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Tashded Nails The Sura
by Allan Appel | Aug 8, 2013 10:31 am
Posted to: Religion, West River, News From The Pews
Five-year-old Tashded Uddin not only made his teacher proud with a mellifluous recital of Sura Al Ala, he won free pizza pies for demonstrating his newfound Arabic skills on the last night of Ramadan.
The Koranic recitation and the goodies were part of young people’s culminating performance of what they had learned at the first-ever Arabic language summer school during the month of Ramadan at the Masjid Al-Islam on George Street.
The festivities attracted the 30 students, ages 5 to 14 and their families to the masjid on Wednesday night, which coincided with the 30th and final night of Ramadan.
Grown-ups lit small blue heating flames beneath large covered trays of food for iftar, the final fast-breaking meal of this year’s Ramadan that would be served after the evening prayer. Meanwhile, the students took turns reciting their suras, or Koranic chapters, individually, and in groups.
The littlest kids, like Tashded, kicked off the proceedings with a group recital of Sura Al-Fatiha
As each kid read and then translated his or her section, the adults in the audience applauded and called out “Allahu Akhbar!”
Layla McMillan (pictured, on left) said she enjoyed the classes, which over the last month drew kids to the masjid two to three hours a day, four days a week.
Former chairman of the masjid’s board Jimmy Jones said that while the masjid has had classes in Arabic over the years, there’s been a hiatus until teacher Mohamed Turay stepped in as a volunteer.
Moreover, it’s the first time the masjid has held courses during Ramadan.
“It [Ramadan] is a month of intense spirituality,” said Jones.
Traditionally that has meant they stop teaching classes at the masjid, although people continue to read and pray with the Koran, he added.
Some devout Muslims even commit to reading the entire Koran cover to cover during Ramdan’s 30 days.
The Arabic and Islamic Studies program, as Turay called the class, is designed to prepare the kids to read the Koran in Arabic, said Jones.
“Muslims believe it’s to be read in the original,” he added.
Although all the kids come from Muslim families, most are from non-Arabic speaking countries in Asia or West Africa. That’s why, for example, learning the 28 Arab characters and the right-to-left style of reading was a real challenge for 14-year-old Wilbur Cross High School student Mama Soumahoro (pictured).
Not only did she do well enough to receive a lime-green certificate of completion, as all the kids did, Mama also nabbed one of those $25 gift certificates from Aladdin Crown Pizza.
Then she called her mom to tell her the good news.
By 8:04 p.m. the performances had concluded, the light had faded, and Ramadan ended. Everyone went inside to break the fast not with a large meal right away but with water, milk, and dates. Kids before the age of puberty have no obligation to fast, although some do for an hour or two or whatever’s comfortable.
They prayed the sunset or maghrib prayer—the word means “west” in Arabic—and then planned to go back outside and eat iftar, the full fast-breaking meal.
Eid-ul-Fitr, the major holiday marking the end of Ramadan, began Thursday morning.
Asked what he enjoyed most about his class at the masjid, Tashded replied, “the milk and juice.”