Umm Al-Sa’ad was born into a poor family in a town called Bandaariya, one of the towns of the larger city Munofiya (north of Cairo). She was afflicted by blindness shortly after her first year and, as was the practice of many in rural areas in dealing with blindness, her family sent her to learn the Quran. She completed her memorization in Alexandria at the age of 15. She then completed the memorization of the ten recitations of the Quran from Shaykha Nafeesa when she had reached the age of 23.
Umm Al-Sa’ad mentioned that when she had completed her memorization of the qira’aat the number of huffaadh were few. Families used to request from her, as they had requested from her Shaykha before her, to recite Quran for them at occasions and religious festivals. It was acceptable at that time for a woman to recite the Quran with tajweed in the presence of men who- as she recounted- used to praise her recitation and the beauty of her tajweed.
She mentioned however that this practice disappeared after Quranic recitors became widespread, as well as the spread of radios and televisions, and the most that could be done by a female recitor now is to recite at occasions that were female only. She believed that the real reason for this however was the belief that had increased in the recent years that the voice of the woman is awrah.
Many different types of people would return to her, seeking the completion of the Quran or ijaazah in a Qiraa’ah, from all ages and levels in society. In a day she would teach old and young students, men and women, engineers, doctors, teachers, university professors, college students, high school students, etc.
She would single out for each student a time, not more than an hour in a day, in which the student would recite what they had memorized and she would correct their mistakes bit by bit, until they memorize the Quran in one of it’s qira’aat.
Umm Al-Sa’ad once commented:
“Sixty years of memorizing the Quran and it’s recitations has made me unable to forget any of it. I can recall every ayah, it’s surah and its juz, I know the ayaat that are similar (mutashabih) and how to recite the same ayah in different qira’aat. I feel like I know the Quran like my name, I cannot imagine forgetting a letter of it or making a mistake in it. I don’t know anything other than the Quran and its recitations. I never learned a science, listened to a lecture, or memorized anything other than the Quran and the mutoon that were related to the Quran and tajweed. I don’t know anything other than that.”
This is Part II of III in the series on the life of Umm Al Sa’ad. To read Part I, click here.