Recitation (Week 2)

In week three, we read about and listened to Qur’an recitations.  For this blog entry, I decided to do something a little different: honor my grandfather through the arts, by filming him recite a couple of short surah from the Qur’an, and then using that video clip as a springboard to talk about him in this blog entry.  Inshallah. The video can be viewed  here.

The two surah that he recited, Surah al-Hamd and Surah Qul Huwallahu Ahad, are the first verses that he recites during namaz.  My grandfather is Iranian, and thus speaks Farsi.  However, although he is not fluent in Arabic, he knows enough Arabic to be able to not only read verses from the Qur’an and understand them, but also recite them, an ability that he earned simply from studying the Qur’an so much.  This is despite the fact that he is old and is stricken with Alzheimer’s disease, and has forgotten the names of many of his old friends.   He still remembers and can still recite many Qur’an verses by heart.  His ability to recall the Word of God speaks for the power of the Qur’an.  The words are so natural.  It is meant to be understood and internalized.

The power of the word is discussed in Kristina Nelson’s “Sound of the Divine” article.  She iterates that “the Qur’an must be heard, not really end” (p. 258).  To that end, when preschool children memorize the Qur’an, “they memorize more than words: They are encouraged to master the sound of the Qur’an, even before they can comprehend its meaning” (p. 258).

Although my grandfather’s recitation is neither melodic nor elaborate, it is from the heart.  He meant what he was saying.  That is something he will not forget: his faith.  He was, and still is even now a very devout Muslim.  Up until a few years ago, he fasted every day of Ramadan, and prayed three times a day (in Iran, Muslims pray three times a day, not five).  He fasts when he can, and prays when he remembers, which is again permissible, given his old age and status.  Interpreted correctly, Islam is a forgiving and reasonable religion.  It does not have impossible expectations.

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