A Lesson of Faith Muslim Children Spend Many Years Learning Quran

Article excerpt

Byline: David Ferrara Daily Herald Staff Writer

In a corner of the mosque in Villa Park, Muslim children kneel before a small wooden desk, absorbed in the Quran.

Cradling the holy book in their hands, they study meticulously for hours at a time, long after most children their age are at home.

At just after 4 p.m. on a Wednesday, Aadil Rahman, an 11-year- old Naperville boy, closes his book and rests it on the wooden stand at his side.

Slowly, he rises and shuts his eyes.

Facing his instructor and father, Habib-Ur-Rahman, and bowing his head, Aadil sways as Arabic scripture flows from his head. He has memorized the passage word for word.

About 70 children are in the mosque Mondays through Thursdays after school for the studies. Like Aadil, most spend hours in an after-school class as well as using blocks of their weekends studying at home.

Aadil's been reading the Arabic version of the Quran for three years and now has two parts of the book memorized. But like many Muslim children studying at the Islamic Foundation, Aadil first had to master reading the language.

"Once I learned it, I can actually see things from the Quran," Aadil says. "It's like a picture in my head."

The boy's daily routine is part of a practice hundreds of Muslim children in the suburbs perform year-round to strengthen their religious faith.

Habib-Ur-Rahman, an Imam, or man who leads prayers at the mosque, guides children as they memorize the 800-page holy book.

He watches them and listens. He speaks rarely, occasionally in prophetic tone. He compares one's heart to a pot in which good and evil shouldn't be mixed and likens the Quran to a camel that won't wander from the children if they keep it close.

While Aadil is still in the early stages of his Quranic studies, students such as Fahad Khan have traveled abroad to master the book.

Fahad, a devout Muslim boy, dedicated more than three years of his life to memorizing the holy book. …