Quran Focus Academy Blog

Islamic Quran academy opens in Tatarstan, Russia

An Islamic academy has opened in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Bolghar Historical and Archaeological Complex in the Tatarstan Republic of the Russian Federation on Thursday with the intent of raising Islamic scholars for Russian Muslims.

Islamic Academy Tatarstan Russia

The Bolghar Islamic Academy opened with Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov, Turkey’s Kazan Consul-General Turhan Dilmaç, Religious Affairs Secretary of Turkey’s Moscow Embassy Dursun Aygün, chief mufti of Russia and head of the Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate Talgat Tadzhuddin, President of Russia’s Muftis Council Rawil Gaynutdin, Tatarstan’s Mufti Kamil Samigullin and other religious leaders in attendance. The academy will offer six-month Quran courses. The Bolghar Historical and Archaeological Complex went under restoration and was included on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site List last year. “The new academy will raise Islamic scholars not only for Tatarstan, but also Russia’s [other] Muslims,” Minnikhanov said.

Dilmaç also said two religious lecturers have been sent from Turkey to give Quran courses at the academy. “We are pleased with their efforts. Bolghar will remain both a historical, educational and religious city,” he said. Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Aygün said Quranic recitation courses will be extended and offered to religious staff in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and other parts of Russia. An international conference was held with the theme “Religious view of Muslims on the concepts of nation, religion and civilization.”

Teaching the Holy Quran in Uyghur, China

Mosques fail to offer enough space for worshippers at regular Friday prayers for Muslims in two prominent cities of the Uyghur Autonomous Region of China: Urumchi and Kashgar. People have to take to the streets and squares without bothering others. The Idkha Mosque in downtown Kashgar is the largest mosque in the region. More than 30,000 people join the Eid prayers performed in the square that also hosts the mosque. The Idkha Mosque was built in 1442 and was enlarged three times. Around 700 people can perform prayers in the closed area of the mosque.

There are 28,000 clerics (24,000 appointed to mosques) officially assigned to the Uyghur Autonomous Region. There are schools teaching lessons on the Quran in the local towns that offer courses lasting two to three months. Graduates of elementary and high schools are admitted to these schools. China has nine years of compulsory education during which no religious courses are offered. There are 10 Quran courses in China. The Xinjiang Quran School is the only officially recognized school for teaching the Quran in Xinjiang Uyghur region in China. It is also the only school that teaches the Quran in the Uyghur language in China. The hadiths are recited in Arabic but the explanations are in Uyghur. Students study for five years in the school to receive their qualifications and Muslim graduates who are appointed to serve the people are given a monthly allowance. There are 10 different ethnic Muslim groups in Xinjiang and those other than the Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Huis are able to communicate with each other. The graduates of the school teach the Quran to the public and some work as members of the local popular congress. The Chinese Religious Affairs Directorate and the Chinese Islamic Affairs Department regulate the appointment of students abroad. Of these, 37 students continued their education in Egypt. The Huis have nine other Quran schools in other parts of China. The Huis teach in the Chinese language.

The construction of the Xinjiang Quran School started in 1983 and the school was completed in 1987. It receives financial aid from the state and the Chinese government gave 250 million yuan in 2012 to construct a huge new school that now hosts 300 students and 70 teachers. They train clerics in eight undergraduate and three pre-undergraduate programs. Mainly religious and cultural courses are offered, with cultural courses constituting 3 percent of the curriculum. The cultural classes include ethnic and religious policies. Uyghur literature, Arab language and literature, and history are also being taught. Seventy percent of the courses are focused on religious studies, which include studying the Quran, recital, tawjeed (rules of recitation), methodology, Islamic jurisprudence, Islamic theology and culture, the life of the Prophet Muhammad and Arabic grammar. Male high school graduates aged between 18 and 22 are admitted to the school in a two-stage exam.

The Xinjiang Quran School is a religious school that trains clerics. They do not admit female students. There are three different types of religious education: clerical school, Quran courses and Quran schools. Women are allowed to receive religious training from their fathers or husbands at home.

