Mrs. Iffath Hasan, over 55 years old, is originally from Hyderabad, India. She first moved to Canada with her husband before settling down in Chicago, United States. The mother of two sons has not just memorized the Qur’an, but she also teaches young girls memorization of the Qur’an and the Arabic language at the Institute for Islamic Education in Chicago, Masha Allah!
In this interview with Productive Muslimah and Rayhaanah Omar, we talked about how she was inspired to become a Hafidhah. She also shares productive tips that help one stay focused on the goal of memorizing the Qur’an. We hope she inspires you too!
Hafidhah Iffath, please tell us when and how did you begin memorizing the Qur’an?
I memorized the Qur’an at the age of 37. Generally, during difficult situations in our lives, we happen to connect with Almighty Allah. So this was one of those situations that I was going through, and I really wanted Allah to answer my prayer. I would wake up for Tahajjud and make my heartfelt duas. With the barakah of Tahajjud, Allah granted me my wish.
Then I said to myself ‘How can I stop performing Tahajjud, when it was through Tahajjud that Allah granted me my wish?’ Alhamdulillah I was able to continue my Tahajjud. After a couple of months, I felt that night after night I would only reciting the same few long surahs that I knew. So I felt I should memorize three or four juz for some variety in my Tahajjud, and that is how it all got started.
Allah Almighty says in His holy book:
“It may be that you dislike something that is good for you, and it may be that you like something that is bad for you. God knows and you do not know.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 216]
In my case, the disliked situation became a source two of the greatest blessings: Tahajjud and hifdh.
Who inspired you during your memorization of Qur’an?
I have a friend who is a Hafidhah. I always used to admire her, but I had never thought of ever memorizing the Qur’an myself. Then, when I got started she was there to help me, giving me ideas and tips on how to follow the process of memorization.
Allah Almighty has promised His special help especially in the matters of deen:
“As for those who struggle for Our sake, We will guide them in Our ways. For God is with those who do good” [Qur’an: Chapter 29, Verse 69].
How did you stay focused on your goal?
First and foremost I thank Allah Most High from the bottom of my heart for everything. Even though it seems like we did something or we are doing something, it is only through Allah’s grace that we are able to do the things that we do.
Secondly the only way to achieve something is to have a goal and seek Allah’s help and work towards achieving it until we get it. That seems to be the only reasonable approach to focus on.
We need to have the firm belief that “with Allah’s help nothing is difficult, and without His help nothing is easy”.
How did you manage your time?
Everything will fall into place when we work towards a goal, which for believers, the goal is seeking Allah’s pleasure in every moment of our lives. When we are focused on achieving this goal, time management becomes easy.
We will be able to keep track of time, we will realize that there is no room for haram or makruh things in our lives, and we will only want things that are mubah. Through this, we are also able to sort out important from unimportant, and that is the key to having the barakah in our time.
We need to value our free time and make the most of it. Time is our life. When we waste time, we waste our lives. Realisation of the importance of time is very important. We should always remember that this is one of the first things we will be asked about on the Day of Judgment.
How long did it take for you to complete the memorization?
It took me one year to memorize the first ten juz. Until then, I had not thought of memorizing the whole Qur’an. At that point, I said to myself, ‘Allah has made it so easy for me, how can I stop now?’
Alhamdulillah, I was able to continue with more enthusiasm and was able to complete the hifdh in two years.
What were the challenges that you faced during memorization?
I had to fulfill my responsibilities as a wife and a mother of two, and run the household smoothly. I had to make the most of my time when I was by myself.
People do ask me about how many hours I used to spend during the day for memorization. During the morning hours I had a few hours to myself, but even in between I used to make the most of whatever time I got.
And the second challenge was my migraine headaches, which used to be quite frequent in those days. And once I fall sick, there is nothing I can do (i.e. I can’t memorize).
Yet, that challenge in itself again became another blessing for me, because it made me really value my time, so I would try to make the most of it when I was not sick. I am sure Allah gave barakah in my time.
What / whom motivates you daily?
My motivation every single day comes to me through the realization of the great gift Allah has blessed me with. Every single day I weep, because I am out of words to express my gratitude for the best possible gift I am blessed with after iman.
With this realisation it becomes easy to do my review every single day, because I know I can’t afford to lose it. Also, I just love doing it. In fact, I look forward to doing it everyday as soon as I possibly can.
Let’s talk favourites. Please share with us your favourite: 1) Verse of Qur’an, 2) surah, and 3) Your best memory from the days of memorizing the Qur’an?
My favourite verses are many, and one of them is:
‘Those who believe and whose hearts are satisfied by remembrance of God. Oh, it is by remembrance of God that hearts are satisfied!‘ [Qur’an: Chapter 13, Verse 28].
My favorite surah is surah Al-Ikhlas [Qur’an: Chapter 112, Verses 1-4].
My best memories from the days of memorizing the Qur’an are two. One is when, after quietly doing it on my own without my husband knowing about it for a year, I told him that I had memorized ten juz. He was really happy for me.
The second is during my second year, I was able to persuade my son to start memorizing. He was in eleventh grade at that time, we were both doing it together. And Masha Allah, he was able to complete his hifdh as well when he was in college.
And also I was able to make my parents so happy through this!
As a Qur’an teacher, how do you feel the challenges of past and present students differ?
Masha Allah, I have come across students who are still very eager and anxious to memorize, While there are definitely more temptations to do all sorts of time-wasting things with modern technology, this same technology – when used for good – helps the students achieve their goal with much ease. My students benefit a lot through listening to different Huffadh with their iPods, mp3 players etc.
What advise or learning resources would you offer/recommend to those currently memorizing Qur’an?
