'Miracle of Miracles' - Shafaaz Story

A seven year boy sat in the corner of his home playing with his toys when suddenly his house was engulfed in flames. Luckily he managed to escape, but what he witnessed will be forever etched in his memory. His mum was caught in the inferno with the young Shafaaz witnessing this gruesome incident. His mum’s death left the boy with serious psychological damage. Although arson was suspected the perpetrators of this heinous crime were never brought to book.
Shafaaz was then taken care by his grandmother, who tried wholeheartedly but unsuccessfully to reintegrate him into society. This boy who was deeply scared was beset with serious learning difficulties and was enrolled at a special school in Chatsworth. After 5 years, no progress in terms of his scholastic achievements were noted. It seemed that Shafaaz’s condition was irreversible and that he was not even literate. The principal of the institution suggested to the grandmother that she enrol him at an Islamic institution, which would probably help.
This quiet reticent boy, then 12 years old landed at the doorstep of the Darul Falaah College under the tutorage of Sheik Yusuf Abdurahman. His grandmother pleaded with the humble Sheik to accept the boy after explaining the unfortunate incidents that had beset this lad.
Sheik Yusuf Abdurahman takes up the story from here. “When I laid eyes on Shafaaz, I was reminded of the sad events that had befallen upon our Prophet Mohamed S.A.W. My heart melted, and with tears in my eyes, I vowed to myself that I was to help this boy, that’s when I took him under my wings.”
“The first few weeks were very difficult with Shafaaz not making any strides. Being illiterate further complicated matters. He couldn’t even grasp the first few letters of the Arabic alphabets. I then realized the enormity of the task that lay ahead of me. It was going to be challenging, a task that I was up to. I further realized that in order to win I had to have nerves of steel and be patient with my student. At times, I myself felt helpless and even considered throwing in the towel.”
“Sitting on my couch one day I realized that I had to try a different strategy and remembered my Ustaads words, “Remember people learn through repetition,” very much like teaching Grade 1 learners A for apple, B for ball etc. Using this strategy was a gamble, a gamble that I was willing to take.”

One would agree that learning using this system was a daunting task and that a whole lot of time and patience was needed. I was not perturbed and the very next day I put my new strategy into action. Shafaaz was to repeat the alphabets, words and sentences after me. To my amusement I found that Shafaaz memory was so sharp that within a very short space of time he was able to grasp and memorize and repeat the alphabets, words and sentences after me, very much like a duck taking to water.”
“That evening I was ecstatic and my heart was overcome with joy, a joy that I could not express. This was to me very much like a child taking his first few steps. But I had a fear and that was as to how far I was to go with this lad, as I read in researching such cases, that initially progress is rapid but after a while progress starts to wane. I decided to play a waiting game to see whether Shafaaz’s progress was to be stifled. To my amazement there was no such thing, Shafaaz’s progress was phenomenal and the more I read before him, the more he could memorize. One must remember that Shafaaz was learning to recite the Quran not by reading from it but rather from listening to my recitation and repeating.”
“Whilst  a student at Darul Falaah, he experienced other problems, problems like other students calling him names, taking advantage of him and this would often cause him to cry and complain to me. At times I had to counsel him and reprimand the other students. I told him not to worry about them as they were jealous of him because he was my favourite student, which always placarded him.”
“Under normal circumstances it would take up to 3 to 4 years for a full time student to complete becoming a Hafiz ul Quran. Shafaaz’s mental capacity was so good that he was able to memorize the Quran in just 18 months which was indeed a miracle, especially considering the circumstances and barriers that were placed in front of this young boy.”
“At the graduation of the Hufaaz’s that year, I remember myself sitting in front of the Musjid with tears in my eyes but in full praise of the young Shafaaz who was passing through the portals of Darul Falaah. For me, it was not a personal triumph but triumph for the young Shafaaz and his grandmother. Yes I believed in him, I grew to love him, I realized that Allah S.W.T was with this boy, for I am just grateful that Allah S.W.T had used me as a medium to equip this boy with the tools of making him a top class Hafiz ul Quran.  He may have been my student but for me he is more than a son. Someone who will always have a special place in my heart. May Allah S.W.T. take care of him. Ameen.
Shafaaz can always be found at the Al Ameen Musjid for Salaat and if not he can be seen doing his Dohr. During the month of Ramadan he is in great demand to perform at the different Masajeeds, for Shafaaz is that Hafiz that if you read a few words of the Quran, he is able to continue from there.
If you consider a blind man becoming a Hafiz ul Quran through the medium of Braille and listening to cassettes as a miracle, then I am sure you will agree that in Shafaaz becoming a Hafiz ul Quran in the manner he did was a miracle of miracles.