

Our faith places stricter physical and social interaction boundaries between men and women. Keeping matters professional and respectful with the opposite gender need not include physical contact. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was said to have never touched non-mahram women. It was narrated that he said,

“It is better for you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle than to touch the hand of a woman who is impermissible to you.”

For this reason, the majority of scholars prohibited physical contact between men and women with some exceptions (e.g. old age). Watching Khabib maintain this practice, even in public where it could potentially embarrass him and cause undue negative attention, gives us all inspiration to deal with this issue in the workplace better. He encourages us to strive for better tolerance and awareness of our faith rather than forcing us to conform.

12. Not Making a Display of The “Trophy” Wife

If you follow Khabib’s Instagram, you won’t find lewd pics of him and a significant other. In fact, you won’t find any pictures at all of him and his wife. Who she is is a mystery to all. In an age and a sport where many post photos with their romantic partners, Khabib again is a standout with his gheerah, his honorable protectiveness for his significant other.

Khabib and his wife

The Reminder

We are again reminded that a part of manhood is to have protective ghayrah, jealousy over one’s spouse. Ibn al-Qayyim also said, bringing in the concept of chivalry,

“The dayyuth / cuckold is the vilest of Allah’s creation, and Paradise is forbidden for him [because of his lack of ghayrah]. A man should be ‘jealous’ with regards to his wife’s honor and standing. He should defend her whenever she is slandered or spoken ill of behind her back. Actually, this is a right of every Muslim in general, but a right of the spouse specifically. He should also be jealous in not allowing other men to look at his wife or speak with her in a manner which is not appropriate.”

13. Owning His Mistakes, Looking to Be Forgiven

Finally, it should be noted there is no real scholarly disagreement on prohibiting striking the face. Recognizing this, Khabib stated when asked if “he thinks the AlMighty will be satisfied with him for taking part in haram fights for money,” he replied, “I don’t think so.”

In an interview with the LA Times, he said:

“You go to mosque because nobody’s perfect. Everybody makes mistakes, and we have to ask Allah to forgive us. This is very important mentally, to be clear with Allah. This is not about the UFC. There is nothing else more important to me than being clear with Allah. And being clear with Allah is the No. 1 most hard thing in life.”

The Reminder

We as human beings aren’t perfect – perfection is only for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). We all make mistakes, sometimes small, sometimes large, but in the end, He subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is ready to forgive us if we’re willing to recognize our failings and ask to be forgiven.  Allah says in the Qur’an in 2:222:

“Allah loves those who always turn to Him in repentance and those who purify themselves.”

There are no sins so great that redemption is beyond any of us. Whatever Khabib’s flaws, his value as a positive change maker and faith-based role model globally outweighs his negatives.

Part of seeking forgiveness is the process, and the first part of that process is acknowledging the mistake. This means not being in denial about it or not justifying it, just owning it. As Khabib has owned his mistake publicly, there is no need for us to try and justify it either.

We can own that there are problems with MMA and the industry, in participating as well as watching and supporting. At the same time, we can do as Dr Hatem al-Hajj said about Muhammad Ali:

Concluding Thoughts

While UFC pundits will forever debate over the greatest of all time, there is in doubt that Khabib Nurmogomedov, the first Muslim UFC champion, will always be our GOAT.

I ask that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accepts the good from what Khabib has done, rewards him tremendously for the inspiration he’s given us all to better focused on the akhirah, the next life, and continues to make him a powerful sports icon who uses his platform as Muhammad Ali did to teach Islam and exemplify it in the best way for all of us to benefit and follow.

Ameen.

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