Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Virtues of Reading the Qur'an

The Virtues of Reading the Qur'an
Ibn Abdullah
In the Name of Allāh, Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
All praise and thanks are due to Allāh, May Allāh’s blessings and peace be upon His Messenger.

The Arabic world “Al-Quran” literally means “the recitation”. When used in regards to Islam, the word Al-Qur’an means God’s final message to mankind that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (Sallahu 'alaihi wa sallam). The Al-Qur'an, sometimes spelled Koran, is the literal the word of God - as it clearly says time and time again. Unlike other sacred scriptures, the Qur’an has been perfectly preserved in both its words and meaning in a living language.

The Al-Qur'an is a living miracle in the Arabic language; and is known to be inimitable in its style, form and spiritual impact. God’s final revelation to mankind, the Al-Qur'an, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad(Sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam) over a period of 23 years. The Al-Qur'an, in contrast to many other religious books, was always thought to be the Word of God by those who believed in it, i.e. it wasn’t something decreed by a religious council many years after being written. Also, the Al-Qur'an was recited publicly in front of both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities during the life of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam). The entire Al-Qur'an was also completely written down in lifetime of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam), and numerous companions of the Prophet memorized the entire Al-Qur'an word-for-word as it was revealed. So unlike other scriptures, the Al-Qur'an was always in the hands of the common believers, it was always thought to be God’s word and, due to wide-spread memorization, it was perfectly preserved.

In regards to the teachings of the Al-Qur'an - it is a universal scripture, and it is addressed to all of mankind, and not to a particular tribe or “chosen people”. The message that it brings is nothing new, but the same message of all of the prophets - submit to Almighty God and worship Him alone. As such, God’s revelation in the Al-Qur'an focuses on teaching human beings the importance of believing in the Unity of God and framing their lives around the guidance which He has sent.

Additionally, the Al-Qur'an contains the stories of the previous prophets, such as Abraham, Noah, Moses and Jesus; as well as many commands and prohibitions from God. In modern times in which so many people are caught up in doubt, spiritual despair and “political correctness“, the Quranic teachings offer solutions to the emptiness of our lives and the turmoil that is gripping the world today. In short, the Al-Qur’an is the book of guidance par excellence.

Al-Qur'an is The Word of Allah.

The Noble Al-Qur'an is the Book of Allah, His divine revealed Words. The eternal miracle of Prophet Muhammad (Sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam) revealed from Allah the Exalted. Every Prophet was supported with a miracle(s) and upon his death it were disappeared, with the exception of Al-Qur'an revealed to Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam)  whose miracle remained, preserved and protected until today.

Allah Says: “Falsehood cannot approach it from before it or from behind it.” [Surah Fussilat, 41:42]

Allah SWT clearly stated that the Al-Qur'an is His Word, Saying:

• “And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah [the Quran].” [At-Tawbah, 9:6],

• “Those who remained behind will say when you set out toward the war booty to take it, ‘Let us follow you’. They wish to change the words of Allah.” [Al-Fath, 48:15]

Allah Says in These two verses that the Al-Qur'an is the Word of Allah and that He sent it down to Prophet Muhammad (Sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam).

In a Hadith as it was narrated by Jabir reported: “The Prophet (Sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam) used to offer his message to people during the season of Hajj and say: “Is there a man who would take me to his tribe (to convey the message to them), because the (tribe of) Quraish have prevented me from conveying the Word of Allah?” [Ahmad and At-Tirmidzi]

There are many logical and substantial evidences proving this fact, such as the inability of the polytheists to come up with one single verse, let alone a whole chapter, that is similar to it. This is so, despite their eagerness and ambition to prove the Prophet were wrong in what he was calling to, and their strong command of the Arabic language in which the Qur'an was revealed. Undoubtedly, this is evidence that the Al-Qur'an is not made by or the words of humans.

