Bismillah, alhamdulillah, wa salat wa salam ala Rasulullah
The focus of this article is reading the meaning of the Quran- the translation and the meaning of it. Reciting the Quran is important, but it is not separate from reading the meaning- rather it adds to the meaning of the Quran. The goal here is to really come to grips with the meaning of the Quran and its universal message. Its important to be very, very personal with it.
I can’t remember where I read this method of reading the Quran, but its very effective. When you read the Quran and you read the meaning of the verses, you often don’t quite understand it or it doesn’t strike you very hard. Its not uncommon and perhaps its why Muslims tend to focus on the recitation more than anything else. But if you try this method, you will feel the Quran pierce your heart in a very striking manner.
First, you read the meaning of the Quran alongside the recitation. Say it out loud. Do this for any section of the Quran.
Now, return to the beginning of that portion of the Quran, recite it and read outloud the meaning. But this time, do it as if you were hearing it from the Prophet Muhammad salallahu alayhi wasalam himself. Now, you will feel it. If you don’t, I advise you to read the Seerah and the Hadiths of the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam, envisioning him and increasing your love of him, so you can truly connect with the Quran. You will hopefully feel a fraction of the delight and amazement the Sahabas felt when the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam recited the Quran to them.
What was the Akhlaaq (manner) of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam)?
kana khuluqu al- Quran (his manner was the Quran)
-Hadith via Aisha (radiallahu anhu)
After this you can advance to hearing the Quran, its meaning and recitation, as if you were hearing it from angel Jibreel alayhi salam. And at this you will feel even more joy and a greater weight of its truth, perhaps a fraction of how Nabi Muhammad salallahu alayhi wasalam felt at its first revelation. And from there, move to reciting Quran and reading its meaning as if you are hearing it from Allah subhana wa ta’ala Himself, as the first time it was being spoken throughout the universe- and then you will feel the weight and power of it, perhaps a fraction of the qudraat, close to how Allah intended. In sha Allah, you will benefit and you will be continually amazed.
afala yatadabaru al-Quran
Do they not then think deeply on the Quran…
Imam Ahmad rahimullah was known to go through the Quran cover to cover in Ramadan, not just reciting but silently reading its meaning. This is an excellent practice, especially in Ramadan and its something I try to do as well. The more one reads the meaning of the Quran, the more they will develop their own skills and methods for reading it for maximum benefit. One other technique I use is to read a few pages- stop, re-read them, take a short break and come back, review and then continue reading. Its like when it rains, the first few drops you don’t feel it, but then when more drops start falling, you come to the realize it’s raining. I also don’t hesitate to write in the margins, underline ayahs, use a highlighter and jote down next to the ayah, what I felt it meant or how it affected something or relates to something. In this way, I create memories with the Quran, and since we tend to experience things over and over again, it adds to the maw’ida (admonition) of the Quran, giving it a quality that is not set or defined to the present, but also to my past- my very personal past- effectively strengthening how I relate to the Quran. I get a real connection with the verses, and since on Yawmul Qiyamah, we will read the Kitabum Marqum- the books which will detail our lives and our deeds- I want the Scripture of my life to resemble the Book of Allah.
The Quran translation I use, which in my opinion is the best.
Quran Made Easy by Mufti Afzal Hoosen Elias
The more we read the Quran the more we come to notice something we hadn’t noticed prior. Or you find the Quran speaking to something in your life. As if the Book is alive and speaking to you in the way a living human being would.
wa kazalika awhayna ilayka ruhun
Indeed, We have revealed to you Ruh (Soul)
Its important to realize when you read and open the Quran it is as if you are speaking to a soul- just as each of us have souls. But the description of soul, is important because our souls are created from the the breath of Allah, yet the Book of Allah is the Words of Allah, so the relation between breath and word is very close. Ruh, or soul, has an added meaning to it and that is it implies a higher degree of sincerity- Muslims always speak to each other about “being real with each other,” so when you think the Quran is Ruh- realize it is never being superficial or fake with you, anything that is written in there has a meaning to every nook and cranny in your life. Imagine the Quran was a person you spoke to, in conversation and it spoke its verses, and you realizing the status of the Quran, have to understand what it means. If you were visited by a king or someone great who is now in the grave, it would not compare to the humility and intense focus you should have in approaching the Quran.
Allah sent down the Qur’an as an explanation for all things (tibyan li kulli shay)
Lastly, when you read the meaning of the Quran, do not think of it as narrow and limited. There is no room for reductionism in Islam. Think of the Quran as wide and expansive- like the countless waves on the oceans, as the scholars have put it. It is a revelation to all the worlds. So when you read an ayah, you can imagine or wonder at the context. Perhaps when Allah revealed, “Innal insana lafi khusr” (verily, man is in loss) that perhaps Allah looked at the Earth at that time, and saw some fellow with a broken heart, a baby dying or a lost love or a slave losing his freedom or the loss of youth, but then again, these occurrences happen irrespective of time or place in the world. Or perhaps another example, when we read:
And if We willed We could surely take away that which We have revealed to you by inspiration (i.e. this Quran). Then you would find no protector for you against Us in that respect. Except as a Mercy from your Lord. Verily! His Grace unto you (O Muhammad SAW) is ever great. (17:86-87)
I read this and thought what it meant. Why would Allah mention this? But then I recalled that before the end of time, the Quran would be taken away from humanity. And sure enough, I looked up the Tafsir Ibn Kathir, and found the following commentary on this verse: Ibn Mas`ud said, “A red wind will come to the people, meaning at the end of time, from the direction of Syria, and there will be nothing left in a man’s Mushaf (copy of the Qur’an) or in his heart, not even one Ayah.” One can imagine how the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam and the Sahabas felt at this ayah- that eventually, no trace of their life’s work would remain on this Earth and that one day, the Quran will vanish. We should therefore, not hesitate or be afraid to even open the Quran and ponder on it. Have the strength to do so and make firm intention now, before it leaves this world.
Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.