Homeschooling in Ramadhan by Umm Maimoonah

It’s Ramadhaan and what about Homeschooling?

We are approaching the grand season, we are counting days for the blessed month, and we are waiting to experience its goodness and its merits. Alhamdulillaah Ramadhaan is around the corner and we ask our Lord to help us reach it inshaa Allaah.

As homeschoolers for the last nine years, we have tried to use this month to concentrate on reaping its benefits. We stop formal homeschooling for this whole month. But that does not mean that learning stops! Learning takes place in different ways Alhamdulillaah.

Our school year is Ramadhaan to Ramadhaan, which makes it easier for us to relax during this month and gives us that much-needed break. Planning the school year this way helps our household and suits everyone’s schedules as well.

We have learned to be flexible and with every year we also learned that all that we plan cannot be executed especially in Ramadhaan with so much to do and the whole routine changing without any notice we just need to accept this.

Additionally, if you have a new entry into the family then things can get more difficult. Just like what happened to us. Maashaa Allaah, the little one who has just turned two has changed our normal routine so much, imagine the Ramadhaan routine!

So what have we done during Ramadhaan for the past nine years as homeschoolers?

It was such a pleasure to look back at my blog to recollect what we have done.

This has been our first Ramadhaan Activity Calendar plans, maashaa Allaah. Details here


This reminds me how new I was for homeschooling and how much I was struggling to adopt something that suits our household, Subhanallaah!

A great hit in our homeschool during Ramadhaan during ages 3 – 5 has been the Ramadhaan Bulletin Board. Since Maimoonah is a visual learner these boards every year with a different twist have helped her to learn about Ramadhaan with ease and it also worked as a good reminder for adults.ummmai


We have worked on Journaling during Ramadhaan from a very early age Alhamdulillaah and this has helped in enhancing many skills. Journaling in Ramadhaan actually works as a beneficial revision of school work.ummaii

When Maimoonah was 4 years old we completed a successful kindergarten school year with a structured curriculum and she was able to grasp more information. In order to make her retain that work during Ramadhaan I came up with a fully-fledged Ramadhaan Activity Pack that basically covered almost everything she learned during that year in all subjects. We were able to integrate the Ramadhaan related issues into many activities into the pack. These Activity Packs are commended by educators to be the best kid friendly Ramadhaan Activity Pack to date and so far over 25,000 downloads and still going strong! Alhamdulillaah.

These Ramadhaan Activity Packs can be downloaded for free here

Ramadhaan Activitiy Packs


The followings years yet again we started making Ramadhaan Baskets for homescholing during Ramadhaan. The baskets included many Islaamic Books, Ramadhaan related books, craft items etc to be used during Ramadhaan.


As she was growing we started on learning the books of the scholars during the month of Ramadhaan. With the change of situation in the family, with a very difficult pregnancy, relocations and a new baby we did not have enough time to really prepare; therefore we used to read together from the books of the scholars related to Ramadhaan and make journal entries.

Alhamdulillaah now that we are settled we are preparing for Ramadhaan with this Nurture Islaam Series Ramadhaan Pack. Details of the pack here



And she has been busy doing the Sittings During the Blessed month of Ramadhaan Online Course and the scrapbook based on Shaykh Uthaimeen’s book.


We hope to continue with the scrapbook this Ramadhaan and revise the Arabic for Homeschoolers materials of sister Nadiya. Maimoonah has successfully completed 3 levels of Arabic with the best teacher so far and thoroughly enjoys her classes. Before we start the next level in the coming fall she would revise the levels during Ramadhaan Inshaa Allaah.

Concentrating more on Qur’aan, Arabic and Islaamic Studies during Ramadhaan has indeed been very productive for our homeschool. It gives you a break from the usual busy schedules and allows you to take a more relaxed approach.

Older kids who are preparing themselves for examinations during Ramadhaan may have to put up a flexible schedule to achieve their Ramadhaan goals as well as the examination goals during Ramadhaan.

Alhamdulillaah homeschooling is such a blessing that it allows you to take in charge and makes it easy to adopt the best possible approach throughout.

Sometimes homeschoolers may think they are missing out a lot of work during Ramadhaan by taking a break, but I feel homeschooling is not just school work, rather it is just a part of day to day life. Learning never stops, so homeschooling never stops too. If you do not have to meet certain mandatory schedules in your homeschool my naseehah to you is make use of this month to accumulate your rewards, for indeed Allaah opened the gates of Jannah and closed the gates of the Hell fire and chained the devils in order to make it easy on us to increase our good deeds and decrease our bad deeds. Subhanallaah, He has been so merciful to His slaves and taking this opportunity and enjoying this Mercy is what we should be doing and we should be teaching our children to bond with this grand season to be able to achieve the rewards Inshaa Allaah.

You can check all our Ramadhaan Activities here Ramadhan Activity Packs

You can also have a look at our Awesome Ramadhaan Reminders Activity Pack here  umaymo

May Allaah help us reach this Ramadhaan and aid us to make the most out of this blessed month and accept our fast and good deeds. Aameen

Umm Maimoonah

How Does a New Muslimah Prepare for the Fast? by Sakeenah Green

As Salaamu Alaykunna.

I wanted to share with my new sisters to the beautiful religion of Islam, some easy ways to get through the Blessed Month of Ramadaan. Whether you are young or older the concept of not eating and drinking for 10-14 hours sounds really hard. imagesD3BWF6U4Speaking from experience, I felt the same way some 17 years ago when I became a Muslim. “I can’t eat? Can I chew gum? Can I drink water?” And it was no to all of those questions, MashaaAllah.

So my next concern, being a new Muslim is what do as a fasting person. Ok I can’t eat or drink, sexual intercourse wasn’t my concern because I wasn’t married. Of course, I read up on the fasting but Ramadaan was almost over that 1st year I started to fast. I brought a set of Sahih Al-Bukhari my 1st year of being a Muslim. I was told to stay away from the smaller books due to the false information that may be in them about Islam. That 1st year was hard but the week of Ramadaan I was doing OK, not good but OK.

The next 2 years, I spent reading out of Sahih Al-Bukhari and the Qur’aan. In this set of books, are different chapters (but are called books themselves) on various topics such as: prayer, ablution, fasting, hajj, menses, marriage, so and so forth. As you can imagine, I was definitely busy with learning my religion.Summraized-Bukhari

Then the third year of my Islam I was introduced to a class here in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania called “THE NEW SHAHAADAH CLASS”. I still remember the day like it was yesterday February 6, 2005. Until, today I am involved in this class. My teacher Na’imah Thomas (rahimahullah) really helped me with further learning about my religion. One of those many topics she helped me with is fasting during the Blessed Month of Ramadaan.

When a person thinks of fasting, the first thing they think about is not being able to eat and to control yourself with that aspect of not eating. Not eating or drinking or having sexual intercourse is only a part and some would say a small part of fasting during the month of Ramadaan. Fasting is an act the will get you closer to your Lord if you do it correctly, with sincerity and devotion. Fasting is one of those acts of worship you really can’t show off with because it’s really a secret between your Lord and you, even if you tell someone that you are fasting. Do they really know that you are fasting!?! And the not eating is really mind-over-matter.

Your brain is telling you that it can’t handle not eating for 5 hours let alone 12-14 hours. But we are going to learn that the self always wants things whether good or bad. Always, remember that this is an act of worship and this particular act of worship is special because there is a special reward for the one who does for the sake of Allah seeking His Face and Pleasure.

Ramadaan is the month of the Qur’aan. We should spend our time reading and reciting the Qur’aan if possible. Also, reading the tafsir (which is the explaination of the Qur’aan) will also help you to occupy your time and may even take your mind off of eating and drinking. When reading also we should contemplate on what Allah is trying to tell us in the qur’aan. If you can get your family together some parts of every day to read something from the qur’aan that would be great.

During this Blessed Month, we are also trying to acquire as many good deeds as possible for our deeds during this month are doubled. Some examples of good deeds are: can be helping your family to get themselves prepared for the days fast such as preparing the pre-dawn meals. Remembering not to have such a big sahoor(pre-dawn meal) because it may cause you to want to sleep most of the day and when you eat a big meal it can also make you hungrier faster inshaaAllah. We can also, give charity whether it is money, clothes, knowledge and/or a kind word or even a smile. During this month we should also work on our patience with people, with our family, our co-workers, people at the stores, everyone. During this Blessed Month you want to come out of better than you were before the month.

Some people like to stay busy either at work or cleaning the house, the 1st week or so you may want to do that just to keep you mind off of the not eating and drinking. I usually advise sisters to try to clean your house or workspace before Ramadaan so that you dedicate that time for benefit during this Blessed Month because before you know it Ramadaan will be over and you missed out on a lot of good deeds by wasting time with things that will not benefit you. And Allah knows best

But the last 2 weeks or so hopefully you start to realize that fasting isn’t that hard and it becomes easier. You no longer crave to eat big meals for iftar. No longer say I’m going to make baked chicken, mac and cheese, string beans, cornbread, mashed potatoes and apple pie for dessert because you realize when you break your fast with the dates and water you really aren’t that hungry.1200px-Soul_Food_at_Powell's_Place You may have a small piece of chicken and some string beans and you are full after that. Some people spend hours cooking, wasting time and food. Some people take this month as a month of food ironic is it!?! What am I going to cook tonight? And you have food left over for the previous night(s). When we should be reflecting on the blessings that Allah have given us of food and drink, in most cases whenever we want them subhaanaAllah. When going shopping especially for food, make a list and stick to it. You don’t want to come home and you have cakes, ice cream, cookies, potatoes chips and candy and you don’t have anything for dinner.

May Allah aid us in cleansing ourselves through worship of Him. 

Sakeenah Green has been teaching the “New Shahadah” (New Muslimah) course in Philadlephia, PA, for several years.

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Blasted! Just in Time for Ramadhan! by Nadiya Johnson

In Philadelphia on a breezy beautiful summer night, my husband and I decided to take a walk with the baby. We walked around the LaSalle University campus; spic and span the streets so pristine you could eat off them. So well-lit in the summer night that we stopped and sat on a bench near the football field to take in the night breeze. After about 15 minutes, we began our descent into the darkness down the hill to our home on Church Lane. Me pushing the baby carriage, I turned my head to the right of me and looked at the ground and then turned to the left of me. I could see them coming down the street in formation running fast as if racing us down the hill. Without any words spoken between us, we picked up our pace. In rank and file these 8-legged brown soldiers moved quickly around us. It was as if they were our body guards and we were rock stars they had to get to safety. What do they want?! Where are they going?! We made it inside the house! Whew! But were we safe? One a night would be caught inside the house throughout the summer.

It was just like when I lived in Medina, Saudi Arabia, one big cockroach a night. I shared an apartment with another teacher who had made the mistake of taking a ground floor apartment. One brown creature a night was the average. They had 2 points of entry, sometimes from under the front door and other times through the bathroom wall fan. No matter what they had to be stopped from entering the bedrooms at all costs because we both slept on the floor. Imagine my horror when one Friday morning during a routine cleaning I found one dead, smashed under my blanket.
Egypt was no different. We had a lovely apartment in the 7th district with 2 big balconies with glass French doors. We kept the doors open and our biggest concern was the mosquitoes at night and an occasional bird that lost its way and would fly through the apartment. But sometimes for some reason, water would flow through the streets and THEY would run wild. I told the owner’s sister, “We had roaches in our ‘shaqqah’ (apartment) this morning.” She said, ‘ minal moyah! Minal moyah!’ (From the water), she pointed to the water that was flowing down the streets.
And just yesterday, at my home here in Qatar, what prompted me to write this story, I heard men in my back hoosh (yard) and I smelled something awful. I opened the kitchen window to see 4 Indian men, masks over their faces, one with a hose in his hand spraying what we call ‘soomm’ (poison). Exterminators! I watched from the window in horror as they opened the drain in the ground. You know when you cook popcorn on the stove and you lift the top while it is still popping and popcorn pops out everywhere? Well instead of popcorn, imagine big brown ‘sa-raa-seer’ with legs popping out of the drain in the floor when the Indian man opened it. “Too much! Too much!” he shouted. I slammed the window shut. They died all around him as he sprayed the ‘soomm’.
You know as I sit here and write I feel there are no end to the stories I could tell about ‘sa-raa-seer’. They have been a silent creepy part of my whole life and have followed me around the world. OK just one…maybe 2 more stories.
I was sitting with a group of Syrian sisters outside the Masjid in North Carolina, eating Iftaar in Ramadhan. Enjoying our food after a day of fasting we were talking and chillaxing, when suddenly a cry went up, “Sar-soor! Sar-soor!” (Although I was used to the word pronounced “Sir-saar” I knew exactly what she was talking about.) Everybody jumped up from the picnic benches we were sitting at. We looked around in suspense at the darkness of the ground, we all wondered, “where was it?!” Finally! A shoe was raised high and then came down with a smash! “Kha-laas! Kha-laas!”  Someone announced. Then everyone sat back down. Had they followed me from Church Lane? Or Medina? Or Cairo?
And in a place I least expected…when I visited my father in Virginia Beach last summer I noticed even in his high-end townhouse, little plastic traps set just under the kitchen counters. “What’s this?” I asked. “Traps for roaches, they come in here sometimes,” he said, “I don’t know how they get in… big ones too! ” “Yeah,” my uncle explained, this whole area is surrounded by water, they like it here.”
“They like it everywhere,” I thought, “Will they always find me wherever I go?”


I know that they are a creation of Allah and Allah has created all things with a purpose. but somehow, that is just not that comforting to me.

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My Egypt Stories 3: Finding Friends and Surviving Fajr Centre

Malaysian & Somali Friends

While I was studying in Misr (Egypt) I had very few American or British friends.

I was so interested to explore relationships with other nationalities and cultures. Noriani (نور عيني) meaning “light of my eye”, was from Malaysia. She was a student of Shari’ah at al-Azhar but she like many other Azhar students, came to our school because she wanted to strengthen her Arabic speaking skills. Noriani did not know English and I didn’t know Malay so we were constantly practicing our Arabic on one another. On the weekends, she used to invite me to her apartment for spicy Malay food ( which I wasn’t used to). She lived with 7 other roommates, all students at al- Azhar. They were very soft, yet firm in their deen, and I admired their character. And they walked together like a pack! You never saw one Malaysian girl out on the street alone. If you saw 1, you saw 4 or 5. I liked being around them because  they were a tight, strong group, and I was always alone. They wore very soft colors like sky blue, gray, or beige; some covered their faces and some did not. When I used to visit, a few of them would get nervous because they knew they would have to speak Arabic with me, and some of them weren’t very good at it. One time I was there and it got late so they said, “just spend the night.” They had one mirror that they shared, which was on top of a dresser/bureau. Before sleeping, each girl, one-by-one, would stand in front of the mirror, put on sweet smelling lotion and brush her hair. They were so feminine mashaAllah.

My other close friends were Somali, and to me they were The Quran Specialists.

We had a group that used to gather at Umm Luqman’s house, she was an elder Somali sister whose husband worked in Canada. She was very strong and I learned a lot from her. She was, you could say, our leader. She held duroos (classes) at her house in Aqueeda and Quran. Everyone who came to her house left wearing niqaab and all black. She also arranged marriages between male and female students who were at her house from different countries.  She was a Mother, an Auntie, and a big sister at the same time حفظها الله

What I admired about Umm Luqman was that her children absolutely loved her. Well everyone did but especially her children. If she left the house to go to the market, they would spend a whole 5 minutes just kissing her good bye. She had a maid and after dinner, while the maid cleaned the kitchen she would be sitting on the balcony reading Quran to her children. I said, if I become a mother I want to be just like her.

