Keeping a Journal

A journal is a personal writing, much like a diary you may have written when you were young.
It is a place to write down your thoughts, your feelings, or maybe just the events that happened in
your daily life. The information that you put into your journal is totally up to you!

Your journal may be in the form of notebook with several blank pages, a bound notebook, or it may
be written on a personal computer and kept in electronic form. Again, the choice is up to you.

You may want to keep your journal private and under lock and key. If you write it on a computer,
you can use a word processing program that enables you to use a password in order to keep others
from prying into your personal writings.

In order to start a journal, after you have decided on what you will use to write it on, you need to just
basically start writing. There are generally no set rules for starting or keeping a journal. You will probably
want to write down the date before you start each entry so that you can easily keep track of when each
entry was written.

Some people have kept a journal of their life, along with their private hopes, dreams, and thoughts for
many years since they were young. Some people make it a point to wrtie down at least a few sentences
every day in order to keep a running, daily account of the happenings in their life. Then, they can go back
and read their entries whenever they feel like it and recapture the times of their lives. They can read their own
words and relive happy times, times of sorrow, or maybe just remember certain events that took place in their
 own lives. They can even read about world events that they had previously described in their own words
in their journals!

A journal is a good place to think about, as well as work out difficult problems that you may have in your life.
 It is also a good tool to use if you need to resolve a situation in your life. As you write down the words that
describe the problem, and reread them, your thinking processes will begin to help you shape a possible
answer to your dilemma.

It can be fun to flip back through the pages of your journal and reread some thoughts and events that
 have taken place in your life. Even though the days of the calendar go by so quickly, you can preserve
 your own thoughts in your own daily journal. Your journal is your own personal prospective on your life
and the world around you. You think of the words and write them down as only you can do. The possibilities
are endless and are completely up to you!

So, if you decide to start a journal, the best time to start is today, right now. Start writing down whatever you
want and let your creativity be your only guide!

1)If you are worried about your privacy, keep a computer journal. Microsoft Word has security features that
allow you to password protect your thoughts.

2) Splurge a little on your journal. Buy a journal that appeals to you.

3) Make your own journal. Go to the library and check out a book on Japanese stab binding' since they
 make excellent journals and are very easy to make. You can be very creative with decorating your journal.
This is also a good project for younger children.

4)Keep a travel journal also. maybe keep it in the car, suitcase, etc. write down those favorite places near
and far you visit with family and friends. Sketch scenery (trees, clouds, water, buildings, landmarks, etc.).
These journals make for great memories and .they are helpful for children to teach geography and to learn
 to appreciate the 'signs' Allah has placed for us on the earth.

5) Encourage your friends to journal by throwing a journal party. Invite friends for tea and remind them to
bring their journals and/or paper/pencil. Set aside some quiet time for everyone to journal. Share only
 if you feel comfortable.

7)Set up a calendar on this list (i.e. weekly reminder) to journal.This helps remind those who want to
journal to do so.

8) Have fun. Journals can be serious, they can be sad or funny. Find out what works best for you.
"There are moments in life when you read some Ayahs (verses) in the Quran, and they seem to have
 been revealed precisely for your needs at those moments. You have read them a hundred times before,
 but only now have your life experiences prepared you to understand them....Keep a Qur'an journal of these
moments when certain verses click and become real in your life."

Why keep a Quranic journal?
1. Creates reverence for the Quran
For many Muslims today, especially those who have not grown up in a Muslim country, the value of the
Qur'an as the Word of Allah may not be as strongly entrenched.
They may not feel the very special connection to the Book of Allah other Muslims who have grown
up learning and reciting it from childhood in a mostly Muslim environment have.
The Quranic journal is a way to develop a stronger connection to the Quran by noting our reactions to it.

2. It can help the words of Allah sink in
One problem many, many Muslims in our day and age, and in our culture have is a lack of concentration.
In our fast-paced culture, squeezing in time to read the Quran is sometimes hard. Those times that we do
read, the words don't seem to sink in. The Quran journal can help do that.

