To be familiar with the Holy Qur’an

The Holy Qur’an is a teacher of guidance that shows us the true path. It is mercy for the believers, and a cure for the maladies of the heart. At the same time it is a divine mentor that takes mankind out of the darkness and brings him into the light and closer to Allah with His permission.

The Holy Qur’an is a divine decree that informs man of the purpose of the creation of all things. It proclaims the wisdom in the creation of mankind and commands that life be lived in a manner suitable to the divine order present throughout the universe.

Almighty Allah states:

“Allah has sent down the Supreme Discourse, a Book consistent in its frequent repetitions. The skins of those who fear their Lord tremble at it   and then their skins and hearts yield softly to the remembrance of Allah. That is Allah’s guidance by which He guides whoever He wills. And no one can guide those whom Allah misguides”. (Az Zumar, 39:23)

This verse describes the kind of relationship our heart should have with the Qur’an.

The degree of our taqwa is related to our Quranic ethos which manifests itself in the form of a Quranic character consisting of sincerity in our worship, beauty in our behaviour, and depth of our hearts.

The Holy Qur’an is the most reliable handle one can hold onto. Allah Most High has extended it to those slaves of His who want to gain His good pleasure and who want to be saved from evil and from eternal punishment. Those who hold onto it are saved, and will be raised and dignified; those who reject it will be brought down low; they will be debased and they will stray far from the straight path.

The Holy Qur’an is a spiritual banquet that Allah Most High has prepared as an offering for His slaves. Those who accept this invitation from their Lord and partake of the feast will taste the pleasure of endless bounties which result in peace, happiness and joy.

The true dignity and honour of the human being depends on the degree to which they carry out its commands and perfect themselves with its character. That is, mankind can only attain to the dignity and honour that is in accordance with the purpose of his creation, to the degree that he envelops himself in the spirituality and prosperity of the Qur’an and obeys the divine commands. Almighty Allah commands us to reflect on life and events with the logic of the Qur’an by having properly comprehended it. Thus the mind, which can be a source of both happiness and dissipation, needs the direction offered through revelation.

If we did not have a door of reflection opened up for us by the Qur’an, we would be deprived of perceiving and expressing many truths. Accordingly thinking deeply about the contents of the Qur’an will ensure the discovery of many paths of goodness.

It is necessary to become familiar with the Qur’an and to occupy oneself with it much in order to properly learn the Islamic character.

It is stated in a hadith:

If anyone of you loves to supplicate and converse (implore and speak with) your Lord, let him read the Qur’an with his heart fully attendant and attentive. (Suyuti, I, 13/360).

“Read the Qur’an! Because on the Day of Judgement, the Qur’an will appear as an intercessor for the one who read it” (Muslim, Musafirin, 252,253; Ahmad, V, 249, 251).

On the Day of Judgement a crown will be placed on the heads of the parents of those who read the Qur’an and act according to it. The light from this crown is more beautiful than the light from the sun that would light up a house were it to be put into it. In that case, can you imagine the light of one who acts according to the Qur’an?” (Abu Dawud, Vitir, 14/1453).

To become very well-acquainted with the Qur’an is a righteous deed that Allah is pleased and content with. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

“Allah Most High is pleased with nothing more than the recitation of the Qur’an by a prophet with a beautiful voice, loudly and with teganni[1]“(Bukhari, Fadailu’l Qur’an 19, Tawheed 32; Muslim, Musafirin 232-234).

“Allah listens to nothing as much as He listens to His slave who performs two rakats of prayer at night and who (reads the Qur’an). The mercy of Allah is spread over the head of the slave for the time that he spends in prayer. The slave can never approach Allah more than at the time they are one with the Qur’an”(Tirmidhi, Fadailu’l Qur’an, 17/2911).

It has been said that those people who forget the chapters of the Qur’an that they have memorised because they have not spent enough time with it, incur great sin (Abu Dawud, Salat, 16/461). Somebody who does not have even a small amount of the Qur’an in their heart is like a rundown house[2]

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) has said:

The hearts rust just as iron rusts”. His Companions asked:

“What is the polish for this Messeger of Allah?”

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) replied:

Reading the Book of Allah much and remembering Allah much”. (Ali al-Muttaki, II, 241).

On another day the Messenger of Allah advised his Companions:

Give what is due to your eyes from worship”

“What is it that is due to our eyes o Messenger of Allah?” they asked him.

The Prophet replied:

To look at the Mushaf (pages of the Qur’an), to reflect on what is in them and to take lesson from the subtleties within” (Suyuti, I, 39).

