The value of reading and reciting Al-Qur’án
In the name of Allâh, thu Beneficent, the Merciful
We thank and praise Allâh SWT, the Oft—forgiving, the Merciful. We bear witness that there is no one worthy of worship except Allâh ——Who has revealed the Qur’ân as His greatest blessing to humankind.
We bear witness that Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allâh be with him) is the true Messenger of Allâh. He encouraged his followers to observe the fast and remember Allâh by reading the Qur’ân throughout the month of Ramadhân. 0 Allâh, shower Your choicest blessings on him, his friends and relatives, all those who sought to move nearer to Allâh SWT by reading, understanding and living according to the Qur’ân . Allâh SWT reminds us in the Holy Qur’ân :
“Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down
the Qur’ân , as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs)
for guidance and judgement (between right and wrong).
So every one of you who is present (at his home)
during that month should spend it in fasting,
but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period
(should be made up) by days later. Allâh intends every
facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties.
(He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify
Him in that He has guided you; and perchance you shall be grateful.”
(q. II: 185)
Brothers and Sisters in Islam
Al-hamdulillah, we have entered this blessed month of Ramadhân and have already become so attached to it that we fear it will be over all too soon:
Have we done enough to gain of the limitless rewards and blessings that Allâh has promised those of us who do good in this month? Will we get another chance to experience another Ramadhân? Opportunities to indulge in acts of ‘ibâdah (worship) are within your and my reach: your prayers, your remembrance of Allâh, your reading of and listening to the Qur’ân, your kindness and helpfulness to your fellowmen are not onerous tasks demanding superhuman effort. They are the ordinary things which young and old alike can do and enjoy doing.
In the opening statement of the verse I have quoted, Allâh SWT informs us that the month of Ramadhân is the month in which Allâh sent the Qur’ân as a guide to humankind. It is a guide to know and uplift ourselves, a guide to attain true fulfillment in life, a guide to know and move nearer to Allâh SWT.
In a hadeeth, Ibn Abbas narrated that the Rasûlullah (Messenger) sollallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (s.a.w.s.) , may the peace and blessings of Allâh be with him, was the most generous of people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadhân when S. Jibreel (Angel Gabriel) visited him. S. Jibreel used to meet him every night of Ramadhân till the end of the month. The Prophet s.a.w.s. used to recite the Holy Qur’ân to S.Jibreel, and then, when Jibreel met him, he was even more generous than a fast wind (which brings rain and good crops) — Bukhari.
Hence the Prophet s.a.w.s. became even more generous after he had read the Qur’ân.
We as the ummah (community) of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.s. are blessed with the prestine pure Word of Allah which has been preserved for us for more than 1400 years — free from interpolation and liberal revisions…a fate which other holy books suffered. We have the means to know Allâh SWT. The Qur’ân’s wording has remained exactly as it was revealed to our Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.s. It tells us of Allâh, of His Attributes, of how He rules over His creation, how He relates to us and how we should relate to Him and our fellowmen. It is Allâh’s greatest gift to us. A gift is something that is useful to you, something that makes life easier for you, and more often something that gives you pleasure. The Qur’ân is more than an ordinary gift. It is a Divine Gift, tailor—made for my and your special needs. One writer describes it as:
“…..the only nur (or light) as you grope in the darkness. It is our compass with which to find our way to success and salvation. It is the only Shifâ (or healing) for your inner sicknesses, as well as the social ills that may surround you. It is the constant reminder (or Dhikr ) of your true nature and destiny, of your station, your duties, your rewards, your perils.”
Unlike the reading of a reference book, tilâwah or reading and reciting of the Qur’ân is an act in which your whole being: your soul, your heart, your tongue, your mind and body participate. When you recite Qur’ân in your salâh (daily prayers), you try to think of every word that you are reciting. Reading or reciting Qur’ân, should never become mechanical. As the tongue recites, the words flow from the lips, the mind ponders, the heart reflects, the soul absorbs, tears well up in your eyes, your heart quakes and trembles. Allâh SWT describes what the Qur’ân does to us in the following ayah (verse):
“Allâh has revealed from time to time the most beautiful Message in the form of the Book, consistent with itself, (yet) repeating (its teaching in various aspects): the skins of those who fear their Lord tremble thereat; then their skins and their hearts do soften to the celebration of Allâh ‘s praises. Such is the Guidance of Allâh : He guides therewith whom He pleases, but such as Allâh leaves to stray, can have none to guide.” (Q. XXXIX: 23)
The Qur’ân has a personal appeal to each one of us. Allâh SWT, our Creator, knows our strengths and weaknesses: He sees our smiles, but knows our suffering. As the Healer He prescribes the means to cure our weaknesses, and gives us a “tonic” to fortify ourselves and provides us with directions to keep us on the “healthy” path. The value of this wonderful Prescription is lost if it is placed on the highest shelf in the house and taken off and read only when someone dies. On the other hand, it is equally useless (as a prescription) if the only reason for reading it is to vie with someone else for the honours of the most melodious recitation. The prescription needs to be read, to be interpreted, understood and acted upon. Anyone who can read, whether in Arabic or English or any other language, can also read the Qur’ân . But to read to uncover the treasures it contains, to read to learn to know Allâh through His Word, you need to approach your reading differently to that of reading the newspaper.
