What Do You Know about the Qur’an?

The Fatihah

 

The Qur’an is a record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. It was memorized by Muhammad (peace be upon him) and then dictated to his Companions, and written down by scribes, who cross-checked it during his lifetime.

Not one word of its 114 surahs (chapters) has been changed over the centuries, so that the Qur’an is in every detail the unique and miraculous text which was revealed Muhammad fourteen centuries ago.

This opening chapter of The Qur’an, the Fatihah, is central in Islamic prayer. It contains the essence of The Qur’an and is recited during every prayer.

Muslims believe the Qur’an to be God’s final revelation.  They believe it is the literal word of God, revealed over many years, to His final prophet, Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.

The Qur’an is full of wisdom. It is full of the wonder and glory of God, and a testament to His mercy and justice.  It is not a history book, a storybook, or a scientific textbook, although it contains all of those genres.

The Qur’an is God’s greatest gift to humanity – it is a book like no other.  In the second verse of the second chapter of the Qur’an, God describes the Qur’an by calling it :

…a book whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are pious, righteous, and fear God. (Al-Baqarah 2:2)

Believing in it is a requirement to be Muslim

The Qur’an is core to Islam.  Believing in it is a requirement.  One who does not believe in the Qur’an, in its entirety, cannot claim to be a Muslim.

The Messenger (Muhammad) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers.  Each one believes in God, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers.  (They say,)  ‘We make no distinction between one another of His Messengers’ — and they say, ‘We hear, and we obey.  (We seek)  Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the return (of all)’. (Al-Baqarah 2:285)

Islam has two primary sources, the Qur’an, and the authentic Traditions of Prophet Muhammad, that explain and sometimes expand on that of the Qur’an.

And We have not sent down the Book (the Qur’an) to you (O Muhammad, except that you may explain clearly unto them those things in which they differ, and (as) a guidance and a mercy for a folk who believe. ( An-Nahl 16:64)

The Qur’an was delivered to Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel and revealed in stages over a period of 23 years.

And (it is) a Quran which We have divided into parts, in order that you might recite it to men at intervals.  And We have revealed it by stages. (Al-Israa’ 17:106)

Prophet Muhammad was commanded by God to convey the Qur’an to all of humankind and the responsibility weighed heavily upon him.  Even in his farewell address he called on the people present to bear witness that he had delivered the message.

The Qur’an explains the concept of God, it explains in detail what is permissible and what is forbidden, it explains the basics of good manners and morals, and gives rulings about worship.  It tells stories about the Prophets and our righteous predecessors, and describes Paradise and Hell.  The Qur’an was revealed for all of humankind.

The book in which the Qur’an (the words of God) are contained in is called a mushaf . The Qur’an is considered so unique in content and style that it cannot be translated; therefore, any translation is considered an interpretation of the meanings of the Qur’an.

what do you know about the Qur'an

The world’s oldest Quran manuscript found lately at Birmingham University.

When God sent Prophets to the various nations He often allowed them to perform miracles that were relevant to their particular time and place. In the time of Moses magic and sorcery were prevalent therefore Moses’ miracles appealed to the people he was sent to guide. In the time of Muhammad, the Arabs, although predominantly illiterate, were masters of the spoken word. Their poetry and prose were considered outstanding and a model of literary excellence.

When Prophet Muhammad recited the Qur’an – the words of God – the Arabs were moved tremendously by its sublime tone and extraordinary beauty.

The Qur’an was Prophet Muhammad’s miracle from God. Muhammad was unable to read or write therefore the Arabs knew that he was unlikely to have produced such eloquent words, but even so some refused to believe that the Qur’an was the word of God.  God therefore challenged them, in the Qur’an, to produce a rival text.

And if you (Arab pagans, Jews, and Christians) are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down (i.e. the Qur’an) to Our slave (Muhammad), then produce a chapter of the like thereof and call your witnesses (supporters and helpers) besides God, if you are truthful. (Al-Baqarah 2:23)

Of course they were unable to do so. In contrast to those who questioned the origin of the Qur’an, many Arabs converted to Islam after hearing the recitation. They knew immediately that such sublime beauty could originate only from God.

Even today it is possible to see Muslims moved to tears while listening to or reciting the Qur’an. In fact some people, unable to understand even one word of the Arabic language are moved by the intrinsic beauty of the Qur’an.

After establishing that Qur’an is the word of God and that it is a recitation, it is also important to understand that Qur’an has remained unchanged for more than 1400 years.

