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Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|03/21/02 at 16:58:27|
|Hujran al-Qur'an: The Abandonment of the Qur'an|
By Iman Badawi
It is known as "al-Kitaab". It is so well known and so highly revered that when any Muslim refers to "the Book" it is understood to mean the Holy Qur'an. It is the book above all books because it is the complete and final revelation of Allah to mankind. It is the best of speech, the way of guidance, the book of wisdom, and it will remain unchanged and protected until the Day of Judgment. Muslims usually decorate its pages and outside cover and always place it on the highest shelf in their homes to signify its elevated status. Most Muslims begin the most important ceremonies of their lives with the recitation of its blessed words. Yet when it is recited, few are those who listen to it carefully and even fewer are those who understand it. Even fewer are those who ponder about its meanings and dedicate their life to its study. A human would never abstain from the elements that are necessary for nourishing his body, yet so many humans go for extended periods of time depriving themselves from that which nourishes the hearts and the minds - the Holy Qur'an.
Ibn Mas'ood (a famous companion of the Prophet, may Allah be pleased with him) said: "None of you needs to ask himself [about anything] except for the Qur'an: If he loves the Qur'an, he loves Allah, and if he detests the Qur'an, he detests Allah and His Messenger (saws)."1 Hence, there is a direct correlation between ones relationship with Allah and his relationship with the Qur'an. This is the case because the Qur'an is our source of knowledge about the truth of all matters, what Allah likes and dislikes, and the nature of His essence and actions. It is our connection to Allah and that is why He ordered us to recite it in each of our daily salawaat (prayers). Therefore, he who abandons the Qur'an has, in fact, abandoned his connection and relationship with Allah.
If a Muslim continues abandoning the Qur'an in his life, the faith in his heart begins to weaken, he becomes used to disregarding Allah's commands, and he begins to forget about Allah's promise in the hereafter and, instead, desires the pleasures of this temporal life. The connection with Allah, that gives true life to the hearts of humans, becomes severed and the heart becomes a dark dungeon of death; the filth of sins veils it and no light of guidance penetrates it. This is why 'Uthmaan ibn 'Affan(R) said: "If our hearts were really clean, we would never become satiated with the words of Allah."2 Likewise those that deprive themselves of the words of Allah have dirty and diseased hearts.
The coming of a time when people would abandon the Qur'an was prophesized in the Holy Book itself. In surat al-Furqan, verse 30, Allah says (what means): "And the Messenger (Muhammad) will say: 'O my Lord! Verily, my people deserted this Qur'an." The scholars of tafseer had differed over the meaning of this verse, as to who it refers to and the meaning of "deserted the Qur'an". Al-Qurtubi(RA) says: "It has been said that the Messenger's saying 'O my Lord' will be said on the Day of Judgement"3
Some scholars considered this verse to refer to the polytheists of Mecca who would intently make noise and speak loudly while the Qur'an would be recited to drown out its sound. They did this out of fear that those who would hear the Qur'an would be affected by its magnificence and also out of ridicule and disdain towards it. Informing us of their attitude towards the Qur'an, Allah says in surat Fussilat (26), verses 26-27 (what means): "And those who disbelieve say: 'Listen not to this Qur'an, and make noise in the midst of its (recitation) that you may overcome. But surely, We shall cause those who disbelieve to taste a severe torment, and certainly, We shall requite them the worst of what they used to do."
Ibn Katheer(RA) states that this is one type, the worst form, of hujran (or abandonment). Of the other forms, he says (what means): "…and leaving faith in it [the Qur'an] is from abandoning it, and leaving behind pondering about it and understanding it is from abandoning it, and leaving behind the knowledge of it and complying with its orders and avoiding its prohibitions is from abandoning it, and turning away from it to any other thing such as poetry or sayings or singing or amusement or talking, or taking a path other than it is from abandoning it."4
From the sayings of the scholars, it becomes evident that hujran is of different levels. The worst level of hujran is to disbelieve in the Qur'an and prevent others from listening to it as did the pagan Arabs of Mecca in the Prophet's time (saws). The second level of hujran is to not seek out its message, as is the case with so many human beings who go all through life not giving any priority to God and hence they do not make any attempt to discover His true revelation. The third level of hujran is committed by those who believe in the Qur'an, that is: Muslims who do not even listen to the Qur'an. Listening is put before reading because it is easier and doesn't require any knowledge (of rules of recitation) on the part of the listener. This level of hujran doesn't imply that the Qur'an is never recited in the presence of those Muslims, but rather it means that when it is recited, they do not concentrate on listening to it, at the very least, out of respect.
