Learning focus

•March 12, 2013 • 3 Comments


For a prospective (or existing) Haafith ( Protector/Preserver حافظ or the more technical term Haamil: Carrier حامل) there are 3 areas to consider as part of their learning.

1) Memorising the Qur’aan – properly. There are different levels of memorisation. Some are proud of knowing the page number, how many ayaat there are, the ayah number and so on. Bottom line is that you don’t need to. If it comes with practice and study then الحمد لله but personally I wouldn’t consider it that important – especially initially, and it certainly isn’t the goal of hifth. It is good for bragging though… but maybe I’m jealous.

Main thing is to be aware of the ayaat that are similar (mutashaabihaat) in the Qur’aan. This can be achieved by revising/reciting lots (which should be normal anyway) so that you realise that there are similar ayaat because it is during your revision/reciting that you get muddled/mix ayaat up and realise that there are areas which need to be tackled slightly differently. Some students utilise books on the mutashaabihaat during their hifth, others wait until after finishing, others never do, and some use them when they realise they are getting confused. All the books do is give you some sort of mental anchor by which you can place the ayah in its proper place. The best anchor is the one you form yourself and that can be done by listing the ayaat that you mix and then seeing what the differences are between them, which ayaat are before and after, and how the meaning or grammar differs.


2a) Reading with Tajweed – this involves knowing where letters are pronounced from, the qualities they have, how the order of letters affects them (rules) and where to start and stop reading. It also involves being able to articulate the letters to form words to a standard which is recognised as being accomplished and deserving of an ijaazah. This is a base level. From here on you find differences in knowledge, ability and excellence (itqaan). Not every person with an ijaazah is going to be excellent. They should all be highly competent but not necessarily excellent. By this I mean that there will be a difference in how perfectly the letters are pronounced and the clarity of reading. Other qualities such as a nice voice, emotion and melody have nothing to do with an ijaazah and it is the ignorant masses who value these over perfection of Tajweed.


It’s like anything else. You complete a mechanic’s qualification but it doesn’t automatically make you the best mechanic. It means that you have reached a level of competency which deserves that particular certification. This leads to an important point that even after getting an ijaazah there is still potential for increase in expertise and application. (There is also room for solidifying one’s memorisation although solid memorisation of the Qur’aan is a pre-requisite for an ijaazah.)

Hifth of a portion of the Qur’aan is a requirement for every Muslim as it is necessary for them to pray properly. As a result it is necessary to learn Tajweed as best as one can.

It is important to remember that there is a clear difference between knowledge and application of Tajweed and that of Qiraa’aat. They are different sciences, which like many of the Islamic sciences, are related. Simply put, Tajweed is concerned with pronouncing letters properly and in accordance with the Arabic norm at the time of revelation. The vast majority of Tajweed is Arabic language based, what the Qur’aan has come with that is different in particular is the lengthening of sounds such as ghunnah and madd. It is also vital to know how to stop and start reading.

Qiraa’aat is concerned with allowed differences in word formation (as per Arab usage) and dialectical variations. It builds on Tajweed although it is a separate science. Tajweed takes priority. These are simple definitions and more comprehensive ones are available in Tajweed and Uloom ul Qur’aan books.

There are plenty of people who have mastered the 10 Qiraa’aat (Lesser and/or Greater) but haven’t mastered Tajweed. There are a variety of mistakes present in their reading, some are major mistakes, some are minor. Yet these people have received an ijaazah and this highlights a problem. Many shuyookh are not particularly strict or diligent when it comes to certifying students. I have experienced this myself and have prayed behind somebody who has major mistakes in their reading of Surah Al Faatihah but yet is mujaaz. The sad thing is that if they were to be corrected by someone who isn’t mujaaz they don’t accept the advice, as if they are hiding behind their ijaazah and using it as a shield to protect their ego, may Allah save us. I genuinely think some are deaf though.

We do need to appreciate that perhaps when the student received the ijaazah their reading was at the required level and free from major mistakes and for whatever reasons it has deteriorated to the point which has just been heard. However if this is the case and the student has recently achieved an ijaazah then this is problematic as it indicates a lack of trustworthiness on behalf of the teacher and ignorance on behalf of the student. This highlights the importance of selecting teachers who are competent and honest.

I would like to add a side point here that is a practice from the time of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلَم and the Companions  رضي الله عنهم . Teaching is focused on advanced students who take priority and then in turn teach the less advanced/beginning students. It is similar to teachers at University level who do not teach primary school children, the students they teach will have prior studying and understanding. The Companions  رضي الله عنهم also followed this structure, notably Abdullah bin Masood and Abu Dardaa’ (who are from the 8 Companions that all the riwaayaat of the Qur’aan trace their chain of transmissions back to as they took it directly from the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلَم and are known to have memorised the Qur’aan completely during his lifetime and read it to him) by having students in groups of ten with an advanced student overseeing them. This ‘supervisor’ would refer back to his teacher as necessary. This structure puts less stress on a teacher and allows them to focus their energies on students who are close to fruition and becoming mujaaz and competent.