Today when a Muslim in Egypt holds his mushaf in his hands and begins to recite you can be sure that in far away Fiji another Muslim is looking at and reciting the exact same words. There are no differences. The child in France holding his first mushaf is tentatively reciting the same words that flowed from the lips of Prophet Muhammad.

The Qur’an is the literal word of God, revealed over many years, to His final prophet, Muhammad.

God assures us in Qur’an that He will surely protect His words. He says,

Verily, it is We Who have sent down the Qur’an and surely, We will guard it (from corruption). (Al-Hijr 15:9)

This means that God will guard against anything false being added or any part of it being taken away.[1] It is protected from tampering and if anyone attempts to distort the meanings of Qur’an, God will guide someone to expose the deception.[2]

Muslims believe that the previous revelations from God, including the Torah and the Gospels of Jesus were either lost in antiquity, or changed and distorted, so it is a source of comfort to them knowing that God’s words – the Quran – are now well guarded.

God sent down the Qur’an, from  above the heavens, to the Angel Gabriel in the glorious month of Ramadan. The story of how this recitation was revealed and how Qur’an came to be available worldwide, with an interpretation of the meanings translated into over 100 languages[3].

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[1] From the Tafseer of Ibn Jareer al-Tabari

[2] From the Tafseer of Al-Sa’di

[3] The Centre for African studies at the University of Pennsylvania claims that the Quran has been translated into 114 languages.

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Al-Fatihah and the Six Principals of Guidance

Al-Fatihah and the Six Principals of Guidance

In the opening Chapter of the Qur’an, Al-Fatihah God says:

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of existence, the All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful, the Owner (Master) of the Day of Judgment. It is You (alone) we worship, and You (alone) we ask for help. Guide us to the Straight Path, the Path of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not the path of those who have incurred Your Anger, nor of those who have gone astray. (Al-Fatihah 1:1-7)

Al-Fatihah

Surat Al-Fatihah

Al-Fatihah, is an introduction to the Qur’an itself. Often times introductions contain summaries of the contents that will come after them so it is not surprising that Al-Fatihah summarizes some main principles for guidance in life.

Maintain Objectivity

We read in Al-Fatihah:

“It is You alone we worship.”

From the repetition of this verse throughout each day of our lives we are re-calibrated to focus on God in all of our affairs. It is only through this submission that we can gain objectivity. If it’s about ourselves, it’s not about God. If it’s about power, or wealth, or recognition, or self-healing, it’s not about God. Only in submission can objectivity, or at least as close as possible to it, be sought.

Stay Humble in the Journey

“It is You alone we rely upon.”

To do this is to live a life of humility. The one who only relies upon God knows the true source of their accomplishments and understands their limitations. Their reliance is not focused on themselves and their skills or talents, but on the source of all good, God Himself.

Do What Needs to Get Done to Succeed

“Guide us to the straight path.”

When we want to succeed in life there are always things that need to get done. This part of the Chapter teaches us to seek those means to take the path.

Seek Practical Guidance and Mentorship from Others

“The path of those upon whom You have bestowed Your grace.”

From this part we learn that in the journey of life we need examples we can learn from. Apprenticeship was the traditional model of learning in many societies around the world and is necessary up to today in many fields. Good mentors are priceless on the journey towards any goal.

Avoid Major Obstacles that Stop the Journey

“Not the way of those who have received Your anger.”

In any journey there are obstacles that can completely inhibit one from reaching their goal. They are betrayals of the path. One cannot be a therapist or counselor if they abuse their power and act unethically. One cannot be a teacher if they are sloppy in their academic integrity. One cannot be a leader if they are irresponsible and untrustworthy. All of these mishaps are obstacles that completely block one from their goal. They must be avoided at all costs.

Al-Fatihah: Avoid Misguidance

“Nor those who have gone astray.”

Misguidance is a reality in the sea of information. Some people, the good mentors and advisors, will lead you on the  path and facilitate the journey. Others, the sources of misguidance, will give advice and share information that is inaccurate and therefore negatively affect the journey. These too can become major obstacles and must also be avoided.

These six simple principles derived from Al-Fatihah serve as signposts for every believer in their journeys throughout life. Mentors and advice will always vary. Sometimes we will have access to good teachers and sometimes we will not.

Regardless of the circumstances we can always hold these principles in front of us so that we can be guided through the divine guidance of the Most High. They should be brought to mind when we read Al-Fatihah in our daily prayers and throughout our lives.

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Source: safacenter.org

*These principles were abstracted from the Tafsir of Ibn ‘Ashur.

