Times of Youth: Being a teacher of Holy Qur’an, what is your advice to parents and educators to initiate the teaching of the Holy Qur’an in the daily life of their kids and the youth?
Dr. Bilal Philips: I can’t say I’m a teacher of the Quran, though I teach Quranic teachings and hadeethic teachings. For a teacher of the Quran, you may think of a Qari, a person teaching the memorization of the Quran etc; I would say in teaching the Quran, the understanding of the Quran is critical. We tend to focus on the memorization of the text, which was not the focus in the time of the Prophet (pbuh), even though the need for it’s memorization was most critical then. Instead as Abdullah ibn Masood narrated, they used to memorize the Quran 10 verses at a time, having understood its meaning and trying to implement it, they would move on to the next 10. I would say in the course of teaching we should follow that methodology as that was the way of the Sahabah.
In terms of memorization, rather than making the whole of the Quran the goal for everybody, as the Sahabah had narrated, one who had memorized the whole of Surah Al-Baqarah was called a ‘Hafiz’. That was the goal. Surah Al Baqarah contains virtually everything that you’ll find in the Quran. This would be a worthy goal for everybody. Rather than trying to take 30 people and trying to make them all memorize the whole Quran. Out of that 30 maybe only 5 do. The other 25 you’ve lost along the way, and when you lose them you lose everything. They haven’t gained anything. You only stressed they must memorize the text, by beating them and doing all sorts of things, so when they drop out, how do they drop out? With a body of knowledge that they can utilize or do they just drop out and don’t want to hear anything about Quran after that? I think we need to rethink our approach to the teaching of the Quran.