Living with the Qur’an
Your relationship with the Qur’an and Islam
Prophet Mohammed (ﷺ) is reported to have made the supplication:
“Let the Quran be the springtime of my heart,
the light of my chest, the remover of my sadness,
and the reliever of my sadness”
And one present day author says that, ‘The Quran is a reflection of God’s speech manifested on the human being’s tongue’, and that ‘although we refer to the Quran as a “book”, it is actually not the written words of revelation, but the recitation of those words.’
The Qur’an does not ‘call us to it, but rather calls us to look through it’ into the life of the next world and the ‘mysterious essence of God that animates everything in existence’.
Believers are asked to read and ponder upon the book, and then to follow its guidance if we want to reach for heaven in the next life – and to live a decent, upright life here on earth. The Qur’an states, "And this is a Book which We have revealed as a blessing: so follow it and fear (God) / be righteous so that you may receive mercy" (6:155).
But there is never ever to be any compulsion in attaining this belief because as we know, ‘forced faith is no faith’.
Learning Qur’an Recitation
Learning Qur’an recitation and understanding the Qur’an can be done in any number of ways – and ultimately however much you learn or recite is a blessing from God. The first condition, of course, is to seek this blessing and to make dua that God helps you in your approach to Qur’an recitation and all your interactions with the Qur’an.
It’s not necessary to know Arabic to learn Qur’an verses, although it is obviously a valuable extra tool in understanding. But, as one scholar puts it, ‘The Quran does not appeal to the reader based on its language par excellence. Rather, it appeals on the basis of the arguments it presents’. For those who don’t know Arabic, some suggest reading through good English translations, like ‘The Clear Quran’ or the translation by Thomas Clearly, and there are also very useful websites which give 20+ different English translations for each verse – allowin you to compare meanings and arrive at what you thinks is best.
Ultimately, understanding and acting upon the Qur’an is a subjective process while simultaneously a blessing from God. Sincerity is a prerequisite, and at every stage and every moment, you should ask for guidance and protection from misguidance. A saying attributed to Imam Ali, says:
“A drop of rain can fall into the mouth of a seashell or a snake,
but in a seashell, it turns into a pearl, and in a snake, it turns into poison.”
Practice makes perfect for Qur’an recitation
In terms of Qur’an recitation, this again is a circular blessing in the sense that the more you recite that more you will be rewarded by the blessing of wanting to recite.
For those not brought up with the Quran, the best way must surely be to listen as a first step. Just listening – even without understanding – can bring a warmth and spiritual elevation not experienced anywhere else. A well-known American convert was once asked in his early days as a Muslim how he could get anything from a recitation he didn’t even understand. His reply was to say, “Does a baby not respond to the voice of its mother?”
Further to listening, we are nowadays blessed with really useful websites like The Noble Quran, which allows a user to hear a verse, then to try and read it. This website also allows you to press any particular word and hear its sound and see its meaning in any number of languages.
This should, of course, be repeated again and again, and – in the experience of many – it can be best to concentrate upon one particular ‘surah’ or set of verses, and to try and master them before moving on. Making dua for guidance and being aware of your own nafs when approaching the Qur’an is also very important!
The Qur’an isn’t a book of linear progression – with a beginning, middle and end in terms of addressing issues. This flusters some, and may disheartens others at the start- but as the desert Arabs used to say, the stars in the sky look to be positioned randomly and it’s all a maze but study them further, and you start to see patterns and positions, until this same sky and these same chaotic stars, become a precise guide to your destination.
As you read and recite the Qur’an, let it guide you and continue your studies in the knowledge that the more you study, the more you will soon understand.
Main sources and recommended reading: ‘Secrets of Divine Love’ by A. Helwa an‘The Quran Message’ by Joseph Islam.
FRIDAY 9 APR 2021