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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

On the Holy Quran

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It’s good to have you back in town. I know you expect a sequel to my piece of last week on Independence and I intend to deliver that by the end of this week inshaa Allah, but I thought it fit to share with you some thought on the Holy Quran. I have always had a love for this Book but my love for the Holy Quran has now evolved into a magnificent obsession thanks to my discovery of the teachings of a young Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan on youtube; this gentleman’s inspiring approach to the Quran has definitely been a source of further motivation for my life-long study of this Great Book. 

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Sainey, I realise you are also versed in this scripture for the last time we held a chat and I started to quote verse 155 of Surah Baqara on trials and tribulations, you gracefully completed the verse for me in its original Arabic text; I have always appreciated you but discovering your knowledge of the Quran has transformed that appreciation into love for the sake of Allah. May Allah increase you in knowledge. Indeed the Holy Quran is supposed to be the ‘owners manual’ that is to guide and protect our lives but, as Muslim’s, our society has some room for improvement in how we relate with this Great Treasure. We send our children to memorise it, we recite it in our five daily salat, we recite it during our naming ceremonies and funerals, but we need to improve further in understanding and actually living this Book. More on this matter in subsequent essays but for now let me share with you some thoughts I put together some two years ago that I titled “Reflections on the Holy Quran”. Hope you fine it useful:

Every prophet comes with a miracle from God to proof that he is indeed the messenger of Allah, Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead by the will of Allah. With his staff did Moses perform many a great miracle including the splitting of the Red Sea. For Muhammad (SAWS), the unlettered prophet, Allah gave him the Qur’an, as a miracle and indeed it is a miracle of the highest order in the brilliance of its literature, the depth of its science, geography and many more disciplines of study where the Quran has presaged the most wondrous discoveries of science more than 1400 years ago. And it is this Book that Allah was talking about in verse 31 of Surah ar-Ra’d when He stated “If there were a Quran with which mountains could be moved, or the earth could be cloven asunder, or the dead could be made to speak, (this would be the one!)…” 

The Qur’an is the ultimate source of guidance; as Allah states in verse 2 of Surah al-Baqara “This is the Book: in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah.” In the recitation of the Qur’an is great reward in the afterlife. In a famous hadith the Prophet (SAWS) is reported to have said that “Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allah, he will have a reward. And that reward will be multiplied by ten. I am not saying that “Alif, Laam, Meem” is a letter, rather I am saying that “Alif” is a letter, “laam” is a letter and “meem” is a letter.” in addition to the rewards of the afterlife there are great immediate benefits that come from the recitation of the Holy book, among them peace of mind, the rare gem that even the wealthiest person cannot buy from their material possessions. Allah has stated in the Qur’an “And We send down of the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe…”

Of the many great things about the Qur’an I find the beauty of its verses very inspiring and attractive. Here I must hasten to add that in order to truly appreciate the wonders of this Book, one [should learn to] read it in its original Arabic script at least for the better appreciation of its literary excellence. Few examples here should be enticing for any novice. In Surah al-Nisa Allah speaks of the wavering of the hypocrites in the matter of faith saying “muzabzabeena baina zaalika laa ilaa haa ‘ulaa’i wa laa ilaa haa u’laa…” (Wavering between this and that neither here nor there) and you immediately feel the weakness in the sound of those words in the Arabic version. In the beginning of Surah al-Haj Allah warns mankind about the Day of Judgment saying “Yaa ayyu-hannaasu ‘takoo Rabbakum, inna zalzalatti sa’ati shai’un azeem” (O mankind, fear your Lord. Indeed, the convulsion of the [final] Hour is a terrible thing.) and immediately one feels convulsion in the sound of that verse. The above two scenarios share one literary property, onomatopoeia: the use of words that sound like the thing they are describing. One could go on to write books on the literary qualities of the Qur’an but let me stop at one more case.

In Surah al-An’aam, verse 99 Allah gives us the allegory of grapes among other fruits and in introducing this verse, the commentary in the adapted translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali explains “all grapes may be similar to look at, yet each variety has a distinctive flavor and other distinctive qualities, and each individual grape may have its special qualities. So for man.” Now this is the verse: “it is He Who sendeth down rain from the skies: With it we produce vegetation of all kinds: From some We produce green (crops), out of which We produce, close-compounded grain out of the date palm and its sheeths (or spathes) (come) clusters of dates hanging low and near: And (then there are) gardens of grapes, and olives, and pomegranates, each similar (in kind) yet different in variety: When they begin to bear fruit, feast your eyes with the fruit and the ripeness thereof. Behold! In these things there are Signs for people who believe.”

In closing the commentary on the above verse the commentator states in celebratory satisfaction “search through the word’s literature, and see if you can find another such melody or hymn ,- so fruity in its literary flavour, so profound in its spiritual meaning!”

Let me take this opportunity once again to encourage those of us young Muslims who cannot read the Quran in Arabic to make an effort to do so for this is not an arduous task. I am not saying you should not watch European league games on TV and movies but if you could cut off ten percent of the time you spend watching the Premiership or cut the same proportion of time from time spent on social networking sites and Prison Break/Grey’s  Anatomy to invest in learning to read the Qur’an, it could turn out to be the greatest investment of time you would have ever made in your whole life. ‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, relates that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “Verily the one who recites the Qur’an beautifully, smoothly, and precisely, he will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. And as for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, then he will have TWICE that reward.” Make the effort to read the Qur’an and you will find it easy for Allah has made it easy for us to learn this Book. And even if you have difficulties because it is written in a foreign language you are assured of greater rewards still for the extra efforts.

Such is the importance of the Qur’an that Allah says in Surah al-Hashr “Had We sent down this Qur’an on a mountain, verily , thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of Allah …” so if the hardest and mightiest of rocks is to split asunder then we feeble earthlings must not neglect this most sublime message. We must submit and open our hearts to be purified and inspired by the Qur’an. After all this is the book of Allah that is preserved in the Lawhil Mahfooz  and as Allah attests to its authenticity, in surah al-Fusilat verse 42 “No falsehood could enter it (Quran), in the past or in the future; a revelation sent down by One Full of Wisdom, Worthy of all Praise.”

My friend, I thought I should share these thoughts to refresh my own mind and to trigger further conversation with you on this subject. I am not an expert in this matter and so I always take advantage of opportunities to learn from friends about the Quran. Let me stop here now and get back on youtube to finish the almost 3-hour lecture that Nouman Ali Khan has done analysing Surah Fatiha. It’s awesome!

Have a nice weekend and stay blessed.




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