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The Qur’an and Our True Identity as Muslims

What does it mean to be Muslim? Put differently, what does make one worthy of being Muslim? What role does the Qur’an play in your life and identity as Muslim?

Two most important things every Muslim must know to do justice to the Book of God, the Qur’an: who is truly a Muslim and what the word ‘Muslim’ means, what defines our identity as Muslims.

Human beings who do not know what humanity is and what the difference is between man and animal will inevitably indulge in behavior unworthy of the human race and attach no value to being human.

Similarly, people who do not know the true meaning of being Muslims and how a Muslim is different from a non-Muslim will behave like non-Muslims and will not be worthy of being Muslims.

Identity of Muslim

Every Muslim, adult or child, should therefore know what it means to be a Muslim, what difference being a Muslim must make to his life, what responsibilities devolve on him, and what limits are set by Islam within which a man remains a Muslim and by transgressing which he ceases to be a Muslim.

Islam means submission and obedience to God. To entrust yourselves completely to God is Islam. To relinquish all claims to absolute freedom and independence and to follow God’s will is Islam.

To surrender yourselves before the sovereignty of God is Islam. If you bring all the affairs of your lives under God you are Muslims and if you keep any of the affairs in your own hands or entrust them to someone other than God you are not Muslims.

To bring your affairs under God means to accept unreservedly the guidance sent by God through His Book, and His Messengers.

It therefore becomes necessary to follow only the Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah. Muslims follow no authority other than that of God, whether it be their reason or customs.

In every matter they seek guidance from God’s Book, the Qur’an, and His Messenger (peace be upon him) to find what they should do and what they should not do. They accept without hesitation whatever guidance they get from there and reject whatever they find opposed to it.

Such total surrender to God is what makes one a Muslim.

Source of Guidance

By contrast, people are certainly not Muslims who, instead of following the Qur’an and the Sunnah, obey the dictates of their own reason and desires, follow the practices of their forefathers, accept what is happening in society, and never bother to ascertain from the Qur’an and Sunnah how to run their affairs, or refuse to accept the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah by saying: ‘They do not appeal to my reason’, or ‘They are against the ways of my forefathers’ or ‘The world is moving in an opposite direction’. Such people are liars if they call themselves Muslims.

The moment you recite the word: ‘La ilaha illa Allah and Muhammad rasulu Allah’ (There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger) ) you accept that the only law you recognize is the law of God, only God is your sovereign, only God is your ruler, only God you will obey, and only the things given in God’s Book and by His Messengers are true and right.

It means that as soon as you become Muslims you must renounce your authority in favour of God’s authority.

Consequently, you have no right to say, ‘My opinion is this, the prevalent custom is this, the family tradition is this, that scholar and that holy person say this.’

In the face of Allah’s word and His Messenger’s Sunnah, you cannot argue in this manner. You should judge everything in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah; accept what is in conformity with them and reject what runs counter to them, irrespective of the people who may be behind them.

It is a contradiction in terms to call yourselves Muslims on the one hand, and, on the other, follow your own opinions or the customs of society or some person’s words or actions as against the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Just as a blind person cannot claim to have eyes, nor a deaf person to have ears, so a person who refuses to subordinate the affairs of his life to the dictates of the Qur’an and the Sunnah cannot call himself a Muslim.

Once Being Muslim…

No one who does not want to be a Muslim can be compelled to be one against his will. You are free to adopt any religion you like and call yourselves by any names you like.

But, once having called yourselves Muslims, you must fully understand that you can remain Muslims only as long as you stay within the bounds of Islam. These bounds are: to accept the word of God and His Messenger’s Sunnah as the ultimate criteria of truth and justice and to consider everything opposed to them as wrong.

If you remain within these bounds you are Muslims, but if you overstep them you cease to be part of Islam. To continue, in such circumstances, to consider yourselves and call yourselves Muslims is tantamount to both self-deception and deception of others.

Whoever so judges not according to what God has sent down, they are the unbelievers. (Al-Ma’idah 5:44)

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The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s Let Us Be Muslims.

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How to Build a Lifelong Relationship with the Qur’an

Prolonged companionship with the Qur’an must become one of your most cherished desires and occupations. Read it, therefore, as often and as much as you can. Spend as much time with it as you can find, especially the hours of night.

How to Build a Lifelong Relationship with the Qur’an

Reading the Qur’an is certainly the best way to remember Allah.

In this manner were the souls of the Prophet (blessings and peace be on him) and his Companions schooled in the way of Allah, to prepare them to shoulder the huge and weighty task that the Qur’an placed upon them.

