Tafseer notebook – Juz’1

Assalamo ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

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When I thought of the Bitesize Tafseer of Surah al-Baqarah activity, I thought I would print out pages of the mushaf and stick them on a A4 notebook. Then I realised it would be a lot of sticking and a very fat notebook. It would be better to have the mushaf page printed in the corner of the notebook page.

I very simply put together these pages. It’s not very neat and crisp I’m afraid, but it will do the job insha’Allah. I did not find a ready made notebook online or a hard copy I could buy from somewhere for this part of the Qur’an (for other sections, like juz’ ‘Amma, you can download a Juz’ ‘Amma workbook from A Muslim Homeschool or buy a hard copy here for juz’ 30 and 29, masha’Allah). If someone out there knows where I can buy one for Juz’1, please let me know insha’Allah! So here it is:

Tafseer notebook – Juz’1

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I ask Allah He makes it of benefit for my children and myself and whoever else uses it. Ameen.

 

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…and what is Ummi going to do this Ramadan?

Assalamo ‘alaykum.

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Us mothers, we tend to be very concerned with our children’s education and development into strong and sincere Muslims – and rightfully so. But do we give at least the same amount of thought and care to our own growth, strenght and sincerity?

This post is NOT about me. I am not going to sit there and expose my shortcomings. It is about people in a situation similar to mine: Muslim women that are at a stage in their life in which they are (intensively and extensively) caring for others.

Let’s take a hypothetical sister which we will call Umm ‘Abdullah. She is feeling somewhat apprehensive  at the thought of Ramadan approaching. That could be due to a low point in her Imaan, to the fact that she knows one should do so much more in Ramadan but the reality is that she doesn’t do much even outside of it.  Not much there to build on.  She might also feel overwhelmed by her committments and poorly equipped to make her Islamic education a priority in her life.

Wouldn’t it be great if we also had someone staying up late in the evening to prepare us a Ramadan calendar with daily treats? Maybe some Ramadan themed party games and a treasure hunt? or a month long “craft-athon”???? … maybe. But Allah has put us in charge of ourselves (among all the other people we care for). Each of us will not have to respond to Allah about little ‘Abdullah as much as she will have to respond about herself.

So, basically – and by Allah’s leave – it is down to us to take action to benefit ourselves.

Let’s ask for guidance: Allah is All Able to sort out the universe and everything in it so He can most certainly help us up on our feet and beyond. We must remember to ask.

Let’s take a look at ourselves: Right now. Not the way we used to be and do things before having kids, nor the way we envisage life when they will have all grown and moved out. Now. What do we need to learn about the most? In which area are we most deficient?

Let’s consider our individual skills and inclinations: What comes easy and what do we enjoy learning that can bring us closer to our Creator? What is the most efficient way for us to increase our knowledge of Him, ou love for His Prophet (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), our connection to His Qur’an…

Let’s take into account committments and time constraints: We must be realistic and flexible and don’t set goals that are to high and/or strictly connected to Ramadan. Leaving our husbands and kids to have to find their own dinner on a regular basis while we study all day is not a good idea. At the same time,  thinking that the children/babies/husband/work/mum/dad/chores/you name it make it impossible to take a little time to study something beneficial is simply not true.

I think a small and steady start is a beautiful thing. For example:

  • Choose a book to study or a set of lectures to listen to (plenty of very beneficial lessons on salafisounds, masha’Allah). Take notes. Draw mind-maps. Even better: pair up with a friend! you don’t have to meet up  necessarily (which could be difficult to keep up) but you can quiz each other, exchange notes and just share the benefits that each has found, as well as ideas to apply them to our life. Do what it takes for you to actually learn what is in the book/lecture.
  • Pick 4 ahadeeth (40 Nawawee is a great place to start) and memorise one each week of Ramadan, as well as studying the explanation. List benefits. List ways in which the hadeeth does (or should) impact on your life.
  • Attend Umm Mujaahid’s FREE daily class for sisters on WizIQ (to be notified about the course, create a Wiz IQ account and add Taalib Al-Ilm in your contacts); it is based on the book Fasting from Alif to Yaa, or just go through the book on your own or with your friends.
  • Dust off your Arabic books for the sake of Allah. Maybe conjugate a verb a day. Make flashcards. Use Memrise! It is such a wonderful tool for learning vocabulary and you get to use your competitive side to the advantage of learning (there is a score chart)! By the mercy of Allah, the Memrise course Arabic Through The Quran (based on the Alan Jones book) changed my relationship with the Qur’an because all of th Qur’anic vocabulary I learned. Alhamdulillah.
  • Try to speak Arabic. Maybe read a children’s book in Arabic everyday to your kids. Even the same one. Everyday.
  • Pick up your copy of Thalaathatul Usool or another core classical work. One of those things you never read enough, masha’Allah. Read the Arabic text and colour every word you understand. Try to memorise it. Learn the explanation. Teach it to your kids.

