By Hamid Chaudry- The blessings of Allah (swt) know no bounds, as He gives us the opportunity to seek His grace, forgiveness and bounty in this glorious month of Ramadan. Ramadan is known as the month of the Qur’an, as the first revelation commenced in this month. Further, the Prophet Muhammad (saw) recited the Qur’an to archangel Jibrael (as) during this month, and twice in the last year.
So we continue this recitation in this blessed month in our homes and masajid. The Qur’an is our connection with our Creator, for it is His (swt) unadulterated speech, which is the source of all knowledge, wisdom and enlightenment. Our relationship with the Qur’an defines our relationship with The Creator.
The importance of our closeness to the Qur’an cannot be under estimated. So what should we seek to attain through our recitation of Qur’an in this blessed month?
The noble hadith of our beloved Prophet (saw) reported by Muslim reminds us: ‘Indeed, Allah will honour people by this Book, and He will debase others by it.’
At-Tabarani reported another hadith – ‘Whoever puts (Qur’an) ahead of him, it will lead him to Paradise, and whoever puts it behind him, it will drag him into Hell.’
There is undoubtedly a reward in the recitation of Qur’an, for each word and letter, and the reward is greater for the one who struggles with recitation. Subhanallah, reflection on this alone is sufficient. Who in life will reward someone for struggling and erring, and takes longer in the completion of a task, more than the one who fulfils a task efficiently and quickly? Allah recognises the desire of His true believer in seeking closeness to Him through recitation; though he struggles, though he errs; and He (swt) rewards him befittingly.
During Ramadan, we still strive to draw closer still to Allah (swt) through the recitation of His perfect speech. One of the ways we can do this is through deep pondering over the Qur’an. Our aim should be to go beyond more than a complete reading. A true connection with the Qur’an requires more than recital without understanding. The Prophet (saw) will complain to His Lord on the Day of Judgement,
‘…O My Lord, indeed the people took this Qur’an as something to be abandoned!’ (Surah 25 30)
Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah interpreted several different types of ‘abandonment’ of the Qur’an. Amongst others:
· To abandon listening to it and believing in it:
· To abandon acting upon it, and ignoring upon its lawful and prohibited, even if one believes and recites it;
· To abandon pondering over it, understanding it, and seeking explanation of it;
Hence the importance of contemplation, reflection, and understanding the text is emphasised. Let us take a simple example. We will all be familiar with the copious manuals that accompany any electronic gadget purchased these days. The manual provides detailed operating instructions in a number of languages. Which language do we need to read to assist us? For most of you reading this, it will be English. Further, we would derive no benefit in reading the text in a different language. Again, let us ponder. Allah (swt) decreed a benefit – reward - for the recital of Qur’an in Arabic, even without understanding. Do we find such an example anywhere in this life? But the true benefit comes from more than mere recital.
For those of us who do not understand the Arabic language, this is undoubtedly difficult. But like any task in life, it requires continuous effort, commitment and sincerity, as well as assistance from Allah (swt). It requires us to approach the Book in an appropriate manner, with the respect and awe befitting the Book. My own personal reflections led me to appreciate the miracle of the Qur’an in a very practical manner. These include the following thoughts:
- The Qur’an is a book of guidance. Anyone who approaches the Book seeking guidance, will certainly be guided. This is the promise of Allah. It is not possible that someone who sincerely seeks guidance from the Qur’an would not find it.
- The Qur’an is an unfathomable ocean of knowledge. The knowledge within the Book is immeasurable. If one were to spend his whole life studying the Book, he would still yearn to learn more. The more he gleans of its knowledge, the more he realises how little he knows, and the vastness of the pearls of wisdom that still remained untouched. The knowledge of any mortal text is soon absorbed and exhausted. Not so with the Qur’an.
- One never tires of reading the book. Again, even if one spent a lifetime, he would feel this was insufficient, and he would yearn to spend another life time again. The Book never becomes repetitive….as surely any other book does after multiple readings.
- Wherever one opens the book, he will find something relevant to his life or particular circumstances. One may be astonished to find the text addressing his situation directly, subhanAllah.
- The same text can infer different meanings to different people, depending on their specific circumstances.
So this Ramadan, let us approach this Book to ensure we do not abandon it in any way whatsoever. Let our aim be to recite, reflect, understand and implement.
There are a few simple tips which can assist us in this aim.
Firstly, make a sincere intention to seek closeness to Allah through understanding His speech.
Secondly, let us clear our minds of the songs, raps, tunes, vibes, divas that a lifetime of immersion in western culture has absorbed. How do we clear our minds? Clear our phones. Clear our laptops and PCs, our CD collection. For we really need to let go of these. The space on our hard drives called our mind is cluttered, and this clutter prevents the purity of the Qur’an from truly penetrating.
Thirdly, let us replace this electronic media with Qur’an. Any recitation will do. Just start listening to them. You will soon find yourself tuning into a certain style of recitation which you will find is easy to follow for you, but also gives you contentment. You will soon find you cannot get enough.
Fourthly, start to learn some Arabic. You can go on a class room based course. You can enrol on an online course. You can buy some books and start to teach yourself. Go and see the mufti or imam at your local masjid. Start paying attention to the Qur’an you do hear. You will soon find yourself picking up some basic words… and you will think ‘I know that word…’ Start learning, word by word. There are many ways. Whatever suits you, but just start. It’s only difficult in your mind.
Combinations of the above support each other in defragmenting our hard drives. Re-formatting them. Re-storing us back to the factory default… the default set by Allah (swt). Such that we are Qur’an compatible… not pop picky, rock raggers, diva divanas’ or rap friendly.
And you will soon find Allah (swt) will open to you the treasures of The Book. Insha’allah Allah (swt) revealed the Book for us all. Not just for a selected few. We can all access it. We just need to make the effort.
In a future article I will share a few glimpses of the magnificence of the text which touch me personally. But by then, I’m sure, you will be ready to share your own glimpses with me. Insha’Allah.
Make this Ramadan one that changes your life.