There are a few guidelines and rules in this reward that you must bear in mind.

How Often to Read?

Every day you must read some of the Qur’an. In fact do not consider a day complete unless you have spent some time with the Qur’an. It is better to read regularly, even if it be only a small portion, than to read long parts, but only occasionally.

“Allah likes things which are done regularly, even if little”, said the Prophet (peace be on him). (Al-Bukhari & Muslim).

He also warned especially that you must attend to the Qur’an regularly, otherwise you may easily lose your gains.

“The parable of the companion of the Qur’an is like a tethered camel; a man holds on to it so long as he attends to it, and it escapes if he lets it loose. (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)

How Much to Read?

There can be no fixed answer. It will vary from person to person, and from situation to situation. The guideline must be what Allah, after taking into account all human factors, has said: “Read whatever you can with ease”. (Al-Muzzammil 73:20)

The practice of the Companions and those who followed them varied considerably. Some used to finish the whole Qur’an in two months, some in one month, some in ten days, some in one week, some even in one day. You should, however, bear in mind the following hadith as the governing criteria:

“One who reads the Qur’an in less than three days does not understand it.” (Abu Dawud & At-Tirmidhi)

Once, when Ibn `Umar upon being asked by the Prophet to read the Qur’an in one month insisted on doing so in less time, he told him:

“Read it in seven days and do not increase on this.” (Al-Bukhari)

That the Qur’an is divided into 7 hizb (groups) and 30 juz’ (parts) gives some indication of what is considered desirable.

In this respect Al-Nawawi’s advice is very sensible: One who can discover deeper meanings by contemplation should read less, similarly one who has to devote time in pursuits like education, affairs of government, or important tasks entrusted by Islam may read less. (Kitab Al-Adhkar)

The quantity of reading will very much depend on the purpose of reading. If you just want to spend time with the Qur’an, or get a quick overview, you may read much faster and, therefore, more. If you want to ponder and reflect, you may read much slower and, therefore, less. This is what Al-Ghazali means when he quotes someone as saying ‘I complete the reading of the Qur’an sometimes on every Friday, sometimes every month, sometimes every year. And (in one type of reading) I have been trying to complete it for the last thirty years but have not yet done so’. (Ihya’).

Under our present circumstances, I think, most of us should aim to finish a general reading of the whole Qur’an at least once every eight months. This should not take more than 5-15 minutes every day, depending on whether you understand the meaning directly or through a translation.

But, at least on a few occasions in your lifetime, you should also attempt to finish one reading in seven days. Or, in one month, especially in the month of Ramadan. Some time should also be devoted to reading slowly, with pondering and reflection, though not necessarily daily.

When to Read?

No time of the day or night is unsuitable for reading the Qur’an, nor is there any physical posture in which you may not do so. Allah says:

Remember the name of your Lord at morning and in the evening and part of the night. (Al-Insan 76:25)

Those who remember God when they are standing, and when they are sitting and when they are lying. (Aal `Imran 3:191)

Reading the Qur’an is certainly the best way to remember Him. The Companions and those who followed them, says An-Nawawi, used to read it during all hours of the day and night, whether they stayed in one place or were travelling.

Yet there are some specific times which are more desirable as they are recommended by the Qur’an and the Prophet (peace be on him); those moments are more rewarding and fruitful. So too there are certain recommended postures.

The Qur’an & Night Prayers

The most excellent time to read is at night, and the most desirable posture is to stand in Prayer. In one of the earliest surahs, Al-Muzzammil, as in numerous other places, the Qur’an tells us so:

They are not all alike. Of the People of the Scripture there is a staunch community who recite the revelations of Allah in the night season, falling prostrate (before Him). (Al ‘Imran 3:113)

And some part of the night awake for it, a largess for you. It may be that your Lord will raise you to a praised estate. (Al-Israa’ 17:79)

Is he who prays adoration in the watches of the night, prostrate and standing, bewaring of the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord, (to be accounted equal with a disbeliever)? Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Are those who know equal with those who know not? But only men of understanding will pay heed. (Al-Zumar 39:9)

It also explains why reading the Qur’an during night-Prayers enables your heart to remain with your reading and strengthens your will in surrendering yourself to Allah’s guidance and fulfilling the mission He has entrusted to you.

To do so, however, requires that you should (a) memorize some portions of the Qur’an, and (b) remain awake for some time during the night.

