Meet the 8-Year-Old Muslim Hafizah Who Hopes to Change the World

Meet Maryam Masud, a fifth grade student of An-Noor Academy in New Jersey who became a Hafiza of the Qur’an at the tender age of 8. She is the host of the kid’s program “Quran With Maryam” on GuideUs TV and has participated in many national and international competitions, a bulk of which she has won. Maryam has more than 200K Subscribers on Facebook and YouTube and is involved with many interfaith humanitarian activities.

Maryam with Dr. Yasir Qadhi

In this day and age, it is very difficult to maintain a balance of deen and dunya. But Sunhan’Allah Maryam has managed to do just that at such a young age and inspire thousands with not only her beautiful recitation of the Qur’an, but her already deep and sophisticated understanding of her religion. Muslim Girl had the honor and opportunity to talk to Maryam about her motivation to begin learning the Qur’an and her future objectives.

Muslim Girl: Who was responsible for inculcating the motivation for you to memorize the Qur’an?

I want to start off with thanking Allah (SWT) for giving me the courage and memory to memorize the Qur’an. But of course, my parents were the ones who inspired me to memorize the Qur’an. Since I didn’t attend any particular Hifz school, my mom worked very hard with me during my memorization. In fact in preparation to teach me, my mom took a few Tajweed classes and also studied materials from other authentic sources.

Maryam taught by Mother

What techniques did your mother use to motivate you to memorize the Qur’an?

My mother used many fun techniques to motivate me. When it was hard for me and I wanted to give up, my mom would say, “let’s have a race, whoever can memorize this page first, wins!”

We want to have more female scholars and hafizaats, so it is important for Muslim girls to memorize the Qur’an, understand it and implement its teachings in their lives. Sisters have a significant share of building a great generation.

We would race and see who memorized the page first! Another one is when I was little, and I would play around while my mom was doing household work, she would recite a small Surah from Juz Amma, and I wouldn’t even know it but would start reading with her. Also in the car when I would go to school, I would put the Surah I would memorize or review that day so that when I came home, it would be much easier for me to memorize it.

Can you describe the rigor and difficulties you experienced in memorizing the Qur’an? Did it come natural to you or was it plain easy or did you have to go through a period of struggle?

The Qur’an consists of many Surahs — some are very easy to memorize and some are very tough. So it would be better if we start off with the easy Surahs, like the Juz Amma Surahs and then you can move on to harder Surahs, like Surah Al Kahf. For me, the surahs that had same ayah’s repeated many times, like Surah Mursalat and Surah Rahman, were a little bit difficult to memorize, and the most difficult ones are Surah Al Noor and Surah Al Nisa, but now that I have reviewed them they have become much easier. Also big ayahs would be hard to memorize, when I came across these ayahs, I would break the ayah into parts, and memorize them separately.

Winner ICNA MAS Quran Competition

I know that you have been participating in many programs and conducting your episode of Quran with Maryam on GuideUs TV. With all these activities how do you keep pace with school? How are you doing there?

Sometimes, I have lots of homework and projects, but I try to manage everything. Right after I come home from school I quickly finish all my homework, and then I take some rest. Then after I pray Maghrib, I start with my Qur’an. The key here is consistency and efficiency so you can manage everything you are doing.

For the hereafter, I want to be an Islamic Scholar, to motivate my younger brothers and sisters to learn Qur’an and understand the true beauty and peace of our religion, Islam.

It is very important for girls to memorize the Qur’an, but many deem it to be a “man’s job.” Can you tell us why is it important for young Muslim girls to memorize the Holy Book?

Indeed, this is a great question. My observation is that there are not as girls memorizing the Qur’an in today’s world. However in the past, we know of many female Islamic scholars during the time of our Prophet (PBUH), and the following centuries. For example, Ayesha (RA) who we have heard many authentic and significant hadiths from, and Khadijah (RA) who was the first female to accept Islam during the Prophet’s time and believe in him. And also Rabiah Basri. We want to have more female scholars and hafizaats, so it is important for Muslim girls to memorize the Qur’an, understand it and implement its teachings in their lives. Sisters have a significant share of building a great generation.

Maryam at HOTD 1

What other challenges would you recommend to the children after memorizing the Qur’an? Are you working on any of them?

Memorizing the Qur’an is just the first step. We need to understand the Quran, and in order to do that, we need to learn Arabic. Since I want to learn Arabic, I am using Bayyinah TV. There is a show called Arabic with Husna and it helps me a lot to learn Arabic. Also before I started listening to Bayyinah TV, I took Arabic 101 with our beloved Br. Asif Hirani. These are some of the resources I am using to learn Arabic so I would suggest the same for my brothers and sisters.

Humanitarian Maryam 3

What do you want to become when you grow up?

I have two goals, of course one is for the hereafter, and one is for this world. For the hereafter, I want to be an Islamic Scholar, to motivate my younger brothers and sisters to learn Qur’an and understand the true beauty and peace of our religion, Islam. Before I tell you my goal for this life, let me tell you something. I grew up seeing my father doing so many interesting stuff with software and technology. For example, every year he attends Google IO, the yearly developers conference and he brings some cool ideas and sometimes involves us to implement those. I now have a passionate for computer science and technology and if Allah wills, I want to seek my career in this field.

Maryam at Qatar Competition

You are probably very busy, but what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my free time, I like to play with my baby sister. If there is good weather, I like to ride my bike and sometimes I take my baby sister with me and she has a little car that she rides around our driveway. Me and my older sister sometimes play badminton in our driveway. Also, sometimes I play on my tablet and play video games.

Tell me a little bit about your family – your siblings and parents.

My older sister’s name is Mayeesha and she is going to be a senior in high school next year. My younger sister’s name is Fatima and she is 2 years old. She has memorized a few Surah’s – Surah Al Fatiha, Surah Al Lahb, Surah Al Iklas and a couple of ayahs from Surah Yaseen – so she is just starting.

What is your favorite surah? Which surah resonates most with you?

My favorite surah is Surah Al Yusuf because it has the best of stories: the story of Prophet Yusuf. For me it is also the most clear for me because I have watched the Yusuf Surah which explains the story of the life of Prophet Yusuf. It is really good. I have watched it so many times and I think I will watch it again.

You have talked a lot about deen and dunya – how do you think Muslims should be looking at these two aspect of their lives and how should they go about trying to balance the two?

This is surely an excellent question. When I was reading the meaning of the Qur’an, I came across some beautiful ayah’s from Surah Al Layl.

فَأَمَّا مَنْ أَعْطَى وَاتَّقَى
وَصَدَّقَ بِالْحُسْنَى
فَسَنُيَسِّرُهُ لِلْيُسْرَى
وَأَمَّا مَنْ بَخِلَ وَاسْتَغْنَى
وَكَذَّبَ بِالْحُسْنَى
فَسَنُيَسِّرُهُ لِلْعُسْرَى
وَمَا يُغْنِي عَنْهُ مَالُهُ إِذَا تَرَدَّى

So these ayah’s say: Whoever wants this world, Allah will make it easy or them and Whoever wants the hereafter Allah will make it easy for them as well. But we have to notice the difference between these two groups of people. In the end, it is the second group of people who will be ultimate winners, while the first group of people will be the losers because they were working for this world and not the hereafter.

Maryam presenting at ICNA MAS

To learn more about Maryam’s work, you can follow her on her on Facebook or YouTube.