In fact, share any of the above things with your kids. Delivering what we have learned to others is one of the steps in consolidating that knowledge. Tell your husband/parents/siblings/friends what you have learned.

This is of course NOT meant to be an exhaustive list. Just a few ideas off the top of my head. Things that appeal to me personally.

Insha’Allah, let’s do something. Let’s take a step and may Allah grant us to please Him.

Of course, if anyone also wants to prepare a Ramadan calendar with a daily treat for me…. I like my chocolate dark. Barak Allahu feekum.

 

 

 

What are you doing this Ramadaan?

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Assalamo alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

What am I doing this Ramadaan? (and by “doing” I mean with the children)

I am keeping it simple. Insha’Allah.

Last Ramadaan I think I completely overwhelmed the boys (and myself!) with all I had planned and prepared. They loved to see what was inside the Ramadaan Mailbox, but then they pretty much wanted to go to play outside… This is why this year insha’Allah simplicity will be key.

It’s going to be tafseer. Masha’Allah Y is memorising a lot – Allahummah baarik alayh – but his understanding of what he is memorising is lagging far far far behind.

First I thought of buying him a copy of the English translation of the Noble Qur’an – but the language is too difficult.

Then I thought of re-writing the English translation of the Noble Qur’an (first juzz ‘Amma, then Surah al-Baqarah) to make it easier for children to understand – I cannot do it. I don’t have the time to commit to it at this point in time.

Then I thought I would create a tafseer workbook with a super cool word by word word match to basically translate every single word – ok, this is YOUR dream workbook woman, but what about your 8 year old????

So we are going to take teeny tiny steps to venture into the tafseer of surah al-Baqarah (what he is memorising now insha’Allah). I took out my Ibn Katheer and my Tafseer as-Saa’dee and, starting from Alif-Lam-Meem, I took the first 30, most basic, points of benefit. Each day he will be given one of them – in the order they occur – and he will associate it to the correct ayah (with my help if needed).

We will have a DIY Surah al-Baqarah study notebook, i.e. I will print out the surah from a PDF of the 15 lines Madani mushaf (I found the one I am using here and here). I will trim and glue each page on the top inner corner of the page of an A4 notebook, so that there is plenty of margin to stick the little benefit cards I will give him, to colour code them with the relevant ayaat and – maybe, someday – for him to add his observations.

I will post a PDF with the first 30 tafseer cards as soon as possible. As always, it is going to be very basic. No fancy design (I wish!)

This is not meant strictly as a Ramadaan activity. We will start it in Ramadaan, when Allah in His vast mercy makes the good deeds easier, but I hope and ask Allah to make this little exercise a first step in a lifelong, close and meaningful relationship with His Qur’an. Ameen.

 

Learning to learn

Assalamo ‘alaykum.

It is a fact that, when children hit a certain age, they start being full of questions. Ma sha’Allah. This might range from a regular amount of curiosity about the world around them to levels that require their parents to take some sort of medication (only joking!).  In fact, I spent the first couple of years of Y’s life wishing for that phase to kick in, as he was my first child, he learned to speak very late and was not very communicative. Alhamdulillah, I was not disappointed. He is now 8 and has been a continuous source of questions for years. Allahumma baarik. I love that. But I hate that the pace of our daily life often means that not all questions can be given the attention they deserve. Even the ones that appear to be quite pointless are a sign of a healthy sense of wonder about Allah’s creation, as well as an valuable exercise to a young mind in terms of research and self-learning. I remembered coming across a post about a “wonder wall” from Nurturestore and decided we must have a wonder wall of our own, at least to literally pin down all those sparkles of interest until we have the time to sit and find an answer. Sometimes I write Y’s questions down myself and stick them there, because he has already run off to play… but I think I would also like to know why hot dogs are called that (which would also help to convince B that they are not made of dog’s meat!)

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This is what it looks like at the moment. Some questions have been already taken down, the post-it was glued and the answer written down on a simple answer sheet. All answer sheets are kept in a binder and ordered alphabetically according to the main word of the search. Y had a big smile on his face when I compared this to a “home made encyclopaedia”, and I might have been aiming slightly high… for sure it is the world’s slowest encyclopaedia to put together, but very good fun. And, for starters, the hot-dog issue is sorted, alhamdulillah.

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