Saturday, 29 May 2010

The Quran and Me: Developing a Personal Relationship

A few days ago, I was feeling very sad about an accusation somebody made against me. Although I knew it was false, it still hurt me that somebody would think like that about me so I turned to the best words for advice…the Quran. I opened the Quran randomly asking Allah to guide me and looked down at the verses in front of me, which read, “We definitely know the grief their words cause you, it is not you they deny but it is the signs of Allah that the oppressors deny. Indeed messengers were denied before you and they were patient with the denial and they were harmed until our help came….” (Surah Al-An’aam 6:33-34)

Over the years I have come to expect this from the Quran. As my relationship with the Quran grows, it becomes more personal and my view of the Quran has evolved from the book of Allah into a personal conversation with my Lord. I would like to mention some key events in my life that affected my relationship with the Quran so that everybody can develop a similar if not better relationship with the Quran than me, insha Allah.

In my early childhood, my relationship with the Quran was the average cultural relationship, kiss it, keep it on the top shelf, memorize my basic surahs, nothing more. When I was eight, I started Hifz and was beaten many times because I found difficulty memorizing the Quran or reciting it with the level of Tajweed that was demanded by my teachers. I soon quit Hifz and had become averse to the Quran, its recital and Tajweed.

Many years later, as I was studying to become a Moulana, I still had this fear to recite and this hatred of studying Tajweed, it didn’t help that my Tajweed teacher was very mean and demanded perfection, which my tongue could not manage, so my relationship with the Quran did not improve.

However, a few years ago while still studying I came across a lecture that changed my perception of the Quran forever, ‘Al-Quran: The Miracle of Miracles’ by Shaykh Ahmed Deedat (rahimullah). It was the first time, I had heard lectures emphasizing the importance of understanding the Quran and explaining some amazing things which are mentioned in the Quran.

It was then that I realized the Quran was not only about memorizing or Tajweed (both of which are important) but even more it was a revelation from Allah that needs to be understood. The following Ramadan, I decided to go against culture as my family tradition was to recite the entire Quran as many times as possible in the month of Ramadan.

That year however, I decided to recite the entire Quran just once in Ramadan but using a translation. It was a life-changing experience, even though the first translation I used was Yusuf Ali’s which I would later learn had a lot of major mistakes, but being my first reading of the Quranic message, I discovered a lot in the Quran itself which differed from my understanding of Islam and I began to love the Quran and its message.

Reciting the entire Quran with translation would become my Ramadan habit, each year using a different translation which provided a different insight into the meesage of the Quran but for the rest of the year, I had developed a different habit.

In the introduction of Yusuf Ali’s translation, he recommends that we open the Quran randomly and read what comes before us as Allah’s message to us for the day. This became a habit of mine and I soon started developing a personal relationship with the Quran. Whenever I needed advice, I would open the Quran randomly while praying for guidance and read whatever was in front of me and I would never be disappointed.

This was not the end however, as I soon discovered something better than Quranic translations, the art of Tafseer. As I grew in my understanding of the Arabic language, I did not need a translation as much as before and started reading Arabic Tafseer books instead. However it was only after I studied an Usool at-Tafseer course by Dr. Bilal Philips through the Islamic Online University that I began to see the real beauty of Tafseer as I now knew the methodology behind it and this deepened my understanding of the Quran.

I am still not a Hafez and there is so much knowledge in the Quran that I still have not grasped, but I praise Allah for guiding me to see the beauty of His Words and for allowing me to experience a connection with his Quran. May Allah bless us all with a deep understanding, love and connection with Allah, His Quran and His prophets.