The Muslims of the Cape are not unacquainted with gatherings of dhikr (remembrance of Allah) and halaqaat (circles of learning) of Quranic recitation. Concerning the latter, special groups were formed to take part in these recitals named “bacha jama’ahs” (assembly of reciters). Though they might differ slightly to the manner in which they were conducted previously, they go as far back as the 1920’s in the Cape. These fraternities of recitation were open to all huffath and brought them together in a spirit of love for the Quran and its recitation. At the same time, it allowed for them to critically listen to each other, learn and set standards for recitation in a structured manner.
Presently, quite a few groups exist who continue these periodic or weekly recitals, the most prominent probably being that of Sheikh Salih Abadi and Sheikh Yusuf Booley.
The practice of gathering to recite collectively extends back to the time of the Prophet S. It is a recommended and meritorious act. Imam al-Nawawi encourages this and states:
“Know, that recitation in a group is recommended due to clear evidences and the acts of the Righteous Predecessors and their successors. It is authenticated through Abū Hurayrah t and Abū Saʿīd al-Khudrī t that the Prophet S said: ((There is not a group that remembers Allah except that Angels encompass them, mercy envelopes them, tranquility descends upon them, and Allah mentions them to those in His presence.)) Al-Tirmidhī says that this hadith is hasan sahīh.”
A similar Hadith is related by Abū Hurayrah t, after which Imam al-Nawawi states:
“Muslim reports this, as well as Abū Dāwūd with an authentic sanad which meets the criteria of al-Bukhārī and Muslim.”
Muʿāwiyah t relates that the Messenger of Allah S came to a circle of His companions and asked: ((What caused you to sit together? They replied: “We sat to remember Allah, and praise Him because he guided us to Islam and graced us with it.” The Prophet S replied: Jibrīl u came to me and informed me that Allah boasts of you to the Angels.)) It is reported by Muslim, Al-Tirmidhī, al-Nasāʾī, and al-Tirmidhī says that the hadith is hasan sahīh. Hadiths regarding this are many.
Ibn Abī Dāwūd relates that Abū al-Dardāʾ t would study the Quran with a group, all of them reciting at once.
Ibn Abī Dāwūd relates the superiority of studying together from many of the previous Illustrious Predecessors, their successors and legists.
Imam Malik was asked regarding a group reciting a tenth, a juz, or the like thereof and then remaining silent while another would recite from where the previous reciter stopped. Imam Malik replied that there was no problem with this.
Thus, any gathering which meets with the objective of reciting and studying the Quran should not be questioned, even though the manner in which they recite might differ to the early generations regarding minor etiquette. The “bacha jama’ahs” reap huge rewards for organising these gatherings based on the Prophetic statement:
“The one who guides towards good is like the one who performs it.”
Those who gather and recite from masahif (copies of the Quran) – whether they are our customary one juz copies or otherwise – are just as meritorious if not more, since the person who recites while looking into a mushaf couples the reward of recitation as well as the reward of looking into a copy of the Quran.
On 5 February, 2016, history was made in the Cape when al-Tanzil initiated the first halqah dedicated to reciting various Qirāʾāt. Though it is currently restricted to the Reading of al-Kisāʾī, it looks to expand until it encompasses all Ten Qirāʾāt. These halaqaat are headed and overseen by Sheikh Ebrahim Floris, who has 12 sittings planned for 2016. Each sitting witnesses approximately two juz being read from the beginning of the Quran until a khatm will be made. Only those who have studied the Reading of al-Kisāʾī are allowed to recite in the halqah, and all recite from memory.
We pray that Allah grants them sincerity, steadfastness and accept their noble efforts.