2b) Tajweed first, then riwaayaat. In order to study the Qiraa’aat you need to have memorised the Qur’aan in 1 base riwaayah at least. What this means is that you have learnt how to read the Qur’aan with Tajweed and know the ‘special’ words and their correct reading according to one chain of transmission e.g. Hafs (حفص). Memorising and understanding the poem, commonly known as الجزريّة, written by Imam Al Jazari رحمه الله will help immensely as it covers this and although not a prerequisite according to all Shuyookh worldwide, here at IESH you need to have memorised it and be able to explain it (you get questioned during your reading). In addition to this you need to have excellent memorisation otherwise you will find yourself getting very confused.

Knowledge of Arabic helps to not make silly mistakes such as reading a ت  in place of a ي . The relation this has to the Qiraa’aat is that very often the differences (aside from that of أصول ) are as straightforward as a word like تعلمون being read as يعلمون . Weak memorisation in the base riwaayah means that words such as this will be read wrong (or at the very least in a state of doubt, reading correct at times and incorrect at times) and the reader may well console him/herself with the knowledge that it is still Qur’aan and an accepted way of reading. However what it means is that the reader is mixing riwaayaat, thereby rendering a reading that has no chain of transmission, and that is not allowed, the doors to ‘pic n mix’ are shut.

I personally don’t believe it worth learning how to read the Qur’aan (from the musshaf) in different riwaayaat purely on the basis that it acts as a distraction from memorising and also it doesn’t give you the level of knowledge that a Haafith would have.

Ahlan wa Sahlan

3) Arabic – Some memorise the Qur’aan but have no grounding in the Arabic language and such people are prone to making mistakes in vowels and words so that they change the meaning without realising. These are major mistakes and one who has this as a feature of their recitation shouldn’t lead the people in prayer. Others have difficulty linking ayaat together, others are plagued by both. Overcoming this requires dedication, persistence and focused effort using appropriate means.

Understanding the meaning is crucial to a solid memorisation.

Having said that, even Arabs, who one would imagine understand the Qur’aan well, make terrible mistakes, I’ve prayed behind someone who put the disbelievers in Paradise for ever and went into ruku’.

This is enough to highlight the importance of understanding Arabic as it makes the memorisation process much easier due to eliminating careless mistakes and allowing for self-correction. In addition it allows internalisation of the Qur’aan, allowing the reader to avail of the opportunity to grow closer to الله  سبحانه و تعالى and enjoy a conscious and intellectually stimulating experience with the Qur’aan which results in spiritual richness and nourishment (without this you may as well just count numbers or repeat the alphabet on autopilot). This also creates a deep and transforming awareness that the Qur’aan is preserved in the written and oral form.

In addition to this, understanding Arabic allows the student to access various books and resources that are available only in Arabic to accelerate their learning and overcome obstacles. For example books detailing with the mutashaabihaat, tafseer books of different types such as language, Hadith, Qur’aan etc…

There are other areas one can focus on, such as ‘Uloom ul Qur’aan and Tafseer, but in my limited studies so far, I have found the ones I’ve written about to be the most important in committing the Qur’aan to memory.

My Studying Experiences

•March 7, 2013 • 5 Comments

By the time I got here most of the students in my class were on Surah An Nisaa’. They memorise 2 pages a day. Many students prefer to be a hizb or so ahead of what they read to the teacher. That way they never read what they have just memorised (which would tend to be flaky and weak) and their daily تسميع  would need just a bit of revision. This is an excellent strategy and highly advisable for students who read to a teacher.

Students can work at their own pace meaning if they want to do more than 2 pages a day then that is fine but 2 pages is the minimum.

I started off reading a hizb a day until I reached Surah An Nisaa’. I then read a quarter of a juz for a few days and now have settled on 2 pages a day. The reason for this is that I found it very difficult to manage the revision alongside new memorisation and preparation for reading to the Shaykh.

My Study Schedule at IESH


9am  Shaykh Farid: Hifth

12pm Shaykh Farid: Ulum al Quran


8am  Shaykh Said: Tilawah and Tafseer

9am  Shaykh Taufiq: Hifth

12pm Shaykh Farid: Al Jazariyyah


8am  Shaykh Said: Tilawah and Tafseer

9am  Shaykh Taufiq: Hifth & Correction of Reading/Tajweed


8am  Shaykh Said: Tilawah and Tafseer

9am  Shaykh Taufiq: Hifth & Group Revision

12pm Shaykh Farid: Al Jazariyyah

Every fortnight 8pm: Shaykh Said: Tazkiyatu Nafs & Tarbiyyah – This is scheduled but doesn’t always happen.


8am  Shaykh Said: Tajweed Rules

9am  Shaykh Taufiq: Hifth & Weekly Test


Between ‘Asr & Maghrib: Sharh of Al Ajrumiyyah

The only classes that are compulsory are those held by Shaykh Said and Shaykh Taufiq, everything else is extra, not obligatory and at the student’s discretion. The student will ask the teacher’s permission to sit in these classes. The vast majority of students don’t take on further classes. الحمد لله there is quite a degree of flexibility regarding attending extra classes.

