Interview With Dr. Abdul Azeez Abdul Raheem, Director – Understand Quran Academy By Zeenath Ifthekar Ahmed
Dr. Abdul Azeez Abdul Raheem, Director Of Understand Quran Academy and an Associate Professor at King Fahd University Of Petroleum & Mines, he is a regular presenter on Peace TV, ETV – Urdu, Guide US – TV, Paigham TV and Islam TV – South Africa, Dr. Abdul Azeez is holding a Master Degree In Engineering from Indian Institute Of Science – Bangalore and a PhD in Geo-technical engineering from University of Oklahoma USA.
- What prompted / triggered / fascinated you to embrace this field of research & study?.
Ans: 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 Br AbdulGhafoor Parekh in Nagpur, who 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. I felt extremely unfortunate that I still did not know the book of Allah as good as these students knew. This gave me a push to work in this area.
- At what stage of your life you came up with this idea i.e easy way to understand quran?.
Ans: Almost 12 years ago. In the year 2000, when I started the compilation of a booklet called, “80% of Qur’anic Words.” It is a list of around 500 words which 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.
- Are there any inspirational role models, contributed in inspiring you to take this journey?
Ans: Current leaders of different Islamic institutions and organizations who have devoted their lives for Islam.
- What are the major factors that have contributed to the success of this great project?
Ans: 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 every Muslim kid as well as every adult with this basic message.
- How much time did it take for you to research on this project to establish it?
Ans: Almost 20 years.
- What are the challenges you faced initially and how you tackled them?, and what challenges you are facing today and how you are planning to address it?
Ans: 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 an effective way.
- If you have to rank all your milestones in this long journey so far, what would be the 5 interesting and insightful milestones?
Ans: Translation of the Dictionary of the Qur’an; Compilation of 80% words of the Qur’an; 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; Development of TPI for teaching Arabic verbs and pronouns.
- How many courses are designed by now and are ready to be learnt?
Ans: Three courses are ready: Read Al-Qur’an with Tajweed; Understand Salah and the Qur’an – Level I; Understand Salah and the Qur’an – Level II.
- Could you name some of your courses / projects, which are under design and development stages and by when it shall be ready for launch?
Ans: A workshop on the Familiarity with the Qur’an; Workshop on Recite the Qur’an Fluently; Advanced Grammar; and Spoken Arabic. InshaAllah these will be ready in the coming year. Most important of all, inshaAllah, will be “Explanatory Notes of the Qur’an for School Children” which is being prepared with a team of scholars.
- What do you think, what could be the benefits achieved by the learners of Understand Quran Academy?
Ans: Most importantly, their relationship with Allah will be strengthened, inshaAllah. 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, you have integrated in your mode of teaching to teach your courses?
Ans: In terms of classroom activities, we have 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 to that, we have used a structured variety in the lessons so that people do not get bored. This includes learning and motivational tips and relevance of what we recite to everyday life.
- What advice would you like to give to all the people, who are eager to learn your easy way to understand Quran?
Ans: Learn it and teach it to the others. We need to reach 25 crore Muslims within India itself! Help us by introducing it in schools, mosques, organizations, get-togethers, etc.
- What qualities do you think a good teacher should posses to teach understand quran courses?
Ans: In addition to having sincerity, he/she should be excited to teach the Qur’an and be willing to do whatever he/she to invite others. Be patient with absentees and always welcome them. Always focus on improving one’s deficiencies rather than blaming others for not attending the program.
- What advice would you like to give to the people who are training themselves to become the teachers of understand Quran?
Ans: Pray to Allah that He gives Tawfeeq to us to serve the Qur’an and He makes us among Ahlul-Qur’an who practice it and preach it. Train continuously. Don’t give up! After 3 to 5 times of teaching the whole course, you will inshaAllah become a very good teacher.
- Would you like to mention few names of your team, who have significantly contributed to your project and what expertise or competencies they have added in your project by these contributors?
Ans: The list is indeed very long. From those who helped us in internet presence to those who have learnt and taught the first course in various communities; helped in translations… almost in 20 languages; helped in publications; preparing presentations; developing materials for teacher training and workbooks; reviewing the works; establishing offices; organizing short course sessions in different cities and countries; helping us record the courses; helping us in editing and production of videos; relay them on different TV stations; getting teachers trained; guided in numerous aspects of the work; helped in arranging the sponsors for the teachers; and perhaps many other areas that I don’t even remember now. In each area again, there are several who have helped us. Outside India, the brothers in Kuwait deserve special mention because they not only arranged the course more than once but arranged it with great passion and commitment.
- Would you like to share few interesting moments or incidents happened during your workshops, presentations and trips to different parts of the world.
Ans: Almost in 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 learnt 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 interestingJ. I had to do it that way in Malaysia.
- In present era, our youth are the main consumer of web technologies, as of today, it is very difficult to say, whether there are more benefits or damages in this technological revolution : what are your advice to your online learners to keep focus on the straight path?
Ans: 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 in to the trap of Shaitan, it may be a very dangerous sign that he/she is deprived of the good deeds and blessings and therefore heading towards wretchedness and hellfire. Beg Allah sincerely for steadfastness. Keep a poster of 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 online presence and focus on downloaded videos and books. Try to keep the computer in main room of the house. You can of course use a headphone to avoid disturbing others. One can think of other steps too to avoid distractions on the net.
- What your plans are for understand Quran academy’s expansions?
Ans: We want to have a branch in every district and every village. We want to have volunteers that take up this mission everywhere. We have a dream to establish a residential training facility where a person will go from scratch to the complete understanding of the Qur’an in just 40 days. If you can help us in establishing such a facility, even if partially, you are most welcome.
- What are your mission and goal, you want to achieve in next 10 years?
Ans: Our mission is present the Qur’an in an interesting and easy way to masses as well as 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 the school, i.e., after 10 years, with 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 can contribute, support and be a part of your mission and goal.
Ans: Be a partner by learning the course and teaching it to your family and friends; sponsoring teachers, arranging workshops, promoting 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? Imagine for a while the Prophet (pbuh) looking at you and then looking at these poor children. What is your decision?
Interviewer’s Profile: Zeenath Ifthekar Ahmed is a student of management studies and a young member of Hyderabad Muslim Welfare Association – Kuwait. She has attended last year’s workshop as well as this year’s “Let’s Understand Quran” Workshop held in Kuwait.
Above photos are taken from the workshop “Aao Quran Samjhein” organized by Hyderabad Muslin Welfare Association, held at Kuwait in the month of May 2013. For further details related to Understand Quran Academy activities and to enroll for online courses visit www.understandquran.com