Reflect the Quran in conduct, understand it, memorize it and recite it
It is an established fact that for Muslims the Qur’an is the foundation of the Islamic faith. It is the medium of communication that Allah (swt) has chosen to communicate His (swt) message to mankind. It is this very Book that has been revealed to our master Muhammad (saw) as a source of guidance, and a criteria for right and wrong, which was required to be conveyed to the rest of mankind to bring them out of the darkness and into the light of Islam.
It is for this reason Muslims throughout the centuries have held the Book of Allah in the highest regard, utmost respect and a source of guidance for this life and the Akhira.
It is well known that the Qur’an was revealed over a period of 23 years in a very interactive manner which enabled the sahabahs to practise the Qur’anic injunctions in their lives and to convey it to the Makkan society. Each year in the month of Ramadhan the Prophet (saw) would recite all of the Qur’an that was revealed to date in the presence of Jibreel (as). This was the ultimate means of checking the accuracy of his own recitation and in turn allowed the accuracy of the other memorisers to be verified.
In the last year of the Prophet’s (saw) life the Qur’an was recited twice to Jibreel (as) in the month of Ramadhan to ensure there were no errors. By the time of the Prophet’s (saw) death, the whole Qur’an had been committed to writing as well being solidly established in the memories of thousands of Muslims, some of whom memorised the whole of it, while others memorised portions of it. It is in this manner that the Qur’an has been meticulously compiled and passed down from generation to generation in order to preserve the revelations of Allah (swt) in its purest form without any alterations both in content and its styles of recitations.
It is narrated on the authority of Uthman (ra) that the Prophet (saw) said ‘The best amongst you is he who learns the Qur’an and teaches it’ (Bukhari).
This hadith of the Prophet (saw) amongst many others were the very source of inspiration and motivation for Muslims of the past and present to engage in learning to read and understand the Qur’an and then teach it to others.
The Qur’an is unique among religious texts in that it is not only read, but it is recited as a means of worship to the Creator. There are countless Ahaadiths on the virtues and rewards of reciting the Qur’an as has been narrated by the Prophet (saw).
Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (ra) narrated that the Prophet (saw) said ‘Whoever reads one letter of the Book of Allah is credited with one hasanah (blessing) and one hasanah is equal to tenfold the like thereof in its reward. I do not say that Alif-Lam-Meem is one letter, but Alif is one letter, Lam is one letter and Meem is one letter.’ (Tirmidhi)
The Qur’an will be an intercessor for the believers on the Day of Judgment as the Prophet (saw) said ‘The Qur’an is an intercessor (which by Allah’s permission) intercedes, and an opponent (which is) truthful. He who appoints it as his leader, (then it) will lead him to Paradise. And he who puts it behind him, (then it) will lead him to the Fire.’ (Bayhaqi)
It is in this context of trying to attain the pleasure of Allah (swt) and living for the Akhirah that the Islamic ummah witnessed some great people in its history. These were people who made the Qur’an the centre of their lives and excelled in acquiring knowledge such that they mastered the Arabic language and all the relevant Islamic sciences in order to access the Book of Allah (swt) and understand its true message. These were people who truly lived up to their religion, treading in the path of knowledge and shaping their personalities in accordance with the Shariah.
Allah (swt) says in the Quran,
كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ مُبَارَكٌ لِّيَدَّبَّرُوا آيَاتِهِ وَلِيَتَذَكَّرَ أُوْلُوا الْأَلْبَابِ
Unfortunately, now we live in a time where the Qur’an reciters are many but only few are engaging in studying and seeking the guidance of the Qur’an and acting upon its rulings. We need to remind ourselves of the importance of contemplation, reflection and pondering over the meanings and rulings of the Qur’an, and making sure that it is read in a way that penetrates the heart and leaves a lasting and permanent impact on the believers. The result of this kind of reading is the development of a dynamic Islamic personality where Muslims embrace the Islamic Aqeedah, make the Shariah the code of conduct for their lives and engage in the da’wah to revive the Islamic way of life at a state level.
It is in relation to this subject of contemplation and reflection of the Qur’an when reading that the Prophet (saw) said in a hadiths ‘Groups of people will emerge from my Ummah who will drink the Qur’an as they drink milk’ (Tabarani).
In commenting on this hadiths Al-Munawi says in his Fayd al-Qadir: “… that is, they will raise their voices with their tongues without contemplating and reflecting on its meanings and pondering over its rulings; instead it (i.e. the Qur’an) passes over their tongues as milk which they drink passes over them which is quickly”
While it is true that we receive reward for the recitation of the Qur’an even when we do not understand its meanings, this should not however make us complacent such that it prevents us from studying the Qur’an and pondering over its meanings. Otherwise, this Qur’an will only be understood and practised by a select few whilst the masses will continue engaging in this act of ibadah (i.e. recitation of the Qur’an) with limited understanding and application in their daily lives.
Allah (saw) says:
أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ أَمْ عَلَى قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَا
This was the situation of hypocrites who used to read the Quran but never attempted to sincerely understand it as the speech of Allah. And therefore, despite their recitation in their own language they were neither able to gain knowledge nor able to act according to it what was prescribed in it.
Thus, the reading of the Qur’an must be followed by one’s desire to understand it in depth and using it as a guide in one’s practical life. If understood and followed correctly, the Qur’an becomes a living guide for those who act upon it.
‘This Book which We have revealed is a blessed one. Follow its guidance and have piety so that you perhaps may receive mercy and will not say that the Book was revealed only to two groups of people before you, or that you were ignorant of its knowledge, or say: Had the Book been revealed to us, we would have followed its guidance better than they (Jews and Christians), so indeed there has come clear proof from your Lord, and guidance and mercy.’ (Al-An’am 155 – 157)