I stayed in her house for 3 weeks when we were changing apartments.  Wallahi I only saw her hit one of her children one time. And it was because of me! Her oldest son Luqman had turned 9 or 10 and she was teaching him not to walk in on the women without knocking first.  I was were staying in a room that he was used to walking into all the time. He walked in without knocking and as soon as he did it, he looked shocked because he forgot. I told Umm Luqman, it was an accident, she said, no he has to learn and not forget. Well, I felt so, so bad, subhaanAllah and actually his spanking was a Whole Family Event. Everyone gathered around to witness it.  She had a thin stick but she didn’t hit him hard.   I had never seen this before. Everyone stood around in a circle to watch him get hit. They were a very close knit family. They had a spacious apartment, 4 rooms, living room and large kitchen. But when bed time came, they pushed all the beds together in one room and they all slept together, even the maid. I laughed the first time I saw this but then I thought, “MashaAllah how safe they must feel all huddled together!”

I learned from the Somali sisters about having a good relationship with the Quran through memorizing and reciting it. They did not play when it came to Quran!  One time this sister named Natheefah came over, and she was reciting with this African rhythm that made me think of grass huts and women at the river with pots of water on their heads. She had me rocking! I thought her tilawa was so nice! But Wardah was like, “yeah she has a nice voice, but her tajweed is not so good. Those sisters really pushed me in memorizing the  Quran mashaAllah, and once I moved away from them, I felt myself becoming weak subhaanAllah.

This is the importance of having companionship with those who push you to move forward and better yourself.  I hope we can do that for each other online inshaaAlalh.

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ِثَنَاء وَالحَفْرَةُ فِي الجِدَار My Egypt Stories: 1. Sanaa and Her Home in the Wall

When I lived in مصر Misr (Egypt),

we lived in a very nice apartment building. MashaAllah.  It had 4 floors and was owned by 1 family. The apartment was spacious with Louis the 16th style furniture and tall French doors leading out to a large balacoonah (balcony) overlooking a main street.  Sigh… I loved that شقة  shaqqah (apartment). When we would go out and come back in, there was always a 9 year-old girl who would follow us into the building and ask, “Awzah haagah?’ I couldn’t figure out what that meant for the first 5 days. “Do you want/need anything?” The girl was a part of a family that lived in a home in the wall or more like a hole in the wall, on the side of our apt building and her father was known as the البواب  ‘Bawwaab’. ..the ‘Doorman’. Me being from New York City, Doorman to me means a man in a suit and hat, standing in front of a fancy apartment building. Well, …it was not quite like that. They are there to serve the middle class people who live in the building. They opened doors for us, carried groceries for us, cleaned our apartments, even shopped for our groceries. We could give them a tip of like $2 and they were happy.

Sanaa was 9 years old. She did not go to school.

She was too busy helping her mother clean houses and see to the needs of the residents of the عمارة (imaarah) building. Sanaa, her mother, and her sister, cleaned our apartments, did our shopping, cleaned the halls and stairs and carried our groceries. Sanaa’s mother was a very strong  قوية  (qawiyyah)  little woman. One day our gas tank ran out in the kitchen. I heard the gas tank guy clanging downstairs on the ground floor so I ran to my balcony to catch him. He didn’t hear me and rode off on his bicycle. Sanaa’s Mom took off running down the street after him. I was expecting her to bring the guy back with the gas tank. Instead, she showed up at my door with the FULL GAS TANK on top of her head! She had walked the block and up 2 flights of steps to get it to me!! I tried to help her get it from her head to the floor and that thing felt like lead! ” Laa Laa! Madame Nadiya!” She said.  gas.png

Sanaa started cleaning our apartment once a week. She was very good to be just 9 years old, and strong like her mother. When she would finish cleaning I would give her a snack. She used to clean my house from top to bottom. I gave her money but what she really wanted was croissants.  She loved croissants with strawberry jam. I tried to pick up as much Egyptian dialect as I could from her since we were only allowed to speak fus-ha at my school. Sanaa and I became best friends. One day after she did her cleaning, I asked her if she could recite Quran she said no, she could not read. It was very strange teaching alif-baa to an Arab child but I didn’t care about that. I felt like she deserved to have an education and reading Quran is a minimum education for a Muslim child. So I would teach her to read Quran (which is really proper Arabic) and she would teach me Egyptian Arabic.

I was so curious about the hole in the wall though.

I would see them disappear around the corner and I was so curious about their hole in the wall. What was it like inside? Did they have furniture, a stove, refrigerator, electricity? Finally, Sanaa’s mom invited me inside. I wasn’t supposed to go in there. After all, I was an American Lady living in a lovely apartment building and I had a “status”. What was I doing going into a dark hole in the wall? But curiosity got the best of me!  I went in. It was one room with a curtain as a door and you actually couldn’t stand up completely or you would bump your head. It was kind of dark.  There was a bed and a carpet on the floor. I guess the 4 kids slept on the floor. A small portable type of stove for cooking and all bathroom facilities were outside in the back of the building, looked like just a water hose.  But it was clean and Sana’s mom served me tea. She told me about where they came from in the country but my Egyptian wasn’t really that good so I only got bits and pieces. They were a family trying to make it the best they could in the big city of Cairo القاهرة.

