How reading the Quran turned from a hobby into a habit
I reckon I was 7 years old, the first time I had the pleasure of reciting a whole verse from the Holy Quran by myself. It was under my grandmother's supervision, of course, whom I lovingly call Dadu. She would make yearly month-long trips to Dhaka then, leaving the comfort of our country home to shower her grandchildren with her undivided attention.
We would pray together, Dadu and I. She used to narrate to me the exquisite meaning of Surah Al-Fatiha during our playtime. Although I was merely a nascent offspring at the time, too young to clearly comprehend the verses spewing out of her lips, I would lie beside her and listen to her most intently. Truth be told, it might just be my favourite memory of all our days well-spent together.
As I was growing up, now with only occasional interactions with Dadu, juggling school and innumerable tuition classes, I had almost entirely lost connection with my deen. My parents were concerned, my mother I had watched become sick with worry. No matter how hard they tried, I would not or should I say, could not be persuaded into practising Islam. It was a thing of great dissatisfaction for my parents, who are, to this day, diligent believers.
I figured the advice had come from one of our distant relatives, they suggested father employ a Hujur for me and my sister. A professional to help guide us through the necessary rules and obligations in performing Islam, who would also teach us Al-Quran from the beginning. I find it funny now, thinking back to it. My sheer fury at my parents' needless interruption in my daily routine. I had to wake up at 7 AM, four days a week to learn the Quran from a complete stranger. It did not help that I considered the lessons to be rather sleep-inducing. And even though I had quickly mastered my expertise at reading the Quran and performing namaz, I was fairly reluctant to actually execute my learnings in practical life.
In my mid-teens, since I refused to regularly recite the Quran, mother opted for a more permanent solution. I had to dedicate an hour from my routine, every day, to sit before Hujur and exercise my Quran learning. Namaz, I was slowly becoming accustomed to. I looked forward to my one-on-one time with my Creator at each waqt. But somehow, there was never sufficient time to recite the Quran. Mother was afraid that I would forget my learning due to a lack of implementation, so she made sure I habitually kept at it.
When I was in 10th grade, there was a certain buzzing in my school. Perhaps on social media as well, but I was not yet introduced to it. Students and teachers debated over a controversial subject, about what is actually said in the Quran about it. They would come up with their own findings, share them with others and no one would know if they were assuredly valid or not. Being a person who is incurious by nature, it was surprising how quickly I had jumped to researching the meaning of the Quran.
Every evening, after coming home from school, the first thing I would do is sit with the Quran and an English translation of it that my father had on his shelves. I would spend hours researching tidbits, endeavour to understand the backgrounds of other stories, and try to decipher the reasonings surrounding the consequences. It was a hobby that I had embraced, apart from reading books. And candidly, these hours cooped up inside the Quran made me feel enormously accomplished.
I think it was this, researching, that helped me turn my hobby into a habit. By then, we had to let go of Hujur, but I would never miss picking up the Quran. It could be in the morning before I started my day-shift school or it could be after I was done wrapping up my homework for the day. And now, between university and work (I mostly work from home), I have a tad more time to indulge in this hobby or habit of mine.
To me, reciting the Quran is similar to journaling. These days, my penultimate task for the day remains to repeat Surah Al-Kahf and unwind as the entire day's tension leaves my body. It is not only peace I seek but also intimacy—the ephemeral connection with my oneness, my being. The once-lost intimacy with my Dadu is all there. And I am grateful to my mother, for the chance she took, for the chance I had.
Nur-E-Jannat Alif is a Gender Studies major and part-time writer, who dreams of authoring a book someday. Find her at @literatureinsolitude on Instagram or send her your book/movie/television recommendations at email@example.com.