There is a weekly memory test. Mine takes place on Friday. The format of the test is that the Shaykh will read to you the beginning of an ayah from somewhere in the Qur’aan. You then begin reading that same ayah and carry on reading until he tells you to stop, which is after about a page – not less. This is repeated 5 times, 5 questions in total so you read a quarter of a juz to him. Where he tests you from depends on what you have read to him, so a student who has read up to Al Maaidah will be tested anywhere from Al Baqarah to Al Maaidah (no-one has been tested on Al Faatihah yet lol). You get a score out of 100. 1 mark deducted for each mistake. So if you read a word wrong then you lose a mark, if you read an ayah wrong you lose a mark etc… The aim is to sustain a 90% or above test score as anything 90% or over is graded as excellent.

Recently we had the mid-year exams. This involved a 90 minute Tajweed test covering everything you have learnt up to that point. It wasn’t difficult (to me) except that you needed to memorise the terminology in Arabic and of course everything is written in Arabic. Our test covered makhaarij and sifaat. Then the following week consists of daily Qur’aan tests, like the weekly ones, except that the portion that you are tested on is known. For example, a student who has read 16 ahzaab (8 ajzaa) would split his reading into equal amounts which in this case is 4 ahzaab ( 4 day week for exams, 2 juz daily) and then has 5 questions. So over the week the student gets tested on everything. The benefit of this is that you cannot hide as well as in the weekly exams lol. Any weak points are more likely to be exposed, having said that, students are very aware of their weak points anyway. Each day you get a mark out of 100. You lose 1 point for each mistake just like the weekly tests.

After this major test you are then tested on a smaller portion of what you have memorised over the next few weeks until you have covered everything you have memorised a second time.

As of last week you now lose points for making mistakes in Tajweed too. I liked the way they structured this aspect as they gave students from September to the end of the year to learn the basics of Tajweed without deducting points for mistakes. After the December holidays they expect students to be applying Tajweed rules consistently.

A different way of memorising

Up until recently, I had been memorising in the manner probably familiar to all; memorise an ayah, go on to the next one, then tie both together, go onto the third one and then repeat from the beginning. Like this:

Ayah 1

Ayah 2

Ayah 1 & 2

Ayah 3

Ayah 1, 2 & 3

Ayah 4

Ayah 1, 2, 3, & 4

And so on until you finish the page.

I have found a problem in memorising which is the linking of ayaat. So I mentioned it to my Shaykh and he asked me how I am memorising and I told him and he advised me a different way 🙂

Split a page into two parts, if you find it to be difficult to memorise then 3 parts. Let’s say our page has 8 ayaat. Now memorise the first part of the page in the following manner:

Memorise ayah 1.

Memorise ayah 2.

Memorise ayah 3.

Memorise ayah 4.

Now repeat ayaat 1 to 4 together (as necessary). Now move on to the next part of the page and repeat the process:

Memorise ayah 5.

Memorise ayah 6.

Memorise ayah 7.

Memorise ayah 8.

Memorise beginning of next page.

Repeat ayaat 5 to 8 & beginning of next page. Then repeat the whole page including the beginning of the next. There are two main benefits of doing it this way; it means there are less links to connect. If a page is split into 3 parts then are 2 links (part 1 links to part 2 & part 2 links to part 3), if 2 parts then 1 link. Also it helps to avoid creating weak spots which can be caused by repeating some ayaat more than others as in the ‘normal’ way of memorising mentioned above.

I tried it and I like it. It seems quicker for me and slightly easier. Key point is to not stop at the end of the page and likewise it is advisable to begin memorising with the ayah at the end of the previous page (or a portion of it).

You can also create an overlap between the parts which can help with linking. Using the example above it would be like this:

Memorise ayah 1.

Memorise ayah 2.

Memorise ayah 3.

Memorise ayah 4.

Now repeat ayaat 1 to 4 together (as necessary). Now move on to the next part of the page and repeat the process:

Memorise ayah 4.

Memorise ayah 5.

Memorise ayah 6.

Memorise ayah 7.

Memorise ayah 8.

Memorise beginning of next page.

Repeat ayaat 4 to 8 & beginning of next page. Then repeat the whole page including the beginning of the next.

Teachers, Structure & Study Schedule

•December 25, 2012 • 2 Comments


Students are grouped in years. So you have first, second and third year students. You also have Masters students for some courses such as Sharee’ah. Currently their courses are not widely acknowledged by other universities (a lack of accreditation).

They won an award for being the ‘Best Qur’aan Memorisation Institute’ (globally) for 2011-2012. There are 3 male Qur’aan teachers. I don’t know about the female teachers. All 3 teachers have ijaazaat from Shaykh Ayman Rushdy Swayd حفظه الله . This means that if a student earns an ijaazah from one of these teachers he/she will have a strong sanad, exactly the same as that of the sister who wrote the Tajweed Rules in English book series.

