Harmonies of Hajj

SubhanAllah, harmonies are b e a u t i f u l.

And Hajj is an awesome example of harmony. With its blended high and low voices, united in prayer and recitation of al-Qur’an. Its people of varying abilities performing the same rituals as best they can. Its Muslims of different ages and colours.

Allah SWT has surely shaped us with beautiful colours and unique markings.

We truly are beautiful – while feeling alone with Him, and always. We are beautifully interconnected in a Universe designed to worship Him. Alhamdulillah.

pilgrims small SQUAREFor me, even though I have not directly experienced Hajj – smelled its smells, touched its sensations, felt its emotions – this pillar of Islam speaks to me of the awesome harmony in our Creator’s designs.

In my household, we have been using Hajj Harmonies for years – since long before the colouring book was published, alhamdulillah. And every year, we find ourselves focussing on something different in order to access further learning about Hajj and deepen our love for it.

This year, insha’Allah I am drawn to focus upon harmonising our voices. Over the past several months, my children have gone through periods of greater and lesser confidence in reciting al-Qur’an. Lately, engagement has been low. The child who currently has the lowest confidence even asked me to stop reciting the Qur’an at bedtime – namely because he was too tired as we end our summer days late, but I noticed his drop in confidence before we took pause.

During the build up to Hajj, I want to help him and his siblings to build confidence by freeing up a little insha’Allah.

Many people have told me they think their voices aren’t very good for singing.

Today we sang ‘Peace Pilgrims’ from Hajj Harmonies together, and asked the children to concentrate on listening to all the sound in the room, as one sound. I wanted to steer them away from  limiting their interest to their own voices (and their critical habits of hearing inadequacies).

We sang through the song. Then, for the benefit of the younger children who didn’t remember the words, we sang the lyrics line by line before joining them together again. Next, we set out to play with different pitches within our choral singing session – with extreme pitches and silly sounds included. First we sang low. This is difficult for young children so I asked them to simply, “‘laa’ here and there,” if keeping the tune was difficult. Next we sang high. This was much easier for all the children. Then we return to a medium pitch.

We noticed that the more we concentrated on hearing a group sound, some of us changed how loudly we each sang. So we played briefly with volume and pace upon singing the rhyme again.

To finish the singing session, I asked them each child to choose either high, medium, or low pitch for a few rounds together in which they listen to the group sounds, as we repeat the rhyme. We all had a turn at each pitch, while harmonising with the rest of the group.

female pilgrim SQUARE ELAfterwards, I asked the children why they thought I might have focussed on harmonising. We talked about the different voices of Hajj pilgrims who assemble during Hajj, about the pitches of men saying ‘ameen’ at the masjid, and I invited children to recite a short surah from the Qur’an. Masha’Allah, the child who currently has the lowest confidence in his own voice accepted the invitation.

Afterwards, he confided that he didn’t think his voice was very good. Alhamdulillah, I told him that many people have told me they think that way about their voices … and I reminded him (as I have reminded others) that Allah SWT designed us to need the Qur’an so I really believe He made all of our voices beautiful for reciting it. We agreed to resume reciting the Qur’an together at bedtime/evening time and he left with a smile, masha’Allah.

Masha’Allah, at the end of the day, quietly, he did recite with me alhamdulillah! 🙂 (Also, at our evening meal, the children enjoyed the hilarity of demonstrating pitch to their father.)

I like to think that today we loosened a ‘can’t-do’ blockage that my quietest child had stored in his throat. By playing with His voice to express the remembrance of Allah SWT’s Peace, he was able to dislodge his inadequate impression/opinion of his voice to some extent. He was able to reconnect with the marvellous, amply adequate way Allah SWT made him and his voice. He heard himself freely using his voice in what we all agreed was a fun and beautiful-sounding singing session. He enjoyed expressing the religion he loves.  And he remembered his thirst to recite al-Qur’an.

IMG_1948.JPGMy (current) most confident child found he did not change his volume in order to be able to listen to the group sound. He was the loudest throughout. He did not take up my invitation to recite a surah at the end of the session, but we talked about when during the day he would like to recite. Perhaps he chose the morning so that he would not disturb his tired siblings (or they would not disturb his Qur’an time). I don’ know. But alhamdulillah he chose the morning and sure enough this morning he recited with me.

For the first time, I feel like I am truly on the long road to Hajj insha’Allah.

I had wanted to help my children to build their singing-confidence and thereby recitation-confidence. What I actually think I have achieved is to communicate to them an important message: that Allah SWT’s awesome power can bring us more deeply into worshipping Him when we make even small efforts to do so.

Of course, Allah SWT knows best how and why He blessed my family with these small changes. I simply know that my children are as interested to learn more about Hajj as they were last year. My temporarily reluctant child is keen to recite al-Qur’an again. (!) And so is my confident child. (!) And I am excited (!!!) for them, for you, and for me to harmonise with the differing, contrasting personalities and unifying Allah-consciousnesses within the Ummah in the worship and remembrance of Allah SWT using the words of al-Qur’an that He gifted to us.

We all have beautiful voices … made for reciting al-Qur’an … whether or not we are blessed with directly experiencing the harmonies of Hajj.

If you want to share any tips with me regarding pre-recitation and early recitation of al-Qur’an with children, please comment, email me at elizabethlymerauthor@gmail.com, or tweet me @elizabethlymer.

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