The school offers help every year for those who would like to perform the pilgrimage in Mecca. The pilgrims have to meet several conditions, including having sufficient financial resources, being healthy and able to travel. Every year, nearly 14,000 people in China travel to Mecca for the pilgrimage. Of these, about 3,500 sign up for the pilgrimage in Xinjiang. Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate President Mehmet Görmez has paid a visit to Xinjiang twice. He was appointed president after he returned from Urumchi. For this reason, it is argued that Urumchi brings good luck.

Hasan KANBOLAT   h.kanbolat@todayszaman.com

Previously Published in Todays Zaman

 

Learning to Read the Holy Quran

An Invitation to read the book of books

There are some books that need not be read once or twice but scores of times. There are books that simply decimate you, that don’t need our recommendation but that judge us. There are books that one would not like to part with even in grave. There are books that need certain moral and spiritual qualifications to be understood, or we would fail to drink from the fount of wisdom. There are books that must be in the curriculum of life’s education. What is the book that is most urgent reading for anyone  who cares about higher things of life including wisdom and ethics? I argue it is, first of all,  a divine book. Let us try to read one today.

Imagine any reason for praising a work or at least paying attention to it and one may find that the Quran illustrates the case. If impact of a work counts, the Quran we know created history and new civilization. If readership or recitation counts, it is amongst the most read, most memorized, most recited works. If inherent linguistic and literary excellence counts, it is, by almost universal consensus amongst the best scholars of Arabic language and the Quran, a feat that we ordinarily describe as miraculous. If loftiness of themes, polyphony and polysemy count, it impresses in the same way that other sacred scriptures impress. Countless commentaries have been written and keep coming. The best minds from philosophers to Sufis to poets to scientists have been struck dumb by it and they have joined in the great tradition of commenting on it. Some of the most influential modern minds  including psychologists like Jung have also joined in this group by commenting on certain verses or chapters. From Nietzsche to Derrida we see glowing tribute paid to the aspects of legal, mystical and philosophical culture inspired by the Quran. Heidegger,  arguably the greatest figure in twentieth century philosophy, deemed himself a philosopher in the Arab tradition of philosophers. In previous centuries literary giants from Carlyle to Goethe have been struck by the Quran.  If speaking to – rather shaking –  depths of our being is a criterion, its power is too well known to need a comment.  If inimitability is the criterion,  we find that from its contemporary Arab poets to James Joyce in Finnegan Wake, attempts to dilute the force of the claim of inimitability have patently failed.

How come some of the greatest Orientalists and those who approached the Quran from purely academic reasons become its for good? How come volumes have been devoted to apparently as simple things of the Quran as orthography of letters by the best minds? The Quran inspired art, poetry, philosophy and number of traditional science constitute a significant part of cultural heritage of mankind. The Quran has stayed and will stay

The Quran consumes the reader or the reader fails to read it. It transforms, it devastates as a great beauty devastates. Man’s salvation lies in getting ready for such a transformation. Great tragedy or poetry seeks to accomplish something similar.

There are books that one should pray for getting access to them. The sacred scriptures and writings of saints are such books. If one isn’t able to enjoy the Quran despite linguistic and other resources at one’s command, one needs to investigate why. Perhaps some notions bequeathed by shallow education or misinterpretations need to be addressed. I seek to argue that the key claims of the Quran are self evident and none can find them problematic. Let us try to see how we can appreciate the Quran as an open invitation to all of us including the Muslims (usually Muslims think they know the Quran  and it is other communities that need to be invited to it.)

Learn Quran Reading Online

Who can refuse invitation to explore the science of the self or psyche (anfus) and the cosmos (aafaq) to which Al-Quran invites all? The Quran invites us to pay attention to ontological Quran, the text of flesh, blood, matter and soul  that constitutes anfus and aafaaq. Who can finish exploring them? Who can finish reading the Quran this sense? Who can’t entertain Quranic invitation to take sensory experience, reason and history seriously as sources of knowledge? Who can have issues with the invitation to see all religions from Adam to Muhammad (PBUH) received through prophets as explicating one Deen – Al-Islam i.e., submission to Truth/Reality? Does Truth need any other certificate to claim our assent? The Quran doesn’t give a view or interpretation of truth that one could subject to certain ideological critique but asks man to submit to Truth not its particular truth but Truth as such wherever one finds it. Kufr is concealing the truth and who can approve of it?