Another time the Prophet (pbuh) said:

For sure there are those amongst people who are close to Allah”

When he was asked:

“O Messenger of Allah! Who are they?” he replied:

They are the people of the Qur’an, the people of Allah, and Allah’s special slaves”. (Ibn-i Majah, Mukaddima, 16).

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was especially pleased when people would get together in an effort to read and understand the Qur’an. He said about these people:

“…If a group of people gather together in one of the houses of Allah to read the book of Allah and discuss it and try to understand and comprehend it, there falls upon them a type of tranquillity and mercy envelops them. The angels surround them. Allah Most High mentions them in the company of those around him. For the one who has strayed behind (by neglecting his deeds), his lineage will not advance him…”(Muslim, Zikir, 38; Ibn-i Majah, Mukaddima, 17).

In that case we must increase the bonds of our hearts to the Holy Qur’an for the happiness of both of our worlds. We must read and understand it, feel it in our hearts, and struggle to apply its rulings in all sincerity.

Scenes of Virtue

The Prophet (pbuh) used to read the Holy Qur’an in a manner befitting it and ponder deeply on its meaning and follow its commands without delay. He would read the Qur’an with wholeheartedly, truly feeling and living it. While reading, if he came to a verse which glorified Allah he would absolve Allah of all defects and faults) by saying ‘SubhanAllah’ (Glory be to Allah). When he came across verses about supplication he would pray to Allah. When he came to verses which mentioned seeking refuge in Allah he would immediately seek refuge in Allah. (See Muslim, Musafirin, 203; Nasai, Kıyamu”l Layl, 25).

The Prophet would regularly read from the Qur’an every day.[3] Aws bin Huzayfa  who was from the tribe of Thakif that came to Madina narrates:

“One night, the Messenger of Allah did not appear before us for a long time  after the night time prayer.

“O Messenger of Allah! Why did you wait so long to come out?” we asked him. The Prophet replied:

I have made it a duty incumbent upon myself to read a hizb (1/60th) of the Qur’an every day. I did not want to come out until I had completed it”.

When it was morning we asked the Companions:

“How do you divide up the Qur’an to read it?” They answered:

“We call the first three chapters one hizb, then the next 5 chapters the second hizb, then the next 7, the next 9, the next 11, the next 13 are each a hizb. Lastly the chapter Kaf and the chapters that follow it are another hizb. Thus we read the Qur’an in 7 parts”. (Ahmad, IV, 9; Ibn-i Majah, Salat, 178).

***

Abdullah ibn-i Mas’ud  relates:

“One time the Prophet (pbuh) commanded me:

O Ibn-i Mas’ud! Recite the Qur’an to me”. I replied:

“O Messenger of Allah! How can I recite the Qur’an to you when it has been revealed to you?”

Allah’s Messenger said:

I like to hear the Qur’an being recited by others”.

I then began to read from the chapter Nisa. When I came to the verse:

“How then, [will the sinners fare on Judgement Day] when We shall bring forward witnesses from within every community, and bring thee (O Prophet) as witness against them”(An Nisa, 4:41) the Messenger of Allah said:

That will do”.

At that point I looked to see tears like pearls falling from his eyes” (Bukhari, Tafsir, 4/9; Muslim, Musafirin, 247).

What a beautiful scene that demonstrates the mercy the Prophet had for his community…

***

One day when Aisha  was late in appearing before Allah’s Messenger he asked her the reason. She replied that she wanted to listen to the Qur’an and that is why she was late:

“O Messenger of Allah! There was a man at the mosque. I have never heard someone reciting the Qur’an more beautifully than him”. Upon this the Messenger of Allah went to the mosque and saw that that man was Salim . He said:

I praise Allah that there is someone like this amongst my community. (Ibn-i Majah, Ikamah, 176; Ahmad, VI, 165; Hakim, III, 250/5001).

***

A Companion once asked the Messenger of Allah (pbuh):

“O Messenger of Allah! Which deed is the most pleasing to Allah?” The Beloved Prophet replied:

“The deeds of hal and murtehil”.

“And what are hal and murtehil?”. He answered:

Reading the Qur’an from beginning to end and then once finished, starting again from the beginning”. (Tirmidhi, Kiraat, 11/2948).

It is now common practice that once an entire reading of the Qur’an has been completed, one then reads the last three chapters of the Qur’an and then begins again and recites the opening chapter, al Fatiha, and then the first five verses of the next chapter, Baqara. This is done in order to attain to the virtue that is mentioned in this hadith.

