We found that most other Qāʿidahs do not have any chaptering or breakdown of learning objectives. The students, and sometimes teachers, progress from one exercise to another without realising what the goals behind them were. This lack of breakdown of objective is also unhealthy for the student’s morale as they have no short-term targets to work towards and can lose motivation. Therefore, the Safar Qāʿidah has been divided into several sections with each being called a level. In each level, a new skill or topic will be introduced and covered. The level system has proved to be very effective in motivating students.
The words in the Qur’an are Allah’s (swt) words. This not only makes their recitation more rewarding in the hereafter, but we also believe they have a positive impact on the student’s learning and progress; Allah (Swt) has said, We have made the Qur’an easy to remember… (54:40) In most other Qāʿidahs, we found that many words had crept in which were not found in the Qur’an. This is by no means incorrect, but the words of the Qur’an will always hold superiority.
Some Qāʿidahs have tried to use examples only from the Qur’an but have either not found enough examples for the students to master the level, or they have had to make slight alterations to the writing to make it fit the level. For example, sometimes people have written a standing kasrah instead of a Yā, or taken a word written together in the Qur’an and omitted part of it.
We were not content with all of the above-mentioned, so we carried out a comprehensive survey of the Qur’an, to the best of our abilities, combining direct human efforts and modern technological aids, to find ample examples from the Qur’an for each level. Occasionally, we have removed the Wāw of from the beginning of some individual words, but have not made any other changes to the text.
Reciting the Qur’an correctly involves many elements that are beyond the remit of a Qāʿidah: students require much practice to build their fluency, as well as time to learn and implement the complex rules of Tajweed. At Safar, we have kept the Qāʿidah as an independent publication at the same time as integrating it into to a comprehensive syllabus that takes a student from his introduction to the sounds of Arabic letters, all the way through to expert recitation. By doing this, teachers, parents and students are able to keep a holistic view of progress and ensure no aspect is neglected.
Complete and Logical Sequence
The ability to recite the Qur’an is dependent on several individual skills; for example, the ability to recognise joined letters, the ability to regulate the length of each vowel, and so on. In our analysis of other available Qāʿidahs, we noticed that most of them contain gaps where certain key elements have not been covered formally and students are expected to guess or understand themselves. Sometimes, the logical sequence of this learning has also been ignored with some elements being presented in inappropriate places. Sometimes, examples contain concepts and elements which have not yet introduced to the students causing confusion and obstacles for the students.
To solve this, each level in the Safar Qāʿidah is a gradual and logical progression from the previous one. An effort has been made to fill any gaps in that exist in other Qāʿidahs, as well as trying to not allow any elements not yet formally covered into the examples. To add to this, students are given mixed exercises at the end of each level, to revise and recap everything they have learned previously.
Selecting and Arranging Examples
In selecting examples for each exercise, certain considerations have been taken, like not allowing too many examples to follow a single vocal pattern. This is to avoid students guessing the pronunciation of an example based on the last one, when they are supposed to work out each example separately.
We have also tried to make sure that not a single example contains any elements that they have not yet covered. For example, no examples will have fatḥahs until fatḥah has been formerly introduced. Likewise, examples containing ikhfā have been left out until the student has learned about ikhfā, and so on.
We then arranged the examples in each exercise so they progress from the easiest to the most difficult, taking into consideration the number of letters or words in the examples as well as the weight and difficulty of the letters.
There are several prints of the Qur’an based on the narration of Imām Ḥafs from Imām ʿĀsim –may Allah have mercy on both. One of the most popular, globally, is the 13-line print which is most common amongst Muslims who do not speak Arabic, due to the simplicity and clarity of the script, as well as certain phonetic marks to aid those unfamiliar with Arabic grammar. The print is known as the Taj Company print as they are believed to be the original commissioners of the transcription. It is also referred to as the South African Qur’an due to the Waterval Institute’s reprinting and vast distribution in the Western world.
We chose this script, as have many other Qāʿidahs. A problem faced in this regard, however, is that a computer font is usually used to compose the Qāʿidah or a calligrapher is assigned to transcribe all the examples. At Safar Academy, we have tried both methods in the past but have found that neither prepares the students properly to read Qur’anic script because of the nuances in the calligraphy. Therefore, we decided to use the actual hand-written words from the 13-Line Qur’an – may Allah (Swt) reward all those who were involved in its transcription.