What is worse than a migraine? Napping and waking up an hour later bathed in perspiration because the power is cut off in the most humid of Pakistani summers with the said migraine doubled in intensity.

Yesterday was THAT kind of day but alhamdulillah `alaa kulli haal… You know, I have become used to the load shedding. I have. It happens three times a day, each lasting an hour. We know exactly when it is going to happen and for how long so when the electricity is cut, we invade my mum-in-law’s territory (it is cooler downstairs) or just try to keep ourselves occupied till it is turned back on.

Still, the city’s development council decided to mess with my mind just so I don’t get too sure of myself. They cut the power at a different time AND for a much longer period! I was about to bust a gut stressing over whether I could iron my kids’ karate gi in time for the class when not only was the power restored, but the rain came down! The neighbours’ kids came over and they all had a grand old time in the rain. I was quite the contented one – I managed to get the kids’ uniforms all nice and spanky if only so they could get them all filthy dirty within 5 minutes of the class :)

Anyway, just so this doesn’t turn into a completely vacuous post, I thought I would talk about a few gems which have helped us with our Qur’an lessons:

Colour-coded Tajweed Mushaf – When Ms M was in Singapore, her teachers at the masjid used a set of readers that thoroughly frustrated her. The book was poorly designed and the verses were printed extremely closely together so much so that Ms M would feel overwhelmed just LOOKING at the pages. (I admit, the readers intimidated me too! *S*) Ms M would return home looking very down each day, saying that she had to repeat her assignments. I was a little taken aback because she was already reading the Qur’an at home and doing it rather well ma shaa Allah. It was only when I saw the books that I realised why her progress was poor. We bought her her own mushaf which looks like this one and once she moved on from the readers, there was no holding her back alhamdulillah. The font – Uthmanic script – suits her well and the layout is also easy on the eye. The tajweed rules are colour-coded to help her recite and pronounce properly – I know some purists who disagree on relying on these masaahif and insist that one should memorise the tajweed rules instead. In shaa Allah I hope that my kids and I will do so, but until then, these are extremely helpful.

Touched By An Angel - Tafseer of Juz `Amma Touched by An Angel – Tafseer of Juz Amma by Muhammad Alshareef – This is a 16-CD set (audio) of a seminar given by AlMaghrib Institute solely dedicated to the explanation of Part 30 of the Qur’an. I like that the speaker warns listeners that a large number of people never actually listen or complete the CDs they purchase. This helps put us into serious learning mode. Muhammad Alshareef has a very engaging style and a talent for examples that strike a chord so lessons are nothing short of inspiring.

You can download a free Study Guide & Personal Notebook Exam. The Study Guide is about 200 pages long and contains useful notes, translations and explanations of the verses as well as quizzes. It is well-designed with space for students to write down gems they glean from the lectures.

Methodical Interpretation of the Noble Qur'an Methodical Interpretation of the Noble Qur’an – This textbook provides an overview of every Surah. Lessons include translations of verses, lists of important vocabulary, tafseer and points that students can ponder over. There are questions that students can tackle as well. I found the tafseer section a little brief, but parents/teachers can easily supplement with other texts. It is well organised so if you are short on time, this book will help you through lessons. Easy on the eye layout and hardcover. I hope that Darussalam will publish more of such books for the other parts of the Qur’an.

Ad-Duha’s Tafseer books for young students – Ms M was very proud to get her own set of tafseer books. Ad-Duha’s books are very much on the Qur’an and Sunnah and they are informative yet easy for young readers. Each book comes with a summary of the surah, its commentary and questions for narration/comprehension. These help a great deal in promoting self-study and revision. Ad-Duha’s site is closed for maintenance at the moment, but will be open before Ramadan in shaa Allah. More good reads in store I hope!

Juz Amma Teacher with children’s repetition- Ms M’s favourite qari is Meshary Rashid Alafasy so last `Eid, we gave her this 2-CD set as a gift. The qari reads a verse and his students (adorable sounding children ma shaa Allah!) repeat after him. Sometimes the students make mistakes and Sh Afasy corrects them (in Arabic) and requests that they repeat the verse. My kids find this cute and feel heartened that they aren’t the only ones making mistakes. The clear recording, Sh Afasy’s melodious voice and the children’s distinct enunciation make it a pleasurable listen.

Juz Amma Teacher with ‘space’ – I don’t have this CD set but I understand that it follows the same format as the previous CD. The only difference is that there is a blank ‘space’ after the qari recites to allow the listener to attempt the same verse.

Ahl-ul Qur'an Gear CDAhl ul Qur’an Gear by Haroon Baqai – This 9-CD set was given to us by a dear sister in Singapore as a farewell gift when we moved to Pakistan :) It contains recitation (with a pause / blank ‘space’ for you to practise after the qari), exercises and review from Surah an-Naas to Surah al-‘Alaa. I think that it is nice for the young ones as the qari speaks to the listener in a gentle and encouraging way. (He speaks in English by the way.)

Qur’an Plugin for MS Word – – This is a very nice tool for Qur’an studies ma shaa Allah. With it, you can insert verses from the Qur’an and also the translation into your documents. The English translation is `Abdullah Yusuf `Ali’s. There are other translations available as well: French, German, Bosnian, Malay, Farsi, Russian, etc. I love it because I’ve been able to create my own tafseer booklets, copywork / notebooking material for the kids’ Qur’an studies.