Thus a new reading is commenced and a righteous deed acceptable by Allah is carried out.

***

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) would give the utmost importance to the Qur’an and he loved those of his Companions who did likewise.

One time the Prophet was going to send a detachment great in number. He had them read Qur’an. Each of them recited as much of the verses of Allah that they had memorised. The Prophet approached the youngest of the Companions and asked him:

“O such and such. What have you memorised?” He replied:

“I have memorised such and such chapters and chapter Baqara”. The Prophet said:

“Have you memorised chapter Baqara?”

When the reply was “yes” he said:

Off you go. You are their leader. This chapter comprises almost the whole of religion”

One of the leaders from the group said:

“O Messenger of Allah. My fear of not being able to apply what is in Baqara has prevented me from memorising it”.

Upon this the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

Learn the Qur’an, read it, have others read it and act by it. Because the one who learns the Qur’an, and reads and acts upon it, is like a bottle of musk which spreads its scent everywhere. The one who learns the Qur’an, but who sleeps (that is, is behind in his service of the Qur’an) is like a bottle of musk with its lid tightly closed”. (Tirmidhi, Fadailu’l Qur’an, 2/2876).

This event describes the degree of physical and spiritual learning of the one who reads and lives by the chapter Baqara. Also with this hadith the Prophet (pbuh) announces the responsibility of the believers in becoming familiar with and teaching the Qur’an.

***

After the Companions had learnt 10 verses from the Messenger of Allah, they would not move onto memorising another ten before they had fully comprehended the commands and wisdom of the first ten and applied them to their lives. They applied the knowledge found in the Qur’an and they reached a state of perfection also  with the wisdom contained within it. (Ahmad, V, 410).

Omar  said:

“I completed the chapter Baqara in twelve years and as gratitude for that I sacrificed a camel” (Kurtubi, al-Jami li- ahkami’l Qur’an, Beirut 1985, I, 40).

Abdullah bin Omar  completed Baqara in eight years. (Muwatta, Qur’an, 11).

Reading the Qur’an is of any value only if it is lived and taught to others.

***

The representatives of the tribe of Thaqif, who had come to see the Prophet had left Othman bin Abi’l As to mind the animals as he was the youngest of them. When the representatives had returned and fell asleep under the heat of the midday sun Othman,  went to the Prophet (pbuh) and asked him questions about religion, and listened to the Qur’an and learned it. In this way he had been able to read and memorise some chapters from the Prophet.

Whenever, Othman  who had secretly made a pact with the Prophet and became Muslim before his representative friends, would come to learn the Qur’an, if the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was not available, he would either go to Abu Bakr, or Ubayy bin Ka’b and ask them what he had to ask and learn what he wanted to learn.

This pleased the Messenger of Allah greatly who loved him very much. When the representatives of Thaqif wished to return to their country they said:

“O Messenger of Allah! Will you make one of us a leader?”

The Prophet made Othman bin Abi’l As their leader even though he was the youngest amongst them. (Ibn-I Sa’d, V, 508; Ibn-I Hisham, IV, 185; Ahmad, IV, 218).

***

 The Quranic verses, which were revealed for various reasons and one after the other, were a source of indescribable happiness for the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and his Companions, and would increase their determination and refresh their heart’s bond with Allah. They had become so much at one with revelation that their sorrow was compounded when the revelation was interrupted with the death of the Prophet.

We can see this striking example of this love in the following event:

After the death of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) Abu Bakr said to Omar :

“Stand up and let’s go to Ummu Ayman, one who was very dear and near to Allah’s Messenger. Let us visit her as the Prophet used to do”

When they arrived at Ummu Ayman’s  she began to cry. They asked her:

“Why are you crying? Don’t you know that the bounty with Allah is much better for the Prophet?”

Ummu Ayman replied:

“That is not why I am crying. Of course I know that the bounty with Allah is much better for the blessed Prophet. I am crying because the revelation has come to an end”.

These words that expressed the longing for Divine revelation touched  Abu Bakr  and Omar  and they also began to cry along with Ummu Ayman . (Muslim, Fadailu’s Sahabe, 103).

***

The Companions of the Prophet would read the Qur’an often, and would not wish a day to pass in which they had not read it or looked at its pages. They would begin their day with the Qur’an and would advise those who had problems with their eyes to look at its pages. (Haysami, VII, 165).

Othman, who was honoured with the title of ‘Jami’ul Qur’an’, or the Compiler of the Qur’an due to his service to it, had outworn two scripts because he was so preoccupied with it” (Kettani, Nizamu’l Hukumeti’n Nabawwiyya (at- Teratibu’l Idariyye), Beirut 1996, II, 197).