1) Shaykh Said – mujaaz in all 10 qiraa’aat.

2) Shaykh Farid – mujaaz in all 10 qiraa’aat.

3) Shaykh Taufiq – mujaaz in the qiraa’aat of ‘Aasim and Naafi’

For more information about the teachers you can click here, it’s in French 🙂

They also teach other subjects such as Tafseer, ‘Aqeedah and Sharee’ah. My experience of the Qur’aan teachers has led me to form the opinion that they are excellent and I do not use that lightly. They all have a highly developed ear (or two!) and know Tajweed and it’s intricacies in depth ما شاء الله . There is a strong focus on mouth movement and makhaarij and sifaat – as there should be! What this means practically for the student is being stopped a lot. The teachers do vary in their approach though, some will only correct major or persistent errors during the hifth stage in order to allow you to focus on recall (there are 3 distinct stages to Qur’aan, detailed below). They are all very kind and humble too حفظهم الله .


About 20 minutes after I reached IESH, whilst I was sitting in the Director’s office having my ‘interview’, Shaykh Said popped in and asked me to read to him from the musshaf and from memory. He opened the Qur’aan at a random page and asked me to read. I read about 4 lines of a page from Surah Al Hijr and he said that was enough. I was very nervous! He asked me how much I had memorised and I told him and made clear that it needed lots of revision 😦 . As a result I am in a first year class. Second year students are closer to finishing the Qur’aan, tending to have memorised around 15 ajzaa’. Third year students will have finished memorising the Qur’aan.

The year group would normally indicate your competence and knowledge of the subject. However for Qur’aan it is not necessarily the case. I started at the very end of November and am in the first year group. First year students have either none or very little knowledge of Tajweed and a very small portion of the Qur’aan memorised. Their reading is also limited/needs improvement in many aspects. I don’t quite fall into that category but due to starting late, group sizes and the state of the Qur’aan I had memorised I am where I am الحمد لله .

First year students start from Al Faatihah and finish at Ar Ra’d.

Second year students continue from Ar Ra’d to the end of the Qur’aan بإذن لله . They also memorise Al Jazariyyah and explain it.

Third year students will begin a khatmah of tadreeb which involves reading from memory and being corrected on Tajweed mistakes. This is a very intense and meticulate process. Upon completion of this the student is permitted (note the word permitted, you can’t buy these ijaazaat) to begin a khatmah for ijaazah. The Qur’an is then read again from memory to the Shaykh and upon completion the Shaykh verbally confirms the student’s expertise. I believe there is some sort of ceremony also. This means a student reads the Qur’aan from memory 3 times to the Shaykh.

It is possible for a student to begin a khatmah for ijaazah upon completion of the Qur’aan without a khatmah of tadreeb. In this case the student will either read a few ahzaab or ajzaa’ and then begin the khatmah of ijaazah. The process doesn’t have to take 3 years. If the student completes the Qur’aan and is a competent reader then it can all be done in a year or a year and a half or whatever.

After this students either leave or continue and study the Qiraa’aat. Students are required to memorise Ash Shaatibiyyah and Ad Durrah in order to master the 10 Lesser Qiraa’aat. The texts are memorised and the rules applied to their reading of the Qur’aan, from memory and upon completion of this khatmah the student will receive an ijaazah.

Study Schedule

The exact structure of the day varies from teacher to teacher. All of them have sessions where students read to them what they have memorised/revised. There are also weekly tests on everything you have read to the teacher. The tests have 5 questions. The teacher begins reading an ayah from anywhere (not always at the top of the page 🙂 ) and the student reads that ayah and carries on until told to stop. Normally around a page is read per question. Marks are out of 100. Deductions are made for errors (initially: wrong word/harakah and forgetting, later, after the new year, minor Tajweed mistakes are included). The aim is 90% + every week. These scores are recorded and affect whether or not you can begin a khatmah for an ijaazah.

There are also other classes alongside تسميع such as Tajweed, Tafseer and ‘Uloom al Qur’aan.

My Study Schedule at IESH is as follows, bits in red are for second year students but I am doing them this year due to time restrictions.

9am - 12pm Shaykh Farid: Hifth/Revision
12pm - 1pm Shaykh Farid: Ulum al Quran 
8am - 9am  Shaykh Said: Tilawah and Tafseer
9am - 12pm Shaykh Taufiq: Hifth/Revision
12pm - 1pm Shaykh Farid: Al Jazariyyah
8am - 9am  Shaykh Said: Tilawah and Tafseer
9am - 12pm Shaykh Taufiq: Hifth & Correction of Reading
8am - 9am  Shaykh Said: Tilawah and Tafseer
9am - 12pm Shaykh Taufiq: Hifth/Revision & Group Revision
12pm - 1pm Shaykh Farid: Al Jazariyyah
Every fortnight 8pm - 9pm: Shaykh Said: Tazkiyatu Nafs & Tarbiyyah
8am - 9am  Shaykh Said: Tajweed
9am - 12pm Shaykh Taufiq: Hifth/Revision & Weekly Test

Explanation of classes

All classes are in Arabic. There is some additional explanation in French due to many of the students being fluent in French but not Arabic.

