Woman with Down syndrome memorizes entire Quran

Pictured in this undated photo is 26-year-old Rawan Dweek, who memorized the entire Quran by heart. (Photo: Sondos Kiswani)
Pictured in this undated photo is 26-year-old Rawan Dweek, who memorized the entire Quran by heart. (Photo: Sondos Kiswani)
AMMAN — With persistence and determination, 26-year-old Rawan Dweek memorized the entire Quran by heart.

Rawan overcame any assumptions or stereotypes one might have about Down syndrome, which is a genetic disorder caused by an extra chromosome. The syndrome causes physical and mental delays and difficulties. However, she successfully memorized the 604 pages, 114 chapter-like units (suwar), 6,348 verses, and over 77,437 words.اضافة اعلان

“I send a message to the people to encourage them to learn Quran like me,” Rawan told Jordan News over the phone. 
“Rawan’s story is a living example for all people; she is a motivational role model for other aspirational people with Down syndrome,” said Awatef Jaber, Rawan’s mother, in a phone interview with Jordan News.

The parent said she is grateful that “all the devotion and efforts exerted with my dear daughter have fruitfully paid off!”
The mother described dreaming of this achievement since Rawan was born, and swearing to God that she would teach her daughter how to read the Quran. “Then it was the Lord's will. Allah blessed and privileged us with what I yearned for,” she said.

Although people with Down syndrome tend to have speaking and learning difficulties, Rawan was blessed with clear articulation, the mother said. Jaber also recalled how Rawab excelled in school and skillfully learned to read and write. “Rawan has always been an amazing, shrewd, and clever child,” Jaber said.

It all started when Rawan used to accompany her mother to the Quran. To her mother’s surprise, Rawan began memorizing the longest sura, (chapter) in the Quran, which was being taught in the class.

She then joined a summer club for Quran memorization. Though her instructors underestimated her, said Jaber, she proved to her teacher that she had memorized the first part from the Al-Baqarah sura.  

To guarantee accuracy, Jaber, who is a Quran memorizer (khatemah) herself, used to read Rawan every verse three times and monitor her progress. “My aim was to draw Rawan’s attention to meanings of new words, correct articulation, recitation rules, and even simple narratives behind chapters,” said Jaber.

Rawan is taught and examined by her teacher in the Quran center she attends, the mother explained.

When it was time for a specialized committee to test Rawan, she exceeded all expectations with an evaluation of 100 percent.

For the past seven years, Rawan has never missed a day without memorizing. “Rawan was determined to memorize Quran the whole day; once she woke up at 10am (and studied) until she slept at 10pm,” said Jaber.

Since Rawan has memorized the entire Book, she strives for more. The gifted reciter wishes to be a Quran teacher for children, her mother said. She also hopes to master the 10 recitations of the Quran, read prophets’ stories, and continue studying Quran.

“She is a miracle,” said Entesar Adel Al-Kateeb, the founder of Down syndrome: Our Lives Have Meaning Foundation, in an interview with Jordan News. The organization advocates for those with Down syndrome in Jordan and provides support for them and their families.

“She is the first to memorize the entire Holy Quran with Down syndrome, not only in Jordan but in the entire Arab world. She deserves attention and honor. We are all proud of her,” said Kateeb, who also documented Rawan’s journey.

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