Connect with us


A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 27] Surat Al Waqiah Paid My Tuition Twice


Surat Al Waqiah - MM Journal

This Ramadan, MuslimMatters reached out to our regular (and not-so-regular) crew of writers asking them to share their reflections on various ayahs/surahs of the Quran, ideally with a focus on a specific juz – those that may have impacted them in some specific way or have influenced how they approach both life and deen. While some contributors are well-versed in at least part of the Quranic Sciences, not all necessarily are, but reflect on their choices as a way of illustrating that our Holy Book is approachable from various human perspectives.

Introducing, A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series


The Surah That Paid My Tuition Twice

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

by Meena Malik


When I was in my second year of college, I heard an amazing anecdote that I decided to put all my faith in. It was the spring of 2011 and I had just decided to take a year off from college after being accepted into a year-long Arabic immersion program. But I had a huge problem. I secured over half the funds needed when I emptied my savings and my parents pitched in, but how would I come up with the remaining $5,000 that I needed? 

The program management advised me to try to fundraise the money on my own, seeking funds from my community. Their logic was that when I came back after a year of study, the community’s investment would pay off when I would teach free Arabic classes. So I began fundraising and actually raised much more than I had imagined. But I was still a few thousand dollars short. I had a worst-case backup plan up my sleeve: I’d take a part-time job while doing the Arabic program. I had been working part-time and commuting to college full-time all year. I could manage. 

But another solution came unexpectedly to me–and I knew it was my last hope for a miracle. 

[Please note: The author denounces the organization that she studied Arabic through due to ethical concerns about the CEO being a perpetrator and engaging in spiritual abuse.]

The Inspiring Story about Surat al Waqiah

At the time, there was a Muslim radio station called One Legacy Radio in Irvine, California and one of the brothers from my MSA hosted a show. It seems so silly to me now, but even then in the decently segregated MSU at UC Irvine, the sisters who would be hanging out and doing homework together on campus would always tune in online. Someone would open up her laptop and play the show out loud for everyone to hear. In a fateful episode, DJ Halal told a story about how he started reading Surat Al Waqiah every day to alleviate the financial burden he was experiencing. It had to do something with losing a job or somewhere along those lines. He mentioned a hadith that supported this practice and how reading the surah every night miraculously resolved his financial trouble at the time. 

Something clicked in my mind. The Arabic program marketed itself as a quick way to “learn Classical Arabic to understand the Quran” and thus what could be more logical than to read a magical surah from the Quran every single night to get to that goal? I use the word magical without trying to disrespect the Quran–because to me, I had to believe in the miracle that the hadith promised with full conviction for it to work. I had already been reading Surat Al Mulk every night for four years to protect myself from punishment from the grave–so why not try something that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught us to do that results in benefit in this life, too?

Starting the Ritual

That night, I opened up my dear mushaf which I lovingly nicknamed “Q” and pulled up a recitation from YouTube at the same time. At 20 years old I was mostly confident that I could read a surah new to me without any major issues because I had invested over a year in seriously-needed tajweed and Quran reading, but I wanted to listen with a reciter just in case anyway. I listened along a second time with the old faithful Yusuf Ali translation in the margins of “Q” and I thought to myself, this surah is all about people being sorted into groups on the Day of Judgment and dying. What does this have to do with getting money? 

I told my Quran teacher at the time that I needed to learn Surat Al Waqiah properly with her. I told her the reason why and she was very supportive of my dream of learning to understand the Quran. She helped me over the next month. (Huge props to that amazing woman!) I read the surah every night and slowly committed it to memory. Although it was the longest surah I had yet attempted to memorize and was a bit nervous to try, it was one of the easiest ones I have ever memorized. 

Why I Love Surat Al Waqiah

The reasons why this surah was so easy for me to memorize are the thematic elements in the surah and the way the surah is organized into neat sections. I split the surah up into five sections: the introduction which sets up the three categories of people, the forerunners or sabiqoon, the people of the right hand or ashabul yameen, the people of the left hand or ashabul shimaal, signs of the Divine in worldly creation, and the conclusion which connects the Quran as revelation nicely with the previous four sections. To me, the surah makes well-connected jumps from section to section while also staying on topic within each section without wandering around too much. In addition to this, phrases and sentence structures repeat themselves and echo throughout the surah, which I find very helpful. These reasons made it very easy for me to memorize. 