I grew up poor, but I had to learn rules of classism.

Rule #1: don’t be too friendly with the help.  One time, Sanaa finished cleaning and her 2 little brothers came knocking on the door for her. I offered them all some fruit and let them sit on the balcony to eat it. The sister of the building’s owner happened to drop by and she saw them on my balcony eating. She gave them a look, they all looked down to the ground then she turned to me and smiled like everything was fine. But I understood perfectly.  “They’re kids!” I wanted to shout. “Let them have a childhood, SubhaanAllah!”

Rule #2: don’t get too comfortable with poor people who perceive you as being rich. One day there was some problem in the kitchen and Sanaa’s father brought up a fix it man but everyone seemed to be interested in what was broken. When they all left, my gold watch – a gift from my Dad for my college graduation – was missing.  I never said anything about it. It was my own fault for being too trusting.

Well, something very strange happened in this story. You could say a surprise ending.  Eid ul Fitr came around and a woman who I had never seen, showed up at the hole in the wall. I heard her and Sanaa’s mom shouting at each other.  The whole building could hear their shouting. The shouts became screams. We went out to the balacoonah where we could see downstairs to the ground floor. And there was Sanaa”s mom running down the street after that woman, holding a thick long tree branch in her hand. I’m not kidding it looked like she had yanked that tree right out of the ground! The woman was running for her life. ‘What in the world is going on?’ we thought.  The next day we woke up, and Sanaa and her family were gone. I asked the owner’s sister what happened to them and who was that we had seen the day before. Well! Sanaa’s Dad had another wife!!  زوجة ثانية She was the strange lady who showed up and got chased down the street with the tree. We stood there with our mouths hanging open. The owner’s sister and sister in-law chuckled. I just sat there wondering, if he had this family living in a hole in the wall, where in the world was she living????   Many-Croissants-On-Basket.jpg

Then I thought of my little friend Sanaa, and I hoped she had a better home wherever they went. I still remember her laughing in delight when I gave her a special Eid gift…a basket of croissants and a jar of strawberry jam. “I love you Madame Nadiya Wallahi! Uhibbuk! ”

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Pondering the Quran

As a  Muslim I can talk to Allah, The Most High in my prayers but if i want Allah to talk to me, I must read His Book. This is for those who want guidance to be made clear to them. This Quran has stories, advice, warnings, information, comfort for the oppressed, beautiful and frightful descriptions, that make us hope for His reward and fear His punishment. When we read the Book of Allah, our hearts can be guided if we listen and reflect.

Allah asks a question

أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ ٱلْقُرْءَانَ أَمْ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَآ

Do they not ponder/deeply reflect over the Quran or do their hearts have locks on them? (Muhammad 24)

SubhaanAllah. We are ordered toread the Quran and deeply reflect over its verses applying them to ourselves and the world around us.

“Pondering” or “reflecting deeply” does not mean that we give the ayaat a different meaning or our own meaning.

Pondering or reflecting is not ‘tafseer’.  Tafseer has to do with the situations in which certain verses were revealed and the laws that are understood from the verses and other than this.
Pondering means that we open our hearts to apply Allah’s speech to ourselves and seek understanding of about our lives.  Deep reflection leads to wisdom about the world around us and our role in it.
So for example, if I read about how Allah created the sun, moon, and Earth and how the Earth rotates in its due course and how the night turns to day and how the seasons change, and how all this happens in fixed times. We can see that SubhaanAllah, He the Most Mighty and Majestic has set order and organization to this entire universe. So perhaps, I should set order and organization to my home, my activities, my life so that I can reach the goals that I want to reach each day.

Great examples can be taken from the stories of the Prophets as well.

So you and I may read the story of Musa and Pharoah and get 2 totally different benefits from it. For example I may read it and reflect upon how strong of a man Musa was as a Prophet whom Allah spoke to directly. Yet, even after Allah showed him miracles to strengthen his heart, he still requested that Allah send him support by way of his brother, Harun.

قَالَ رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي (25) وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي (26) وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِّن لِّسَانِي (27) يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي (28) وَاجْعَل لِّي وَزِيرًا مِّنْ أَهْلِي (29) هَارُونَ أَخِي (30) اشْدُدْ بِهِ أَزْرِي (31) وَأَشْرِكْهُ فِي أَمْرِي (32) كَيْ نُسَبِّحَكَ كَثِيرًا (33) وَنَذْكُرَكَ كَثِيرًا (34) إِنَّكَ كُنتَ بِنَا بَصِيرًا (35)

“He said, “My Lord expand my chest, and make my situation easy, and untie the knot in my tongue, that they may understand my words. And appoint for me a Send a ‘wazeer’ (Minister/ Representative)  from my family. Harun, my brother so that we can glorify You together and remember You much. Indeed You are Ever Seeing over us…” (surah Taha: 25-35)

No matter how many times I read this story I am always amazed with Musa and how Allah blessed him with miracles and spoke to him directly. Yet, he still had fear about this responsibility that Allah placed upon him.  So he asked for help. He asked for support. He asked that his brother Harun go with him and be a ‘wazeer’ for him. SubhaanAllah. if this great Prophet (alyhi salaam)  was not too proud to ask for help, then who am I?