3. The Quranic journal is about you
The Quran is not simply a Book to be read and memorized. It is a Book to be lived. That means the deeper
 our understanding, and the more we connect what we learn from the Quran to our daily lives and
experiences, the better we can see it as THE tool of guidance in our affairs.
We will see the Quran as part of our daily life in this time. The lessons in it will not be lessons for
people from centuries ago, irrelevant to us. Rather, they will be our lessons, regardless of whether
we live in Karachi or Kansas.

Some tips on keeping a Quranic journal
1. Ask yourself: why am I doing this?
Some reasons could be:
a. for the sake of Allah
b. to make the Quran a living reality for me
c. to learn how to use the Quran as a tool for guidance in my everyday life.
If your intention is sincerely all three, Insha Allah (if Allah wills), you will benefit and learn from the
experience and grow as a Muslim.

2. Remember, this is not a Tafseer
It is very, very important to point out that your Quranic journal is NOT an official exegesis
(Tafseer) of the Quran. It is simply a record of your thoughts at various moments while you
read the Quran.

It is strongly recommended that you do not read simply a translation of the Quran. Rather, find a good,
reliable Tafseer. The Tafseer helps because it gives you much needed background and context to
properly understand what the verses of the Quran mean.

3. Pray for guidance
While we have our role to play in developing our understanding and practice of the Quran and of Islam
in general, ultimately, it is Allah Who guides. Regularly ask for His Guidance, Mercy and Forgiveness.

4. Get a specific notebook for this
A notebook is just simpler and neater. You won't have the possibility of your papers flying off in
different directions as you would if you kept a journal in a folder or binder.
If you're the type who loves stationery, invest in a notebook with a nice design and a smooth writing pen.

5. Set aside a specific time to read the Quran
Learning needs to happen on a regular basis. Establishing a schedule is probably the best way for
you to really connect with the Quran. Just set aside a few minutes at a time when you know you
won't be easily distracted. It could be in the early morning hours before everyone is up. It could be
 late at night when everyone is asleep. Or it could be in the late afternoon at a spot away from noise
and other distractions.

6. Make sure you understand the right meaning of the verse
This is where your Tafseer will help. You will get a proper understanding of why this verse was revealed
and under what circumstances, as well as what it means for Muslims.

7. Ask the big question
How does this connect to me and my experiences? That is one of the main reasons you are keeping
 this journal, to discover this.

For instance, verses of the Quran which talk about motherhood may give you lots to think about and
ponder if you are pregnant or are about to be a father. Verses about parents may help remind you about
your special bond and responsibilities to your own if you have been estranged from or are having a difficult
time with your mother or father.

8. Note down what you're feeling, thoughts,etc.
You don't have to write like Shakespeare. All you have to do is honestly look within and ask the relevant
questions and record your feelings. You can simply start off the process with, "this verse reminds me of
when..." or "this verse makes me think of....".

9. Avoid using names
Try to avoid using the specific names of people in your journal. The point of the journal is to help you
understand the Quran and to help you grow as a Muslim. If you use names, you will risk hurting feelings if
your journal is found and read, by accident or not.

10. Check with scholars and build your knowledge
Let your Quranic journal writing experience be a starting point to a deeper understanding of the Quran.
In other words, don't just think that if you've written a journal entry about a set of verses or on a topic, after
having read the Tafseer, you've done your job. Attend lectures of reliable scholars who often tie the
 meanings of the Quran to everyday life for Muslims, especially in your specific context
(i.e. the US or North America).

11. Look back regularly
Once in a while, it would be a good idea to read your old entries. This will not only be a nice trip
 down memory lane, but it will also indicate your progress as a Muslim in implementing Islam.
For instance: do you notice that many of your entries are angry in tone, but seem to become
calmer later? Or do you notice a theme of sadness in your journal entries which you were not aware of?
Is there some are of Islam which you still need to get answers about?

Be conscious of these observations. This is where the Quranic journal can help you not only
think about Islam, but also develop your character as a Muslim.