The Heat of the Halaqa

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

والصلاة والسلام على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين

It’s your turn to read. Your heart beats a little faster. You put together the letters, vowels and other symbols in your mind and as quickly as you can and try to make the sounds come out as  correctly and as smoothly as possible. Then a word comes up with both a ghain and a khaa, you can’t control your throat. The next word has a yaa at the end … or is that an alif maqsoorah? While you try to decide you know your classmates are waiting, patiently for their turns. The teacher reads the word for you and you repeat, but you’re thinking: I should have known that.  You feel yourself perspiring under the heat of the halaqa. Maybe you know how it feels. When you are sitting in the halaqa (learning circle) learning to recite the Quran there is this pressure and heat of being ‘on the spot’.

The Halaqa in Medina

When I lived in Medina, I used to sit (unofficially) in a large halaqa with a teacher named Us-tatha Soraya, an Indonesian by birth who grew up in Saudia. She was very tough, would not let you get away with the smallest mistake. All the students sat in a circle and each one would come up and sit in front of the Us-taatha face-to-face to read when it was their turn.  One day an Egyptian sister came up to read for Soraya. She was reading surat ul-Adiyaat. She couldn’t get out one word without Soraya stopping her ‘Laa! Laa!”  Now if you can get a feel for the situation, This halaqa was not inside of a classroom but in the al-Masjid aNabawi (Prophets Mosque) sallallahu alyhi wa sallam in Medina. If you have ever been there you know how huge it is.  So not only are there 15-20 Taalibaat (students) around listening to you be corrected. There are also people passing by, praying, walking around, drinking Zamzam water, etc. You really felt that you were on display. After being cut down harf by harf (letter by letter) in the first 3 ayaat, the Egyptian sister couldn’t take any more.  She stopped reading. The halaqa was silent. Her lips began to shake and the tears started to roll down her cheeks. I really felt it for her. You would think the teacher would take her by the hand and give some words of encouragement. But No! The Us-taatha sat unmoved watching and waiting for her to finish her cry. Then she said, ” Lets’ continue.”

The Online Halaqa

is a virtual place to learn and not quite as pressurized as being in a huge masjid but there can be anxiety and frustration.  a reason some sisters prefer one-on-one classes and that is understandable. Although there are bonuses from with a group

1/ benefiting from the mistakes of your classmates

2/ pushing yourself to catch up with a stronger student

3/ seeing other students struggle with the same challenges that you have

These benefits you will never get from sitting one-on-one.

Whether you are reading one-on-one, with a group, or on your own with YouTube, the focus is to read often enough that reading becomes easier and flows more naturally.

Are you are reading Quran in Arabic, even with difficulty? You can take yourself to the next level as we are starting some 2 and 3-month Live courses for the Winter season. The Beginner’s Quran Recitation     is a basic course in Tajweed to train the parts of the mouth and throat to give each letter its right. We also invite you to Quranic Arabic course using Everyday Arabic to Understand the beautiful speech of Allah.

Have a look using the links above and I hope to see you in class!

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Published by

Us-tatha Nadiya Johnson

I help put Arabic language on the tongues of Muslim families in the West. I provide learning materials, curriculum and consulting for Homeschoolers, Islamic schools and Weekend Learning Programs.

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