18 April, 2018, The Hindu – Bohra girl, 6, and woman, 75, commit Koran to memory
“Solutions to all the problems lie in there,” says 75-year-old Radiya Vaziri, who has spent the last seven years memorising the Holy Koran. The Dubai resident is among 876 Dawoodi Bohras from across the world who have achieved the feat of memorising the Koran’s 30 chapters, spread across 604 pages. The youngest is Ruqaiyah Khandwala, a six-year-old girl from Bengaluru.
Last week, the community’s spiritual leader, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, felicitated them at the Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, an educational institute run by the Bohra community in Surat.
Ms. Vaziri, who retired as principal of a madrasa in Surat in 2004 before moving to Dubai, says, “Memorising the Koran has had a positive impact on my health, and stress has reduced automatically.” Her decision to commit the holy book to memory was made during an address to the community in Dubai by the grandson of the 52ndspiritual leader, Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin, in 2008.
“I put all my faith in the text and started the process,” says Ms. Vaziri, who enrolled in the e-learning programme through which around 50 teachers in Surat mentor students like Ms Vaziri in memorising the text. Her daughter-in-law Insiya said social events and gatherings took a back seat, as she steadfastly continued with her pursuit.
Memorising the Koran is said to help in enhancing cognitive abilities, instils discipline and helps in achieving goals. Syedna Burhanuddin encouraged the recitation and memorisation of the holy book and his son, the present Syedna, wants at least one hafiz — one who memorises the Koran — in every Bohra household.
Six and loving it
Ruqaiyah, who is about to enter Class I, says memorising the Koran made her feel “nice”. Too young to understand the intricacies of the Arabic text, she nevertheless claims to have learnt two lessons: “Allah doesn’t like people who tell lies, and if you hit someone, you will be punished.” Her mother Khadijah, a hafiz, says it wasn’t easy to make such a young child to sit in one place. “One needs dedication, but we’re so happy she achieved this. When she read the texts during her oral tests, everyone was in awe.”
Ruqaiyah’s father Mufaddal Khandwala, a Bengaluru-based IT consultant, said initially she would recite a couple of lines. “It gradually increased to three to four lines a day, then half-a-page, and soon, up to two pages.” As time progressed, she would spend close to eight hours a day memorising new verses and revising ones learned earlier. “
Her mother knew the techniques, so she was the best teacher”, says Mr. Khandwala.
Over the past few years, 2,065 community members have earned the title of hafiz. Last year, 486 Bohras memorised the Koran, while 303 did so a year earlier in 2016.