The Women Believers Home
Patience and cheer will beget results, this is the simple lesson you get from this story. For a simple reason: in the Sudan when you are a woman and over forty, and when you are illustrate, people consider you doomed to sitting on your rocking chair waiting for what might come. But a group of women in a provincial quarter in Khartoum have braved and challenged this concept. They made it feasible to believe that change could and is possible . the women did not change their lives only but that of their community as well. They changed the lives of hundreds of families. Starting from scratch, they are now able to read and write and furthermore, they now learn the Muslim Holy Book, the Koran, by heart. The initiative started with one woman, and started rolling and rolling, now hundreds are part of the group. With little fanfare and away from the media, the group of women in Hajj Yusuf are now making, unbelievable things, come true.
Our reporter, Aisha Suleiman Braimah visited the group and came out with this report. Editor
A Model for Galvanizing Human Philanthropic Energies through Memorizing the Holy Koran
Reportage by: Aisha Suleiman Braimah
This is the type of story that begets itom and Asia Siddeik Abdulla, just over 50 years of age, used, after performing her prayers, to turn the pages of the Holy Koran Book and glance at them in grief and penitence because she would never be able to read those pages one day as she was illiterate and knew only a few Arabic alphabets.
As soon as she heard of a Khalwah (school for memorizing the Holy Koran) in the neighborhood, she quickly enrolled in it, hoping to memorize short suras (sections) of the Holy Koran through prompting.
The surprise was that, after frequenting the Khalwah, she was able to read and write and memorized two parts- Nabaa (News) and Mulk (Dominion)- and moved on to memorize longer suras such as Baqarah (The Heifer) prior to memorizing all of the 114 parts of the Holy Koran.
For Asia the credit of the accomplishment is to be accorded, after Almighty God’s will, to the Sheikhah (mistress) Zubaidah Mustafa Abdul Rahman, the supervisor of the Center of the Woman Believers Home for Memorization of the Holy Koran which began operation in 1995 in Al-Hajj Yusuf neighborhood, a Khartoum working class suburb, north of down town Khartoum proper.
“The Sheikhah is patient with a genuine will for teaching us the Holy Koran and the tenets of our faith… On my part, I was keen not to miss the glimpse of hope that shone for me to achieve my wish of learning correct recitation of the Holy Koran. I used to exert tremendous efforts to repeat what she had recited to us, with the help of my children,” Asia said.
Her Khalwah mate Mona Kabor began reading steadily and accurately to prove to us that she has now left the time of illiteracy behind her back. “it was as if I were in darkness, then I gained sight… I hope what I have achieved would be placed by God as part of the amenities of Sheikhah Zubaidah who was patient with my stammering despite the impatience shown by my mates… She used to tell us that her house is open to anyone who wants more assistance.”
Sheikhah Zubaidah, the head-mistress of the Khalwah which is regarded by the Faith and Da’wah (Call) Secretary in the Locality al-Tayeb Al;-Sha’rani as the most distinguished Holy Koran school in East of the Nile area, attributes the change to the blessing of the Holy Koran.
She said there were many women like Asia and Mona who began with reading and writing only when they joined the Khalwah but now they are perfect in intonation of the Holy Koran.
Sheikhah Zubaidah specialized in Islamic studies and intonation with the help of sheikhs in Abu Dhabi at the time when she was accompanying her husband who worked there. She used to be assigned for work in Sheikh Zayd programmes for memorization of the Holy Koran during summer holidays.
When she returned to Sudan Zubaidah seriously thought of extending the knowledge God has endowed upon her to the women of her country. She began contacts with the women of neighbourhood urging them to spend their leisure time in what is of benefit to them in this life and hereafter instead of coffee sessions and the entailed sins.
At the beginning she was met with reluctance by the women who refused to go to the memorization lessons but, instead, they suggested for her to join them in the coffee sessions and she did not hesitate… She then used the offices of the Popular Committee for a few years before the present home was built.
The Woman Believers mission is not only memorization of the Holy Koran, as those who memorize it are numerous, but also helping the learners to contemplate on contents of the Book and adhering to it behavior and in life and this is true purpose of being a Muslim. The honorable companions of Mohammad the Prophet (PBUH) used to memorize 10 verses and move forward only after they brought to practice the instructions contained in those verses.
When she was asked about the behavior of Mohammad the Prophet, his wife, honorable Aisha said: “He was the personification of the Holy Koran.” This is the model the learners attempted to apply and was consequently reflected in their behavior.
“I used to read the Holy Koran like an ordinary textbook without knowing that there are rules and conditions for its reading…there are suras which I did not know their titles…but by time, thanks to God, I learned in the Khalwah the right way of reading the Holy Koran and right now I learned by heart 18 out of the Book’s 30 parts and our manners have changed to the better … when he came from abroad on leave, my husband was surprised with the extent of change in my character.’’
For her ‘’In the past, I used to deal with others in kind, that is, to behave well with one who treats me well and return the insult in double. But now and after joining the Khalwah, our dealing with people and our behavior are governed by instructions of the Holy Koran, that is, instead of returning the insult, we learned the Islamic value of ‘those who suppress anger and forgive others’ and time became too valuable to be spent in coffee sessions in slander and backbiting. All our leisure time is now devoted to the Holy Koran. We either page the Holy Koran, open a TV channel specialized in it, memorize the Holy Koran or get prepared to go to the Khalwah. ‘’
She said even they go to a wedding party or any other social function, they do not pay attention to singing or fun, but it was the faith that has become their main concern.