Firstly, anyone who wishes to read the Qur’ân , must approach the Qur’ân with a strong and deep faith that it is the Word of Allâh. This fact Allâh emphasises in the Qur’ân:
“This is the Book; in it is guidance sure,
without doubt, to those who fear Allâh.” (Q.II: 2)
Only with this deep faith and conviction, will we open our hearts to let the words soak in, awaken us, heal and transform us. When we listen to the words of the Qur’ân, it is not the voice but the words that enchant us — it is Allâh speaking! When the Qur’ân enters our hearts, we are filled with a tenderness , with such qualities as humility, sincerity, love and compassion, truthfulness and gratitude, and an eagerness to accept and respond to Allâh’s Message. Yes, how do we get this faith and how can we keep it alive ? The easiest and most effective way is to read or recite the Qur’ân. The more we recite it, the more will we recognise it is the Word of Allâh and the more will our faith increase in intensity and depth.
Secondly, if you and I are convinced and have faith that the Qur’ân is the Word of Allâh, then we must consider carefully our Niyyah or your intention of purpose: Why do we want to read the Qur’ân ? It is not enough to read it to improve our knowledge or for pleasure: how many people do not spend a lifetime studying the language, the style and history or the law of the Qur’ân and yet remain untouched by its Message! On the other hand, you may go astray if you read it for the wrong purposes and motives. Our beloved Prophet s.a.w.s. warned us strongly against approaching the Qur’ân for the wrong motives.
He said: “Whoever interprets the Qur’ân using only his personal opinion, shall take his place in the Fire.” (Tirmithi)
Nothing brings us nearer to Allâh than during the moments we spend with His Words. Our niyyah is to receive guidance from Allâh … to come nearer to Him….and to seek Allâh ‘s good pleasure. Let us always ask ourselves: “Why am I reading the Qur’ân ?” And let us constantly reassert ourselves with the answer.
Thirdly, with the strong faith that the Qur’ân is the Word of Allâh and the niyyah firmly embedded in our hearts, we become so thankful that Allâh has blessed us and guided us to read and study the Qur’ân. Al-Hamdulillah, praise be to Allâh , and in the words of the Qur’ân (translated):
“….And they shall say: “Praise be to Allâh ,
Who has guided us to this (felicity):
never could we have found guidance, had it
not been for the guidance of Allâh :
indeed, it was the Truth.” (Q. VII:43)
When we are so thankful, we feel the urges growing stronger and stronger in us to read and discover new truths, discover new secrets, discover new riches that the Qur’ân has to offer. This upsurge in creativity can only be attained if we have indeed moved closer to the Creator. Yes, Brothers and Sisters, you can only attain true success, contentment, wisdom and power through Allâh. You have this Guidance in your homes; you have the potential to become truly successful in life! Go home, take it up and READ. Allâh is right there with you and understands your problems and knows your needs.
To repeat, when we read or recite the Qur’ân, we involve our whole being — not only our tongues or our eyes or our intellect. This inner self of ours which the Qur’ân calls the qalb or the heart, is not the physical heart, but the centre of our prayers, our hopes and our drives. It is Prophet Muhammad’s s.a.w.s. heart that received the First Message from Allâh, as Allâh SWT informs us in the Qur’ân in Surah: Al—Shuaraa (XXVI: 192— 194):
“Verily this is a Revelation from the Lord
of the worlds: with it came down the Spirit
of Faith and Truth — to your heart and mind
that you may admonish…”
When the heart is involved then, and only then, can we feel and appreciate the joys and the blessings of reading and reciting the Qur’ân .
Brothers and Sisters,
We have a beautiful tradition of opening all our functions with a recital of the Holy Qur’ân, be it a wedding ceremony or a lecture, or even the naming of a newborn baby. In some communities, the 27th Night of Ramadhân (Laylutul-Qadr) is commemorated with Qur’anic recitals and dhikrullah throughout the night. Such functions are commendable and help our younger generation become emotionally attached to the Qur’ân , which is an excellent starting point for launching more intensive study and reading. It may also be useful, particularly in non-Arabic speaking communities to have similar sessions to read and discuss translations of the Qur’ân, which may, insha-Allah, lead to learning Arabic to understand and interpret the original Word of Allah.
O Allâh , increase our Eemân in intensity and depth;
Strengthen our niyyah (our resolve) to read the Qur’ân ;
Grant us, through the barakah of the Qur’ân , true guidance and pleasure;
Help us, o Allâh, become thankful and increase our eagerness to uncover the riches of the Qur’ân;
Help us, to transform our gratitude into deeds for the benefit of the entire ummah;
Keep the Qur’ân alive in the minds and hearts of our ghufâz, those who bear the Qur’ân in their memory and in their hearts, and help our children to perceive it as a beacon of light in their lives.
Ameen! Aqeemus salaah!