Those who have abandoned the Qur'an in this way may even continue their idle conversations during the recitation of the Qur'an, feeling no shame or modesty in front of Allah. They may even joke or laugh aloud while the Qur'an is recited, in complete contradiction to the mood of humility and contemplation that Allah has order us to assume when His words are recited. In surat al-A'raf (7), verse 204, Allah says (what means): "So, when the Quran is recited, listen to it (carefully), and be silent that you may receive mercy." Therefore another part of hujran in this level is to be silent while the Quran is recited while allowing the mind to wander, not pondering over the meanings of its verses. An even worse level of hujran would be to prefer listening to songs, music, poetry, or any other form of speech, over the Quran. The result of this has been mentioned in Ibn Mas'ood's saying (what means): "Remembrance of Allah causes faith to grow in the heart like water causes onions to grow, and songs cause hypocrisy to grow in the heart just was water causes onions to grow."5
The fourth level of hujran is to abandon reading of the Quran. This includes those who make no effort to learn the Arabic alphabet and vowels so as to be able to the read the Qur'an. It also includes those who know how to read it, but make many mistakes out of carelessness, such as not pronouncing the letters properly while having the ability to do so, or not adhering to the most basic rules of tilaawah, or reciting it so fast that one easily skips over certain vowels or the like. This doesn't refer to those who will make mistakes while learning; there is no sin on those who err while struggling to correct themselves and, in fact, they receive a double reward if recitation of the Qur'an is difficult for them. [Bukhari, Muslim] On the collective scale, it is not a must for every Muslim to become an expert on tajweed, but it is a fard kifaayah, meaning that if a group of people fulfill this responsibility then the obligation is removed from the remaining members of the ummah. However, year by year the number of those who are knowledgeable about tajweed will decrease if the new generation of Islam doesn't regenerate scholars with this type of expertise. If the ummah reaches a point where no one is fulfilling this responsibility, then the sin will be upon all able members of the ummah. This is true for tajweed, all other Qur'anic sciences, and all sciences of the Shari'ah in general. Another aspect of this hujran relates to some peoples' usage of the Qur'an for worldly gain. 'Imran ibn Husain(RA) narrated that when he came upon a reader who was reciting the Qur'an and then asking for payment, he told the reader that he heard the Messenger of Allah (saws) say (what means): "When anyone recites the Qur'an, let him ask reward for it from Allah, for (in the future) there will come a people who will recite the Qur'an and ask reward for it from men." [Tirmidhi, hassan]
The fifth level of hujran is abandonment of memorization of the Qur'an. This could refer to those who go through life memorizing only a small portion of the Qur'an, or those who memorize the Qur'an but allow themselves to forget it by not reviewing. As for those who don't memorize anything of the Qur'an or very little, the following narration refers to them. Ibn 'Abbaas(R) related that the Messenger of Allah (saws) said (what means): "One whose heart doesn't contain anything from the Holy Qur'an, is like a deserted house." [Tirmidhi, hassan-sahih] In regard to those who memorize, the following narration warns of the effort needed to keep the Qur'an in one's mind and heart. Abu Musa al-Ash'ari(R) related that the Messenger of Allah (saws) said (what means): "Preserve the Holy Qur'an in your hearts, by Allah in whose hand lies the life of Muhammad, it goes out of memory faster than a camel escapes from its rope." [Bukhari, Muslim] This or any level of hujran usually comes from ignorance of the virtue of every aspect surrounding the Qur'an. In addition, if the youth knew how much they will regret not having taken advantage of the "golden" years, the stage at which the mind can memorize more easily, they would not delay memorization of the Qur'an for one moment.