La Illaha Illallah, read with the help of illumined reason, contains the whole essence of metaphysics as Schuon has noted.  Read with the help of metaphysical, spiritual and esoteric commentaries the Quran is perfectly seen as the deeper voice of both our hearts and minds. Nothing that is revolting to reason or ethics can be in the Quran.

The Quran convinces or saves by virtue of its appeal to Signs of God that are for everyone to contemplate in virgin nature, in rhythms of cosmos, in the music of our souls, in perfections we find everywhere getting embodied in life and universe. The best use of aql leads to a state that the Quran calls heaven. Only the knowledgeable fear God, the Quran declares? Now who can vote against these things?

The Prophet’s mandate is to teach the Book  (all books that are worthy of attention are in a sense in the Mother of Books, Ummul Kitab that is the epithet of the Quran) and love of wisdom (hikmah) and purify the souls. Aren’t all great teachers revered because we think they help us in achieving these three objectives?

What the Quran calls faith in Al-Gayyib is understandable as respect for what Marcel calls mystery that is existence or life and  what Stace foregrounds as depth dimension of things that refuses access to rationalist’s tools. Who is the fool to claim to have demystified the world or emptied it of wonder?

Two of the greatest Muslim scholars of the twentieth century including Allama Anwar Shah Kashmiri once tried to experiment with changing or substituting a verse, a word, a letter in the Quran and investigate if it would change the overall sense and structure. Needless to say, the experiment failed. A good review of major points regarding the literary excellence of the Quran is in Hamza Andreas Tzortzis’ “An Introduction to the Literary and Linguistic Excellence of the Quran.” There are numerous books on Aijaz-i-Quran that cumulatively do make a strong case for engaging with the Quran for modern man.

Postscript

One of our greatest calamities is that we are disconnected from the Arabic language. Teach children Arabic and the Arabic Quran will, most probably, hook them for ever to its miraculous form and content. Hardly any preaching needed. Teaching the Arabic language is the antidote to alienation from religion we currently see in new generation. Ask schools you pay handsomely, for arranging for Arabic teaching. Most of us need to better our Arabic if for no reason than at least enjoying the Quran aesthetically. Faith will take care of itself.

Muhammad Maroof Shah

Previously published in Greater Kashmir

 

 

Manners of Reading the Holy Quran

Be careful when you handle this holy book. Remember, it is not an ordinary book. We need to do the following for giving to the glorious Quran its due respect:

Before you begin reciting from the Quran, seek refuge with Allah (swt) from the Satan, by saying – ‘Aoodhu Billahi Minashaitanir Rajim.’

Take Allah (swt)’s name, before you begin to read, by saying – ‘Bismillah.’

Try your best to be in the state of Wudu, when reciting from the Quran, and sit in a clean place.

Begin reading with a clear intention of seeking only Allah (swt)’s pleasure, not any other worldly gain.

Turn the pages gently and slowly to the required page. It is best, if you use a bookmark at the place you finished last, so that there is no unnecessary flipping of pages.

QuranFocus

Maintain humility, tranquility, and respect, while reading the Quran.

Read the Quran in a moderate voice.

Read the verses with short pauses in between.

Be careful about the Makharij (pronunciation of the letters). Give every letter its due right.

Read the Quran attentively, calmly, and sincerely.

Ponder over the words of the Quran and make efforts to act upon them.

Be grateful, when the verses of Shukr (being grateful) are mentioned and seek refuge with Allah (swt), when asked.

Listen quietly and attentively, when the Quran is being read.

Do not put the Quran on the floor or near a person’s feet.

Do not leave the Quran open, when not being used, or turn it face down on the table.

Do not step over the Quran, if it is lying on the ground or at a low level, such as a prayer mat.

Do not use the Quran as a support to write on.

Do not place things on the top of the Quran.

Do not scribble unnecessary things on the pages of your Quran.

Do not touch the Quran with dirty hands.

Make sure you keep the Quran out of the reach of children that may tear its pages.

Do not eat, while reading from the Quran.

Sit in a proper, respectable position when reading it.

Try not to talk in between, while reciting from the Quran.

Keep the Quran in a clean place.