***

Usayd bin Hudayr  narrates:

“One night I was reading chapter Baqara. My horse was tied up near me. At one point, it rose up on its two back legs. I stopped reading; the horse calmed down. I began to read again, and the horse reared up again. In fact I was afraid that the horse was going to stomp on my son Yahya, so I went next to it. At that point when I looked up at the sky I saw something that looked like candles. Then they rose up towards the sky and disappeared.

When it was morning I told the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) what had happened. He said:

“Read o Usayd, read”… Then he said:

O Usayd, do you know what it was that you saw?

“No” I replied. The Messenger of Allah said:

“They were angels which had come to listen to you recite the Qur’an. If you had continued to read they would have listened to you until the morning. They would not have remained invisible to the people who would have been able to see them” (Bukhari, Fadailu’l Qur’an, 15, Menakib 25; Muslim, Musafirin 241-242).

***

One day the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) addressed a lover of the Qur’an, Ubayy bin Ka’b as follows:

Allah Most High commanded me to tell you to read the chapter “Lam yakunillethine kafaru”

Ubayy bin Ka’b  asked:

“Did Allah Most High mention my name?”

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) replied:

“yes”.

Ubayy bin Ka’b was so touched by this divine compliment that he began to weep profusely. (Bukhari, Menakibu’l Ansar 16, Tafsir 98/1, 3; Muslim, Misafirin, 246).

Ubayy bin Ka’b was at the head of the list of hafiz (those who have memorised the Qur’an completely). He was one of those four fortunate ones about whom the Prophet said “Learn the Qur’an from one of these four people”. He was the one who read the Qur’an in the most beautiful way and the most often. (Bukhari, Fedail’ul Qur’an, 8). And so the familiarity of Ubayy with the Qur’an in this way allowed him to attain to such a bounty, honour and dignity that is only possible for a very few select people other than the prophets; it made him subject to divine compliment. What a great honour, what great happiness…

***

As with all other matters, the Companions followed in the footsteps of Allah’s Messenger when it came to living their lives as living Qur’ans by internalising their devotion to the Qur’an and its contents. Kinana al Adawi  narrates:

“One time Omar bin Khattab  wrote to his army commanders:

“Identify those individuals who have memorised the Qur’an and let me know so that I may honour them and favour them and dispatch them so that they can teach the Qur’an to people”.

Abu Musa al Ashari informed Omar of the more than 300 hafiz’s that were under his command. A portion of the advice from the letter that Omar wrote addressing them is as follows:

“Know that the Qur’an is a treasure of honour and reward for you. Abide by it and do not try to make it conform to you. Whoever tries to make the Qur’an conform to themselves will make them fall headfirst and straight into the fire.  Whoever abides by the Qur’an, we be allowed in the Paradise of Firdaws. If you can, try to make the Qur’an an intercessor for you and do not let it become your enemy. Because the one that the Qur’an intercedes for will go to Paradise while the one it complains about will go to Hell. Know that the Qur’an is a source of guidance and the most enlightened of knowledge. It is the last book that has come from The Merciful. With it blind eyes, deaf ears and closed hearts are opened… (Ali al Muttaki, II, 285-6/4019).

***

Whenever the bright and devoted servant of Allah’s Messenger, Anas bin Malik  would complete a reading of the Qur’an, he would gather his family together and read the hatim prayer (the prayer that is read on completion of the Qur’an). (Ibn-I Abi Shayba, al Musannaf (Hut), Riyadh, 1409, VI, 128).

***

From time to time Omar bin Khattab would say to Abu Musa al Ashari, who had a very beautiful voice and would read the Qur’an in a most perfect fashion:

“O Abu Musa! Come, remind us of our Lord!”

Abu Musa would then read from the Qur’an.

One time he said to Abu Musa al Ashari:

“My brother! Increase our zeal for our Lord”

And he began to read from the Qur’an. After he had read for a while, they called Omar to the prayer. The Caliph, who had been listening to the Qur’an with deep reverence, suddenly came to and asked:

“Were we not  in prayer just now?” (Ibn-I Sa’d, IV, 109).

***

Nafi, Abdullah bin Omar’s freed slave, was once asked:

“What did Abdullah used to do in his house?”

Nafi answered:

“People cannot do what he did. He would take a fresh ablution at the time for each prayer and he would open up and continually read the Qur’an between these two times”. (Ibn-I Sa’d, IV, 170).

