Malaysiakini KiniGuide

Shedding light on tahfiz schools

KiniGuide  |  Published:  |  Modified:

KINIGUIDE | News of the death of 11-year-old Mohd Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi, a student at a tahfiz institution in Kota Tinggi, Johor, was met with grief and outrage.

The boy had already had his legs amputated after the blood cells and tissues were destroyed by bacterial infection, from severe injuries due to alleged physical abuse.

Thaqif was also initially scheduled to have his right arm amputated - a few hours before he died yesterday afternoon - but the procedure was reportedly cancelled as his heart rate and condition were not stable.

It has also been revealed that the 29-year-old assistant warden who reportedly assaulted Thaqif had a previous criminal record, and served a jail sentence of 30 months for theft three years ago. He is currently under remand to facilitate police investigations.

The incident has raised questions over administration of Islamic religious schools, or tahfiz institutions, in Malaysia.

We take a look at the history of tahfiz schools in Malaysia and their modern-day practices.

What does tahfiz mean?

Tahfiz is an Arabic word which means “to memorise”, or the process of reading, listening and reciting in order to learn something by heart.

In this case, the process specifically refers to a tradition of memorising all 114 surah (chapters) and over 6,000 verses in the Al-Quran, divided into 30 parts.

Any boy or man who completes the process will also be known as Al-Hafiz (the one who memorised) while any woman or girl who does so is known as Hafizah.

How did the tradition start?

Muslims believe that verses in the Al-Quran were verbally revealed to the Prophet Muhammad SAW over a period of approximately 23 years.

Several companions of the Prophet had served as scribes responsible for writing down the revelations.

Upon his death, the companions who memorised and wrote down the revelations compiled the early texts to eventually form the Al-Quran, as it is known today.

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