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Faith

The Qur’an: My Journey with Truth and Belief

Now, of course, I understand that there is no benefit to reading the Qur’an in a language you don’t understand, although this is still against common pulpit chatter. I know that this may seem harsh but let’s talk about it a bit. 

Now, of course, I understand that there is no benefit to reading the Qur’an in a language you don’t understand, although this is still against common pulpit chatter. I know that this may seem harsh but let’s talk about it a bit. 

The Qur’an is packed full of guidance. It is full of jewels and gems about our journeys to Allah.

I do remember though, that there was a time when I couldn’t make head nor tail of it. I would attend sessions where the Qur’an would be explained by a scholar. The sessions did shed some light on verses of the Qur’an, but because I did not spend much time with the Qur’an, I really did not understand it. Although funnily enough, my experience didn’t stop me believing that the Qur’an was the perfect book of guidance, because I had been heavily indoctrinated during my childhood to believe such – yes, this is bad if you are wondering, because my beliefs were not in line with my experience in this world.

This world is a place of learning, our lives are the courses, and the teacher is Allah, the best of teachers. So, there is no need to believe things contrary to our experiences. 

Oh and then there was my childhood, when my mum spared no effort to teach me how to read the Qur’an. I went from teacher to teacher, they struggled to teach me to read properly. Until today, I am still slow at reading the Qur’an, but then again, who wants to read the Qur’an quickly anyway? Allah bless my mum for working so hard to help me. So, if your child is struggling, read the first sentence of this article to see how my experience of the Qur’an is now. 

Reading was always encouraged in the Islamic centre and religious school I use to go to. You would always hear these prophetic traditions from the pulpit talking about the virtues of reading particular chapters of the Qur’an. Not much emphasis was placed on understanding. It was me and a friend who took steps ourselves to understand Arabic, but that happened as late as my university years. Now, of course, I understand that there is no benefit to reading the Qur’an in a language you don’t understand, although this is still against common pulpit chatter. I know that this may seem harsh but let’s talk about it a bit. 

Let’s say that a person reads the Qur’an with humility, in a language they don’t understand. Yes, in one sense we could say they are doing something positive; they are doing something with humility – doing anything with humility is good. Mowing the lawn with humility is good, cooking with humility is good. So, what’s wrong with it then?

Well, they are mocking themselves because they are reading something they don’t understand. They are also mocking Allah by saying that the meaning of what He says isn’t important. Yes, I know they will act very innocent and say what can they do, they don’t understand Arabic. That’s fine, not everyone can learn Arabic in their lives. Nobody is asking them to read the Qur’an in Arabic, it’s perfectly fine to read the Qur’an in English, Urdu, Gujrati, or any other language for that matter.

I hate to say this next sentence, but I am going to say it…. Wait for it…. The reward for reading the Qur’an in a language that you understand is far greater than the reward for memorising the whole Qur’an in a language you don’t understand. Don’t ask me for a  reference…just think about who Allah is and what the Qur’an is for.

Oh and let’s not forget Mr Arabic. He says: ‘You must learn Arabic because some of the meaning gets lost in the translation.’ Yes, Mr Arabic, we know that’s true, but all of the meaning gets lost in reading a language you don’t understand. From my experience of reading the Qur’an in English, I can tell you that it is very fruitful at the level of the heart. Yes, I know translations vary – find one you like! 

As for the scholars who say that there is a reward for reading the Qur’an in Arabic while not understanding, this is simply untrue for the reasons I mentioned above. These scholars are ‘inadvertently’ encouraging people to read the Qur’an without understanding. The reason I have put inadvertently in speech marks is because each soul knows very well what it does, while simply,  sometimes, being ‘unconscious’ of it. 

Then there was the time I was really into the recitation of the Qur’an – we all have to admit the Qur’an recited with proper recitation and a beautiful melody is very sweet. Once, I recited surah Yaseen for a group and a brother came and told me that it was the most beautiful recitation he had heard. Then  there was the time I recited for my family and my uncle told me that Qur’an recited from the nose wasn’t really to his taste. Let me just say this, tajweed is not especially important for the average person, just focus on understanding and learning from Allah. I know the professional reciters of the Qur’an won’t be happy, but for those of you reciting in English, it’s quite hard to apply the tajweed rules anyway! 

I mentioned being indoctrinated during childhood to believe that the Qur’an was the word of Allah and the complete book of guidance. I did eventually leave that belief after a serious life event; it took Allah to hit me really hard to knock all the indoctrination out of me. I found myself in a situation where I was listening to Muslims saying that they believed the Qur’an was perfect, complete, and the word of Allah. I found this very hard to believe.

So, I would ask them for evidence of this claim with all sincerity and I didn’t receive one convincing answer. For me, holding a belief without evidence is sourced from insincerity, insecurity, and impurity. Whereas, saying I don’t know when you lack evidence is sourced from honour and dignity and proximity to Allah. Even worse is when a Muslim says the Qur’an is the word of Allah, and you ask them for evidence, and they say they don’t have any.

