Monthly Archives: November 2013

Qalam Seminary Blog – Living the Qur’an

By Syifa Sjah




Tajweed class is twice a week with our esteemed teacher, Ustadh Wisam. We begin by saying, then reciting, then proclaiming the word “apple”. Bizarre, but incredibly inspiring, may Allah have mercy on our teachers. The class is a lot of breathing, and reciting, and thinking, and repeating – but not a lot of writing.  العلم في الصدور لا في السطور “Knowledge is in the chests, not in your notes.” Immediately following up knowledge with action is empowering; before we dismiss class, we’ve already begun acting upon it.

First, take a deep breath through the nose. Your lungs fill up. Your sternum rises.

Then another quick intake of air, through your nose, inflating you until your lungs feel tight.

Then finally a sharp gasp for air through the mouth. His wording is, “Another breath through your mouth,” but realistically speaking at this point in time it’s a gasp.

Now your lungs are filled,  “Let it out like a Pepsi can,” and you slowly deflate, air escaping through the mouth in a very long hiss. The cycle begins again and this time we let it out like a straw.

And now, deep breath again, you find your voice. It’s the “Aa” in “Apple”, it comes out of your chest, shaking the air inside and out of you. You know you’ve got it because it’s physically in front of you. And if there’s nothing backing your “Aa” up, as you push the air out with your diaphragm you try again, “Aa, apple.”

It isn’t all theory, it’s got substance. You’re not all talk and no show, you work that apple.

Now, recitation begins. You hit that “Bi” because you mean business, and the “Sss” has just the right amount of whistle. “Mi” comes out just the way it’s spelled, no hint of a “Meh” – and once you hit that “Llll” it’s all about commitment. “Aa” travels to the “H” and leaves you with stereo. You push the place where the sound occurs, and seamlessly push air out using your diaphragm to send the sound in front of you. All the while remembering: these words are divine.

The gravity of that understanding carries the combination of sounds and air past the point of reading into recitation territory. It’s not recitation unless you’re feeling it.

As you recite, you catch places where you find yourself reading. How’d that happen? Did I forget to raise my “Ain” where Allah raised the sky above my head? Did I forget the stereo in my “H” where Umar (RA)’s heart shook? Did I forget to commit my “Lll” where Adam and Hawa (AS) lament what truly is the ultimate loss? There’s no way we could possibly be reading if every word is weighed down by the realization of whom these words belong to.

Then you take another breath, and repeat the cycle, and take another breath, and repeat, breathe, repeat, breathe, repeat. You’re learning something new, and you’re implementing it right away. You are strong, capable, and courageous. And you feel yourself change. How could you not? With the Qur’an being divinely sent down like rain, nourishment from the sky: life-giving, life-sustaining, breathing life into our lungs. All we can do is feel alive.


Qalam Seminary Blog – The Crucible

After a little over 2 months we had all become comfortable with the way the class was progressing. We were making some real headway in all of the books we had been studying in class; day in and day out the workload seemed more and more manageable. Everyone in the class got top marks on our first Fiqh exam regarding the Hanafi opinion on taharah (purification), all the brothers had successfully given Khutba without crashing and burning, the Sisters’ Halaqa was really picking up traction with the local daughters of the community we had become a part of, and we made it through what would probably be one of the toughest texts we would be studying this year, Zamakshari’s famous tafseer, Kashhaf.

Things were really starting to look up, and we made the mistake of relaxing and letting our guards down. Sheikh with his infinite wisdom (yes, sometimes it’s okay to be a suck-up) realized that it was time for him to up the ante, and move into the next phase of his plan to educate us and raise us to fulfill our potential. Or to ruin our lives, depending on how you look at it. So in our last class, he let us know that in the next few weeks each of us would have to give a khutba or halaqa on a weekly basis. We all know this isn’t something we can talk Sheikh out of, so there’s nothing left to do except to batten down the hatches and prepare ourselves for what’s to come. Other than the fact that it’s pretty scary to talk in front of other human beings, being put in a position like that can really get to someone’s head, even more so for those of us who are at the tender ages of 18-21.

But this is our crucible and we must stand strong.

So I ask of you, fine reader, to make dua for me, my fellow students, Sheikh Abdul Nasir, and his family who have made a huge sacrifice in sharing his time and presence with the rest of the community.


Qalam Seminary Blog – Time to Start Giving Back


After being immersed in learning for almost two months in the brightly lit room with soft grey and blue walls beautified with Arabic art, the time has come to start giving back. All the knowledge we have absorbed, the wisdom, gems, and the answers to our many questions bring us to the point where we must take the first step in sharing what we’ve learned.


We had our first sister’s halaqa on Friday at Mansfield Islamic Center.

Alhumdulillah, the sisters in charge did a wonderful job advertising and organizing the event. As we walked in, we met with a pleasant batch of young sisters whose smiles warmly greeted us. Before the halaqa, we prayed Isha and spent some time having refreshments and getting to know each other.

This was the first of the series on Real Women of Eman, starting with the wives of Prophet Muhammad (saw). Khadija (ra) was the focus this week.

MashaAllah one of the sisters from our class offered to speak first (something most of us were a little nervous to volunteer for). She highlighted the character of Khadijah (ra) and how one woman encompassed so many amazing qualities. She mentioned how she was an intelligent, beautiful, rich, religious, honorable and well-respected business woman. She also pointed out how loving, caring and extremely supportive she was to our beloved Prophet (saw) through thick and thin; how Khadija (ra) knew and trusted Allah. She knew how to interact with others, and she knew and trusted herself. The engaging talk was concluded with these inspirational words:

“1) Know Allah, Trust Allah 2) Know People 3) Know yourself

You can’t trust what you know until you trust yourself

You can’t trust yourself until you know yourself.”

The program was beautifully wrapped up with an interactive question and answer session.

SubhanAllah it was a great experience. The most fulfilling part was seeing one of our classmates engaging the sisters and using what we’ve learned to help ourselves and others get closer to Allah. We cannot thank Allah enough for blessing us with this great opportunity!

May Allah (swt) make us a source of sadaqa jariyyah for our Sheikh, and give us the ability to understand, apply, and convey what we’ve learned with excellence! Aameen


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