The question that I am asked the most, by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, is ‘Why did you become a Muslim?’
While my journey to Islam was long and winding, spanning more than a decade of self-exploration and a gentle tugging at my soul, it was ultimately the Noble Quran that convinced me to embrace the Islamic faith and declare for all that would listen:
“I testify that there is no god but God (Allah), and I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God (Allah).”
That being said, my relationship with the Quran has only been through an English translation of it. I have never been able to read the Quran in Arabic as I am an English speaker. And I have faced an uphill battle in connecting with the pure Quran which was revealed in Arabic.
An English Translation
The day I took my shahadah, or declaration of faith, in a tiny mosque situated in the Gulf State of Kuwait, I had no idea what was happening or what I was doing.
Unfortunately, my former husband thought he was doing something good to take me to the mosque to become a Muslim. He did not understand that anyone can take the shahadah but it is meaningless if the person reciting it does not believe it and has not accepted it into their heart.
I recited the shahadah that day not even knowing what it meant as everyone around me shouted ‘takbir’ and a woman handed me a copy of the Noble Quran in English. Yet, I was not a true Muslim.
It wasn’t until a year later that I actually became Muslim through my heart. The victim of a violent crime, my beloved grandmother died unexpectedly in 1999.
While still in mourning, I felt a forceful wrenching at my heart to read the translation of the Quran I was given at the mosque. I experienced a relentless pull to read this ‘book’ and I felt annoyed by it.
I was so full of anger over my grandmother’s death that, when I opened the Noble Quran, I ripped part of the page. Within only a few minutes of reading it, scalding hot tears burst from my eyes and poured down my cheeks.
Read: These Tips Will Help You Enjoy Reading the Quran
I knew I had finally found the answers I’d been seeking ever since I was a ten-year old child questioning my faith.
It took me almost a year to read the Noble Quran in English. I also read the explanations on each page to have a complete understanding of it.
The day I finished reading the translation of the Quran is one I will never forget. I felt a great sense of accomplishment and an overwhelming gratitude towards Allah Almighty for guiding me out of darkness and into the light of faith.
New Muslims, or anyone considering the Islamic faith, can illuminate their own hearts by simply reading the Quran in their own language. As Allah Almighty reveals in the Noble Quran:
Recite, in the name of your Lord! He Who created! He created man from a blood clot. Recite! Your Lord is most bountiful. He taught with the pen. He taught man what he knew not. (96:1-5)
Twists and Turns of the Tongue
After I completed the English translation of the Quran, I began looking for ways to begin learning it in Arabic. Even though I knew what it contained, I had learned through a translation. And something does get lost in translation because many Arabic words cannot be translated perfectly into English.
Quite notably, there is no sin in not learning the Quran in Arabic. As Allah Almighty says in the Noble Quran:
Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. (2:286)
I had a great deal of difficulty finding a female Quran teacher that also spoke English while living in Kuwait. Instead, I found some online resources and began studying on my own. I was intent on learning the Noble Quran in its purest form.
New Muslims also should strive to learn the Quran in Arabic, even if it is difficult. Allah Almighty will reward the effort, especially if it is a deed done consistently.
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:
Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few. (Ibn Majah)
Despite my determination, my English tongue contorted into twists and turns whenever I tried to learn Arabic. I tripped and stumbled over it as I tried to learn small Quranic verses. I was able to learn chapters Al-Fatihah, Al-Falaq, An-Naas and Al-Ikhlas on my own.
As a new Muslim, you’ll also experience these twists and turns of the tongue. It’s important to try your best and never give up. However, learning chapter Al-Fatihah is a must in order to perform the Islamic prayer properly. Learn two more short chapters and commit to learning slowly whether online or even with a helpful app.
A Light at the End of the Tunnel
Just recently, after moving to North Carolina, I ran into a Sister at the mosque who teaches the Quran in Arabic to children and new Muslims.
After giving her my greeting of peace, Assalamu Alaikom, she asked me:
“Can you read the Noble Quran?”
I said that I could not and did not think I would have time to do it. Her only reply was:
“You can make the time. Start this Sunday at noon and I will teach you the language of the Quran for free!”
While I faced many challenges in trying to learn the Quran, I have been given a golden opportunity to finally learn it! While it might prove challenging, the reward is great.
I challenge all new, non-Arabic speaking, Muslims to connect to the Quran in Arabic. With a vast assortment of apps and online resources, it’s easier to learn the Quran than ever before!
(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)