‘’Good word has become the key to our dealing with people, our neighbours and our children… our home has become one filled with the spirit of the Holy Koran … our children have become regular frequenters of the Mosque with no leisure time to spend in evening parties or social gatherings. Instead, we sit down at home for recitation of the Holy Koran together. I managed to bring up my children in absence of their father and they learned a lot from me and they do not have any problems.
Beside the illiterate, the Khalwah of the Woman Believers Home include university graduates, including Hayat Abdulla Abdul Latif who joined the Khalwah in 2011 after her children grew up, graduated in universities.
“When I joined the Khalwah, I found illiterates better than me but, with resolve and diligence, I have become distinguished, inspired by my hope of learning the Holy Koran, both reciting and expounding it. I recited from memory long suras to Sheikhs outside the Khalwah and obtained excellent marks. My knowledge of the Holy Koran was reflected in my dealing with the neighbors and the children who, being their guardian, I have to be equally fair to them.” Hayat said.
Just like the way in which Madame Eytidal, equipped with her knowledge of the Holy Koran, extended benefit to members of her family and other people, the change that was caused by attending the Khalwah on Madame Hayat, encouraged three woman neighbours of her to regularly attend the memorization sessions.
Hayat attributes the clinging by the learners to the Khalwah and their progress in religious learning to the supervising Sheikhah of the Home, saying: “She is patient and does not become angry if we make a mistake and only advise us to correct it next time, while there are other sheikhs who get angry, contrary to what is advocated by the Holy Koran which they have learnt. But she is patient and competent teacher that respects people and, therefore, has become my heroine .”
Guided by the Muslim belief that the Holy Koran guides to what is straighter according to Almighty God, the learning made the women carry out several humanitarian projects such as the collective circumcision of boys. The society implemented two projects, the first one covered 30 children and the second project covered 65 children.
Sheikhah Zubaidah said the learners move rapidly for implementing any idea that strikes their minds about any humanitarian action, relying on their own resources and on donations raised from their relatives.
‘’For instance, when we decided to carry out a collective male circumcision project, we had only 43 pounds, but, thanks to the Holy Koran blessing, we managed to raise the cost of the project without getting any official assistance, except a lamb gift by the Holy Koran Society in recognition of our efforts. The project cost more than 5.5 million pounds in medicines and the children’s requirements of lambs, clothes and a religious chanting party. Thus we managed to lift the burden off the poor families and make them happy.” She related.
Explaining the effect of this project on the concerned families, Eytimad explained that each family brought at least two boys, some of them have already passed the circumcision age, a matter which provides an evidence of how the project was beneficial to the needy families and ‘’the two-day circumcision was an occasion of great delight for the families and the children … some of the mothers were weeping while others were trilling cries of joy … we share the pleasure and prayed to God also to share their marriage.”
The Khalwah participated in a long list of philanthropic projects, including completing construction of the facilities of the Home and furnishing it, contribution the cost of 30 Holy Koran books to a campaign named after Caliph Osman bin Affan for making the Holy Book available everywhere, a charity fund that grants assistance to anyone who experiences such emergencies as sickness and occasions, providing aid to modest people who do not ask for assistance, the pilgrimage and mini-pilgrimage fund which helped several woman learners to travel to the holy lands in Saudi Arabia to perform mini-pilgrimage, complete recitation of the Holy Koran four times during the fasting month of Ramadan in houses of the learners alternately, opening a literacy classroom at the Home.
The accomplishments list also included preparation of 60 bags for the mujahedin of Hijlij battle, two trucks loaded with relief aid to the wounded in Abu Karshoulah battle, gifts to the retarded centers and the Maygomah parentless infants’ center and a first aid course.
The Khalwah created a strong bond among the learners which the Sheikhah called “Godly Sisterhood”. Sheikhah Zubaidah wisely sponsors this bondage and if she senses a misunderstanding between some learners, she quickly moves to dispel this misunderstanding till intimacy is restored and so is the learners clinging to the Khalwah and to love for benevolence and they become united on all occasions. The woman learners who began learning the Holy Koran in the Woman Believers Home insist on going to the Khalwah, however far away they live, in spite of the recent establishment of numerous Khalawwa (plural for Khalwah),some of them close to their homes and in spite of the physical and financial burden.
Sheikhah Zubaidah says she also, like others, benefits from the Khalwah, explaining that a reader of the Holy Koran is accorded by God 10 rewards for every letter and each reward is redoubled 700 times. She says, in addition, the teaching helps her keep the holy Koran in her memory and provokes into further research in the sciences of intonation and interpretation of the Holy Koran.
Saudi Islamic Advocate Sheikh Mohamed Al-Uraify says memorization of the Holy Koran is an effective factor for the Muslim nation to uphold its faith.
According to an official of Holy Koran Society, speaking on telephone, the Woman Believers largely contributes to this great role through its 554 woman centers out of 5,300 general centers across the Sudan.
By Aisha Suleiman Braimah - (sudanow.info), 26/08/2013