Memorization vs. Actualization
October 27, 2006 § 9 Comments
During Ramadan a story surfaced about two teens who were commissioned to lead congregational prayers at a local masjid in Virginia as reported in NPR,
Apparently, one of the teens has memorized the entire Qur’an! This is a gift from God, truly a blessing and of this there is no doubt in my mind. However, what I am questioning is whether or not memorization qualifies one to lead the community especially since the teens do not understand Arabic but simply recite from memory. In fact they cannot read or comprehend what they have memorized!
Consequently, I must ask, does memorization of the Qur’an really qualify one to be an imam (community leader)? Although in this case I’m sure there were community circumstances which prevented an adult from leading the prayers, however lets assume we have semi-normal circumstances in the case of a larger Islamic community does the quality of memorization supersede understanding.
For example, would a teenage boy who has memorized the Qur’an be more qualified to lead the congregational prayer than lets say… me a thirty-three year old married man with a wife and 3 children; a Bachelors of Science from New York University who makes fard prayers everyday (or at least makes those up which are missed) and maintains a clean record and functions as a pillar in the community? Granted my tajwid could use some work and I can probably count the surat I’ve memorized on two hands but I do understand and read Arabic. I’m sorry I think I would have a hard time with a 13 year old leading the salah… is that wrong of me?