Edited By Stephen G. Parker, Rob Freathy and Leslie J. Francis
16 Hifz and Huffaz Within the Islamic Tradition: Religious, Cultural and Educational Considerations
Within the traditional Muslim community, huffaz – those people who have committed the whole of the Arabic Qur’ān to memory through a process known as hifz – are highly esteemed. Non-Muslims generally, however, know little about either the hifz process or the lives and experiences of huffaz, whether male (hafiz) or female (hafiza). Drawing from his own ethnographic fieldwork within a boys’ hifz class and then, later, amongst a group of contemporary huffaz living in Britain, the author explains the origins and significance of Qur’ānic memorization and recitation within Islam before outlining key elements of the hifz process itself. He then outlines the impact of becoming a hafiz/hafiza on the life of a Muslim, including social demands and expectations. In order to place the above in a wider context, the author highlights how an understanding of hifz highlights some key elements of Muslim tradition, notably the aural and oral nature of the Qur’ān and the role and nature of transmission within Islamic culture. Given the often negative stance taken toward memorization in contemporary western culture, the chapter ends with a consideration of the nature and significance of memorization as a mode of learning both within Islam and the wider non-Muslim community. ← 341 | 342 →
Within any religious tradition or community, there will be a variety of functionaries who fulfil different roles and bear particular titles. Just take, for example, the many English terms used for local and area Christian leaders....
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