I don’t understand how people can attribute things to Allah without evidence. Their insecurities make them say things about Allah which they have no knowledge about. It is the way of a true Muslim to be completely honest and frank about what they know and do not know – it is not right to bend and twist your soul into proving things that Allah has not taught you – a predicament that many scholars find themselves in due to lack of practice and dishonesty.

If you are a Muslim let me ask you a question: Is it not enough that Allah says He will not wrong you in the least? Is that not enough for you to be honest and admit what you do and don’t know? Is that not enough to make the words ‘I don’t know’ your best companion? If Allah asks you whether the Qur’an was His word, and you say ‘yes’, do you not think He will see right through you if you really don’t know? You might fool me buddy, but I am just a servant of Allah, I don’t control any harm or benefit for you. 

Then I started to read the Qur’an in English and Arabic, both with understanding, and Allah started to teach me the secrets of the Qur’an. It was talking to me. I could see the signs of its truth deep in  my own soul and in the world around me. The Qur’an is now my companion. I see Allah in every verse I read but I do not have the courage to say it is the word of Allah. I only say that it is truly a  treasure on the path to Allah, and I don’t think it at all possible that any man could have written it. 

For me, the Qur’an is the word of Allah as much as my prayer beads are. What do I mean? Well, just this moment, in the present moment, Allah is manifesting everything we are experiencing and seeing, touching, and smelling. So, for me, everything is a revelation of Allah, and His revelation continues from moment to moment. And yes, He is also revealing the Qur’an from moment to moment, so that is also His revelation, and so is any other book that you may have in front of you. 

If you say that the Qur’an is a book of guidance, whereas other books can misguide, I will say that the Qur’an can also misguide impure people. Isn’t it true that whatever a believer reads he is guided by it, by the grace of Allah, and whatever a disbeliever reads he is misguided by it? So, the Qur’an is not in itself that which guides, it is the believer that sees the light of Allah wherever he looks, by the grace of Allah. (To be clear, I am talking about the believer and disbeliever in each of us).

Although yes, I do agree that guidance is more obvious in some of creation, and yes, I do agree that the Qur’an is a shining example of such a creation. Although I must say that different hearts incline to different creations of Allah. 

If you ask me whether the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, I will say yes, I do not think that any man or woman could have written the Qur’an. I have seen the light in it, and I accept it as a heavenly book.  

If you then ask me if the Qur’an is the word of Allah to the exclusion of my laptop, that is in front of me right now, I will say no. I will say the same person that created the Qur’an, is in the very same way creating my laptop in this instance. He has created both with His own hands, and so they are just as beautiful as each other. I will say that for some people the laptop is more of a guide than the Qur’an. Is a hungry person guided more by the Qur’an or a morsel of food? 

So, do I believe that the Qur’an is the word of Allah, yes, but not to the exclusion of the rest of creation, but in the same way that the rest of creation is also revelation. 

Because of what I have said, I do think the majority Muslim mindset is wrong with respect to the Qur’an. Many Muslims see the Qur’an as the word of Allah to the exclusion of the rest of creation because they are devoted to it, and also because they are blind to the signs of Allah in the rest of creation. For those who know everything is whispering guidance, it is a creation flooded with  guidance. The Qur’an has a flavour and everything else in creation has its own flavour. 

When I say I do not have the courage to say the Qur’an is the word of Allah, I mean it in the sense that I do not see it as the word of Allah in exclusion to the rest of creation, and so I see the emphasis placed on it in exclusion to the rest of creation a play of the blind. 

Is the Qur’an the best of all books? Yes, to the people that are unable to extract guidance from other books. But if you could see Allah’s signs in other books would you have the same viewpoint? 

Is the Qur’an a friend? Yes, it is a sincere friend. 

If you can see the jewels and gems in the Qur’an right now, then treasure it. If you cannot, be patient, do not worry, Allah knows that your inner being hopes for Him. Just work on yourself and keep an open mind, we benefit from different things at different stages of our lives. You are here to know Allah, the Beautiful, whether it’s through Himself, or the Qur’an or another person, leave that for Allah to decide and be patient, Allah is with the patient ones. 

I want to share a secret with you now. Something that will help you whether you have seen it with the eyes of your heart or not. Some of you will know, others will learn, and others can try to see the benefit through practice. If you are reading the Qur’an and you are struggling to carry on for whatever reason, you can try to read with your inner voice if you were reading aloud and vice versa.  Also, if you are reading in a particular language you can switch to another language you know. The  reason this works is because your inner voice and you spoken voice have different associations with  your soul, this is also true for the different languages you know. Anyway, you can try this, I hope it helps you all. May Allah bless you all, and grant you good in this world and the hereafter.

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