All of you may not therefore be able to do so all the time for various reasons; the Qur’an recognizes such limitations. It, therefore, permits you to read ‘whatever you can do with ease’ which means ‘whatever portion’, at ‘whatever time’, and in ‘whatever position’.

The great need and immense benefits of reading the Qur’an in Prayer during the night however remain. Hence you should assign at least some time, however little, even a few minutes with some regular frequency, however long, say weekly or even monthly, for this purpose.

To keep as near as possible to the ideal way, it may be desirable if you read the Qur’an after or before Fajr and `Isha’ Prayers, or at dawn, or before going to bed. “Reading the Qur’an at dawn is especially commended in the Qur’an.

Establish worship at the going down of the sun until the dark of night, and (the recital of) the Qur’an at dawn. Lo! (the recital of) the Qur’an at dawn is ever witnessed. (Al-Israa’ 17:78)

To read the Qur’an while sitting on a chair, resting against a pillow, lying in bed or on a couch is not desirable, but is not prohibited. But never do so without excuse, nor make it a habit.

However, if one totally misses reading the Qur’an only because one cannot afford to sit in a proper posture, one loses something more precious.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s Way to the Qur’an.

 

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Practical Steps to Memorize the Qur’an

Realize it’s a spiritual and physical project. It’s a miracle and blessing from Allah (Exalted be He) that you’re able to absorb the Qur’an. If you want to take advantage of this blessing, you should be in a position to receive it and therefore strive physically to achieve it and strive spiritually to get the maximum benefit.

Qur’an

Make sure that the intention you are making is only for the sake of Allah.

1-  Sincerity

The first matter you have to pay attention to is your intention (if you intend good you will get good). Make sure that the intention you are making is only for the sake of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He),  to seek His pleasure so that insha’Allah, with His mercy, we will be rewarded in the Hereafter.

Remember that it is not to show off in front of others that you have memorized a lot. Sincerity is not a one-time factor rather it’s a continual battle that you always have to renew.

2-  Consistency

The more frequently you memorize, the easier it becomes. It is very essential to be consistent, and not to skip even one day. There is no weekend in worship. The bare minimum that one should memorize is at least 3 lines, 5 is more ideal. If you are consistent, insha’Allah, you will be able to be a Hafiz (one who memorizes the whole Qur’an) in 5-6 years

3- Timing

The first thing you should do in the day is memorize – even do so before your breakfast, because this is your spiritual breakfast. The best time to memorize is right after Fajr.

4- Atmosphere

Have a secluded place to go to and memorize in a place that is quiet. You just can’t memorize properly with distractions, so turn off all your devices (like cell phones).

5- Familiarity

Start at the same time, at the same place and use the same mushaf every day. You need to have your own copy of the Qur’an, it will later become so dear to you.

6-  No Magic trick: repeat, repeat, repeat, over and over again. It is just repetitive recitation and/or listening that will help to memorize.

7- Memorize with the meaning: read the translation before you start and try to match the Arabic words with their meanings.

8- Surround yourself with recitation: listen to the Qur’an. Before you start memorize, listen to what you are about to memorize. Sh. Husary is highly recommended.

9- Find a recitation buddy: get a friend, a family member or someone you know who will listen to your recitation every day. Ideally, get someone who is also memorizing to create a peer pressure system.

10- Recite daily in your salah what you have memorized. If you forget one portion, you will immediately rush towards the Qur’an and correct your mistake and you will never do this mistake again.

11- Triple daily dose:

a-  New memorization at your assigned time of the day

b- Revision of the previous 7 days, just before you start the new memorization: This is because the fastest thing you forget is the new memorization.

And doing so, will also build the connector between the old ones and the new portion you are going to memorize. Plus, it will be a good warm up for the brain when you recall from your memory and recite, before you go into the real exercise of doing the new memorization.

c- At a later/another time of the day, revise those before the recent 7 days. The bare minimum should be 4-5 pages.

12- Do not jump around

Be consistent. Don’t try to go to another surah if you find it difficult and stick to the order. That way, you will have the satisfaction of having completed a juz’ rather than leaving some portions here and there.

13- The three chunks

Start from the back. Shorter surahs will bring you a big boost. You should divide the memorization of the Qur’an in three parts:

  1. a) Juz’ 28, 29, 30 or just Juz’ 29, 30
  2. b) Surat Al-Kahf till Juz’ 28
  3. c) Surah Al-Baqarah to Surat Al-Kahf

Why?

But, why should we strive to memorize the Qur’an in the first place, and where then should we begin?  In this video Sheikh Yasir Qadhi reflects on these points…


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Source: Muslimmatters.org

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