The daily hifth/revision sessions involve the student reading their pages to the Shaykh and then memorising/revising independently. Each student has a fixed slot. Shaykh Taufiq also has students read to him from the musshaf the new pages they are going to memorise so that he can correct any mistakes.

Shaykh Said and Shaykh Taufiq aren’t in on Monday hence attending Shaykh Farid’s session and reading to him. Student’s put their name on a list after Fajr prayer in order to reserve a slot (Shaykh Farid isn’t in on Friday so the second years have Friday off in addition to the weekend).

The second year students’ ‘Uloom al Qur’aan classes are very informative and an interesting and beneficial addition to the Qur’aan programme.

The tilaawah and tafseer classes with Shaykh Said on Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday are for all first year students, males and females. The females sit at the back of the library, the males at the front. Shaykh Said reads the Qur’aan and the students repeat after him, reading from the musshaf. We normally read about 3 pages. Often 1 or 2 students will fail to stop where he did, everyone else will have stopped and you hear someone reading an extra word 😀 Reading like this is nice but can be difficult for some students with regards to pace and keeping in sync with the rest of the class. Also not everyone reads well. I think the sisters read very quietly to themselves as we don’t hear them. After the reading Shaykh Said explains the tafseer of what has just been read and students ask questions as required.

The Tajweed lesson on Friday with Shaykh Said covers the basics of Tajweed using a concise booklet prepared by Shaykh Said and a very comprehensive powerpoint resource and book authored by Shaykh Ayman.

The fortnightly session for first year students with Shakyh Said are very nice and he explains things that Qur’aan students should be aware of and that should promote humbleness and sincerity towards Allah and His creation.

The second year students’ classes explaining Al Jazariyyah are excellent and detailed. Students are require to memorise the text whilst studying and read it to the Shaykh weekly. Elements of grammar are explained and students are required to recall ayaat on the spot in response to questions about the text and what it is referring to.

The Correction of Reading and Group Revision elements with Shaykh Taufiq are very interesting.

Correction of Reading: after we have all read our daily portion we sit in a group at the front. Shaykh Taufiq reads a section of the Qur’aan. Using the musshaf we repeat after him. Then one by one we read that section (from the musshaf) and he corrects us according to our competency (this means he won’t spend ages with weaker students but won’t let advanced students get away with anything). Upon completion of a round, Shaykh Taufiq reads another section, we repeat and so on. We read between 1 and 2 pages.

Group Revision: after we have all read our daily portion we sit in a group at the front. Shaykh Taufiq reminds us of where we reached the week before and asks us to begin reading from memory. We all read together at the same time from the same place. If a student hasn’t memorised that part of the Qur’aan then they use a musshaf. Shaykh Taufiq stops us after a while and then picks a random student and asks them to carry on from where we have stopped. He then stops that student and picks another and asks him to carry on from where the previous student left off. This continues for a while and then we all begin reading together again until Shaykh Taufiq decides to stop us and select a student. We read about a juz like this.

So, to conclude, Qur’aan students benefit from hearing the Qur’aan read properly and copying by reading from the musshaf and without the musshaf; with correction and without correction, studying Tajweed, Tafseer, Tarbiyah and ‘Uloom al Qur’aan.

(There are also a few open classes covering Maliki Fiqh and the Alfiyyah of Ibn Maalik)

IESH Campus, Masjid, Accommodation & Gym

•December 25, 2012 • 2 Comments

This is a very long post but contains lots of information. The campus is modern. It has:

  • Electricity
  • Hot water
  • Central heating
  • ‘English’ style toilets
  • Showers
  • Vending machines with drinks and confectionery
  • A small shop selling a selection of books, clothes, accessories, attar and snacks. You buy your washing machine and tumble drying tokens here too.
  • Well stocked library with study area (vast majority of books are in Arabic. There were also computers with internet access but these have been removed without explanation)
  • Wi-fi (Doesn’t extend very far so requires that you are quite close to where the router is situated)
  • Masjid (Athaan can be heard throughout most of the campus via speakers)
  • Gym (Primitive in some aspects but has around 140kg of free weights and a few accessories which allow plate loading mechanisms to be used. There are also gym/judo mats but I wouldn’t roll around on them, they aren’t clean and you don’t want to risk catching something like a staph infection.)
  • Separate accommodation for males and females, and couples. Rooms are: quad, double or single. Basic price of €3400 is for a quad room. €300 extra for a double, €500 extra for a single and €1000 extra for a couple’s room.


Car Park, well really you just park anywhere, sort of.


This is the main classroom area. Students study Arabic, Sharee’ah and Qur’aan in this section. There is however a separate building for Qur’aan students.


