By Sh. Abdur Rahman Khan, July 7, 2014 / 10th Ramadhan 1435 AH
The question arises what was the condition of our early generations with regards to The Qur’an and how is our condition today with The Qur’an? How is it in our times that the status of The Qur’an has been weakened and its importance is no more rather less than reading the newspapers and magazines or reading some news online?
What has changed in our times for us to become in this state? Has The Qur’an changed? Allah forbid! Or is it because we have changed our attitude towards The Book of Allah? What are the criteria by which nations have been elevated and declined; honored and humiliated?
In a Hadith reported by Umar bin Al-Khattaab (RA) Rasoolullah SAS said:
«إنَّ الله -تعالى-يرفع بهذا الكتاب أقوامًا، ويضع به آخرين»
By this Book, Allah would exalt some peoples and by it He would degrade others
In this Hadith the word “Peoples” constitute individuals, groups and The Ummah. For whosoever accepts and goes towards The Qur’an from among them will be exalted and honored and whosoever turns away will be dishonored and humiliated.
We come to know our Pious Predecessors-may Allah SWT have mercy on them- through the importance they have placed on the Qur’an. The status of The Qur’an, its importance and its effects have become the foundation of their lives in all its domains: recitation, learning its meaning, practicing its tenets and calling towards it. Thus from childhood The Qur’an was used to build their foundation and the families back then were raised by the message of The Qur’an and the world was enlightened and opened up by learning and teaching The Qur’an. The institutions of knowledge were based on The Qur’an. The Masaajid (Mosques): their establishments, worship done therein, the gatherings were all based on The Qur’an.
Indeed they were a nation who survived and lived by The Qur’an and here are some of the reasons:
First of all: they used to recite The Qur’an in their homes to such an extent that Rasoolullah SAS would recognize their voices as they recited. Reported by Imaam Muslim on the authority of Abu Musa who said that The Prophet SAS said, ‘I recognize the voice of the group of Al-Ashariyun, when they recite the Qur’an, when they enter their homes at night, and I recognize their houses by (listening) to their voices when they are reciting the Qur’an at night although I have not seen their houses when they came to them during the day time”.
Allah SWT says in 35:29-30:
Allah Exalted said, “Those who recite the Book of Allah, establish the Prayer and spend from the sustenance that We have granted them, secretly and openly, hope for a trade that will never fail: so that He may reward them fully, and increase them from His Bounty – truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Thankful.”
Secondly: they reflected and ponder deeply on its meanings and acted upon what is required from them. This is different in our times. We like to hear the sounds alone; just the beautiful recitation from the various Quraa (reciters). Allah SWT says:
أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ أَمْ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَا﴿٢٤
Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an, or are there locks upon [their] hearts? (24)
Yes listening to The Qur’an is a good deed but beyond that is pondering its signs deeply and acting upon its message.
Al-Hasan al-Basri once said:
“Truly, this Qur’an is recited by slaves and children who have no knowledge of its interpretation, for they have not followed the matter from its beginning. Allah, Mighty and Majestic, said,
كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ مُبَارَكٌ لِّيَدَّبَّرُوا آيَاتِهِ وَلِيَتَذَكَّرَ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ ﴾٢٩﴿
‘A book, We have sent it down to you, blessed, that they may ponder its signs deeply.’ Pondering its signs deeply is no more than following it, and Allah knows best. But by Allah, it is not preserving its letters and wasting its limits! One of them even says, ‘I have recited the whole Qur’an without missing a single letter of it,’ although by Allah, he has missed it all, for the Qur’an is not seen in him in any of his character or deeds. Another even says, ‘Truly, I can recite a surah in one breath’! By Allah, these are not reciters or people of knowledge or wisdom or spiritual caution!
When did real reciters ever say things like this? May Allah not make their like widespread amongst the people!”
How often people boast of reciting The Qur’an so many times saying that they have not missed a single letter. Subhan Allah! Without pondering it is as if he misses all the letters if he does not ponder and the Qur’an is not seen in him in any of his character or deeds.
‘Abdullah b. Mas’ud said, “It befits a bearer of the Qur’an to be known by his night when the people are asleep; by his day when the people are feasting; by his caution when the people mix [the lawful and the unlawful]; by his humility when the people are proud; by his grief when the people are happy; by his weeping when the people are laughing; and by his silence when the people chatter.”
Al-Fudayl also said “The bearer of the Qur’an is the bearer of the banner of Islam. It does not befit him to indulge in idle [talk or activity] with those who do so, or to be heedless with those who are, or to indulge in frivolity with those who do so.” He also said: “The Qur’an was only revealed to be acted upon, but the people took its recitation as an action.” In other words they see the recitation as end of all.
Abu Dharr narrated that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: Verily there would arise from my Ummah after me or soon after me a group (of people) who would recite the Qur’an, but it would not go beyond their throats, and they would pass clean through their religion just as the arrow passes through the prey, and they would never come back to it. They would be the worst among the creation and the creatures.
