Ramadan Reflection | I Cannot Read the Quran

‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) relates that the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said:

Indeed, the one who recites the Qur’an beautifully, smoothly, and precisely, he will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. And as for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, then he will have TWICE that reward.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

When I became Muslim, I typed and printed up my own salah manual. I included the transliteration and the meaning in English underneath. A simple two rakat of fajr might take me half an hour reading and fumbling through, trying hard to remember and not make any mistakes. Now with practice, the time is shorter but I’m not sure the baraka is greater. May Allah increase us in our steadfastness and khushu, ameen.

My first experience with the Quran was through reading English translations then through transliteration, and eventually through reading the Arabic script. While on a trip to New York, I purchased my first Arabic Quran. It was a red-letter version with each mention of Allah’s name or variation of it highlighted in red.

I carried that Quran back with me on the flight home. Once settled in my seat, I opened the mushaf and began “reading” as I flipped through the pages even though the only word I could identify was the word “Allah,” highlighted in red.  I was so happy to be able to read or rather recognize that one word.

My very first Quran was a red-letter version

When Jibreel recited the first revelation to the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam), “Read,” the Prophet (s) said, I cannot read. The Prophet (s) persisted and did not give up and neither should we if we struggle to read or recite the Quran fluently.

Once, I was in a Quran class and we were trying to come up with a set amount of Quran to read each day. So our teacher asked us how long it took us to read one page of Quran and I said, “half an hour.” She looked at me incredulously and said, “half an hour, thirty minutes, why?”

I can read what I’ve memorized very quickly. I can probably read all of Juz Amma in less than 30 minutes. But for sections of Quran that I’m unfamiliar with, I read the Arabic, verse by verse, trying to implement the rules of tajwid to the best of my ability. After each verse, I turn to my Dr. Muhammad Mohar Ali word-for-word translation so that I can learn the meaning and improve my vocab and then I might re-read the verse or spend some time reflecting on it. So after one blessed hour, I might have only made it through two pages, somewhat exhausted by the effort.

When we struggle to read the book of Allah or perfect our tajwid or get up for our after-fajr tajwid classes at Ilm Summit or be patient with our Quran teachers, let’s remember the great reward promised to us for that struggle.

If you feel shy or embarrassed by your reading or memorization skills, use that emotion to your advantage along with the hadith mentioned above to motivate yourself to learn, ask for help, and read more even if it’s only one verse a day. It will get easier.

Tips: 

Make dua that Allah will open a way for you to understand his words.

Be consistent. Read each day, even if it’s only one line or one verse.

Be humble and open to learning and correction. We don’t like to admit to our own ignorance or weakness. In order to grow and reach new heights, we have to admit we’re at a state below where we want to be.

Know what you’re reciting, reading with understanding will humble you as you apply the verses to your own life.

Get a teacher and recite to them, anyone who knows a bit more Quran or tajwid can help you.

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Author: Ify Okoye

Muslim woman, RN, & rebel with a cause.

6 thoughts on “Ramadan Reflection | I Cannot Read the Quran”

  1. SubhanAllah. I really, really needed this! Isn’t it amazing how Allah always puts something in front of you JUST at the time you need it?

    People think just because I am Arab that I am able to read it and understand it 100%, but I struggle just like everyone else. Although now I wish I had put more effort in Sunday school (even though the teachers weren’t the nicest or the best). :/ Alhamdulillah.

  2. Salam alaykum.Good post.May Allah reward you abundantly.Its not only those who are new to reading the Qur’an who go through the struggle.Applying all the rules of tajwid everytime one comes across them can also be very challenging.I find myself repeating the same words several times just to get the proper pronunciation, or apply the appropriate tajwid rule to my satisfaction,though i learnt to read the Qur’an when i was eleven years old.May Allah reward us all for every single harf we recite.Amin

  3. Amani: I firmly believe that God places people and things in our lives just when we needed it most, especially if we ask and seek it out. Yesterday, I had hit a roadblock and it occurred to me that I hadn’t made dua for it. And today, I found that the roadblock had been lifted.

    My driving instructor was a Palestinian Christian from Jericho and he asked for a Quran. So I gave him one and he tried reading it but found the language to be quite challenging!

    taiwo: Wa alaykum salaam, ameen to your dua. Trying to implement each rule of tajwid can be daunting prospect. Remembering the reward and the magnificence of the words we are reading can encourage us to keep on trying.

  4. It’s not at all the same, but your experience with ”hey, I recognize that word!” and mine when I try to read in French are very similiar. And yeah, it’s a great feeling when your efforts pay off.

    1. Bill, it’s so interesting and similar, why French? I wanted to take French in school but my dad nixed that idea so I went with Spanish. It’s so rewarding to begin to understand the words spoken or read without recourse to a translation.

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