We also read of  Allah’s Beautiful Names and Majestic Descriptions in Quran; that for example Allah is a-Sami’, the All-Hearing.

If I know that Allah is all Hearing and I ponder this, ,then I would watch what I say because I know that Allah is Hearing AND the angels are also writing as Allah says:

كِرَامًا كَٰتِبِينَ – يَعْلَمُونَ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ

Noble writers who know what you do (surah al Infitar: 12) 

so when I read such an ayah as this I must be aware that my words and actions are recorded and try to be on my best behavior at all times as our Prophet sallallahu alyhi was sallam had said,

مَنْ يَضْمَنْ لِي مَا بَيْنَ لَحْيَيْهِ وَمَا بَيْنَ رِجْلَيْهِ أَضْمَنْ لَهُ الْجَنَّةَ ‏”‏‏.

If you can guarantee what is between your jaws and what is between your legs, I guarantee you paradise. (Sahih al Bukhari) 

When I read an ayah such as

يَعْلَمُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا تُسِرُّونَ وَمَا تُعْلِنُونَ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ

He knows what is in the skies and the Earth and he knows what you keep secret and what you make public and Allah knows what is in the hearts

I should then be afraid to harbor evil thoughts and intentions.  I should want to cleanse my heart by asking forgiveness, pardoning those who harmed me, and recommitting myself to obedience to Allah.

When we reflect on Allah’s verses we understand  more about the world around us.

ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness]. (Rum: 41) 

Pondering means that we read the Quran with an open heart so that Allah can bless us with wisdom about our own selves and the world around us. This block between the one who is committing major sins

Ummu Aamina, Nadiya Johnson

Arabic Language Curriculum & Instruction










4. Muslim World: Upper Asia and Indian Subcontinent

China and Upper Asia

Islam reached this farthest, most remote areas of this region by way of the Silk Road. The Eastern part of China, and countries like Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhastan, Afghanistan, Chechnya; these are all Muslim lands. Many of them used to be under the control and influence of Russia, so many of them speak Russian in addition to their traditional language.

But this region that Ibn al Battuta called Asia al- Kubraa, has a long tradition of learning Arabic language particularly for the purpose of understanding the Quran and the religion of Islam. Imam al Bukhari and Imam Muslim, who are the major collectors of Hadith were from this region of Upper Asia. Uzbekistan and northern Iran.

Throughout the history of Islamkomplek-makam-saad-bin-abi-waqqash in China, Chinese Muslims have influenced the course of Chinese history. According to China Muslims’ traditional legendary accounts, Islam was first brought to China by an embassy led by Sa’d ibn abi Waqqas that was sent by Uthman, the third Caliph.  Emperor Gaozong, the Tang emperor who received the envoy then ordered the construction of the Memorial mosque in Canton, the first mosque in the country, in memory of Muhammad.

The Indian subcontinent consists of 3 countries, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh

With a huge population of 1.3 billion, India is officially a Hindu country with about 170 million Muslims.  For centuries Hindus and Muslims lived together sometimes in peace and other times in bitter conflict.

Trade relations have existed between Arabia and the Indian subcontinent since ancient times. Even in the pre-Islamic era, Arab traders used to visit the Konkan-Gujarat coast and Malabar region, which linked them with the ports of Southeast Asia

Arab merchants and traders became the carriers of the religion of Islam, and they propagated it wherever they went.


Urdu, the official language of Pakistan, with over 100 million speakers, contains many Arabic words like other languages throughout the Muslim world.

Urdu also uses Arabic letters. There is a Pakistani news station I watch from time to time, which subtitles are written at the bottom of the screen. I can read a good portion of the script which is so much like Arabic, but I can only understand bits and pieces.

Arabic words found in Urdu language:

fazal [urdu], fadal [arabic] – Divine favor/ grace
rehmat, rehmah – mercy
barakat, barakah – prosperity
zaroorat, daroorah – necessity
hajat, hajah – need
‘izzat, ‘izzah – respect/ honor
‘uzar – excuse
islah – correction
ghalat – wrong
khata – mistake
insaan: A n.m. man/human being/mankind
auqaat: A n.m. times (plu. of waqt)
auqaat: A n.f. status/position
awwaal: A adj. first/excellent/best
aulaad: A n.f. children (plu. of walad)
imaan: A n.m. belief/faith/creed/conscience
saheeh – correct
manzil – destination/ residence
du’a – supplication
ayyam – days
khiffat – light weighted/ fade
sanad – record

Quran in the Indian Subcontinent

BK4573-500x500Qaidah Nooraniya

Nur Muhammad al-Haqqaani of the Punjab, made a great contribution to Quran learning by authoring the book al-Qaidah aNooraniya. This book has spread all over the Gulf countries; Saudi Arabia and the surrounding countries and even spread to the West.



Arabic Vocab. for Thul Hijjah

Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him and his father) also reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is no deed more precious in the sight of Allaah, nor greater in reward, than a good deed done during the ten days of Sacrifice.”, ..

