Learning to Read All Over Again

Assalamu Alaikum, everyone! One of the fundamental but perhaps most daunting tasks that all new reverts face is learning to read Qur’an. While most born Muslims are given the opportunity to learn while they are young and while their brains are still flexible, those who choose to convert to Islam may find their journey a little less simple. If you are a native English speaker or speaker of any of the Romantic languages, you may find learning to read and write Arabic quite difficult. The way this language is set up is completely different to how we are used to speaking. Aside from the obvious differences in alphabet, pronunciation is on a whole new level with sounds that I have never before had to make. This is what makes learning Arabic fun but also extremely challenging.

As my husband has so patiently told me, learning this language takes time and because the Qur’an has been spread all over the world, pronunciation will differ with everyone. An Arabic person will tell you how to pronounce a certain word much differently than how someone from Malaysia will teach you. And while the way a born Arabic speaker recites the Qur’an is typically the correct way, for almost everyone else in the world the language is so different from their own that it is a struggle to adopt the correct pronunciations for every word. You simply have to exercise patience, practice consistently, and try the best you can. The goal is to be able to ready the Holy Qur’an and to understand its teachings. And, if this offers any bit of comfort, learning to pronounce the letters once they are connected into words is much easier than learning to pronounce the letters individually.

Why am I saying all of this? Because I am having so much difficulty learning to read and pronounce Arabic. English is my first language with Spanish coming in at a close second. Spanish also happens to be in the same family of languages that I am familiar with and I began learning it when I was in elementary school so I have been able to pick it back up easily. Arabic is an entirely different ball game. I am having to learn a new alphabet, new ways of pronouncing things, and new sounds that don’t exist in English or Spanish. Combine all of this with the fact that my Qur’an teacher, who also happens to be my British husband, tends to pronounce th as f. His teaching is wonderful, he’s patient and thorough but even the cultural differences in how we pronounce certain letters has caused some confusion and frustration. He also happened to learn Qur’an the Urdu way which is slightly different. But, I think once we realized that we pronounce certain letters differently, it cleared everything up. I’m laughing right now remembering how seriously he looked at me as he pointed out thaa’ was pronounced with a th like “fhaa” and I couldn’t wrap my head around how that was possible.

It has been a challenge, and we are nowhere near finished but, alhamdulillah that we get to undertake this challenge together through the mercy and goodness of Allah (SWT). So, if you’re feeling stuck or extremely frustrated, just know that this is normal. Instead of giving in to the negative feelings, use them as motivation to conquer these obstacles. If you need to, slow it down and focus on perfecting one letter a day. And remember that there are plenty of free resources online, especially YouTube, that are fantastic (and free) which are perfect for if you are trying to teach yourself. If you can, try to find local classes or a generous brother or sister willing to help teach you. I find that practicing with someone who has gone through it themselves is so much more helpful than trying to carry on by yourself. I pray that Allah (SWT) will guide each and every one of you through this journey and that your hearts will be filled with love and praise for Him as you learn to read His words.

Thank you,

Nahlah

3 thoughts on “Learning to Read All Over Again

  1. Aaah Nahlah this is such an amazing post! Thank you for sharing. I was born an Arab so my struggles are nowhere compared to yours. I was a slow arabic reader and was so surprised by how fast my parents used to read. I used to go letter by letter or two letters at a time. Then one day we had a quran recitation contest and it was covering 3 juz. I read and practised everyday and alhamudlillah they soon become like sight words. Because so may words are repeated in the Quran, it’s possible to learn reading from scratch but it comes with practise. Inshallah one day you’ll be able to read it fluently. And just remember, that Allah does not care if you are 100% perfect in recitation and tajweed, He cares about the effort you put in to read it. Here’s a hadith you might have heard of but it kept me going.

    “Verily 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.” Sahih

    It’s so amazing that you practise and take steps to bettering your recitation where there are many including myself that know how to read but sometimes go periods of time without reading any Quran. May Allah help you on your journey and I love that piece of advice at the end! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading, Bayance! Your words of encouragement are wonderful to hear. And thank you sending that hadith. I haven’t come across that one yet but it is so comforting. Alhamdulillah that you were able to learn from an early age! It is just as much of a challenge to keep up with it and continue to read consistently. It’s awesome and inspiring that you have put so much work into it, mash’Allah. May Allah (SWT) guide you on your journey as well, sister!

      Liked by 1 person

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