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Qur’an Academy: Exploring the Words of Allah (SWT) Through Narrative

Continuing our series on the Qur’an and our children, LaYinka Sanni shows how storytelling brings the Qur’an to life for her own young students.

Her eyes were fixated on my face with every word I uttered, wide and unblinking. I held back a little before speaking again.

 

“Just imagine,” I said, arms thrown out as I took her to the scene. “Just imagine: you’re having a really important conversation with really important people, and then all of a sudden someone comes running towards you calling your name really loudly. How would you feel?”

 

Her eyebrows gathered briefly, “I’d be a bit annoyed,” she said.

 

“Yes!” I shouted, excited that her mind had taken a step down the path I wanted to lead it on. “That’s the same situation the Prophet (SAW) was in, and you know what happened? ‘Abasa wa tawalla’ – ‘He frowned and turned away.’”

 

There was no mistaking the sharp gasp that escaped her lips, and I imagined a click of recognition in her mind – the verse now made sense. At that very moment, my 6 year old daughter connected an incident that happened to the Prophet (SAW) not only to the Qur’an, but to herself.

 

“So, what happened?” she asked, shuffling a little closer to me on the bed. I smiled and laid the copy of the Qur’an out on my lap for her to peer into, requesting that she recite the subsequent verses of Surah al-Abasa. With each verse she recited, I narrated the story behind them, animatedly peppering them with colour and life, drawing her into the very scene of the incident when the blind man came running to the Prophet (SAW) with a question. My little girl was mesmerised, as though for the first time in her life the Qur’an had come alive. And at that point I knew a dream of mine had come true.

 

I’ve always dreamt of being a storyteller: having a group of children huddled around me, completely enthralled by the journey I was taking them on; for little minds to wander around lands painted with words, to be immersed in adventures, and to wonder what would come next. The world is full of stories that can be told, but I soon realised that the stories of old that Allah (SWT) tells us in the Qur’an are by far more captivating than any I could ever narrate off the top of my head. The thought that I could capture the tales in the Qur’an in a way my children could understand was the very drive of what we now call ‘Qur’an Academy’.

 

Narrating the stories in the Qur’an in a language children understand lies at the heart of them appreciating it, comprehending it, being in awe of it, and most importantly, loving it. Simply providing the meaning of verses doesn’t truly water young minds as they see them as mere stories from the past. However, extracting lessons on how the very verses they have stored in their heads apply to them and their lives highlights the magnitude of the Book revealed to a man who was never able to read it (SAW).

 

“If I crushed a bone, can I bring the dust together to make a bone again?” I asked my children just before bedtime one night – we were going through the verses of Surah an-Naba.

 

“No, no way. You could never do that,” my son declared.

 

“You’re right, but you know… Allah will do that to us when we’re brought back to life.” I watched as they turned to one another in amazement, their minds ticking over with questions of how, where, and when. “Is there anything we can learn from these verses?”

 

“Yeah! Allah is really powerful!”
My heart fluttered hearing my daughter speak of our Lord with an admiration I’d never heard before. I could easily have told them that Allah (SWT) is powerful and He’ll bring us all to life long after we depart this world, but posing a question about the verses we were reviewing allowed them the opportunity to come to that same conclusion themselves – a method of teaching called ‘guided discovery’. My main aim with Qu’ran Academy isn’t just for them to hear wonderful tales, but to be able to draw their own lessons from them, analyse them through their own eyes, and see for themselves how rich the Qur’an is.

 

This method of exploring the words of Allah is easily implemented by anyone, whether you have a dream of storytelling or not. Here are a few tips for establishing Qur’an wonderment in your children’s minds.

 

Keep it simple
The chapters and verses we cover are those my children have actually memorised because I want them to be able to reflect on them whenever they recite. There’s no harm in covering chapters unknown to your children, but the shorter chapters in the 30th part of the Qur’an are a good place to start.

 

Draw on themes
Surah al-Falaq and Surah an-Nas are chapters on protection and you can easily elicit all the things they would like Allah (SWT) to protect them from – getting them to see the chapters in a light that’s relevant to them.

 

Ask as well as tell
By posing questions to your children, the session becomes one of discovery for you and them. Children have inquisitive minds and are also extremely observant of their surroundings and experiences – what they come out with might surprise you.

 

Short and concise
One of the best ways to keep your little ones on their toes is to stop midway through a session, telling them the narration is to be continued. This builds up suspense and excitement, and there’s a tinge of joy knowing they want to hear more about what Allah (SWT) has revealed to us.

 

The Qur’an is more than just a book – it’s a treasure trove of lessons, promises of glad tidings, and guidance on how we can avoid the pitfalls faced by those who preceded us. Opening the world of the Qur’an through its stories and narratives in an entertaining way that children can comprehend and relate to is like introducing them to a new realm they can also be a part of.

 

 

 

LaYinka Sanni is a UK-based editor, writer, and teacher who has been writing for longer than she can count on two hands. When she’s not mentoring writers, teaching, or editing, she can be found curled in a book or tapping words on her blog: http://www.LaYinkaSanni.com/writing.

 

 

Read Part 1 HERE: The Qur’an, Our Children and Us.

Juli Herman recounts her efforts to encourage her children to learn the Qur’an and discovers an important aspect of being a parent along the way.

 

 

Read Part 3 HERE: The Qur’an vs. the Computer Game – How to Make the Book Win

Sana Gul provides practical steps to make the Qur’an become a welcome part of our children’s growth and education.