Qur’an is the most widely read book in history but simultaneously the least understood”. How to remove this ignorance? How to make people understand the message of the Qur’an? These questions continued to baffle collegiate Professor Kaleemullah Khan’s mind. Then he undertook an oath to himself that he would read, understand and then propagate the message of this book(Qur’an) to others. Thus began journey of Adult Quranic Education Programme (AQEP) with this single clandestine pledge of a young man, who through self study began comparative study of different religions and Qur’an. Though it took Khan Sahib five years to complete his first complete revision of Qur’an, he had read the book cover to cover with understanding and initially started to proclaim its teachings to his friends and near and dear ones. Then in 1978 AQEP began to function formally and full fledgedly, since then its sphere of influence has been growing by leaps and bounds.
Whom is this programme supposed to address and why the word ‘Adult’? ‘Kaleem Ulllah Khan assures that “Only a minority among 1.2 billion Muslims can understand the language of Qur’an i.e. Arabic, and a majority of Muslims for whom Arabic is an alien language or for one reason or other they can’t master or study Arabic, so why let the barrier of Arabic hinder our understanding of Qur’an when it is meant for the whole of mankind? So this programme is a ray of hope for such people. Talking in context of Kashmir where Islam spread by the teachings of Sufis, barring the first period of Islam’s spread no vigorous or indigenous movement was initiated to understand the teachings of Qur’an. Regarding the word Adult, Khan admits that he is not psychologically so competent to address the Qur’anic message to kids though he points to the fact that there is no mention of age in Qur’an to understand its meaning.
These Educational programmes are today conducted in three languages(Kashmiri, Urdu and English) depending upon the participants intellectual capability. Khan reminds me of the one point programme of AQEP “To read and Understand Qur’an”. He reiterates his stance by asserting that mere reading of Qur’an can’t revolutionize people. Twenty Five classes every week are co-ordinated by Khan in different Masjids in Srinagar besides these there are special classes for male and female physicians conducted separately which were started on February 20, 2005. Another exciting innovative programme for students is the “Class On Wheels”.
The ‘Class On Wheels’, as its name suggests, is a class which takes place in Khan Sahib’s spacious car with a bunch of students whom Khan Sahib coaches in Qur’anic Meanings while travelling, as he drops them at their schools or tutorial centres. The benefits of this programme are: students become acquainted with Qur’an, thus know Islam, improve their English vocabulary and everyday save the bus fare as Khan drops them for free at their destinations. Thus travelling becomes a learning experience, as Kaleemullah Khan asserts, “understanding Qur’an should become enjoyment not a burden on people”. He keeps this formula in mind while dealing with his students whom he prefers to call “Participants” rather than students. Anybody can join this programme as there is no exclusive membership. All new comers are supposed to take an oath that:
- 1. From this day onwards he/she will read Qur’an daily,
- 2. With an effort to Understand and
- 3. At least teach five other people about Qur’an in his lifetime.
The purpose of AQEP is not to teach Qur’an but make participants of the programme realize that understanding Qur’an is easy. Reading and reciting is not the sole purpose of this programme but to understand and ponder over the universal message of Qur’an.
With different sects, ideologies, interpretations dividing the whole Ummah, dealings with older folks who are difficult to change or mould and there must be a clash of egos and dropouts also, every participant is made to realise that this Qur’an is a “Binding Force” and should not be used for division. Though older folks are hard to change, but through his programmes Khan is a witness to miraculous changes amongst these older ones. Regarding drop outs he is least bothered as he considers his programmes as only laboratories or fields which will reap benefits in future only. Also among the drop outs the routine of this programme has been cultivated without which it will be difficult for him to survive as it is their “Soul Food” and includes
- 1. Daily recitation and understanding of 1-3 verses of Holy Qur’an.
- 2. Reading and Understanding 1-3 Ahadith and
- 3. A page or two from the seerah of Prophet(SAW).
Khan also asserts that in his programme there is also least chance of strife as it is not an “Organization” in which different positions and honours are bestowed on various members in a hierarchy. AQEP doesn’t ask or accept donations from its participants. If anybody wishes to donate something Khan may recommend Qur’an or some book, copies of which are distributed among participants free of cost.
Regarding Communal Harmony Khan acknowledges the fact that only this book(Qur’an) is the source of Unity for the whole of mankind as it calls for pondering on the creations of Almighty(16:65-69) and stressing commonality between different religions(3:64).When man ponders on this universe he reaches the conclusion that it has so much similarity, coherence and coordination that its creator must be one which leads him to monotheism(Tawhid).Qur’an contains so many facts and pearls of knowledge that it refrains people from polytheism(Shrik) which is an outcome of limitation of Human Knowledge. Thus Qur’an can only help in attaining “Universal Unity”. Thus AQEP has became a tremendous source of confidence for its participants who can now understand the message of Qur’an and among the participants some have also taken up this noble cause and are conducting classes on their mentor’s pattern.
AQEP wishes to convey the message of Qur’an to the whole of mankind and hopes that people understand Qur’an “As It Is”. AQEP is a witness to the healthy change in society regarding Qur’anic message as its participants include the intellectual elite class to illiterate poor people and is hopeful that Qur’an will be able to fill the voids of artificial barriers among people, make them experience Universal Brotherhood and an environment full of Peace and Tranquillity. Thus AQEP is proving an inspiration to millions who wish to understand Qur’an despite language barriers. AQEP every year also conducts Hajj Guidance Programme