Learning Tajweed– Part Three

Kicked Out!

I spent a fruitful term sitting in the circle with the “literate” ladies.  We read, but the class focused on memorization. That was fine. I wanted more, however.  I knew that tajweed had rules of its own apart from grammar and I wanted to learn them.  My husband suggested I enroll in a new madrassa that was opening in the neighborhood, so I took my girls and enrolled.  There, I was put into a class with barely literate women, but that was fine, as long as we were reading and learning the rules of tajweed. My girls (whose native language is Arabic) went to a more advanced class.

After a few days, the mudeera (director) pulled us aside as we headed for our classes. She said, “We have a special class starting soon, a class for Western women, and I’m sure you’ll feel more comfortable there.”

“Fine,” I told her, and started for my classroom so I wouldn’t be late.

“Wait,” she said, and then gave me a speech about how, as a Westerner, I would want to learn with other Western women, therefore I should wait for the new class to start rather than continue. Something sounded fishy. I knew I was the only Westerner who lived in the neighborhood within a twenty-five mile radius.

“OK.” I said, “but I know how to read. What I need is pronunciation.”

She said I didn’t read well enough to remain in any class other than the special one being organized for Westerners, and I said yes, I do read well enough, “…and I’ll show you.” I opened the mushaf (copy of Qur’an) and started to read. 

“No, no, you must go now. We’ll phone you when your class starts.”

“What?!” I said. “Ask my teacher. She’ll tell you that I am doing fine!”

“No. Please leave!” She got up and herded my girls and I out the door. My girls spoke up for me, but could not soften the will of the mudeera to be rid of us. The girls nearly cried. As we left the building, the mudeera shouted, “Wait! You can’t leave like that,” and threw down three pairs of black gloves.

We put them on and walked home, all three of us in tears.


(Today I am leaving for our family cottage in the nothern part of the state– a mini-vacation while I’m still on medical leave for my hand. I won’t be able to post for an eternity of six days. I’ll have to work off-line, preparing future posts, of course.)



About Marahm

At first glance, I may appear to be a middle-aged American woman with kids, grandkids, retired from a job in a hospital, gratefully relieved from the responsibilities that come with all of that. Behind the image, which is true enough, I am fairly unhinged from much of American mainstream living, having spent twelve years in Saudi Arabia, years that sprung me from societal and familial impositions, and narrow bands of truth. I have learned to embrace my identity as a seeker, an artist, and a writer. I study Arabic and Italian language, because I love them, and I love their people. I still dream of spending more time in the Middle East and Italy, though the dreaming now seems more real than the possibilities. I am a photographer. I write, and sometimes publish, flash memoir, and now a blog or two.
This entry was posted in Arabic Language, Islam, Memoir, Saudi Arabia, Tajweed and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Learning Tajweed– Part Three

  1. WM says:

    “She said I didn’t read well enough to remain in any class other than the special one”

    Sorry, you didn’t even *consider* the possibility that she might have been right?


    Your arguments are the vindication of the (part of the) ayah: ‘Wa huwwa fi’l khisami ghayru mubin’

    I’m sure with your mastery of arabic you will be able to tell us all what I’m talking about.

  2. Shahrzad says:

    Oh my God.. What a behavier.. She seems more racist than concerned about your arabic.. 😕

    I would throw those black gloves back her face..

  3. Solace says:

    How sad! Rather try and find a new teacher!

  4. Umm Ibrahim says:

    Assalaamu alaikum,

    Subhan Allah ~ how sad and what an awful experience. 😦

    WM… Even if her reading was not great, I don’t see why the mudeera would not allow her to stay in the most basic class. I have heard of ladies joining mosque Qur’an classes here in Riyadh with barely a grasp on the Arabic language, being allowed to continue and struggle and put in a lot of work at home and benefit hugely from that experience even if their achievement at the end of the year is not the same as that of the native Arabic speakers. It really does sound as though, for some reason, the mudeera or other ladies or both, were not comfortable with an American in class – an American MUSLIMAH. 😦

  5. Aafke says:

    So much for the Ummah,
    That goes for you too, WM: as a brother you could be a bit more sustaining especially as Marahm is talking about learning tajweed. You should study a bit more yourself. I wish you would take the character of the prophet a bit more as your example.

    What a terrible story Marahm! I had anticipated something juicy and funny, and seriously bad behaviour by the writer! But this isn’t funny at all! Somewhere it reminds me of my first english teacher, who didn’t like me, and therefore hated the fact that I was very good at english. This woman was seriously disturbed! Just as well you had to leave. Your girls too?

    And what is it with the black gloves?

  6. Aafke says:

    And how is your hand doing? Hope you have a wonderful time right now! 🙂

  7. Kicking you out of the class like that just seems to be very UN-Islamic behavior. You would think they would be happy to spread the word and encourage you to continue instead of treating you like that. They are happy that you converted but then they don’t really want you to learn more? I don’t get it!
    Have a great time at the cottage!

  8. WM says:

    Oh…I get it now. I had to read it through again.

  9. Marahm says:

    Thank you all for your interesting comments. I am back from six lovely days in the north woods, at our family cottage. All I did was sit, read, write, and walk in the woods. I also went shopping, of course.

    Well, on to the comments.

    WM, Good point, though not very tactfully said. My reading might not have been good enough, but it was. As for your ayah, I am sorry. I do not read transliteration– never bothered to learn it when I could read the real thing.

    Aafke, the black gloves are worn by some ladies in Riyadh as a sign of extreme modesty and piety. They also cover their entire face with opaque veils, and wear black, opaque socks as well. They are the first to chastize women they think are not modestly dressed.

    All– My hand is healing faster and better than I expected, alhumdullilah. My doctor said I’ll need six weeks before the underlying tissues are healed enough to do heavy work, like lifting up my grandchildren. That will be tough.

    The tajweed story gets more weird. I’ll post the next part tonight or tomorrow, insha’Allah.

  10. WM says:

    You’re back! 😀

    وَهُوَ فِى الْخِصَامِ غَيْرُ مُبِينٍ

    Read the real thing 😉

  11. SubhanAllah after reading the newer posts first and then this one I figured it out then. Still she could have thrown you out with more grace and curtersy! A please leave or something or a chance to tell your side of the tale….. I’ll continue on in the other post lol

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