As I memorized and read the surah every night, it quickly became one of my favorites to recite and remains my favorite surah to recite today. This is because of the way the surah sounds to me. Many of the verses in the very beginning are short and have a lovely cadence to them with long “a” endings. Moving into the next three sections, the verses’ rhythms group themselves in sets of similar lengths with similar-sounding endings. In the fourth section, we get a series of rhetorical questions. I always love reciting questions because of the slight difference in inflections that you can stylistically choose to recite with. One of the other things I love about the questions is the repetitive sounds that come from the conjugations of words from the second-person verb to the third-person plural noun. For example in verse 59, did you create (verb: takhluqoona) it, or are We the Creators (noun: khaaliqoon)? This pattern repeats itself multiple times throughout the fourth section and it was exciting to me because I could tell the roots of the words were the same without yet understanding how to conjugate them since I had not studied sarf. Lastly, I like the punctuated sound throughout this surah with its frequent flow disrupters: many qalqalahs, haa with sukoons, and raa with sukoons. I had barely begun to dabble in listening to alternate recitations, but eventually when I studied the Asharah Qira’aat my favorite recitations were the ones with extra pauses, or saktah. There is just something I find so musically satisfying about reciting this surah and that’s honestly why I love reciting it! 

The First Miracle

The spring of 2011 turned to summer and I kept chugging along with my shameless (in hindsight) fundraising efforts, many of my fellow MSU-ers pitching in five or fifteen bucks to get me closer to my goal. I kept working part-time at the masjid and cut back all discretionary spending. And most importantly, I kept reading Surat Al Waqiah every night. 

Right before I left Southern California for Dallas, I experienced the last Ramadan in which I stood in Taraweeh and ached to understand what was being recited. I had met with my Quran teacher earlier in the day and she told me to find her after the khatam that night at the masjid. After Taraweeh ended, I roamed around the brightly lit parking lot with a plate of baklava and mithai in my hand, looking for my beloved Quran teacher. 

We saw each other and she walked up to me with a huge smile. “I have something for you, Meena,” she said to me. “I know how hard you have been working since you came to me last year to learn how to read the Quran properly. I know how hard you have been working to find a way to learn how to understand the Quran.” She then handed me a nondescript white envelope which I discovered to be very thickly packed with cash. “Here is the last of the money you need for your Arabic program.” It was the remaining $2,000 I needed.

I burst into tears. “No, I can’t take this money from you,” I protested. I was in complete shock. 

“This is not my money. I fundraised it for you. Keep the donors in your prayers,” she told me. 

I hugged my Quran teacher and wept freely. I thanked Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in my heart and I knew what was responsible for the miracle–Surat Al Waqiah! I ran to find my mom and my sisters. “I got the money, I got the money!” I screamed at their confused faces. 

Needless to say, I happily went off to my Arabic program, knowing that Surat Al Waqiah had paid my tuition and I didn’t need to worry about money while I was studying. 

The Grad School Miracle

A few years later, I got married to a graduate student in 2014 and we spent our newlywed years happy and broke, surviving off of his $25,000 a-year PhD stipend and my substitute teaching money. (If you’re wondering, of course, I never felt as broke as we actually were because of the blessings of the surah.) I had kept up with reading the surah every night–how could I not when I had experienced a miracle because of it? And it helped that I liked it, too. Little did I know that Surat Al Waqiah would come in clutch again when I decided to go to graduate school. 

In the winter of 2016, I applied to a Master’s in Education program which would also help me get my high school English teaching license. I got accepted. My husband and I had already made plans to go to Hajj that summer–it was something that we had decided to do before we got married. We agreed that we wouldn’t go for a glamorous honeymoon or any other vacation so that we could save up for Hajj. Once we had enough money, we’d go right away without having to worry about kids, since we didn’t have or want any that early in our marriage. Over two years of scraping and pinching, we finally had the money saved up. It was time to go. 

But to go for Hajj, we had emptied pretty much everything from our savings. How in the world was I going to find $6,000 a semester for three semesters in a row? I was vehemently against taking interest-bearing loans and the awesome organization A Continuous Charity was relatively new and unknown to me. The pressure to enter the program which would ensure I had a job after “wasting my time in undergrad” studying Comparative Literature and Creative Writing (the words of many and my thoughts over a decade later, frankly) was immense. I started feeling the stress of my financial situation physically with gastrointestinal problems from the GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) I started developing. I cut back on acidic and spicy foods and I switched to drinking decaf chai because my stomach would burn and cramp so much from the constant worrying about where I was going to get thousands of dollars from. I was regularly seeing the doctor and even ended up in the ER once. But one thought never crossed our mind–and perhaps that was another source of blessings. Taking our Hajj money which would have covered my full tuition and delaying our Hajj for another three years (until I finished grad school and worked for a year) was something that we didn’t consider sacrificing. 

Lo and behold, Surat Al Waqiah brought me the miracle I was waiting for–again! I ended up scraping together enough money for one semester of graduate school by continuing the hellish job of substitute teaching, through a few side hustles, and a very generous group of friends (the same ones from the Arabic program) who entered into a money lending pool with me (which my Pakistani mother calls a “committee” and from whom I got the idea.) I worked hard before and during grad school and my husband made concerted efforts with our budget trying to tie things over as best as we could to pay for school without going into debt. 

But what about the other semester-and-a-half of tuition? Without getting into too many details, let’s just say that a windfall of money in an untapped education fund presented itself to me from a distant relative. There was enough money to cover my entire tuition if I wanted to use it! I tried my best to dip into the fund as little as possible by making as much money on the side and being as frugal as I could, but it was the fountain that was there for me to run to whenever I needed it, alhamdulillah

Continuing Reading Surat Al Waqiah Today

The ahadeeth that mention the virtues of Surat Al Waqiah specifically protecting a person from falling into poverty are ones that I have firm belief in even today. There are a handful of other financial situations that I have gotten through because of reading the surah every night. I think it also deeply impacts my mindset when it comes to understanding my finances and the ebbs and flows in rizq that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has given me. Somehow we’ve always had decent housing, even in strange situations. When a car has died, a relative coincidentally is getting a newer car and seems to magically gift us their old car–that’s happened twice. It is also the reason why seven of the eight jobs I’ve had over the past 15 years have literally fallen into my lap without me looking for work or applying to any jobs. I’ve also been able to walk away from jobs much easier than others, I think, when life gets crazy and I need to step away. Whenever I have left a job, rizq comes unexpectedly from somewhere else, or somehow our money stretches enough. Surat Al Waqiah is the safety net that never lets me truly despair over my current or future financial situation. I know that it will all work out somehow because I’m putting in the spiritual means by reading the surah every night and trying my hand with the worldly means simultaneously.

The last reason I’m grateful for hearing of this nightly ritual and adopting it into my own life is that it ensured I read the Quran every single day for the past 13 years. If I am happy or sad or experiencing debilitating anxiety, I read it before I sleep. If I am feeling healthy or literally in the hospital, I at the very least listen to it sometime at night. If I have spent my day doing good or have spent it racking up sins, I lay there in bed unable to sleep until I read it. If I am feeling confident in my faith or have a doubt nagging at my soul, I still read it. I stick to the surah because I have seen how it has worked miracle after miracle in my life. The thought of leaving it seems as idiotic to me as taking all the money out of my bank account and storing it for safekeeping as cash under my doormat instead. I’m grateful that reading the surah has given me so much in this life and I’m grateful that it has cemented something in my religious practice that I believe I can and never will stop. I hope to follow through with another hadith that mentions its virtues and teach it to my children once they are old enough, inshaAllah!



A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 19] Of Plans, Parenting And Genocide

A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 16] What Endures? Reflections on Surat Taha


Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Meena is a writer, podcaster, high school English teacher, wife, and new mom. She loves working with Muslim youth and is interested in literature, arts, and culture. She studied Comparative Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California, Irvine and has a Master’s in Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She briefly dabbled in Classical Arabic studies in the US and is also studying the Asharah Qira'aat/10 Recitations. Check out her podcast and website Brown Teacher Reads: the brown literature circle you always wanted to be in. (

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *