Nothing in the entire universe is as potent, precious or powerful as the words of the Divine. No other words have the power to tear you down to pieces and build you up again beautifully, to heal, to enlighten, to comfort, soothe and warn. To awe inspire, to rejuvenate, to enchant and to open doors to us than the words of our Lord. From miracles bestowed to our religious ancestors to sublime metaphors and words of reassurance, hope and guidance, the Qur’an is an endless treasure trove, dynamic and alive. These words should permeate every cell of our body and second of our day, they should form the backbone of our every action and purpose, but how many of us truly expend the time and energy we owe to them?
A while back, I came across the wonderful work that @faakihah does online. I was utterly inspired and instantly fell in love with her creative techniques and the depth of her study. After giving ‘Qur’an Journaling’ a go, even just truly pondering over a few ayahs along with their etymology, commentary etc, I began to feel something incredible. It was as if doors were being unlocked, layers and layers of meaning and significance begin to reveal themselves, and the most beautiful part is that the entire process is so personal and relevant to the nuances of your life and interactions. By truly reflecting and studying the Book, we should begin to move closer to the Author, discover wonderful meaning and secrets that lie in wait, and all the while, transform our existence. If you truly want to hear and feel God talking to you, why not give this sacred practice a go (it’s also incredibly meditative and relaxing!)?
Put simply, Qur’an Journaling is exactly what it sounds like, committing to regular studying, analysing and reflecting on God’s blessed verses and putting it down on paper somehow. I was fortunate enough to chat to the beautiful sister behind the @faakihah brand (who wishes to remain anonymous, may Allah infuse her every step with sincerity and deeper Iman) about her journey:
I started Quran Journaling sometime in 2016, although I wasn’t aware that it was called as such back then. At the time, I was studying Quranic Arabic via an online course. Our final class project was to read simple Arabic Tafseer on several surahs of juz Amma. To keep myself motivated for it I would create watercolour brush lettering pieces of the translation of certain ayaat and write down my reflections on the ayah. I was also keeping a bullet journal and would write down my reflections as they come in discussions and conversations with my husband. I had my reflections all over the place in different forms and different notebooks. At the end of that year, I decided to have a dedicated notebook for my personal reflections on the ayaat of the Qur’an and that was also around the time I discovered the term “Qur’an Journal”. So the journal came about from my class project and bullet journal. I have been studying the Tafseer of the Qur’an and other Islamic studies for some time and would often have enriching and interesting discussions with my husband about ayaat of the Qur’an. Some were very profound and life-changing and I felt that I must record them for future references, in the case that I may forget parts of them, or maybe for when I wanted to share them with close friends and families.
The more I learn about the Qur’an, I’ve gained new understanding and perspectives that I feel should be recorded as it’s also a record of my spiritual journey with the Qur’an. And so that became the essence of my Qur’an Journal.
F: Alhamdulillah. Praise and thanks are only and only for Allah, for without His blessings and Guidance, my Qur’an Journal wouldn’t have been much at all. Since I’ve started Qur’an journaling, I’ve noticed a few significant changes in many aspects of myself and my life in general. For one, it deepens my growing relationship to the Qur’an. I’m journaling surahs which I recited regularly. From this I’ve noticed how I became more present with my recitations as I am not only understanding the meaning of the ayaat but also recall the Tafseer & my personal reflections that I jotted down in my Qur’an Journal. The exercise is definitely very spirituality uplifting as it gives life to the recitations. I also only journal surahs or ayaat that I have previously studied and so have some background knowledge on. Journaling on these allows extended study and exploration of my Qur’an studies in more depth. It has undeniably increased my understanding of the ayaat that I have studied, especially when I’m reflecting in relation to my normal daily life. I started sharing my Qur’an journaling pages on my Instagram account around late Dec 2017. My intention has always been to encourage others to study about the Qur’an, to seek knowledge and to learn more about Islam beyond the basics that was taught when we were children. Unintentionally, I have gained friends online via my posts. I’m a very introverted and timid person and it took a lot of courage for me to start sharing publicly. The interactions, support and love from the Qur’an Journaling community on Instagram has been nothing but heart-warming and has given me self confidence that I didn’t know I had before. There’s so much more I can say about how Qur’an journaling has affected me but then this article might never end. I often shared them on my Instagram account. However, I can summarise it in one way. More than anything else, Qur’an journaling has made me become an endlessly grateful servant of Allah.
Again, nothing would have been possible if it was not for Allah. Glory be to Him!
F: For someone starting out, my one and biggest advice is to start by sitting down and thinking through why you’d like to Qur’an Journal, for your intention is what drives the whole process and the benefits that you’ll gain from it. Next is to start wherever and however you are comfortable. Remember to make it your own. You decide on how it should look. There’s no right or wrong to it as long as you benefit from it. Also do not be discouraged by other’s work or compare yourself to others. There is no pre-requisite to Qur’an journaling, and you definitely don’t need to be “creatively-inclined” to do it. What’s important is that you find the exercise enjoyable and meditative, no matter how you do it. All you need is a pen, paper and your thoughts. Be sincere in it and you’ll find that your Qur’an Journal reflects your spiritual growth.
F: My priority has always been to seek knowledge, learn and study. The Qur’an Journal only serves as a means to revise and put into practice what I have learned in my studies. I don’t have a fixed schedule in my journaling. I would journal at the very least once weekly. There are times when the inspirations and thoughts came one after another, in that case I would make several entries at once. However, I do not spend more than 45 minutes on an entry, that includes all the art journaling part and reflections part of it.
F: I am also tutoring sisters in beginner’s Quranic Arabic via skype. The sessions are carried one-on-one, privately where I share my personal notes, tips & experiences from my six years of studying the subject from Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan and the Bayyinah Institutes. These sessions are becoming the heart of my days and I am ever so grateful for them. I’m probably learning more from these wonderful and brilliant sisters than they expect to from me, mashaAllah! I’m also in the early phase of planning for an online workshop for Quran journaling because of the great demand for it. Insha-Allah. There’s a number of future plans that I am currently working on. InshaAllah. May He ease it.
F: You can find me on Instagram as @faakihah where I share my journey in seeking knowledge, tutoring, and crafting. There are also links to my website, blog and Etsy shop from my Instagram profile. I have a few blog posts on Qur’an Journaling, my journey, approach and how to start a QJ in more depth. You can also check out the hashtag #faakihahqj to look at examples of my QJ entries. I hope my sharing will motivate, inspire and encourage other sisters to learn more about the Qur’an and religion and enjoy the spiritual journey in our effort to bring ourselves closer to Allah and to improve ourselves as the grateful and humble servant we should be. May Allah be pleased.”
Be sure to follow @Faakihah on Instagram for inspiration, and whether you choose a Biro and bits of paper, or a brown paper scrapbook, paints, stamps and washi tape, purify your intentions and get to work. Think about what God is telling you. Delve into the depths of each letter and word and sentence and commit yourself to this study, for it is worth more than the universe and all it contains.
May the Lord of the Worlds open his doors to you! Please remember to say a little prayer for Faakihah and myself too.
Hiba is an Oxford graduate Physicist/Engineer by academic background and an author by soul. Her first commissioned children's book was published in 2019 by Penguin RandomHouse, and she is working on her first novel. Also a freelance journalist, she has written for The Independent and blogged for HuffPost, alongside having worked as a Physics teacher and Refugee Advocate at The Children's Society. Founder of global ethical brand Kusafiri, you will find her either traveling the world or saving money to travel the world. She loves quantum Physics, planting things and painting in watercolours. She especially loves sweetshops and good grammar. Hiba is currently interning at the United Nations and studying an MA at Soas, She has recently released her first picture book: The Little War Cat a couple of months ago with Macmillan Children's Books. Twitter & IG: @Hibanoorkhan1