He SWT also says in 17:9-10
“Truly, this Qur’an guides to that which is most upright, and gives glad tidings to the Believers who work righteous deeds that truly for them is a great reward, and that truly, those who do not have faith in the Hereafter, We have prepared for them a painful punishment.
Thus the earlier generations used to look at The Qur’an as their criterion to decide their actions. They did not do their actions and then try to justify it by The Qur’an or by the Sunnah.
Hasan Al-Basri used to say: ““May Allah have mercy upon a slave who presents himself and his actions to the Book of Allah, Mighty and Majestic; if these conform to the Book of Allah, he praises Allah and asks Him for more; but if these oppose the Book of Allah, Mighty and Majestic, he scolds himself and returns (to goodness) quickly.” And he (RA) added: “Whoever wishes to know who he is, let him present himself to the Qur’an.”
So in order for us to be alive with The Qur’an we need to apply the same attitude that the pious predecessors were known to have:
- Having taqwa of Allah secretly and openly, by exercising caution (wara’) with regards to the sources of his food, drink, dress and earnings.
- Being observant about time and the corruptions of its people so to beware of them regarding Deen.
- Concentrating on our own situation, having the aim to reform whatever is corrupt in our affairs,
- Guarding his tongue and choosing our words. The early generations chose their words like picking fruits when they spoke. If he speaks, he speaks with knowledge when he sees speech to be correct. If he remains silent, he remains silent with knowledge when he sees silence to be correct. Abdullah Bin Umar (RA) and Abu Dardaa said: If it wasn’t for three things I would not wish to live in this world: Fasting on a hot day, praying in the late night and sitting in company who choose their words as you choose your fruits from the trees.”
- Not delving into that which does not concern us. The early generations used to be afraid of their own tongues than the fear from their enemies.
- The Qur’anic message does not allow someone to be praised for qualities he has, how then for qualities he does not have? Everyday we recite Suratul Fatihah that ought to humble us and make us realize that The One who deserves all praises is Allah SWT; Lord of all that exists.
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
- We come alive with The Qur’an when we do not backbite anyone or look down upon anyone.
- We ought to avoid abusing anyone and not to be happy at the affliction of others.
- We come alive with The Qur’an when we neither transgress upon anyone, nor envy him nor think the worst about anyone.
- The early generations used to speak about the faults of others when it comes to matter of Aqeedah and Deen other than that they remain silent
- We come alive with The Qur’an when we make the Qur’an, Sunnah our guide to every good and beautiful character, guarding all his limbs from what has been forbidden. Such a person when he walks, he walks with knowledge. If he sits, he sits with knowledge. He strives hard so that people may be safe from his tongue and hand. He does not behave ignorantly: if someone behaves ignorantly towards him, he is forbearing. He does not oppress: if he is oppressed, he forgives. He does not transgress: if he is transgressed upon, he has patience. He seeks status from Allah, not from the creatures. He despises arrogance, fearing for his self from it. He is content with little, so it suffices him.
- We come alive when we beware from the world that which will make the souls tyrannical. And everything we do is done by knowledge and not by customs and culture: we ought to eat with knowledge; drink with knowledge; dress with knowledge; sleep with knowledge; spousal obligations with knowledge; ties of kinship with knowledge, social interaction with knowledge, kind treatment to neighbors with knowledge, kindness to parents with knowledge not being irritated by them in their old age but make Dua for them, purifying our souls with knowledge, praying and sacrificing with knowledge, giving Zakaah with knowledge and fasting with knowledge, earning with knowledge, and spending with knowledge. Isn’t this the true meaning of what Allah SWT says:
﴾قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّـهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ﴿١٦٢﴾لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ وَبِذَٰلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَا أَوَّلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ﴿١٦٣
Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds. (162) No partner has He. And this I have been commanded, and I am the first [among you] of the Muslims.” (163)
So as we pursue our Fasting and recitation of The Qur’an and praying our Salaatu Taraweeh this Ramadhan let us ask ourselves are we truly alive with The Qur’an the way that our Pious Predecessors were alive with it? Let us ask Allah SWT for His Tawfeeq in acting upon The Qur’an the way that is required from us.
Shaykh Abdool Rahman Khan is a graduate of The Islamic University Madinah, faculty of Shari’ah, specializing in Islamic Inheritance. He is a graduate of The University of Guyana in English and holds a Diploma of Education. Shaykh Khan is the former principal of the Guyana Islamic Institute, a position that he held for a period of eight years. He is the Imam and head of Islamic Studies at the Muslim Community Center of Greater Rockford, Illinois. Shaykh currently serves as the principal of Al-Rahmah School in Baltimore, Maryland. He is actively involved in the field of Da’wah (Religious Dialogue). Shaykh Abdool Rahman Khan is the Chairman of ICNA Shari’ah Council and an executive member of the Fiqh Council of North America.