عن ابن عباس رضي الله عنه عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال ( مَا مِنْ أَيَّامٍ الْعَمَلُ الصَّالِحُ فِيهِنَّ أَحَبُّ إِلَى اللَّهِ مِنْ هَذِهِ الأَيَّامِ الْعَشْرِ

فَقَالُوا : يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَلاَ الْجِهَادُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ؟ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ( صلى الله عليه وسلم ) : وَلاَ الْجـِهَادُ فِي سَبِيلِ الله…  (صحيح البخاري وصحيح سنن الترمذي)

He was asked, “Oh Messenger of Allah, Not even jihaad for the sake of Allaah?” He said, “Not even jihaad for the sake of Allaah…”


Ihraam: إحرام

When the pilgrim reaches a certain distance closer to Mekka, he/she must assume the Ihramstate of ihram. It is a state in which certain things become ‘haraam’or forbidden. The Muslim cleans his body, clips body hair, nails, etc. After going into the state if i’hram removing body hair or nails, wearing perfume are forbidden. Other forbidden things are conducting a contract of marriage or having any intimate relation with one’s spouse.

The men wear 2 large white towels. Women are not restricted to any colors but must be pure and stay away from what is forbidden.

الطواف –  الطواف حول الكعبة      aTawwaf – aTawwaf hawlal Kaaba.

h=300The pilgrims or Hujjaaj go around the Ka’aba  7 times in a counterclockwise direction. Wearing no shoes, they walk making du’aa, remembering Allah and showing patience to those around them.


السعي بين الصفا والمورة      as-Sa’ee bayna Safa wal Marwah

“Running’ between the 2 mountains of aSafaa and al-Marwah, as Hajar, the wife of Ibrahim did (peace be upon them both).

images              سشبش

Prayer at Ibrahim’s station and drinking Zamzam

مقام.gif            zamzam


 And now, the absolute easiest way to memorize the Islamic months; for children and adults too!

These are the months in Islaam…

Let’s Get the Language on Our Tongues!

Arabic is so difficult, but why?

“Arabic is so difficult ” I have heard this a lot. And yes, it tends to be difficult for us Western Muslims, and I think I have figured out why.

Over the  last 13 years, I have taught sisters from East and West Africa, from Turkey, Somalia, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. While teaching these sisters, I noticed that they often did not need to be introduced to basic words like ‘kursee’ or ‘qalam’ or ‘kitaab’. Over and over again I would introduce words and in almost every lesson someone would raise their hand to inform me, “Miss, we know this word, we have it in our language.” I found that almost all of them came to me already able to read the Quran, with ease, though they didn’t understand a lot of the meaning.  One of my Indonesian students started writing vocab words for me in her language and I found many similarities. I picked up a Swahili book just for fun, and found that it had numerous Arabic words. Arabic mixes with Bantu to form the Swahili language (lugha tu Sawaahil). Arabic mixes with Hindi to form Urdu, which is still written with Arabic letters.  Arabic mixes with Berber and French to form the dialect of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.  I realized that wherever Islam had spread,  the Arabic language had spread with it along with a tradition for Quran memorization.
The Swahili language (lugha-tu Sawahil) is Arabic language mixed with Bantu. It was written with Arabic letters until the missionaireis came to EAst Africa. Turkish was written with Arbic letters until ..     The Urdu language is still written with Arabic letters. The Somali language contains Arabic sounds and many Arabic words

So what happened with us?

Islam reached us in the West but it has come as a guest, not as a political power. The Arabic that has come to us has only come in the context of memorizing the Quran or learning a few religious terms. What compounds this matter is that as Western Muslims, we speak English, which has become the number 1 spoken language in the world.  Arabic has had little to no influence on English in the 20th century (though we see English words entering the Arabic language at an alarming rate). , I have spent time with many Arab families living in the US from Morocco, Palestine, Egypt Syria, who are fighting to keep the Arabic language in their homes. I have spent time with Americans, Canadians, Australians, British and others living in the Middle East who are fighting for opportunities to learn the Arabic language and the Quran – and they are living in the Land of the Arabs!

When we approach learning Arabic, as distracted adults, we are taught the ‘traditional way’ which is focused on grammar rules that we are not always ready for.

Now understand me, grammar is absolutely necessary to understand the Quran, but it is ineffective without having the language on our tongues. As we already said, everywhere Islam went, the language went with it, except in the West.. So for the Eastern Muslim, learning Arabic means learning grammar because he or she already has a lot of words to play with. You see, Arabic grammar rules are like mathematical formulas.  Instead of dealing with numbers, you need words to plug into those formulas .So if you have grown up both reciting the Quran and using many Arabic words in your language, then beginning with grammar is probably the best way to go .However, this is not our situation as native English-speaking Muslims. This is why I prefer to begin with lots of new words and speaking exercises using those new words.

So what do we do about this?

1/LEARN MORE WORDS: means getting the language on our tongues by memorizing more. The repetition is very important. We must use these words more and teach them in our homes. When children START EARLY they don’t have the difficulty we had as adults.

