Bismillahir Rahman hirRaheem assalaatus salaam ala habeebuna wa oswatana, rasulullah salalllahu alayhi wa salam, wa ala aalihi, wa sahbahi wa salam. Amma ba’ad.
A trip to Umrah is beautiful spiritual enlightenment and wonder, ease and learning and experiencing new things. A trip to Hajj is spiritual struggle, physical difficulty, hardships, and cleansing, so much so — that when you’re done, you’re born anew. I feel like my Ramadans alternate between these two. This year was of the latter.
This year one of my main goals was to finish the Quran during the month. I’ve read it in English and in Arabic but this time I wanted to read it both in Arabic and with the meaning, all during this month. I wanted to do it at least once in my life while I still could since I’m not working right now and hopefully had the time. And what a struggle it has been. I know some Arabs who read it two or three times throughout the month! I still can’t figure out how they do that. Reading 1 juzz in Arabic and English takes me about 2 hours. And to find these two hours consistently, every day, consecutively throughout Ramadan on top of everything else has sure been a struggle. I’ve read the Quran at midnight, 4am, 7am, 1pm, 6pm, every time, sitting on a stoop, driving to NYC, going apple picking, in an eyeglass place lobby, every weird strange place you can imagine. I personally did not *want* to be reading like that but in order to make sure to complete a juzz a day, it ended up like that.
After reading the whole Quran (I have only 1 juzz left juzz amma the last one for tonight, the last night of Ramadan woo hoo!) I have a few observations.
First now that I know some Arabic and can truly understand the beauty of some Arabic linguistics I’m simply astounded by the beauty and breadth of the Quran. As a document it’s just amazing. It covers almost every topic generally or specifically, and gives us examples and parables and is as deep as poetry yet as simple as something you would explain to a child.
Right in the beginning of the Quran there’s a challenge: “And if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed – then produce a Surah like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers”
I remember a number of years ago pre 9/11 when a few sites popped up with the name “a surah like it” saying they were meeting the challenge. But then when you clicked on it, their Surah went like this: “In the name of Christ, the giving, compassionate. Thanks and praise be to the Messiah – etc.. etc” Is it creating a Surah like it if you take the Quran and replace God with Christ and Messiah! The other stuff was pretty laughable too. It didn’t quite have the venom of missionary sites today and eventually the sites disappeared after offending a lot of Muslims but I still remember their poor attempts.
I’ll say it here and now even though the Quran does not need any defending. It just can’t be done. The Quran is just amazing from beginning to end. It’s been a document of guidance, of social order, of law, of ethics, of history, of personal solace and spiritual awareness for BILLIONS of people for fourteen CENTURIES. Empires and nations have been created based upon it. Translators spend their entire lifetime just trying to approach a translation of it in their own language. People have taken phrases from it and have decorated everything from Taj Mahals to golden vases with it. I mean come on. And you’re telling me a single human being in the deserts of Arabia in the 6th century wrote this?
It’s just not possible. It’s certainly divine and it was nice to go through this month and when I read something beautiful or amazing or wonderful, clever, educational or reaffirming, in tears or in laughter or pondering something deeply touching, I’d shake my head in wonder at people who think these are words humans could have made up? I mean haven’t they read Rumi? Or Shakespeare? Arguably the best poets in the world? Now that is amazing poetry, but it still doesn’t come close to touching the Quran, not to mention finding the best jurist, or the best historian or the best Arabic grammarian etc.
The second thing that amazed me is that everything the Quran is telling people IS GOOD! The whole Quran is about doing good deeds, feeding the poor, sheltering the orphans, respecting women, helping those in need, standing up to oppressors, doing good in this world, not hoarding wealth, giving to the needy, fasting, controlling one’s base desires, helping travelers, praying to God, relying on Him, being modest, not doing anything evil or mean, not being arrogant or greedy. It’s ALL good things. Good things considered good UNIVERSALLY. Over and over and over again. Every prophet story, every parable, ever sentence and verse is about making us do good and bringing us good. Even in the things the media or Islam haters keep trying to bring up, the Quran is a voice of guidance and moderation and peace. And yet there is so much hate out there for Islam! Why? Look no one said you have to follow the Quran and be a good person, but why hate Islam and Muslims so much? Why are there so many attacks on Islam? From the pope, to our local papers, to blogs, to Danish cartoons, to talk radio-hosts, to “fake apostates-unite” websites, to missionaries? And I *know* it’s not about terrorism or whatever other excuses they give. They don’t even include intellectual or theological arguments anymore, it’s all about Islamophobia, sensationalism, trying to bash Islam with bin-laden or terrorism, stuff that has NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.
There is a reason. The closest I can put my finger on it is that it’s fear. Fear that they’ll have to stop what they’re doing and listen to God, fear that they’ll have to change their selfish lifestyles or make decisions that are for the greater good instead of themselves. Just fear of having to do good. There can’t be any other reason because the Quran’s whole message is about doing good.
I really like the people who are honest and just say, ‘I can’t become Muslim cuz I love pork’ or ‘I can’t do all these things like pray 5 times a day or give money’ or ‘I don’t like Islam because it’s all about deeds, I think people should just believe and be saved.’ Now that is honest, that is a valid objection and I like that. Not the usual lies and propaganda that are included in the attacks on Islam, Muslims and the Quran these days.
Third, the thing that struck me about the Quran is that while it is unequal in it’s beautiful dialog, ethics, principles, stories, ideas, etc. there is just no way an Angel could have come and dropped this on us and we become practicing Muslims of today. There had to be a messenger that receives divine guidance to explain and live all of these principles and practices and put them together for us. AND live in a community of people who lived all this and were examples for us. Without this with just the Quran being handed to us, how would we even begin to know how to pray? What would we do if we forgot a rakat? How do we do Hajj? How do we fast? What do we do if we forget and eat? How do we understand some of these verses? The Quran is unparallel, but we are human. And we needed a Messenger. ‘Quran-only’ pushers are deluded. Seriously deluded. I’ve heard some say “I’ll follow that if you can show me where it is in the Quran.” I often want to ask them if they’ve EVER read the Quran? It’s not a document that is going to detail every person’s strict daily actions and tell them in October 2007 this is how you are going to this exact action. To say we don’t need the Sunnah is like saying the Quran is not divine, because they’re asking for it to be the Sunnah. What a paradox!
Anyway I learned a lot from reading the Quran this month even though I found it hard time-wise. I recommend every Muslim to do this at least once in their life. Make intention inshaAllah for next Ramadan if you can and may Allah reward you all with the best of good.
May Allah make the Quran the Spring of your heart, the light of your breast, the dispeller of your sorrows, the eraser of your anxieties and a departure for your worries. Ameen
Wasalaam alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuhu.
Say: “If all mankind and all invisible beings would come together with a view to producing the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce its like even though they were to exert all their strength in aiding one another!” 17:88
Now this Qur’an could not possibly have been devised by anyone save God: nay indeed, it confirms the truth of whatever there still remains [of earlier revelations] and clearly spells out the revelation [which comes] -let there be no doubt about it-from the Sustainer of all the worlds. 10:37
For, indeed, many facets have We given in this Qur’an to every kind of lesson [designed] for [the benefit of] mankind! 17:89
THUS, step by step, We bestow from on high through this Qur’an all that gives health [to the spirit] and is a grace unto those who believe [in Us], the while it only adds to the ruin of evildoers: 17:82
VERILY, this Qur’an shows the way to all that is most upright, and gives the believers who do good deeds the glad tiding that theirs will be a great reward; 17:9