Interview With Abdulazeez Abdulraheem, Director of Understand Quran Academy
The following is a condensed version of an interview recently done with Dr. Abdulazeez Abdulraheem by Zeenath Ifthekar Ahmed.
What prompted you to enter this field of study?
First and the last, a blessing of Allah through which I realized that this is the most fundamental and urgent work that needs to be done in order to bring our ummah back to Islam. Almost 15 years ago I was sitting with a group of students of Brother Abdul Ghafoor Parekh in Nagpur. They were translating Surah Al-An’aam. Some of them were not even high school graduates! I felt extremely ashamed of myself. I had read a good number of Islamic books, but I felt extremely unfortunate that I still did not know the book of Allah as well as these students did. This gave me a push to work in this area.
At what stage of your life did you come up with the idea for “Learn Quran the Easy Way?”
In the year 2000, when I started the compilation of a booklet called “80% of Qur’anic Words.” It’s a list of around 500 words that occur in the Qur’an almost 63,000 times! After its compilation, I realized that the Qur’an is miraculously easy and that I should spread this idea.
What are the major factors that have contributed to the success of this great project?
After the help of Allah, the help of friends. However, I should say one thing: This is just the beginning. Our dream is to develop a lot of things as well as reach out to every Muslim child as well as to every adult with this basic message.
What challenges did you face initially and how did you tackle them? What challenges are you facing today and how do you plan to address them?
Lack of time is the challenge then and now. How did I tackle it? Well, we missed so many opportunities. Another huge challenge now is to find teachers and volunteers and establish a training center so that the work can be spread in a systematic and effective way.
What would be the five most interesting milestones in your journey so far?
The translation of the Dictionary of the Qur’an, the compilation of “80% Words of the Qur’an,” the compilation of the first book, Understand Al-Qur’an– the Easy Way, starting the delivery of short courses on the pattern of modern short courses in Engineering and IT, and the development of TPI for teaching Arabic verbs and pronouns.
Which projects do you now have in development?
A workshop on familiarity with the Qur’an, a workshop called “Recite the Qur’an Fluently,” “Advanced Grammar,” and “Spoken Arabic.” In shaa Allah these will be ready in the coming year. Most important of all, in shaa Allah, will be “Explanatory Notes of the Qur’an for School Children,” which is being prepared with a team of scholars.
What benefits can be achieved by students of Understand Quran Academy?
Most importantly, their relationship with Allah will be strengthened, in shaa Allah. The Qur’an is the book of success in this world and in the hereafter. It will give them ultimate peace of mind in this world and the tools of success too.
Which popular management tools have you integrated into your mode of teaching?
In terms of classroom activities, we’ve introduced the latest techniques such as TPI (Total Physical Interaction) for learning Arabic Grammar and TPS (Think-Pair-Share) for effective learning within the classroom. In addition we’ve used a structured variety in the lessons so that people don’t get bored. This includes learning and motivational tips and relevance of what we recite to everyday life.
What are some interesting incidents that happened during your workshops, presentations, or trips to different parts of the world?
In almost every workshop, alhamdulillah, people sat for hours at length to learn. This shows that the ummah is eager to learn the Qur’an.
One interesting incident that happened in Malaysia was that they were reluctant to point towards me while saying ‘anta (you) during our grammar exercises. Later on I learned that pointing a finger to the one in front is taken as offence! I asked them, “Then, how do you show, you?” They said, with four fingers folded together and with the hand in a receiving mode! That was interesting J. I had to do it that way in Malaysia.
Our youth are the main consumers of web technologies. It’s very difficult to say whether there is more benefits or harm in this technological revolution. What’s your advice to your online learners to help them keep focused on the straight path?
First thing is to beg Allah with humility to protect us. Accept the fact that we cannot do any good or stay away from any evil without His help. Whatever goodness we have is purely a blessing of Allah. Every time a person falls into the trap of Shaitan, it may be a very dangerous sign that he or she is deprived of good deeds and blessings and therefore heading towards wretchedness and hellfire. Beg Allah sincerely for steadfastness. Keep a poster of a grave next to the computer screen to remind oneself of the destination. Recite Qur’an loudly if you feel tempted by wrong ads. Try to minimize your online presence and focus on downloading videos and books. Try to keep the computer in the main room of the house. You can of course use headphones to avoid disturbing others. One can think of other steps too to avoid distractions on the net.
What are your plans for Understand Quran Academy’s expansions?
We want to have a branch in every district and every village. We want to have volunteers who can take up this mission everywhere. We have a dream to establish a residential training facility where a person will go from scratch to a complete understanding of the Qur’an in just 40 days.
Our mission is present the Qur’an in an interesting and easy way to masses as well as to school children by developing necessary tools, procedures, and books. Our goal is to enable the new generation of children (who are in 1st grade now) to come out of school, i.e., after 10 years, with a complete basic understanding of the Qur’an. We want to achieve this by providing them a complete syllabus, which is under development now. We have it ready up from Nursery to Grade-4.
How can a reader of this interview contribute, support, and be a part of your mission and goal?
Be a partner by learning the course and teaching it to your family and friends, sponsor teachers, arrange workshops, promote it in schools, mosques, and organizations. The Prophet ﷺ said: Convey from me even if it is one verse. Here are lakhs of your own children, children of poor Muslims in our neighborhood, in our cities. They are ready to learn the Qur’an. Are you there to support them?
Also check out this article about the Understand Quran Academy program in Kuwait:
“The Aao Quran Samjhien workshop was conducted on the 3rd and 4th of May, 2013, at Jamiat ul Islah-Rawda. Around 550 audience members benefited from the sessions delivered by Dr. Abdul Azeez and his associate Mr. Abdul Rab Qureshi. The basic objective of the workshop was to make the audience familiar with the easy way of understanding Quran designed and developed by Understand Quran Academy.” (Read the rest here.)