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20 year-old Bint Saad, a student of Qur'an residing in Cape Town, South Africa shares her personal story of her journey towards Allah. She aspires to complete a BA degree in Islamic Studies and to teach the translation of the meanings of the Qur'an in-sha-Allah.

Her tone was different. Her tone was firm. She was being serious. "You can't be one person in class and another outside of class." Her words came down on me like a ton of bricks.

"Did she see me somewhere?" was my first thought as I sat in class, in the masjid actually - it being our classroom. It was my first year at Darun-Na’im Li-Zuhūr and my Mu'allimah was giving her usual naseeha (advice) as she did every morning. I always looked forward to it and took in every word she said. This morning, however, as her tone of voice was resolute, I really had to take a step back and look at myself.

I had learned about renewing one’s intention and it was time to renew mine. I initially intended to do this course as an Academic pursuit. I went to school a year early so I had a year to spare. “Wow, it would be cool to learn to translate the Qur’an!” I thought. Little did I know that it would transform my life. This course isn’t just about translating the Qur’an but living it!

For the first two and a half months of the course I learned Arabic grammar and morphology whilst receiving naseeha every morning. As I was fresh out of high school and having been at a strict school where I had to be in immaculate uniform, I went wild and highlighted my hair, got extra piercings in my ears and wore hot pink stilettos. My heart was completely encrusted with black spots and each morning, my heart was cleansed, little by little.** Allah SWT was preparing my heart for the Qur’an.

After completing the Arabic language prerequisites, the translation of the meanings of the Qur’an commenced. I was amazed at how easy it was to understand and the simple language that Allah SWT uses. After translating the first page of Suratul Baqarah, my whole perception of success changed. It was enough for me to know who the successful are, according to Allah SWT Himself, and to strive towards being among them.

I transformed over a short period of time which included making hijabi friends, deleting the music off my phone and putting an end to watching TV, series and movies, Alhamdulillah. My external change proved to be the greatest challenge. Although I had always dressed relatively modestly, I never truly realised hijab meant no perfume, no make-up, and no skinny jeans! After about one month, I went into complete hijab and started memorising the Quran part-time, Alhamdulillah. Allah SWT tested me with bad acne just when I started wearing hijab, but He strengthened my imaan and I got through it, Alhamdulillah.

I’ll always remember the first time I felt that Allah SWT was speaking to me directly. We came across the ayah “… And remember Him, as He has guided you, for indeed, you were before that among those astray.” (2:198). It was the first time I realised that I was astray and Allah SWT had guided me, Subhaanallah!

The remarkable mission statement of Darun-Na’im li-Zuhūr is “Towards meeting Allah with a sound heart”. This is based upon a well-known verse in the holy Qur'an: “A day when neither wealth nor children will benefit [anyone] in the least, except the one who comes to Allah with a sound heart” (26:88-89). When I look back at myself, I think: mission accomplished; well, almost: I started off my year with a black-encrusted heart and ended off with one striving to be sound.

I thank Allah SWT for guiding me and I ask Him to bless my Mu’allimah with the best of success in this world and the next. May Allah SWT grant us all a deep understanding of the Qur’an and a meaningful relationship with it. Ameen.

*“Burkini” is just used for creative writing purposes. Although it attempts to be hijab-friendly, it isn’t and I no longer wear them.
** In light of the hadith “When a slave commits a sin, a black spot appears on his heart but if he gives it up, seeks forgiveness and repents, his heart will be cleansed but if he repeats it, (the blackness) will increase until it overwhelms his heart.” [Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah]