Syrian Qur’an Scholar to MD Muslims: “Memorize, Young and Old”

Community News

A night of melodious recitation and concise talks on the remembrance of Allah took place at Dar-us-Salaam in College Park, MD on Friday, September 27, 2013.

Sheikh Mohammad Taha Sukkar, a scholar from Syria with Qur’an as his specialty, honored the attendees with his presence. He has an ijazah in Tajweed, which shows that he has the credentials to recite the Qur’an correctly from memory with proper and precise pronunciation. The Qur’an can be recited in ten different styles, and the sheikh has obtained an ijazah in every single one of them.

Sheikh Sukkar hails from a respected and honorable family. His father was also a renowned scholar in Syria, giving ijazahs to a number of world-famous and well-known Qur’an reciters such as Ayman bin Rushdi Swayd, Abu Bakr ash-Shatri, and Abdullah Ibn Ali Basfar.

Sheikh Sukkar came to Dar-us-Salaam in response to an invitation from Imam Safi Khan, founder and imam of Dar-us-Salaam in College Park, Maryland. He currently resides in Rochester, New York, and immigrated to the US after the Syrian war erupted a few years ago.

Sheikh Sukkar gave a halaqah after Maghrib prayer in which he praised the efforts of Dar-us-Salaam and the number of huffaaz the institution produces every year. Due to his limited English, he gave his talk in Arabic with Br. Abdus Samad Maddad acting as his translator. Sheikh Sukkar said he was surprised in many ways when he came to the United States. He was able to see people from different cultures, different backgrounds, and different colors all memorize the Qur’an in large numbers. “This shows that the Qur’an is a miracle from Allah and that it was delivered to the entire humanity and not just to the Arabs,” the sheikh said.

He went on to say that the Qur’an was unlike any other scripture sent down, such as the Taurah, Injeel, and Zabur. Such books were sent down to the people of that time but the Qur’an was sent down to all mankind of all times. It was not just restricted to one nation, but to all nations. It was not restricted to one culture but to all cultures. It was not restricted to one generation but to all generations.

Memorization is one of the ways that Muslims can preserve the Qur’an, he emphasized. “No other book is read more, recited more, and memorized more than the Qur’an. But it is not we that preserve the Qur’an; rather it is Allah who preserves it for us.” The sheikh mentioned that Allah has said in Surah al Hijr that, “Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed it is We as its protectors. We also have the Qur’an in its original language, the Arabic, which is unfamiliar to many people, yet these individuals memorize a book that is in a language they do not know and understand. The other scriptures were not sent to survive for long. Allah did not decree that they should be preserved by the people. As a result, addition and subtractions from these scriptures occurred.”

He furthermore addressed the tremendous benefits on the Day of Judgment in memorizing and practicing the Qur’an. He talked about the crown that will be placed on the heads of the huffaaz and their parents. He also related how the huffaaz will be called the people of Allah, and it will be said, as narrated in a hadith, “Recite as you used to recite in your earthly life, for your station in paradise will be at the last verse you recite.”

In addition, he also added that one should learn the language of Arabic so that when memorizing the Qur’an, the meaning can be understood and one can ponder and reflect on it. He shared that one should implement what he reads because the sahabah of the Prophet took ten verses at a time, memorized it, understood it, and then implemented it before moving on to the next set. He said that it is more convenient for every Muslim, male or female, old or young, living today to memorize the Qur’an because it is available more easily than the times of the past.

In the ancient days, people had to walk many miles just to learn and understand the Qur’an. But we live in a world where technology is a part of our life. We live in a world where we can access the Qur’an at any place or time. ‘With the inventions of  iPods, smartphones, tablets and [other] advanced technologies, we can read and listen to Qur’an from various reciters.’

Towards the end of the halaqah, the sheikh answered questions on techniques of memorizing the Qur’an and encouraged people to strive to memorize as much of it as they can. He talked about people who truly tried, but could not memorize will be excused and will be given a reward of every letter they recited. Sheikh Sukkar stated that every person will have a different experience. Some are able to accelerate at a faster rate, while others take more time to digest. He advised to the audience to never give up because Allah will test the memorizer with many different tests and trials. He also said to maintain the review of what was previously memorized because as you age it becomes more difficult to remember.

As people age they lose faculties of their memory, “that’s why it is better to memorize when you are young because it is the age when your mind is young and fresh,” he said. The sheikh finished his talk with the advice, “When you watch a horror movie and you sleep, the pictures are etched into your brain while you sleep. Likewise, if you recite the verses that you want to memorize at night before sleep, it will become easy for you to memorize the next day.”