I remember I never quite looked forward to my "mengaji" (reading the Quran) lessons.
It's nothing personal. I liked my dear ustaz. He was so gentle and so patient with us all.
It's a kid thing, you know.
If I had the chance, I'd "ponteng" (skip classes). But those opportunities were rare. Hardly presented themselves. Few and far between. It was not easy to "ponteng" when the ustaz gave home lessons and they were after-school hours.
Mak, of course, was never amused. She'd untiringly tell my sisters and I about the goodness, benefit of reading the Quran and reciting the holy verses.
She said it would keep "syaitan" away. And so forth.
Besides, how terrible we would be to our ustaz who had come all the way by bus to do God's work....
Really, it's not that I didn't like to "mengaji". I suppose, as with kids, anything that creeps into their play-time or TV-time is bothersome.
Needless to say, I "khatam" when I was 12 years old, just before I started Form One, together with my late sister, Kak Eda.
That was not the end of it. Mak made us all continue reading the Quran (with her), and "khatam" many times over until we went to college or abroad.
"Reading the Quran is life-long," she used to tell us.
She said we had to learn the "tajwid".
But over the years of doing "mengaji", I learnt to see the beauty of the Quran, because I read the translation as well.
For a lot of Muslims, I believe it is a natural progression after learning to read the Quran. You just have to know what you've been reading and reciting.
I remember, after my eldest was born, I joined Kak Ton and Abang Ani for "tafsiran" classes at the International Islamic University conducted by Prof Dr Kamal. Unfortunately, because of my busy work schedule, I had to quit.
I remember when I enrolled in college, I made my own poster depicting the Al-Fatihah. I wrote in Arabic script with the English translation and had it put it up on the inside of the door (of my room).
It read (as most of us know):
"In the name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Merciful
Praise be to Allah, Lord of Creation,
The Compassionate, The Merciful,
King of the Last Judgement
To Thee alone we worship; To Thee alone we ask for help,
Lead us to the straight path, The path of those whom Thou favour;
Not the (path) of those who have incurred Thine wrath,
Nor of those who have gone astray
It's nothing unusual. As most Muslim parents, I make sure that my children begin "mengaji" at an early age. Our ustaz comes over Thursday evenings.
I'm pretty old-fashioned in this. I feel it's important that they learn to read the Quran properly. Khatam and continue "mengaji"until whenever.
I'd like them to be able to read/recite the Yassin because the Yassin is the heart of the Quran.
But, of course, having the benefit of exposure and experience, I approach the issue a little differently from my own mother.
You know, kids these days.
But on the other hand, it's good to know that kids today have sources of learning readily accessible.
Without having to tell them, they're already looking up the translations of the Quran.
And that makes learning to read the Quran more fulfilling.