Boys as young as 6 are expected to learn to understand and read the Al'Quran. It is required of all young Muslim boys to go to a religious elder to learn to read the Al'Quran and to learn how to pray. The learning place could be a house, the surau, madrasah or at the mosque. The person who teach is normally a religious, not necessarily pious, but would have the command and understanding of the Al'Quran; normally an Imam or at least his assistant. On most occasion, the 'ustaz' or 'ustazah' will be sufficient.
I started learning the Al'Quran from the age of 7. My first place of learning was at Pak Cik Manat's house, a house approximately 200 metres from the edge of the small village. It was there that I learned the very basic of reading the 'mugaddam' (the 101 of Al'Quran). Every night on the way to go home, we would stop by the bread shop (Kedai Roti Mohd Tasadukkhan), as the time is just right for the bread to be ready; right out of the huge oven. It only cost RM0.10 sen for 2 slices (approximately 4" x 2" x 1" each slice). I was at Pak Cik Manat's house learning the 'mugaddam' for about 6 months; when then the village 'surau' was already ready; which is across the street where I lived.
At the new 'surau' I graduated from the 'mugaddam' and thereafter started learning the Al'Quran. Our ustaz was Lebai Awal, a short man with a short temper. There were about 20 boys and 20 girls learning from him. For being mischievous, I was canned twice, at 2 different times. Others who also misbehave would also get the whip from the cane. Nevertheless, I 'khatam' my Al'Quran reading and at the same time learned how to pray. On completion of the Al'Quran, a feast ws prepared, calling the whole village to celebrate my 'graduation' of the Al'Quran. My father came all the way from KL with a sheep to slaughter (for 'akekah' purposes). It was from the 'surau' that I learned how to read and understand the 'muqaddam' and the Al'Quran. All in all I took approximately 5 years to learn, understand and 'khatam' from Al'Quran; besides learning how to pray!
It is also traditional that for the coming of age into adulthood, as soon as you completed learning the Al'Quran, it is also time to circumcise. I did mine the next week after the feast - in 1968. That's another story.
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