A TOUCHING STORY
Ahmed was 11 years old when his mother (a single mom) dropped him off for his first Qirat lesson. I prefer that students (especially boys!) begin at an earlier age, which I explained to Ahmed. But Ahmed said that it had always been his mother's dream to hear him recite the Quran. So I took him as a student. Well, Ahmed began with his Qirat lessons and from the beginning I thought it was a hopeless endeavor. As much as he tried, he lacked the sense of reading and failed to recognize the alphabets. But he dutifully read the Quran that I require all my students to learn.
Over the months he tried and tried while I listened and cringed and tried to encourage him. At the end of each weekly lesson he'd always say, "My mom's going to hear me recite someday." But it seemed hopeless. He just did not have any inborn ability. I only knew his mother from a distance as she dropped Ahmed off or waited in her aged car to pick him up. She always waved and smiled but never stopped in.
Then one day Ahmed stopped coming to our lessons. I thought about calling him but assumed, because of his lack of ability, that he had decided to pursue something else. I also was glad that he stopped coming. He was a bad advertisement for my teaching!
Several weeks later I mailed to the student's homes a flyer on the upcoming recital. To my surprise Ahmed (who received a flyer) asked me if he could be in the recital. I told him that the recital was for current pupils and because he had dropped out he really did not qualify. He said that his mom had been sick and unable to take him to Qirat lessons but he was still practicing. "Miss ... I've just got to recite!" he insisted. I don't know what led me to allow him to participate in the recital. Maybe it was his persistence or maybe it was something inside of me saying that it would be all right.
The night for the recital came. The high school gymnasium was packed with parents, friends and relatives. I put Ahmed up last in the program before I was to come up and thank all the students and play a finishing piece. I thought that any damage he would do would come at the end of the program and I could always salvage his poor performance through my "curtain closer."
Well, the recital went off without a hitch. The students had been practicing and it showed. Then Ahmed came up on stage. His clothes were wrinkled and his hair looked like he'd run an eggbeater through it. "Why didn't he dress up like the other students?" I thought. "Why didn't his mother at least make him comb his hair for this special night?"
He began. I was surprised when he announced that he had chosen Surah-Al Kahf. I was not prepared for what I heard next. His voice was light and soft.
His rectials were perfect! Never had I heard a recital so well by a person his age. After six and a half minutes he ended . Overcome and in tears I ran up on stage and put my arms around Ahmed in joy. "I've never heard like that Ahmed! How'd you do it?" Through the microphone Ahmed explained: "Well Shaykh...remember I told you my mom was sick? Well, actually she had cancer and passed away this morning. And well....she was born deaf so tonight was the first time she ever heard me play. I wanted to make it special." There wasn't a dry eye in the house that evening. As the people from Social Services led Ahmed from the stage to be placed into foster care, I noticed that even their eyes were red and puffy and I thought to myself how much richer my life had been for taking Ahmed as my pupil. ... He was the teacher and I was the pupil. For it is he that taught me the meaning of perseverance and love and believing in yourself and maybe even taking a chance in someone and you don't know why.