Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Drop in the Ocean

It has been roughly eight months since I received my degree, and the thing is, I haven't started working yet. No, I haven't had a change of heart... I'm actually trying to mend it by doing something that I would definitely not have seen myself doing a year ago. Some people may have doubts- and understandably so- about me planning to step into the perilous world of housemanship after almost a year of hiatus, but I firmly believe in Allah's promise in surah Muhammad, verse 7:

"O you who believe! If you support (in the cause of) Allah, He will support you, and make your foothold firm"

I know it's not going to be a walk in the park, but then, everything in this life is a test, whether you're breaking your back in search for some food to bring back home or merrily swimming in an ocean of gold. Thus, in a humble effort (a wasilah, so to speak) to attain nearness to Him, I decided to put my working life on hold and embark on a journey of a lifetime- a journey that, truth be told, I should have made years ago. And that is the journey of committing the entire 6236 verses of the exalted Al-Quran to memory.

This has by no means been an easy decision. Frankly, I had (almost) wholeheartedly resigned to the fact that I would never fulfill this lifelong wish of mine, and had even hatched a little plan in the back of my mind to at least make sure my children, if I had them, all become huffaz (people who memorise Al-Quran). As I was about to finish medical school last year, however, I had a talk with a dear friend which changed everything, and I truly owed it to her for putting across the idea, encouraging me and assuring me that I was capable of doing it. May Allah reward you immensely, Kak Ma. :)

I have just completed four months at the time I'm writing this, and mashaallah, considering all the ups and downs along the way, I've managed to stay on course and hopefully I can complete this in due time (which is six months altogether), inshaallah.

I have been asked to share my everyday life here in detail, down to the very food I eat. :) Firstly, before I decided to undertake this huge task, it was crucial to understand what I was 'getting into'. If you ask any hafiz of Al-Quran, I think the majority of them will agree that memorising, tough enough as it sounds, is not the most challenging part. The real difficulty is to retain the Quran in one's heart for the rest of one's life. Being a hafiz/hafizah (meaning: the protector) of Al-Quran is a tremendous honour, but it is at the same time a heavy load to carry. In a hadith, our beloved prophet, Rasulullah s.a.w. said,

"Persist and devote yourselves to the recitation of this Qur’an, for by Him in Whose Hand lies the soul of Muhammad, it slips away faster than camels that are released from their tethers.”(Sahih Bukhari)

And also: “The example of the person who knows the Qur’an by heart is like the owner of tied camels. If he keeps them tied, he will control them, but if he releases them, they will run away.” (Sahih Bukhari)

With that in mind, I resolved to change many routines in my life in order to adopt the correct attitude and put my heart and soul into this, for it will be a lifelong commitment for me. I am by no means there yet, and I struggle to renew my intentions every day, praying for guidance and a sincere heart.

Getting into the place to do my 'project' was thankfully made easy by the fact that my sponsor happened to manage a local tahfiz school (secondary + diploma), and so I managed to squeeze in as a special request at an odd time of the year and had all my expenses covered. I'm staying at the school hostel now, and am allowed to go home during weekends (like now ;D).

My class runs for only two hours every day, where I join the tahfiz diploma students in their Quran class (ten students in my class), reciting our memorisations in front of our teacher. After the class, I'll be left on my own for the rest of the day, repeating previous memorisations and learning new verses. Sometimes I stay in the classroom or musalla, but mostly I opt to seek solitude (ideal condition for me to memorise) in my bedroom, which I share with three diploma students. During my four-month stay, my daily life revolves simply around the small corners of the hostel, classroom, musalla, and cafeteria, all of which are situated adjacent to one another. Oh, and I've been to the auditorium hall a couple of times for special events.

Food is generously provided here, being considered a private school. Meals are served six times per day, and the menu, I must say, is much better than what I had encountered in government boarding schools. Answering the question of whether certain food are advocated/discouraged here for the sake of memorisation- no, most people here eat everything! Hehe. I do set personal rules on eating though, as I had discovered just how important it is for the overall balance of the body and mind. No matter what you decide to eat, the rule of thumb is to always eat moderately. Eating a lot is a recipe for disaster for students, especially for someone on an intensive program like me. I also try, to the best of my ability, to follow some of the sunnah of the prophet pertaining to diet, which I recommend for everyone to do as well.

Maintaining our hifz (memorisation) is all about getting into a routine of making Al-Quran an integral part of our daily lives, and, to uphold the high level of consistency, it is essential to allow genuine love for Al-Quran to enter and settle in our hearts. There are endless ways to achieve this, but I'll just mention some of the practices done here that I hope will benefit everyone who reads this:-

1) reciting Al-Ma'thurat after subh and maghrib prayers in a jamaah. An example of supplications taught by our prophet to purify our hearts.
2) tazkirah after subh and asr. Necessary reminders for the forgetful soul.
3) fasting on Thursdays (compulsory upon every student). Fasting does wonders for the heart, and it does not affect the rate of memorisation at all (I normally get hungry easily after working my brain hard ;p).
4) reciting surah Al-Mulk after isya' prayers in a jamaah. Our prophet told us that this surah will be our companion and protection from the trials in the grave.
5) hajat prayer after maghrib in a jamaah. Performing optional prayers can be difficult for many people, thus it's a good practice to incorporate this as part of the students' routines.

And the list goes on. I wish to share more, but this is beginning to turn into a never-ending essay, and I have not the luxury of time to indulge in it. ;D I have to say one thing though- many people have offered kind words upon learning about my current endeavour, sometimes a little too kind, if you get what I mean. I sure hope i have become a better person throughout all this, inshaallah, but I am not above others who didn't get the chance to memorise Al-Quran. It has been Allah's mercy upon me to be doing this, but I am but a drop in the ocean- many others are striving in their own different ways to gain His favours, and may Allah guide us all.

I hope to continue sharing this precious experience, sure, but as usual, no quick promises... hehe. Have a good day everyone, and to my close friends who read this, I miss you guys badly (tibe2 plak ;p).

And happy birthday to my mother, my most loyal former blog reader (I think she has stopped reading my blog after I entered the
maahad tahfiz. Hehe).