The Qur'an contains news of past nations and other unseen matters which serve as great proof that it is the Word of Allah. When the Persians defeated the Romans in battle, the Al-Qur'an addressed the issue and informed that the Romans would overcome the Persians in few years to come as Allah Says:

“The Romans have been defeated (i.e. By the Persians) in the nearest land. But they, after their defeat, will overcome.” [Ar-Rum, 30: 2-3]

Furthermore, the Al-Qur'an consists of scientific miracles by highlighting certain scientific facts which were not discovered except fourteen centuries later, such as the Al-Qur'an proving that there is a barrier between the salty water and fresh water where they meet preventing them from mixing, as Allah Says:

“He released the two seas (the two bodies of water: fresh and salt), meeting [side by side]. Between them is a barrier [so] neither of them transgresses.” [Ar-Rahman, 55: 19-20].

The modern science had discovered this to be a fact.

The fact that tranquility and assurance can be found upon reading the Al-Qur'an which is not felt when reading any other book, is yet another proof that it is the Word of Allah, as Allah Says:

“Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the mention of Allah. Unquestionably by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.” [Ar-Raad, 13: 28]

Furthermore, being cured by virtue of reading the Al-Qur'an over a sick person can be added to the list of evidences proving it to be the Word of Allah. Allah Says:

“And We send down of the Qur'an that which is healing and mercy for the believers.” [Al-Israa’, 17: 82]

Al-Walid Ibn Al-Mughirah, one of the leaders of the polytheists who were requested to criticize and censure the Qur'an. After hearing parts of it from Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam), he said:

“What can I say? I swear by Allah! There is no man who knows poetry better than me, and it does not sound like anything I ever heard. The only thing I can say is that it has sweetness to it, and it is so appealing. It is so fruitful (to the heart) and abundant (in its benefits). Indeed, nothing rises above it in style, and it surely destroys anything that challenges it.” [Al-Hakim and Al-Baihaqi]

This is the Qur'an, the Word of Allah, which confounds humans’ capabilities due to its inimitable style, justice and accuracy. The Qur'an still challenges people and people remain incapable of challenging it, and it remains the clear evidence from Allah against its enemies and opponents. All efforts to deny its authenticity have failed.

To reflect upon the verses of Allah of the Glorious Qur'an is a form of worship; it is something that will draw one close to Allah, the Most Exalted. This reflection is not a reckless and wandering one, rather, it includes a study of the classical Tafsir of the verses being pondered over.

Allah Says in the Quran: “Then do they not reflect upon the Qur'an? If it had been from [any] other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction.” [Surah An-Nisa’, 4:82]

The Book of Allah is unlike any other; it is the timeless Speech of Allah, and not a created thing. It is the study guide for life, death, and what follows. Therefore, it deserves a far more careful study than anyone else’s speech.

It necessitates that its reader return to the early narrations of those who witnessed its revelation and heard its explanation of the meaning of the Qur'an. If one would try to ponder over the meanings of the verses with reference to them it would entails correct application and understanding that the early Muslims had done which had been intended by Allah, Most Exalted, and therefore he be on the right path in worshipping Allah.

Every Muslim should hold tight to the meanings explained by the Prophet SAW and those taught by the Companions and their immediate followers, and the early scholars of Islam.

It should be noted that reciting and pondering over the Book of Allah and devoting regular time to its study and implementation has tremendous benefits in this life and the next. Let us now look at just a few of them to attach ourselves more firmly to the majestic Words of Allah. Each benefits stands as enough of an encouragement to shun any laziness we have and dedicate ourselves wholly to the Qur'an.

Reading and Reflecting Over the Quran Fulfils an Islamic Duty.

The Prophet (Sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam) summarized this religion with his statement: “The religion (of Islam) is nasihah (offering sincere advice)!” Tamim bin Aws said: “We asked, ‘To whom?’” He replied: “To Allah, His Book, His Messenger, the leaders of the people, and to their subjects.” [Muslim]

It entails a due sincerity to the Book of Allah includes its regular recitation, learning the rules of Tajweed (the recitation of the Qur'an, according to specified rules) and reciting it beautifully, learning about its Tafsir and the reasons for its revelation, affirming that it is the truth, the perfect Speech of Allah and not part of the creation, honoring it and defending it, abiding by the orders and prohibitions found in it, and teaching it and calling to it.

Guidance to the Mankind.