Learn as much as you can about the Quran by reading an authentic translation in the language of your preference.

Keep the Quran within your reach and in sight.

Let no day pass, without reading or reciting from the Quran.

 

Author: Affaf Jamal

The Oldest Quran Found – Could Be From Time Of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

Part of what is believed to be the world’s oldest Quran has been discovered in a somewhat unlikely place…Birmingham.

The manuscript found at the University of Birmingham among other Middle Eastern books and documents was found by a PhD researcher, who suggested further tests.

When radiocarbon dating was used on the text, written on either sheep or goat skin, it was found to be at least 1,370 years old, making it the oldest recorded script.

It was found that the probability of the text coming from between 568 and 645 was higher than 95%.

Oldest QURAN

The text is the oldest recorded Quran manuscript recorded

This could actually date it during the life of the Prophet Muhammad, who is generally thought to have lived between AD 570 and 632, according to the university.

David Thomas, a professor of Christianity and Islam at the University of Birmingham,told the BBC: “According to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad PBUH received the revelations that form the Koran, the scripture of Islam, between the years 610 and 632, the year of his death.”

“The person who actually wrote it could well have known the Prophet Muhammad PBUH. He would have seen him probably, he would maybe have heard him preach.

“He may have known him PBUH personally – and that really is quite a thought to conjure with.”

Prayers and making dua during Ramadan or Ramazan

The following dua (prayers) are recited at the beginning and end of the fast to indicate and affirm the intention of the fast.

A person’s intention when fasting, is to bring him/herself closer to Allah.

 

Dua (Prayer) at the Beginning of the Fast :

Wa bisawmi ghadinn nawaiytu min shahri ramadan

I intend to keep the fast for tomorrow in the month of Ramadan

 

Dua (Prayer) at the End of the Fast :

Allahumma inni laka sumtu wa bika aamantu wa alayka tawakkaltu wa ala rizq-ika-aftartu

O Allah! I fasted for You and I believe in You and I put my trust in You and I break my fast with Your sustenance

Ramadan: 5 Free Apps For Islamic Prayer Times, Fasting Calendar, Sunrise Sunset Alarms, Mecca Compass

Technology is rapidly becoming a valuable tool for Islamic observance and many Muslim faithful have increasingly been turning to smartphone apps to help them fulfill religious obligations. With the holy Islamic month of Ramadan approaching, the utility of such apps in supporting the spiritual and practical elements of the 30-day fast make them an especially useful option for some.

Ramadan 2015:

An all-in-one Ramadan toolkit, this popular app not only features a calendar for the holy month, including prayer times, but also the ability to modify prayer times based on different locations for convenience during travel. The Android app also has a feature that sends a reminder about charitable giving, also known as Zakat al-Fitr, an obligation for Muslims during Ramadan.

iQuran:

Islamic tradition holds that Ramadan was when the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad and, as a result, many Muslims use the month as an opportunity to read and recite their holy book. This tradition has made the iQuran app, which offers the full text and audio of the Quran along with an English translation, tremendously popular among many congregants, according to Benyahya. “People use it a lot,” he said. “It’s very much going to be used and exhausted during Ramadan.”

Islamic Finder’s Athan Prayer Timings:

Muslims are obligated to pray five times a day, at pre-set intervals with times that change according to the season. One of the most popular prayer time calculator apps, the Islamic Finder app allows users to track daily prayer times, log their prayers in a personalized prayer book and even offers directions to nearby mosques. The app also has a prayer call alarm feature (with the option of switching to vibrate mode) that can help alert users to the sunset and sunrise which mark the start and end of fasting, respectively.

The popularity of these apps has enabled some Muslims to become even more devout in their religious practice. “If you forgot to pray, you might not be responsible, because you’re human; you forget and you can make it up later,” said James Otun, a 35-year-old American technology aficionado, in an interview with the Guardian. “But not now that you have those apps, that might change things in God’s level.”

Qibla Compass:

Knowing when to pray is one crucial aspect of Islamic prayer. The other is knowing in which direction to pray. Apps like Qibla Compass are dedicated to helping Muslims figure out the direction of Mecca, which Muslims around the world face as they pray. While some can usually calculate the direction by using the compass feature on their smartphones, this app does the calculation automatically based on a user’s location. The app also comes with accessibility support for people with visual impairments.