Hujran of reflection is the sixth stage of abandonment. This is mostly due to lack of understanding of the Arabic language. Those who are of Arab decent and those who are of non-Arab decent are both to blame for this. Muslims of Arab decent have not preserved their language in its pure state and consequently their casual conversations are spoken in dialectical Arabic while they refer to the classical usage only in cases of dire need or formality. Likewise, many children of Arab parents who have lived in non-Arab countries have completely lost their connection with the Arabic language. At the same time, there are few non-Arabs who strive to learn the language of the Qur'an and Sunnah and still fewer are those who teach their children.
In an authentic hadeeth, the Messenger of Allah (S) said (what means): "The Arab is the one who learns Arabic." [ ] So Muslims of Arab decent do not have a monopoly on the Arabic language and, in fact, many of our most celebrated Islamic scholars were not originally Arab. Among them are: Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, and many more who learned the Arabic language out of a zeal for understanding the Quran and Sunnah. This negligence of the Arabic language is indicative of negligence towards understanding the Qur'an. It is not nationalistic or ethnic elitism that elevates the Arabic language, rather it is the fact that it is the language of Allah's Holy Book that elevates it above all other languages and gives it a status of sophistication and beauty over all other human tongues. In fact, Allah informs us in the Qur'an that He made it an Arabic book so as to facilitate its understanding and memorization. Allah says in surat Yusuf (12), verse 2 (what means): "Verily, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur'an in order that you may understand." So one who sticks to the Arabic language and struggles to learn it has gained a high level of affinity for and understanding of the Qur'an and one who is close to the Qur'an is close to Allah. As for those who claim scholarship in any aspect of the religion of Islam without knowing the Arabic language, they are the worst imposters.
The last and most dangerous level of hujran is the abandonment of practice. The essence of this type of hujran is illustrated in the following narration in which the Messenger of Allah (saws) said (what means): "…The Qur'an is either an argument for you or against you." [Muslim] Imam an-Nawawi(RA) states in regard to the meaning of this hadeeth: "[It means] that you will benefit from it if you recite it and act by it, otherwise it will be an argument against you." This means that on the Day of Judgment, the Qur'an will be a proof or a testament against those who disobeyed Allah and did not follow the path He outlined in His Holy Book. The very purpose of listening, reading, memorizing, and reflecting upon the Qur'an is to be able to practice it and hence this is the most grave level of hujran.
Those who don't practice the Qur'an will be in ruin and this is true even on the level of nations and civilizations. 'Umar ibn al-Khattab (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saws) said (what means): "Allah will elevate some nations through this book and degrade others with it." [Muslim] This level of hujran, when applied to nations, means their ruling by other than the Qur'an. The most potent example of how the Qur'an elevates nations is the example of the Messenger of Allah (saws) and his companions. Aisha (ra), the Prophet's wife, described his character as being the Qur'an, itself. He embodied the perfect and complete practice of Qur'anic tenets in his life and his companions followed suit by emulating his character. Through their adherence to Allah's Holy Book, in a matter of no more than 23 years, a group of 40 oppressed and poor men and woman grew to become the most powerful force in the Arabian Peninsula. Muslims of today need not ask why they are now living as a humiliated ummah, while not lacking in numbers or wealth. And they need not look further than their own Qur'an for the solution.
The levels of hujran are, indeed, mere stages in the degradation of the ummah and its individual members. The levels of hujran are categorized in this order because each level builds upon the other and makes the problem of abandonment deeper and deeper. One who cannot read the Qur'an cannot memorize it properly. And one who is not motivated by the desire to memorize the Qur'an will certainly not reflect upon it. And one who doesn't reflect upon the Qur'an could not conceivably practice it as a complete way of life.
 Ibn Taymiyah, al-Furqan, p. 74
 Ibn Taymiyyah, al-Furqan, p. 74
 Tafseer al-Qurtubi
 Tafseer Ibn Kathir
 Ibn Taymiyyah, al-Furqan, p. 74
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