The Book of Allah to mankind's guidance is like the soul in relation to the body. Therefore, he who abandons its recitation and does not act in accordance to its laws is in a state of spiritual death. Allah Almighty says:

"And is one who was dead and We gave him life and made for him light by which to walk among the people like one who is in darkness, never to emerge there from?" [Al-An’am, 6:122]

A person without Qur'an is like a person without water, air and medicine. Allah, the Most Exalted, says:

"And We send down of the Qur'an, that which is healing and mercy for the believers, but it does not increase the wrongdoers except in loss." [Al-Israa’, 17:82]

The Qur'an is a healing for the body and the soul. Whenever life becomes hard and complicated, the Light of the Qur'an will always brighten the way. It will be a source of solace and tranquility. It will be a defender to you when you are powerless and in need. When the Muslim recites the Qur'an, he will feel matchless tranquility in his heart and being. This causes him only to fear Allah alone.

Allah Almighty says :

"Those to whom people [i.e. hypocrites] said, “Indeed, the people have gathered against you, so fear them.” But it [merely] increased them in faith, and they said, “Sufficient for us is Allah, and [He is] the best Disposer of affairs.” So they returned with favor from Allah and bounty, no harm having touched them. And they pursued the pleasure of Allah, and Allah is the Possessor of great bounty. That is only Satan who frightens [you] of his supporters. So fear them not, but fear Me, if you are [indeed] believers." [Al-‘Imran, 3:173-175]

Sadly, many have not taken this Qur'an into consideration and have neglected its recitation and implementation. They sought the worldly life and neglected the Hereafter. Allah says:

"And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah. They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying." [AL-An’am, 6:116]

Tragically, there are those who recite the Qur'an in its entirety and finish with little more than with what they began with in terms of contemplation and action. Some are so concerned with how they sound, they beautify their voice without ever listening to what is being ordered or prohibited. Truly, there are many reciters of the Qur'an that the Quran is free from them and their evil. They recite the Qur'an and are oppressive to themselves and others by not following its orders or forbidding its prohibitions.

The Al-Qur'an Will Be a Proof For or Against Us on the Day of Judgement.

The Messenger (Sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam)  Said: “And the Qur'an is a proof for you or against you.” [Muslim].

One of two things will occur with the Book of Allah on the Day of Judgement. It will either be in one’s favour, as a proof for us on that Day when we would desperately need every single good deed, or it will be something standing against us. The Speech of our Creator would be as a proof against us! No one could be saved from the terrors of that Day if Allah’s own Speech is against Him?

It is timely to look at our current status with the Qur'an. Are we neglecting it, contradicting it, and being heedless of its orders and prohibitions? Are we thinking deeply over it? Will it be on our side on the Day of Judgement?

It will intercede on behalf of those who recited it on the Day of Judgement.

In the Qur'an are the parables of those who were before us, a prophesy of that which will be after us and a criterion to judge between us. It is Truth with certainty that was revealed to us. The one who lives according to its dictations will be rewarded. The one who judges according to it will be just. The one who calls to it is on the Straight Path. Allah raises and lowers people's status based on their adherence to it. The Qur'an, on the Day of Judgment, will intercede on behalf of those who recited it.

Prophet Muhammad (Sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: "The one who reads a single letter from the Book of Allah will be rewarded with one good deed. (Know that) A good deed is multiplied ten times over. I do not say Alif Laam Meem is one letter. Verily, Alif is one letter, Lam is one letter, Meem is one letter." [At-Tirmidzi]

Abu Umamah related that the Prophet (Sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “Read the Qur'an, for indeed it will come on the Day of Standing (Judgement) as an intercessor for its companions.” [Muslim]

The Al-Qur'an Raises One’s Status.

In Sahih Muslim, which is one of the two most authentic books of prophetic narrations, we find a wonderful story about how a man from the people of Paradise, ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab understood this principle. The story is that once, some men came to question him during his reign as caliph regarding the leadership of Makkah. The men asked: “Who do you use to govern Makkah?” He said: “Ibn Abza.” They asked: “And who is Ibn Abza?” ‘Umar replied: “A freed slave from those we freed.” They remarked: “You left a freed slave in command of the People of the Valley (the noble tribes of the Quraish)?” He replied: “Indeed he is a reciter of the Book of Allah and is knowledgeable about the obligations of the Muslims. Haven’t you heard the statement of your Messenger: “Verily Allah raises some people by this Book and lowers others by it?” [Sahih Muslim]