Ramadan Kareem:

Ramadan has traditionally been a time of spiritual reflection for Muslims, who give up food and drink during the sunlight hours and avoid vices like gossiping throughout the month. In addition to striving for spiritual purity, the sense of deprivation fostered through fasting is also meant to inspire charitability.

This is why many Muslims use the month as an opportunity for charitable giving and volunteer work. The Ramadan Kareem app by the Muslim Giving Project, is designed to facilitate this important obligation by connecting Muslims to civic organizations and projects that they can donate to or get involved with as a volunteer. The app also provides daily charity inspirations throughout the holy month.

 

First Islamic theology school in Scandinavia

Mina Hindholm Imam Khatib school will take on students aged 18 and up from Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

The northern European region of Scandinavia has officially opened its first Islamic Theology boarding school, known as an Imam Khatib school, in the Danish city of Slagelse.

The school is due to take on students from Denmark, Norway and Sweden and will teach the national curriculum along with Turkish and Islamic lessons in the fields of Qur’an, Hadith and Islamic creed.

Boarding school head Ahmet Deniz told Anadolu Agency said that Mina Hindholm will be Denmark’s first official Islamic school for students aged 18 and up. The school, which is Europe’s second Imam Khatib after the one in Belgium, already has 52 students.

Zaytuna – US First Muslim College Gets Accreditation

CALIFORNIA – Making history for Islamic education in the US, a Muslim college has received formal academic accreditation last weekend, becoming the first officially recognized Islamic institution of higher learning in the country of seven million Muslim population.

“Today, Zaytuna’s accreditation roots this vision in a reality recognized within American higher education,” Hamza Yusuf, president of the college, said in a statement celebrating the announcement and cited by Thinking Progress on Tuesday, March 11.

The statement also added, “[Accreditation] helps ensure that Zaytuna successfully fulfils the objectives outlined in its curriculum, which grounds its students in both the Islamic and Western scholarly traditions.”

Yusuf’s statement followed the declaration that Zaytuna College, a liberal-arts school based in Berkeley, California, was formally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

The WASC is one of six official academic bodies responsible for the authorizing public and private colleges and universities in the United States.

In its letter granting Zaytuna accreditation, WASC lauded the school for its “rigorous and high-quality learning experience, one that… can be viewed as an exemplar in the liberal arts tradition.”

Zaytuna College, a brainchild of Imam Shakir, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and Professor Hatem Bazian, stems its name from the Arabic word “olive”.

It opened doors to first students in its rented space in a Baptist seminary in Berkeley in August, 2010.

It offers two majors; Arabic language and Islamic law and theology.

Zaytuna College earned its reputation as a great educational institute, being compared to great Catholic colleges, such as Georgetown or Notre Dame.

Being a Muslim school with a quasi-”great books” curriculum, it was compared to Harvard College, circa 1850 — but instead of the Bible, Greek and Latin, and Plato, it’s the Qur’an, Arabic and Plato.

The college administrators said they hope their success leads to greater acceptance of their style of Islamic education and Muslims at large.

“[Accreditation] gives our community its first accredited academic address in the United States,” Yusuf said.

“And we hope, God willing, that there will be more such Muslim colleges and universities to come.”

The United States is home to a Muslim minority of between six to eight million.

A 2013 survey found that American Muslims are the most moderate around the world.

It also showed that US Muslims generally express strong commitment to their faith and tend not to see an inherent conflict between being devout and living in a modern society.

Islam is the fastest-growing religion in Canada – Over a Million Muslims & 3.2 % of total Population

OTTAWA — The Islamic centre in Saskatoon is experiencing growing pains.

Friday services have been split into two, so local streets aren’t clogged with traffic. City officials and nearby residents are working with the centre to answer questions such as: where to put more parking?

“We have been experiencing this kind of steady increase for a while,” said Amin Elshorbagy, president of the Canadian Islamic Congress and a Saskatoon resident.

“We can see this in terms of the need to expand our infrastructure. Most of our Islamic centres are becoming very crowded.”

Statistics released Wednesday confirm what can already be seen: more mosques with busier prayer services and the increasing prevalence of women dressed in hijabs and niqabs in all walks of life. Islam is the fastest-growing religious group in the country.

Across Canada, the Muslim population is growing at a rate exceeding other religions, according to Statistics Canada. It is even growing faster than the number of Canadians who identify themselves as having no religion, though just barely, according to the National Household Survey released Wednesday.

The Muslim population exceeded the one-million mark in 2011, according to the survey, almost doubling its population for the second-consecutive decade. Muslims now represent 3.2 per cent of the country’s total population, up from the two per cent recorded in 2001.

The majority of growth in the Muslim population is the result of immigration, as it is with Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists, with the largest share coming from Pakistan over the past five years, according to Statistics Canada. Muslims are also the youngest religious group in the country with a median age of about 28 years old.

“The phenomenon of the younger age for groups such as Muslims and Hindus is a reflection of the immigration trends,” said Tina Chui, chief of immigration and ethnocultural statistics at Statistics Canada. “People tend to migrate when they’re younger.”

The growth of the Muslim population is part of a larger trend: minority religious groups becoming a larger slice of the Canadian cultural mosaic, although Christian religions still dominate with almost 70 per cent of the population. That raises questions of accommodation and integration of a religion that experts say is often unfairly viewed through a lens of fear.

“Polling has shown that Canadian Muslims are proud to be Canadian, more so than the average Canadian,” said Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations. “Canadian Muslims very much want to integrate and be part and parcel of the society.”

One-on-one, non-Muslims can have favourable views of their Islamic colleagues, but that feeling doesn’t always extend to the wider Muslim population, said Pamela Dickey Young, a professor of religion and culture at Queen’s University.

“It isn’t like Canadian Muslims have not tried to educate the Canadian populace … but for some reason there’s still that edge with it that some Canadians have problems getting over,” Dickey Young said.

The survey results should be taken with caution. Experts say the voluntary nature of the National Household Survey, which replaced the mandatory long-form census, leaves some gaps in the data from groups that tend not to respond to such surveys, such as new immigrants.

Experts believe the data provide a fairly good, broad picture of Canada, but data on smaller groups may provide less reliable information.

“People keep blocking us into one cohesive mass and we’re not that at all,” said said Alia Hogben, executive director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women.

“We need to sit down as Muslims — not as a community because there isn’t one community — and decide what we want to be accommodated and what we want to give up.”

That internal debate in the Muslim community gets sidetracked because of the backdrop of violence done in the name of religion, which Canadian Muslims regularly and quickly condemn.

Province Muslim 2001 % 2001 Muslims 2011 % 2011
Flag of Ontario.svg Ontario 352,525 3.1% 581,950 4.6%
Flag of Quebec.svg Quebec 108,620 1.5% 243,430 3.1%
Flag of Alberta.svg Alberta 49,045 1.7% 113,445 3.2%
Flag of British Columbia.svg British Columbia 56,220 1.4% 79,310 1.8%
Flag of Manitoba.svg Manitoba 5,095 0.5% 12,405 1.0%
Flag of Saskatchewan.svg Saskatchewan 2,230 0.2% 10,040 1.0%
Flag of Nova Scotia.svg Nova Scotia 3,545 0.4% 8,505 0.9%
Flag of New Brunswick.svg New Brunswick 1,270 0.2% 2,640 0.3%
Flag of Newfoundland and Labrador.svg Newfoundland and Labrador 625 0.1% 1,200 0.2%
Flag of Prince Edward Island.svg Prince Edward Island 195 0.1% 660 0.5%
Flag of the Northwest Territories.svg Northwest Territories 175 0.5% 275 0.7%
Flag of Nunavut.svg Nunavut 25 0.1% 50 0.2%
Flag of Yukon.svg Yukon 55 0.1% 40 0.1%
Flag of Canada.svg Canada 579,640 2.0% 1,053,945 3.2%

“It is an additional pressure and a big one on the Muslim community,” Elshorbagy said.

“We need to be extra nice just because we’re Muslims. We need to go beyond certain limits, which is very unfortunate for people like me,” he said. “Sometimes the media will call something Islamic terrorism — once you call it Islamic, you’ve brought me into the picture even though I haven’t done something wrong.”