I met Um Esa at Markez Fajr. She had a kind of dry sense of humor which she’d use it in the kitchen during our breaks. I’d always been shy, but I realized if I wanted friends, I’d have to make some of the first moves. I found out (as I’d guessed) that she was a Londoner of Bengali origin. She’s come to Egypt a few months prior to us. During the course of our conversations, I found her son, Esa, 8, at the time same age as my oldest, had memorized five juz of Quran. Wow, I thought. We’d always planned for our kids to memorize the entire Quran, but had assumed they wouldn’t start in earnest until they were older, say 12. This changed the whole equation! I quickly got hooked up with her teacher and started the kids on private Quran lessons.
It became a competition among the kids. How much have you memorized? Or, I’m on such and such juz or surah. I remember being on an elevator with a sister from Kosovo, she told me with pride that her son, the same age as mind had memorized 10 azja. My son, who had finished about 15 juz, said, “that’s all!” It got so that was the first question they’d ask a kid when they met, ‘what surah are you on?’ LOL, once they said it to their American cousins, who weren’t even memorizing the Quran!
Um Esa was who I’d go to to ask questions about the kids reviewing the surahs they’d memorized. Or to find a new teacher or Quran school. I tried her ideas, put Quran on while they are playing. Have them listen to each other recite. Um Esa would make charts to track their progress, and much of it she did alone, while her husband worked in Britian. Her son finished his hifz last year, before his 11th birthday. Her daughter was about 3/4’s finished and was trying to finish the same year. Her kids recite beautifully mashallah. I’m still waiting for my ‘moment’, when my oldest inshallah finishes. She still has 4 azja remaining. I don’t think I ever could have pushed her alone, dh primarily works with them and makes sure they are progessing and reviewing.