It Increases Them in Faith

Nothing is more valuable to a Muslim in his worldly life and in the Hereafter than reciting the Qur'an and reflecting and trying to comprehend its meaning. In doing so, an individual will become acquainted with what is good and what is evil. He will see the effects of disobedience of Allah and its punishment in the parables of those who have come before us. An example of such a punishment is the flood that was sent upon the people of Nuh (Noah) and others similar to it. It is a source of inspiration and it strengthens one's belief in Allah. For this reason, Allah says:

" … and when His (Allah's) verses (Qur'an) are recited to them, it increases them in faith; and upon their Lord they rely." [Al-Anfal, 8:2]

This Book was sent and revealed from above the seven Heavens so that it could be comprehended and implemented, it is not just to be recited while the heart is pre-occupied. Allah Almighty says:

"[This is] a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam], that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded." [Fatir, 38:29]

What has happened to our hearts? Why are our hearts locked out and unresponsive to the Qur'an? Why do the words enter from one ear and exit out the other? Why have our hearts hardened? Let us comprehend the Qur'an and implement it in our lives. Let us be from those who implement the Qur'an in our days and recite it during our nights.

The People of the Al-Qur'an are from Best of People.

‘Uthman said that the Prophet (Sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “The best of you are those who learn the Qur'an and teach it to others.” [Al-Bukhari]

Rewards for Every Letter Recited from the Al-Qur'an.

Prophet (Sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allah, he will have a reward, and this reward will be multiplied by ten. I am not saying that ‘Alif, Lam, Mim’ (a combination of letters frequently mentioned in the Holy Quran) is a letter, rather I am saying that ‘Alif’ is a letter, ‘Lam’ is a letter and ‘Mim’ is a letter.” [At-Tirmidzi]

Thus the value of recitation of the Qur'an as we always gains these merits, as well as the following ones.

The Reciters Would Be in the Company of Angels.

‘Aishah related that the Prophet (Sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “Indeed the one who recites the Qur'an beautifully, smoothly, and precisely, will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. As for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, then he will have twice that reward.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

One should let the Syaitan (Satan) give you false excuses, such as ‘I am not an Arab.’ or ‘It is not in my language.’ The Hadith is a firm proof against these whisperings. One need to dedicate to the Book of Allah, whether one an Arab or not! The excuses have been eliminated and the pathway has been cleared for you to embrace the Book of Allah without holding back. Surely one would not hesitate to seek a teacher or a study circle for the Qur'an once learned the greatest benefits of reading and contemplating over the Qur'an.

Position and Rank in Paradise is Determined by the Amount of Quran He Memorized Quran.

‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘Aas heard the Prophet (Sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam) saying: “It will be said to the companion of the Qur'an: ‘Read and elevate (through the levels of Paradise) and beautify your voice as you did when you were in the worldly life! For verily, your position in Paradise will be at the last verse you recite!’” [Abu Dawud & At-Tirmidzi]

The Al-Qur'an Leads to Paradise.

The al-Qur'an states:
Indeed the Quran guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward.” [Al-Israa’, 17:9]

The Prophet (Sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “The Qur'an is an intercessor - something given permission to intercede, and it is rightfully believed in. Whoever puts it in front of him, it will lead him to Paradise; whoever puts it behind him, it will steer him to the Hellfire.” [At-Tabarani]

It should be noted that these benefits from the numerous benefits available can only be attained by a sincere commitment to the Book of Allah, and not simply by an empty claim of love for it. Rather, the heart must be sincerely attached to the Book of Allah and the limbs and tongue will follow suit in this attachment. One must know that we only mentioned a few of the numerous benefits of reading and reflecting over the Qur'an. There are many other benefits that await your reading of the Qur'an and books of Hadith, such as the chapter of the Quran that will plead on your behalf in the grave, and that it is a physical healing, a source of rest and relaxation for your heart, among many other things.

The reciting and pondering over the Book of Allah and devoting regular time to its study and implementation have tremendous benefits in this life and the next. Let us now look at just a few of them to attach ourselves more firmly to the majestic Words of Allah. Each benefits stands as enough of an encouragement to shun any laziness we have and dedicate ourselves wholly to the Al-Qur'an.

[Excerpted with modifications from Islam Web published on Monday, 26 December 2005]

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