The building on the left is the معهد القرآن and is used by Qur’aan students only.


The door on the right hand side is to the Reception Area and the Director’s office. The door to the left of that is to the Admin section and the rest of that building (painted in blue) is the canteen where a variety of gourmet dishes are served. Ahem.

You can also see 2 payphones just behind the no entry sign. They can receive calls too which many students use to their benefit.


More car parking spaces. Car at the front is the one I hired from Lyon.

To the right of the picture (out of sight) there are more rooms where students live but this is a separate area from the main student accommodation building. It is the best place to live in my opinion as it is right next to the Masjid, Canteen, Library and not too far from the classrooms. The Gym is actually right next door too. It is also quiet. الحمد لله  it is where I am staying currently. It takes students a good 7-8 minutes to walk up from the accommodation further down.


The crane in the background is where they are building a new masjid (not needed in my opinion and the money would be better spent on refurbishing the institute). It is financed by some Arab from somewhere and will be star shaped as per his instruction, yes, that is correct…


008-IESHCampus  010-IESHCampus




This is probably my favourite picture. I like the symmetrical nature of it and the wonderful contrast and variety of colours.



My main class (تسميع)  takes place in a classroom on the ground floor of the building sticking out on the right (which is the canteen).


Below are pictures of the Masjid.

015-IESHCampusBrown doors are for males. The sisters area is upstairs and they enter and exit from a door where the red railing is. I don’t know if their doors are pink 😉


See the big radiator in the corner? They are double radiators and there is one in every corner to keep the Masjid warm.




Although not a conventional design the window is very practical as it lets in a lot of light.


Carpet isn’t soft and will give you a prayer mark on your forehead.



Many people hang their thobes here for easy access before praying. Students dress in a variety of styles ranging from Middle Eastern, flowing garments to funky and slick 😀

The following pictures are not representative of normal accommodation for students as currently I don’t live there. These are pictures of my room, taken about a day after I got there. It looks quite different now due to cleaning and the addition of books and supplies etc… The room is meant for couples. They provided the bedding but I have heard from students that it isn’t standard.






It does the job but certainly isn’t 5 star lol. The main thing is that it is conveniently situated very close to the Masjid and everywhere else a student needs to be. The athaan cannot be heard in this section due to the absence of speakers.

The Gym.


Weights are of the York brand. There is also a Smith machine. Mats, as I’ve mentioned earlier, are not hygienic.


The punch bag has not too much stuffing and moves around a lot. There are a pair of gloves and mitts aswell as a few pads.



The gym is in a very large room which is full of old stuff that either has no use currently or is obsolete. The athaan can’t be heard here and it is absolutely freezing in winter, especially the metal equipment.

IESH Countryside

•December 24, 2012 • 1 Comment

Here are some pictures of the wonderful countryside and surrounding areas available for your eyes to feast on whilst studying at IESH. A very beautiful place.
This is what you will see whilst walking around or looking out of a window. ما شاء الله

When I got there and saw this it made me very happy as it was something that I had wanted but thought nigh on impossible to find a place in a mountainous-ish area that met my needs,الحمد لله

Downside is that reception is poor (mobile and data) and that you are in the middle of nowhere so for shopping/medical needs etc… it’s a trip down to the village which needs a car – too far to walk.



The chair is used by students, just imagine; sitting in a chair with a lovely view, reciting Qur’aan and sipping on a nice cup of tea 😀








These pictures have all been taken on campus so technically they could go in the post that has the campus pictures too.

These next two pictures were taken very close to IESH whilst I was driving back up after a trip to the village.



Here are some pictures I took after we had snow – lots of it it! A white Kufrmas is indeed possible here lol.


024-IESHCountry     018-IESHCountry  020-IESHCountry








010-IESHCountry  006-IESHCountry     002-IESHCountry



I have seen many many other fantastic views but alas it has not always been possible to take pictures.

How to get to IESH

•December 24, 2012 • 1 Comment

The institute is in France and rather awkward to get to. I suppose that is part of the purification process 🙂

Closest major airports are Paris CDG or Lyon. Budget airlines will get you there fine. From Paris it is about 4 hours by car and from Lyon it is 3 hours by car. There are tolls for both routes. You can avoid the tolls but it will add considerable mileage and time to your journey. There are smaller airports closer to Chateau Chinon (Ville) but no flights to them from the UK.

From the UK you can fly to France from many different airports, however not all of them fly direct to Lyon.

Most students fly to Paris CDG, get the metro to Paris Bercy Train Station (can take up to an hour) and catch a train to Nevers (about 2.5 hours) and then a bus from Nevers (bus embarkment is right next to the train station) to Chateau Chinon (takes about 1 hour 45 mins) and then have to be picked up by someone from the institute (student or staff) and taken to IESH (takes about 15 mins). The main reason for this route is the availability of transport. There are other routes but not very well supported by train and/or bus.

As you can see it is not straightforward and there are many connections to take into account, especially if you have luggage. I chose to fly to Lyon and then drive (car rental) to IESH which was straightforward and easy enough although a long drive. With car rental you have to consider returning the car, navigation and fuel costs.

There is some information via this link and this one too.

Pictures related to IESH

•December 24, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I have taken quite a few pictures of IESH and the surrounding areas as whilst I was researching the institute there was more or less nothing to go by.

I have categorised the pictures, with appropriate comments.

How I found IESH

•December 23, 2012 • 2 Comments

I first came across IESH by simply searching the internet but didn’t pursue it due to a complete lack of information about it on the internet except for their website which is in French (the English button doesn’t work). My French expertise is vast in that it covers food, recreation and geography but limited by knowing about 6 words in total, 2 of which; croissant and baguette, are thanks to Sainsbury’s. An online translator can help make sense of most of their website. Despite that there are many things that aren’t mentioned on the website.

I will share all that and more with you via this blog.

This year after completing a PGCE I decided to pursue my dream of completely memorising the Qur’aan so started looking at options. Egypt and Morocco were high on the list and I had investigated the options available to me. I had a few preferences that were of particular importance to me and these affected my selection of place to study.

1) I wanted somewhere with excellent, not good, not very good, but excellent teachers. I’ve read to various people over the last few years, and apart from wonderful massages which my ego thanks them all for, they didn’t develop my recitation much further. الحمد لله I did benefit from their character and the blessing of meeting good people.

2) I wanted somewhere I could stay and study without having to worry about transport and food.

3) I wanted somewhere not too expensive

4) I wanted somewhere I could improve my Arabic alongside حفظ

5) I wanted somewhere I could study riwaayaat other than حفص عن عاصم

6) I wanted somewhere I could meet good people and benefit from their company

7) I wanted somewhere I could reset myself and my personality

My biggest issue with studying in Egypt or Morocco was regarding teaching expertise and accommodation. How was I going to find an excellent teacher? What happens if I get an average teacher? Where, and with whom would I stay?

I asked some people that I have had contact with over the last few years and whose judgement I trust regarding tajweed and they recommended IESH on the basis that it was in Europe, so easier for me to travel to and from, has modern facilities and the teachers have studied with Shaykh Ayman Rushdy Swayd حفظه الله and are mujaaz in either all the qira’aat or a number of them. I made istikhaara and applied by ringing them up.

I don’t speak French, they don’t speak any English, so our medium of conversation was Arabic. I managed to find out some basic information and get the application form and other documentation sent off via email along with a bank transfer for my deposit (to reserve my place) and the admin fee.

The application process in detail is:

1) Complete an application form which is available online via their website

2) Get a letter of recommendation from a local Islamic organisation

3) Get a doctor’s letter certifying you are free of contagious and chronic diseases

4) Copies of your degree certificates/qualifications

5) 4 Passport photos

6) Copy of your passport

7) Transfer Euros to their bank account

8) Interview (mine took place when I got there, more of a brief chat really)

Of course, you could just go there and do all that but if you can’t then it can be done from here prior to going there to study.

IESH ticked off my first 3 criteria, the rest I discovered about them when I got there.

France doesn’t sound as glamorous as Egypt or Morocco but the teachers are excellent ما شاء الله .

My Hifth Kit

•November 16, 2009 • 13 Comments

Here I’m going to detail my ‘hifth kit’ which are the things I use for memorising and revising Qur’aan.

1) The Qur’aan

I use this particular muss-haf because it has the start of the next ayat of the next page at the bottom of every page. When revising/memorising it helps me to link better than if it wasn’t there.

Here what I did was go through the special words that occur in the Qur’aan for reading by way of Hafs ‘an ‘Aasim,(most of which you can find here , changes in the pronunciation of raa are found in the rules of raa) and the changes necessary when shortening the maddul munfasil (which you can find here – these are applied in addition to the special words provided there is no clash) and note them in the muss-haf so when reading I don’t have to consult a book or rack my memory 🙂

The notes at the top of the page are for normal reading whilst the notes in the margin are specific to qasr ul munfasil.

2) The Qur’aan again

This is a pocket sized muss-haf. It’s not the really small one – a size bigger. I carry it with me when travelling around. I haven’t made any notes in it.

3) Dictionary (of sorts)

This is ‘The Easy Dictionary of The Qur’aan’ which you can download here.

I find it easier to access than a dictionary like Hans Wehr or Mawrid. It is in surah order so if you consult it whilst memorising from the beginning then you will cover all the words. It doesn’t always mention words found in an earlier surah in a later surah which is a slight drawback for those not memorising from the beginning.

4) Qur’aanic Grammar Reference

Mu’jam I’rab Alfaz al Qur’an al Karim

This is one of the most useful books I own. I have another tome which is similar (another grammatical breakdown of the Qur’aan) but the layout is different. This is easier on the eyes and quicker to read.

I find this useful, on occasion, as sometimes I get confused as to the vowel on a letter. Knowing the grammar destroys that sort of confusion totally. You will need a good grasp of Arabic grammar for this book to be of any use so probably not one that everyone will want to rush off and buy. It is a beautiful book.

