Obligations Muslims Owe To The Qur’an
The Qur’an is God’s Final Revelation to humanity for our guidance which will lead to success in this world and salvation in the Hereafter. During this month of the Qur’an we are reminded: “The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Qur’an was sent down as guidance for humanity,as clear proofs for the guidance as well as the Criterion (2:185)
The Qur’an tells us that “it (the Qur’an) is a Reminder for you and for your people and soon you will all be asked about it” (43:44). We are also told that the Holy Prophet (SAW[m1] ) will complain against his own people for neglecting the Qur’an: “My Lord! My people have abandoned the Qur’an!” (25:30).
7 Major Obligations towards the Qur’an
Many scholars (both classical as well as medieval) such as Imam Ibn al-Qayyim and Dr Israr Ahmad have mentioned that if we fail to fulfill any of our responsibilities towards the Qur’anwe will be abandoning the it in this respect. Some of the main obligations that we have towards the Qur’an are:
- Iman (Belief): To truly believe in everything that the Qur’an contains is from God without any doubt and it is sent down for our own good and not to our detriment. It also means to accept the totality of the Qur’an and not just pick and choose what we like. Opposition to the Qur’an will lead to a “miserable life” and being raised “blind in the Hereafter”.
- Ta’zeem (Respect): To show due reverence to the Qur’an by giving it top ‘priority’ over all other things as “the Word of God is Supreme”. It also means that we read and consult it more than any other sources and that we do not contradict the views of the Qur’an when expressing our views.
- • Tilawah (Recitation): To read it regularly as “it ought to be read” with Tajweed (correct rules of recitation). Ten rewards are written for every letter recited and a person who encounters difficulty in reading will receive double that reward (one for reading and one for making the effort). We should also “listen attentively” to the Qur’an to receive Allah’s special Mercy.
- • Fahm (Understanding): To try your best to understand it by relying on different translations and tafsir (commentaries), learning Qur’anic Arabic and asking the “People of remembrance”. The Qur’an is easy to understand with no complex ideas and out of 80,000 words, there are only 1,800 new root words. As the primary purpose of the Qur’an is to provide Guidance, we must seek to understand its message with an open heart and mind.
- Tadabbur (Reflection): To reflect upon the verses with an open heart and mind after trying to understand their meaning. In this way, many shades of the Qur’an’s meaning will be made available to the individual especially relevant to their needs. In Surah Muhammad we are told: “Do they not reflect on the Qur’an or are there locks on their hearts?”
- • ‘Amal (Practice): To act upon the teachings of the Qur’an with total ‘submission’ in all aspects of our lives and to accept its verdict regarding the lawful and prohibited. It came to be followed and not merely to be recited. That way our lives will be transformed for the better as Imam Malik said: “Nothing will rectify the latter part of this Ummah except that which rectified the first part of it”.
- Da’wah (Propagation): To propagate the message to others with “wisdom and beautiful preaching” using different methods suited to the particular audience. In his Farewell Sermon, the Holy Prophet (SAW) told an audience of over 124,000 people: “Convey from me, even if it is a single verse”. As Messengers of the Messenger of Allah, they fulfilled that command as a result of which we are Muslims and we must also continue with that mission.
Barriers people put for not studying the Qur’an
There are many barriers that people have put in order not to directly study the Qur’an. Some of these excuses are given below together with their response:
- “I don’t know Arabic”: God knows that and yet He “sent down an Arabic Qur’an so that you may understand” (12:2). We now have the Qur’an translated in many languages and one has more than 100 translations in English alone to choose from. So there is no excuse, especially when majority of Muslims are non-Arabs.
- “It is difficult to understand”: What exactly is ‘difficult’ and have you tried reading the Qur’an using different translations? The message of the Qur’an is simple and logical and in Surah 54 we are told 4 times “We have made the Qur’an easy to remember- so who will take heed?”
- “I can’t follow the translation as it is too difficult to understand”: We have a choice of understanding the Qur’an using more than 100 English translations. So if we find it difficult to follow an archaic translation, we can choose the more recent translations (e.g. Faruq-i-Azam Malik) which are easier to understand. You can also read translations in other languages if you are fluent such as Urdu, Chinese or Yoruba.
- “The Qur’an is a Holy Book and I derive blessings from it”: Any association with the Qur’an will bring blessings. However, we should not limit our use of the Qur’an to just seeking its spiritual blessings (e.g. for protection against evil)’, but we should primarily use it as our source of guidance for everyday living.
- “Reciting the Qur’an in Arabic is enough”: Whilst we are encouraged to read the Arabic Qur’an, with promise of ten blessings for each letter recited (and double the reward for those who find it difficult), nevertheless we should still try our best to try to find out what the Qur’an says so that we can put its teachings into practice.
- “The Qur’an is too holy- so I put it on the top shelf”: Yes, part of showing respect towards the Qur’an is to put it on a high place. But it should be only high enough for us to be able to ‘reach it’ to read regularly and not just hide it away.
- “We read the Qur’an over the dead”: There is nothing wrong in seeking comfort by reading the Qur’an on someone’s death. It is usual practice to read Surah Yasin over the dying people. The same Surah says that theQur’an came to “‘warn those who are alive” (36:70). So the living will benefit more from the Qur’an by reading it and acting upon its teachings.
- “Only the Scholars understand the Qur’an and if I read it myself, I will be misled”: The Qur’an was sent down for the guidance of all human beings and to be accessed by everyone. It was not designed to be kept secretive within a special class of people- otherwise the Qur’an would have been revealed in a secret code. The language of the Qur’an is as ‘alive’ today as it was 1400 years ago. Whilst it is true that for some verses of the Qur’an we will need to refer to scholars (e.g. laws), the vast majority of the Qur’an can be understood by most people with an open mind. That is why many non- Muslims become Muslims by reading even distorted translations of the Qur’an.
The Qur’an is the Solution
The Qur’an instructs us to “Hold fast to the rope of Allah and do not be divided”([3:103). This has been explained by the Holy Prophet[m2] (SAW) as referring to the Qur’an [Tafsir Al-Tabari]. Almighty Allah also tells us: “There has indeed come to you from Allah a Light and a Clear Book. Allah guides by it, whoever follows His Pleasure, to the ways of Peace and He brings them out from darkness into the Light by His Permission and He guides them to a Straight Path” (5:15).
The Qur’an is the most widely read book and yet it is the most misunderstood book in the world. The American essayist Maryam Jameelah once said that “Muslims are ready to give up their lives for the Qur’an, but not prepared to lead their lives according to the Qur’an”.
We can change our condition by connecting with the Qur’an and leading our lives according to the Qur’an as we are told in one Hadith: “Verily Allah raises some people by way of this Book and lowers others by it” [Sahih Muslim]. I will end this article with a quote from Allama Iqbal: “O you who are chained by blind imitation! Become free by clinging to the Qur’an!”