My Moroccan Village (Part-5)

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To read the previous part of this story, click here.

Today we studied the seerah of 'Ibn Ishaq. It is wonderful to read about the life of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SM). By the way, several important members of the Prophet's family came to Morocco in the very early days of Islam. Even our present king's (Muhammed SM) family, the 'Alawiyyah, are direct descendents of Hadhrat'Ali (Ra). Morocco is, therefore, officially known as the "Sherifian Kingdom of the Maghreb".

On the back wall of the mosque we hang the wooden writing boards we use as small children to practice and learn Arabic writing. My first board is still there; it is now used by my three year old brother "Abd al-Khalaq.

After praying salah in this mosque, I often think about our rich and glorious Islamic history. Above my head is a huge bronze lamp. Our imam told me that this was made from a bell that had been taken from a church in Al-Andalus hundreds of years ago by the Muwahhid Berbers when they were waging war with the Christians in Spain.

For years my teacher has reminded us of the importance of the Qur'anic command: Iqra' ("Read!"). I am studying very hard to memorize the entire Qur'an, Al-Hamdulillah. When I am older, I would like to go to study Islam, din ai-haqq, at the 1,000 year old jamiyah al-qarawiyyin in the royal city of Fez, the religious "heart" of my country. With Allah's help, I would like to be a successful teacher who teaches others to "read".

Here is my old saboorah that my younger brother 'Abd al-Khalaq now uses for copying surahs. We never use notebooks or pencils. Wooden boards like this are the traditional method that is still used by Muslim children all over North Africa: Morocco, Algeria, the Sahel countries, and as far south as Senegal and Northern Nigeria.

Islam came to Morocco in the first century hegira. Shortly thereafter, Tariq 'ibn Ziyad, the famous Berber commander, led the first group of Muslims across into Al-Andalus (Spain) almost 1,300 years ago. Our history, both ancient and modern, has always been closely linked with that of Al-Andalus. Muslim families in many small towns and cities of northern Morocco still trace their origins back to Al-Andalus. Many of these families own precious hand-written copies of the Holy Qur'an that were brought with them from Al-Andalus hundreds of years ago. Such Qur'ans were written in the Andalusian script which resembles the Maghrebi script still taught in Morocco today. My teacher told me that in the past, Moroccan scribes (copiers of the Qur'an) were taught the Maghrebi script by writing complete words, not single letters.

We learn to read and write the khat ai-maghrebi even before we begin regular school. We write with hand-cut reed pens which are dipped into a water-based black ink. After my teacher has corrected my writing, he washes my board clean with water. Two Arabic letters in the Maghrebi script are written differently from standard writing practice: standard /f/ fa becomes a fa with the dot written below the letter while the standard /q/ qaf is written with a single dot above (resembling the standard /f/)!

My little brother has written three verses (117-119) from surat ai-nisa'. See how he has written the letter qaf in the word qaala and the letter fa in the word mafroodha.

Al-Hamdulillah, I love learning and seeing others learn. Yesterday, our teacher was very busy with other children. He told me to teach surah al-qari'ah to my baby brother and his little friends. What a reward when "my pupils" learned to read, write and memorize this blessed surah! For the first time in my life, I actually felt like a teacher. May Allah always increase my knowledge to enable me to become the best possible Muslim and the best possible teacher one who can really make a difference. Ameen.

To read the first part of this story, click here.


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