The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Quran Memorization 

Once upon a time, it was very important to be able to memorize the Quran. When the only writing materials were animal skins from which the fat had been scraped, or papyrus knitted together, it was much cheaper (although perhaps more error-prone) to spread the word of the Quran by having someone memorize it, to relay it to others, including others who would also memorize it.

Time passed, and the printing press was invented, and the internet. However, we still encourage, if not force, our less fortunate young men to memorize the Quran. That's a lot of memorization, 440 pages in the case of my copy. Mind you, it's good practice for our educational system, where the emphasis is on the memory rather than reasoning ability.

One incentive is the regular Quran Memorization Contests that we hold, some of them international. Like most things Saudi, and particularly our public executions, we don't make enough of them. They need more pazazz, because they're a bit dull, to say the least. There is a great deal of poetry in the Quran, but it doesn't come out when it has been memorized and is being endlessly regurgitated at great speed. It would be the same for people memorizing and replaying the Bible. There's just not enough time to dwell on those great bits and make the most of them. They could also make it more interesting by having leagues and play-offs and things, cheerleaders in abayas and veils with black pon-poms; "Monday Night Quran - The Imam University "Beards" take on the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice "Mutts""; but that will have to wait for another posting.

Anyway, for one man, memorizing the Quran seems to have paid off.

Memorize Qur’an, Woman Tells Suitor

A woman demanded from a man who asked her hand in marriage to memorize the holy Qur’an as a condition of accepting to marry him, Al-Watan reported. The 21-year-old woman said that she is not interested in money as much as she is interested in a good religious husband. The woman said that she would hold a test in which she will ask them to recite the Qur’an without a mistake.

Isn't that nice? I like a nice soppy love story. They should make a film about it. It would last 7 hours.

I asked Mrs A what she thought. She said, given the choice, she would rather have the money than a good religious husband, although she would be OK with the latter as long as he had pots of money and trimmed his beard as well. Also, her big mistake in life was not asking prospective suitors to memorize and read out their bank statement for the last 2 years. That in fact, if she'd done that, she would now be living in much greater comfort, and I would be hanging round Saudi shopping malls with the lads, trying to give my phone number to unsuspecting ladies. She's a real softy at heart.

She also said that I can't even pass the Shopping List Memorization test. When I'm sent out to buy 4 things, I score somewhere between 50% and 75%. That if Muhammad had depended on me to pass on the contents of the Quran, I would have got as far as "In the name of..." and then started scratching my head.

A four word Quran is an interesting historical "what if?".

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