5) Index of Qur’aanic words

This is an amazing book, much like the grammar reference in how much I am amazed by it and love it. Pick a word, look it up, and it lists all the ayahs that it occurs in and all the variations of it. Very helpful in getting your head around the mutashaabihaat or those ayahs which you get mixed up on.

There is also a book more or less identical to this by Muhammad Fu’aad ‘Abdul Baaqee but I believe the one that I’ve posted pictures of is better since the author mentions a few failings of it and has addressed them in his edition. I have both 🙂 but would love a pocket sized version, I remember somebody having one but can’t find one to buy 😦

If you don’t have the book, can’t get one or your Arabic isn’t at the level needed for you to make use of this gem then there are alternatives. I haven’t used these sites myself but I came across a thread where somebody said they used them as they didn’t have the book.



I have used http://www.tanzil.info (thank you sister) and you can perform a word search which brings up all occurrences of what you are searching for.

6) Tajwid Book

Taysirur Rahmani fi Tajwidil Qur’ani by Doctora Su’ad ‘Abdul Hamid. http://www.halqat.com/Book-225.html

This is one of my many Tajwid books. I bought this in Egypt for about £1. I like this book because it goes into lots of detail and has a friendly writing style. I like the way that everything is laid out although the edition is poor (should be hardback with better ink and paper).

For English readers I recommend http://www.abouttajweed.com which is an excellent resource with a great q&a section. There is a 3 part set of books available called Tajweed Rules of the Qur’an which is in my opinion the best that the English language currently offers. The books are comprehensive and detailed and follow the same methodology as the abouttajweed website. Highly recommended.

7) Stories of The Prophets

Qisasun Nabiyyin lil Atfal by Abul Hasan An Nadawi.

A well known text, popular amongst learners of Arabic for its’ simplicity, this is full of Qur’aanic ayahs and tells the stories of the Prophets via them. It serves as a useful aid in gaining a quick insight without too much detail like you would find in a tafseer.

This particular edition by Darus Salam is very good, the paper and ink are great and it also has a question section at the back which earlier editions don’t.

8) Tafseer

Ma’ariful Qur’an by Mufti Muhammad Shafi.

This is my tafseer of choice in English. Very comprehensive, I’d say the most comprehensive available in English (I’ve heard that the tafsir Al Qurtubi has been translated by ‘Aisha Bewley which I would imagine is comprehensive also but I haven’t come across it and it would probably be expensive whereas this isn’t). It is intelligently and well written and the books themselves are of an acceptable quality although not first class. You can download pdfs here.

9) A book specific to similar ayahs in the Qur’aan

I have this in pdf format and I don’t really like the pdf as it isn’t scanned very well and strains your eyes after a while.

The book itself is easy to read and seems thorough although I haven’t ventured far into it, it is interesting.

Available for download here, it is 57.4mb.

10) Miscellaneous


Mechanical pencil with thin lead for making notes and markings in my muss-haf.

A quality eraser for not messing up my muss-haf by erasing the actual letters of the Qu’raan.

A tally counter for keeping track of how many times I have repeated a page or an ayah.

MP3 player for listening to the Qur’an that I have memorised or am to memorise, split into half a juz segments.

That’s all. Of course you could just make do with number 1 😆

Some points on Suratul Baqarah

•October 13, 2009 • 1 Comment

The following are a few things I jotted down whilst memorising/revising Suratul Baqarah to help me. They are not in any specific order.

Over time the need for anchors like these has diminished as I have become more efficient at memorising and pay less attention to understanding during memorisation as it slows you down. These may not help you except to give you an example of how I make links, they are after all, specific to the workings of my mind. Some came to me whilst memorising, others whilst revising or reciting.

Number One

كتب عليكم القتال و هو كره لكم و عسى أن تكرهوا شيئا و هو خيرلكم و عسى أن تحبوا شيئا و هو شرلكم والله يعلم و أنتم لا تعلمون

Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you. But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not. (A216)

الله says about fighting و هو كره لكم ‘hateful to you’.

Then الله says you may hate something and it is good for you.

Then الله says you may love something and it is bad for you.

الله doesn’t say hated as:

  1. That wouldn’t make sense
  2. And no effect would be stated otherwise. Effect meaning like ‘this is bad’ ‘this is good’ ‘this is of some benefit’

Also worth noting the pairing of hate with good and love with bad.

Number Two

والفتنة أكبر من القتل

And fitnah is greater than killing (A217)

Possible confusion with A191

والفتنة أشد من القتل

And fitnah is worse than killing (A191)

Thing to note is the occurrence of كبير and أكبر shortly before so link to that.

يسئلونك عن الشهر الحرام قتال فيه قل قتال فيه كبير و صد عن سبيل الله و كفر به والمسجد الحرام و إخراج أهله منه أكبر عند الله والفتنة أكبر من القتل

More updates to come إن شاء الله