The Quran: the spirit of our life
Engaging the heart, the lips and the mind
The month of the Quran
As we are preparing for Ramadan, we all know that Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an, so we delve more into the Qur’an.
شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ ۖ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۗ يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed. Guidance for humanity, and clear portents of guidance, and the Criterion. Whoever of you witnesses the month, shall fast it. But whoever is sick, or on a journey, then a number of other days. God desires ease for you, and does not desire hardship for you, that you may complete the number, and celebrate God for having guided you, so that you may be thankful. (2:185)
Revealed to the heart
Allah revealed the Qur’an to the Prophet (peace be on him) in Ramadan in the cave of Hira when Jibril came to him. The beauty of the story which many of us don’t know is that when Allah revealed the Qur’an He revealed it to His heart. In Surah Ash-Shu’ara’ Allah Almighty says:
وَاِنَّهٗ لَـتَنۡزِيۡلُ رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِيۡنَؕ
Indeed this is a revelation from the Lord of the Universe; (26:192)
نَزَلَ بِهِ الرُّوۡحُ الۡاَمِيۡنُۙ
which the truthful spirit has carried down (26:193)
عَلٰى قَلۡبِكَ لِتَكُوۡنَ مِنَ الۡمُنۡذِرِيۡنَۙ
to your heart that you might become one of those who warn (others on behalf of Allah), (26:194)
بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِىٍّ مُّبِيۡنٍؕ
(a revelation) in clear Arabic language (26:195)
I was fascinated for this ayah, so I searched for another ayah which confirmed that the Quran was revealed onto the heart of the Prophet (peace be on him), and it is in Surah Al-Baqarah that Allah Almighty says:
Say to them: Whosoever is the enemy to Gabriel, he should understand that he has, by Allah’s command, revealed to your heart the Quran. (2:97)
The two verses confirm that the Quran was revealed on the heart.
Why the heart?
I pondered why Allah Almighty told us that the Quran was revealed on to the heart, rather than the mind for example.
I looked at the commentaries of the Quran and it pointed out that the heart is the symbol of love and mercy.
The Heart- the place of preservation
Imam Sha’rawi, the top scholar of tafseer in our era, said the heart is the receiver of understanding and mercy. So the Quran was preserved in the Prophet’s heart (peace be on him).
This is why Allah Almighty says:
(Muhammad), do not move your tongue too quickly to recite the Quran.
Indeed, upon Us is its collection [in your heart] and [to make possible] its recitation. (75:16-17)
The presence of the heart
This led me to something else. The heart is what we need to engage with recitation. It is not just our lips. This is why we need to train our hearts to read the Quran not just our eyes, and lips and tongues.
The heart synchronises the body
It is the heart which should be connected to the Quran then the limbs will follow. If the heart is not connected then no matter how many surahs we recite per day if the heart is not engaged it will not give us the fruits.
أَلاَ وَإِنَّ فِي الْجَسَدِ مُضْغَةً إِذَا صَلَحَتْ صَلَحَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ وَإِذَا فَسَدَتْ فَسَدَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ أَلاَ وَهِيَ الْقَلْبُ
In the body there is a piece of flesh; if it is sound, the whole body is sound and if it is corrupt the whole body is corrupt, and hearken it is the heart. (Bukhari and Muslim)
Here the Prophet (peace be on him) is confirming the importance of the heart.
The dialogue with the Quran
Ibn Al-Qayyim said if you want to benefit from the Quran you have to focus that this Quran has been revealed by Allah to US. So when you read, always be aware that Allah is talking to you.
Imagine if the Queen was talking to you directly, you would prepare for her call, scrub up and look your best.
The scene we have to put in our mind is that we are talking to Allah Almighty. As Imam Ahmed said, if you want to converse with Allah Almighty, read His Book.
The Quran has a dialogue with us. When you read a surah, it speaks back to you. We need to have readiness of the heart.
So if Allah is addressing me and you, imagine if we are not focusing on his call isn’t it a pity and disrespectful not to listen to what He is saying? So we should listen attentively, as He is addressing us.
Be ready to obey
And for every command we should say, labbaik ya Allah, ‘At Your service, our Lord’. If He says don’t do this, we say labbaik wa sa’daik: at Your service and with Your support ‘We will not do this, ya Allah’ We can only do that if our heart is engaged.
And I came across a very unique Aya on the description of the Quran:
وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ رُوحًا مِّنْ أَمْرِنَا ۚ مَا كُنتَ تَدْرِي مَا الْكِتَابُ وَلَا الْإِيمَانُ وَلَٰكِن جَعَلْنَاهُ نُورًا نَّهْدِي بِهِ مَن نَّشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا ۚ وَإِنَّكَ لَتَهْدِي إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ
We thus have revealed to you a spirit from Our command. You did not know what the Scripture is, nor what faith is, but We made it a light, with which We guide whomever We will of Our servants. You surely guide to a straight path. (42:52).
The Quran gives life and purpose
Allah has described the Quran as a Ruh spirit, because it gives life to our hearts and purpose to our life when it’s engaged with it.
Prepare the heart
How do we prepare the heart? By doing a lot of istighfar. This will polish the heart. So we need to start our recitation with istighfar, we prepare our self to read, because Allah is listening to us. And replying to us.
This Ramadan we can engage our hearts and taste the sweetness of the Quran.
Understanding the meaning
The sweetness comes with or without understanding but in order to truly benefit from the Quran we need to understand it.
Many of us say we don’t understand Arabic so we don’t understand the Quran. I can assure you that you don’t need to be an Arab to understand the Quran. Of course it is a bonus if Arabic is your first language; it is a booster. But it is not a condition to understand the Quran.
You can understand the Quran if you read a trusted translation, it will help you with every word you are reading, step by step. Starting from Surah Al-Fatiha and the short surahs which we recite in our salah, we should understand what we are saying.
Don’t let shaytan tell you that you can’t benefit from the Quran because you can’t understand Arabic. You can understand more than 80% of the Quran without being fluent in Arabic.
Be the fruit
We need to practice and apply the Quran. The Prophet (peace be on him) said:
The example of a believer who recites the Qur’an and acts on it, like a utrujj fruit which tastes nice and smells nice. And the example of a believer who does not recite the Qur’an but acts on it, is like a date which tastes good but has no smell. And the example of a hypocrite who recites the Qur’an is like raihana (sweet basil) which smells good but tastes bitter. And the example of a hypocrite who does not recite the Qur’an is like a colocynth which tastes bitter and has a bad smell. (Bukhari)
So let’s prepare ourselves to receive Ramadan with pure hearts engaged with the word of Allah Almighty.
Delivered on Hassen Rasool’s Blank Canvas Show on 18th April 2020.
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January 22, 2021