in category Education

Should young children be taught to memorise the Qur'an?

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The Maliki jurist Imam Malik was once asked about this, namely should a 7 year old child memorise the Qur'an. He replied, "I don't think it is appropriate." Imam Abu Bakr al-Abhari explained further saying, "Malik disliked it because where he (the child) learns it with such speed he neither maintains it, nor knows it's injunctions. The path of those who study the Qur'an is to learn it and to uncover it's laws and parameters - according to ability and in most cases a child cannot achieve this. The companions of the Messengers of God would remain with a long chapter studying it and uncover the laws it contained." (Sharh Jami' li Ibn Abdil Hakam.)

Imam Malik said this in the context of children knowing Arabic. So what would he say today for those of us who memorise the Qur'an without any understanding?

Many parents encourage their children to memorise the Qur'an so it may serve as some form of social capital within their communities. Or, they assume it's mere memorisation will offer some barakah to the growing child and keep them on the straight and narrow. Staying on the right path usually has little to do with making gutteral sounds with your throat or repeating something you don't understand. What is more important is the content, namely God's message, so they know what God wants of them.

Should children not memorise the Qur'an? No, they should study what God wants from the Qur'an. If memorising those parts they are studying helps root their knowledge in something definitive, where they understand what they've memorised, then that's a different matter. That is a suitable purpose of memorisation.

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