***

Those true Memorisers of the Qur’an who become one with it attain to many divine favours both in this world and in the next. One of the friends of Allah, Mahmud Sami Ramazanoglu (q.s) has informed us about the corpse of a Hafiz that he personally saw. This hafiz had died 30 years ago previously in Adana. His grave needed to be opened and transferred to another place due to a road that was to be built. When the grave was opened he saw the corpse intact, and its white shroud still gleaming.

It has been stated in a hadith:

“Whenever a Hamil-I Qur’an (a Memoriser of the Qur’an who has lived by its rulings, and taken on its character, and perfected himself with its wisdom) passes away, Allah commands the earth not to eat away his body. And the earth says in reply:

“O my Lord! How can I eat away at his body when he carries within his breast Your words?…”(Daylami, I, 284/1112; ali al- Muttaki, I, 555/2488).

***

We need to take the utmost care and sensitivity in our manners and respect for the Holy Qur’an which are the words of our Lord. This is because we are living at a time when we are most in need of the virtue and spirituality of the Qur’an.

For instance we should not read the Qur’an nor should we have it read without having taken our ablutions. The following verse openly and clearly states:

“No one may touch it except the purified” (Waqia) 56:79)

This verse indicates the minor ablution, the major ablution and menstruation and post-childbirth for women. The four orthodox schools of thought have all agreed that it is forbidden to touch the (script) of the Qur’an without being in a state of ritual purity (ablution). (Mavsuatu’l Fikhiyye, XVIII, 322).

At any rate this ruling has been applied for 1400 years since the time of the Blessed Prophet. It has been stated in a hadith:

“Neither the menstruating woman nor a person in a state of major ritual impurity can read from the Qur’an”(Tirmidhi, Taharah, 98/131).

Let none other than the pure ones touch the Qur’an” (Hakim, I, 553/1447).

In addition, when the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sent Amr bin Hazm to Yemen he wrote a declaration that explained the fard (obligatory acts), sunnah (traditions of the Prophet) and the legal rulings. In that declaration Amr was told to teach the Qur’an to the people and in addition to preaching its commands and its wisdom he was told to also prevent people from touching the Qur’an if they were not clean. (Muwatta, Qur’an, I; Kattani, 216).

Imam Malik states:

“The one who is ritually impure cannot carry the script even within a cover or upon a cushion for this is a disliked act… This is due to respect for and exaltation of the Qur’an. (Muwatta, Qur’an, 1).

Moreover, one must be careful in all matters of showing respect and reverence for it including refraining from carrying the Qur’an below the waist, from extending one’s feet out towards it, from putting any other book or any other item upon it, and from going into the toilet with it. This must be done with fervour of worship and this sensitivity should be passed on to new generations. Because the Holy Qur’an is the most important of the signs of Islam. The Holy Qur’an states:

وَمَن يُعَظِّمْ شَعَائِرَ اللَهِ فَإِنَّهَا مِنْ تَقْوَى الْقُلُوبِ

“As for those who honour Allah’s sacred rites, that comes from the taqwa in their hearts”(Hajj 22:32)

In short, the Qur’an is a divine book sent in order for mankind to find the right path, to learn the matters that would be impossible to learn on his own, and to attain to the hereafter. In that case, to embrace it and adopt it is the smartest path to take.

The virtue of becoming one with the Qur’an is explained in a hadith as follows:

The Qur’an is like a strong rope, one end of which is with Allah and the other end which is in your hands. Hold onto it tightly. Then you will not stray nor will you be destroyed”. (Haysami, IX, 164).

The more spirituality and prosperity we obtain from the Qur’an the more we will increase in our faith. Those who lose themselves in the Qur’an by gaining the pleasure of Allah and His Messenger, are subject to divine bounties which are beyond comprehension. May Almighty Allah bestow such bounties upon us all and facilitate this state for each of us. Amen!…

[1].     Teganni has the following meanings of embellishing the Qur’an, the most beautiful of words, in a manner suitable to it and with a beautiful voice. It is to emphasise (make obvious) the joy and sorrow in one’s voice when reading it and to read it clearly and with a loud voice.For a detailed explanation see M.Yasar Kandemir, Ismail Lutfi Cakan, Rasit Kucuk, Riyadhu-s Saliheen – Translation and Commentary, Istanbul 2001, V, 118).

[2].     Tirmidhi, Fadai’ul Qur’an, 18/2913; Darimi, Fadail’ul Qur’an, 1

[3].     Muslim, Musafirin, 142; Ahmad, IV, 9İ Ibn-i Majah, Salat, 178)