2/ USE THE WORDS IN OUR HOMES:   My daughter’s first word was ‘baab’ (door), her second word was ‘Abee’.  I am not actually sure when she started saying the word ‘milk’ in English because I always said ‘haleeb’ in the house. Nouns are the easiest types of words to adapt into our everyday language.   This is what nations of Muslims have done over the centuries. When you see the map of Arabic dialects this is how they did it, they infused Arabic words with the language they already had.

3/ RECITING AL-QURAN:  So we end at the beginning. The reason for learning the language is to understand the speech of Allah and to beautify our voices al-Quran. When we recite regularly, we then have the speech of Allah on our tongues, the Arabic flows more and more easily. Words are waiting in our minds waiting to be used.

The reality is that if we don’t take time to get this learning done, then how are we going to pass this down to our children and grandchildren? how are we going to raise our level as a community?

Not everyone can pick up and move to a Muslim country. If you are able to experience it then it can be a very fulfilling experience. And it is also possible to come together with other like-minded Muslim parents and create an environment that supports your learning and the children’s learning. In the future, I’ll be talking a lot about this subject, inshaAllah.

Follow this link for a FREE eBook, 50 Arabic Words & Phrases NOW!

Ummu Aamina Nadiya Johnson


To Learn Quran, Fight Yourself

Shaytaan will whisper, “Reading the Quran is too difficult, leave it on the shelf.”

Our brain will try to keep us in a comfort zone and if we are not careful weeks, months, and years can go by and we have not progressed or worse, we have gone backwards. We think we are “doing ok” because we listen to lectures and don’t engage in any major sins but we are not reciting, memorizing or even pondering the Book of Allah. Beware that Shaytaan wants to reduce our rewards by keeping us from this noble struggle of learning Quran.

Climbing the Hill

The first stage of reading Quran in Arabic is like climbing a hill.  Know that learning the Quran is a skill to be developed over time, and this development has stages. So you learned alif-baa, can connect the letters, have mastered the shedda, tanween, and other rules of reading, now you must connect yourself to the mus-haf (Quran in Arabic).

You sit with the mus-haf to read. You feel the stress of coming out of the comfort zone and pushing against yourself. Letter for letter, vowel for vowel your mind is working to apply all the rules you learned. If you are in front of a teacher, or sitting in a group, you will feel yourself becoming nervous maybe even hear your voice shaking, feel your hands sweating.  You can’t find a flow. Your reading is choppy and very slow and may sound like: fa-le-ma jaa-aa-hum…, trying to recognize and pronounce Arabic letters correctly while applying the kesra and damma in the right place. As you read, you notice markings and symbols in the Quran that signal new rules you have not yet learned. At the end of your reading you let out a “Whew!” It is mental gymnastics.

This is a critical stage

I want you to realize that this is a critical stage in your learning. If you continue, keeping your promise to push yourself and read a little each day, you will start to have small breakthroughs that will bring you much joy. You’ll struggle to read and figure out a word and then find that it’s a word you know! (Moo-saa, sa-laam-un, al-malaa-ikah). Short surahs that you had learned through English letters, will become more clear as you confidently begin to make corrections. These small triumphs will keep you encouraged and become a reward for your effort. Each time you sit to read, you will notice it becomes just a little bit easier and little less stressful as you recognize letters and vowels and apply rules much more quickly.

Remember this:

Everyone has struggled like this. All the Muslims whether from countries like the Arab Gulf, India or Indonesia, all have struggled like this to learn Quran. The only difference is that most of them struggled in their childhood, while you are struggling in your adulthood. So this must be an encouragement for us to make sure that our children learn to read Quran at the earliest age possible. Quran for children is more important than Mother Goose rhymes, cartoons or video games. The Muslim child should learn to read the Quran in Arabic, even before learning to read his native language whether it be English French, Chinese or Russian.

So although you are learning as an adult, your struggle is normal and should be expected.

Beware of this, and this is very important:

If you quit at this stage, you will go backwards. Just like climbing  a hill, if you quit you will never reach the top to sit and enjoy the view. Those sisters who close the mus-haf and put it back high on the shelf because it’s too hard, may not return to it for months or even years. It’s easy to get busy with life; we have husbands, children, work, laundry, cooking. Time moves on and the belief that it’s too hard’ becomes so strong, that it’s easier and easier to ignore the Book of Allah. Al-hamdulillah we are  praying, wearing hijab, and avoiding major sins. But deep in our hearts we imagine the Quran looking down on us from the shelf asking us, why have you made hijrah from me?” Deep inside we know that our heart never felt the happiness it felt while learning to read and recite the Book of Allah.

Some people classify themselves as ‘stagnant’ due to their time away from learning Arabic and Quran. Actually, after months or years away from learning Arabic and reciting Quran, when we come back sometimes we find we have to start again from scratch.  We learned how to read Arabic but we ‘we don’t remember too much. We memorized a juz of Quran but we forgot half of it. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raa-jioon.

So PUSH THROUGH the pain and keep climbing. There is nothing stopping you except you. Nobody can do this work but you. My relationship with the Book of Allah can go as far as I allow it go. Because the Quran is always calling us back to it once we’ve had a taste of it Once we experienced that rise in Imaan that comes from reciting the Book of Allah, our hearts will always be yearning for it but we have to fight ourselves and win.

Nadiya Johnson

Arabic Language Curriculum & Instruction