My advice is, first and foremost, to turn to Allah for help and to do it for His pleasure with utmost ikhlas (sincerity). Then we need to commit ourselves just the way we commit for all the other things that we want to achieve in our lives. Finally, we also make the most of all the resources that are available on an individual basis.
What advise would you present to those who have completed memorization of Qur’an?
As we know this is a unique thing in itself, we need to make a life long commitment to review a portion of the Qur’an regularly every single day. That portion should be one seventh of the Qur’an.
I call it a “seven day cycle”. No matter where we are, this shouldn’t get disturbed. And besides that, we should be able to recite a juz or so in our daily salahs.
These two things have really helped me and I do emphasize on these when I am asked for advice.
What are the different ways that can be used to motivate our sisters to memorize the Qur’an?
First we need to fall in love with our Creator. This can be achieved through realizing all the blessings He has bestowed on us, the greatest of which is iman – the key to Jannah.
He didn’t just create us, He also gave us a beautiful manual through which we are guided to lead a safe, secure, and peaceful life in this world of corruption and confusion.
When Allah’s love becomes intense, it will be expressed through our connection with His Book. We will never have enough of it. We will recite it with love and reverence for this best possible gift for mankind. Then, we will also learn to focus on understanding it, and we will then live our lives in accordance with its teachings. When we are constantly living with the Qur’an in our daily lives, we have made a very strong connection with our Lord.
We also know that this is the only book where, when we read one word of it, there are ten hasanat for every letter. How is it then that we will not want to recite it more and more? When this happens, the next stage will follow. We will have an urge to at least memorize some of it, that will In sha Allah lead us to memorizing all of it. We will do it because we want to and not because we have to.
My advice to those who want to memorize but feel that they don’t have the time, is to get started even if it is just two lines a day and be consistent with it. Allah will give them barakah and they will be amazed on how much they are able to achieve just through being consistent with whatever little they are able to memorize.
The key is doing with sincerity and consistency.
Being on wudu (the believer’s weapon against Satan) all the time is a tremendous blessing. Through this we have a special connection with Allah Most High, and we don’t become an easy target for Satan. Also, we are able to reach out for the Qur’an whenever we have any free time. This will In sha Allah speed up the process of memorization.
Please tell us more on your published work on “Qur’anic Language Made Easy”?
Alhamdulillah I was able to learn the Arabic language with the basic grammar to understand the Qur’an around the same time when I was memorizing the Qur’an.
Later on when I started teaching, I didn’t have a textbook. I was teaching from the notes that I took from my teachers. Some of my students at the end of their course insisted that I should get my notes published so that others can also benefit from it.
Alhamdulillah I hear that, Masha Allah, more and more people are using “Qur’anic Language Made Easy”. It is basically written for non-Arabic speaking students. This book will In sha Allah be a good start for those who want to learn the basic grammar on their own and who are fluent with their recitation of the Qur’an.
What traits or character makes one a Productive Muslimah?
A Productive Muslimah is one who takes pride in being a muslimah. She is focused on preaching Islam through her own practice. She loves Allah, her focus in life is Allah’s pleasure, and she loves to do things that bring her closer to her Creator and Sustainer.
Her main concern is her success in the akhirah, thus she makes the most of this world as a means to achieve that success. Her iman is reflected through her outward appearance and mannerism, which is a complete submission to the shari’ah.
She lives a simple life that takes care of her needs and instead of going after her wants. She has a heart free of love for this world, free of love of leadership, free of bad opinions about others, free of grudges, malice, rancour, greed, envy and all other evil traits.
Her tongue is not engaged in haram or vain talk, she thinks before she speaks, she controls her anger. She is a humble person; her goal is to be a better person every day of her life. She doesn’t hesitate to admit when she is wrong and is quick in correcting her wrongs/faults when she sees them.
She is neither stingy nor a spendthrift, but she loves to spend generously for those things which will bring her closer to her Creator. Her heart is clean and pure, filled with love and reverence for her Creator: love, compassion, kindness, and forgiveness for the creation.
She is full of gratitude for every single blessing, especially for the spiritual blessings, and she is always striving to progress spiritually. She has complete trust and reliance in Allah, and when she goes through difficult or disliked situations, she knows there is good in it for her – both in this world and the next.
She loves to be in the company of saliheen (righteous slaves of Allah). She strives to keep her promises and commitments. She is soft spoken but firm in her words and works. She always strives to be a part of solution and not a part of problem.
She shows beautiful patience during difficult times, for she realizes things could have been worse, and that these are tests from Allah Who can be called upon and He will answer the duas. And she also has the certainty that, “Indeed, with hardship, there will be ease” [Qur’an: Chapter 94, Verse 6].
She is a living proof of what a muslimah should be, and all this with the utmost sincerity to please her Almighty Lord.
Do you have any final words of advice to Productive Muslimah fans?
My advice to myself and to everyone is to rejoice in being a Muslim/Muslimah; that we be a true Muslim in deeds and not just in words, for we know the literal meaning of Muslim is “one who submits to Allah’s will and His commands”.
We shouldn’t take things for granted. We should take everything with gratitude, for Allah promises us increase for the things that we show gratitude for. We also need to reflect upon the meaning of gratitude, which is to use Allah’s blessings (which include our time, health, sight, hearing, speech, all the latest technology and all other countless blessings) only for the things that He is pleased with.
Our gratitude should be even more for the spiritual favours. The best way to show gratitude for them is to know that these are gifts from Allah Most High for which we have no words to express our thanks.
Last but not least, we need to be focused on our goal, which is our akhirah. To achieve our goal, we need to be in the company of those who have achieved this focus or are working for it, as we know that the company one keeps has the greatest impact on a person’s life.