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The Ultimate Source of Knowledge

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Getting to Know the Quran
By Maria Zain
Freelance Writer- Malaysia
Quran
Reading the Quran may seem impossible for some, especially when Arabic is not a language of familiarity.
Quran

Many new Muslims find that it is through the Quran that they become acquainted with Islam and the sudden interest in the faith sends them on a life-changing experience.

Once embracing Islam however, getting to know the Quran is even more important – even for born Muslims. It is vital to remember that there are no versions of the Quran, neither have there been updates or replicas to suit different denominations of Muslim followers. The Quran that was revealed over the 23 years of Prophet Muhammad’s Prophethood remains the same scripture that has been perfected by God as the complete way of life for Muslim followers. This is why it is important for believers to become as closely acquainted with the revealed Book as possible in order to foster closeness with God and to work towards Islamic unity amongst Muslims.

For new Muslims, especially those who are not familiar with the Arabic language, learning about Islam through the Quran can be a little daunting. But when good intentions are in tow, God makes the most arduous task, lightweight.

 

Start by Learning to Read Arabic

Reading the Quran may seem impossible for some, especially when Arabic is not a language of familiarity. Learning to read Arabic at a beginner’s pace would probably be the best way to familiarize oneself with the sight of the Arabic letters and the sounds they make. Engaging in a private tutor who has experience in teaching how to read Arabic from scratch is a good place to start. Although merely reading out the sounds of letters may sound mundane and not make much sense as understanding them, every Muslim has to start somewhere. In fact, the Quran is such a blessing to mankind that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Whoever recites a letter from the Book of Allah, he will be credited with a good deed, and a good deed gets a ten-fold reward. I do not say that Alif-Lam-Mim is one letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter.'' (At-Tirmidhi)

So imagine just learning the letters of the Quran and being able to recognise them over and over again in each verse and each sentence – this is the simplest way to garner rewards from God.

And with time, when learning the actual language itself, reading the Quran becomes second nature, even to the non-native Arabic speaker. Even in moments of doubt or difficulty when learning to read the Quran, it will be beneficial for Muslims to remember this:

Aisha reported that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "The one who is proficient in the recitation of the Qur'an will be with the honorable and obedient scribes (angels) and he who recites the Qur'an and finds it difficult to recite, doing his best to recite it in the best way possible, will have a double reward'' (Bukhari & Muslim)

Even if a Muslim finds it difficult to read the Quran, God has promised great returns. Even Aisha, as an iconic Muslim during the Prophet’s time, learned to read the Quran at her own pace. There are narrations relaying that she prayed to God for guidance to be able to recite the verses like her beloved husband, and Aisha later went on to become one of the best teachers in Islamic history. This would have not happened if it were not for her determination and the rewards God bestowed upon her for championing the cause of Islam.

 

Invest in a Tafseer of the Quran

Practicing the principles laid out in the Quran is vital for any Muslim because Islam recognizes the intentions of a person and his deeds

Learning the meaning - or the tafseer - behind the messages and the stories of the verses is probably the most important part of getting to know the Quran. This is also true for understanding the principles that each verse places forth and the rationale behind each principle. The first step in understanding the tafseer behind the verses would be to find a well-written translation of the original Quran, which tally with the original verses. The translation alone is not enough however, and it is recommended for Muslims to read the translations with their corresponding narrations.

Practicing the principles laid out in the Quran is vital for any Muslim because Islam recognizes the intentions of a person and his deeds. Having the Quran in the heart but not acting upon what is loved by God and not refraining from engaging in activities that are despised by Him is a poor reflection of a Muslim’s plight in this world. An-Nawwas ibn Sam`an, a companion of the Prophet,  reported that Prophet Muhammad said: "The Qur'an and its people who applied it, will be brought on the Day of Resurrection preceded with Surat Al-Baqarah and Surat Al-`Imran arguing on behalf of those who applied them,'' (Muslim)

The Quran thus is able to intercede on behalf of its reader and if this person is able to engage in the good deeds laid out in the Quran, his or her rewards will be multi-fold. In an important chapter, Al-Asr, God reminds: {By the time, verily man is in loss, except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and join (together) in the mutual enjoining of Truth, and of patience and constancy} (Al-Asr 103: 1-3)

This verse reflects on the importance of good deeds and for them to be done in a timely manner, especially before time runs out for each Muslim believer. With that, it is important to remember how valuable good deeds as practiced by the Quranic direction are – and to conscientiously value the time spent in learning them and carrying them out. This is also a resounding message that it is never too early to start studying the tafseer of the Quran.

 

Learning the Arabic Language

Learning the Arabic language will be an immense benefit for Muslims. Not only are the daily prayers recited in Arabic – and include Al-Fatihah, the opening chapter of the Quran – the entire prayer is said in Arabic. Learning the Arabic language will also bring a greater sense of closeness to the Quran while a person reads it. The Quran though is written in a more complex form of Arabic, which is of a class higher than the Arabic that is heard and documented today. And this would make sense as the entire Quran is written by God. However, this should not stop Muslims from at least learning the key words of verses, to solidify their understanding of the Quran.

In fact, learning the Arabic language will also aid in the memorization of verses as the sentences and verses as it will all come more naturally to the reader. Memorization of the Quran is also something Muslims should strive for, as the Quran keeps the heart pure and soft and wards away evil thoughts. Prophet Muhammad even mentions: "The one who was devoted to the Qur'an will be told on the Day of Resurrection: Recite (commit to memory) and ascend (in ranks) as you used to recite when you were in the world. Your rank will be at the last ayah (verse) you recite,''' (Abu Dawud & Tirmidhi) This is probably the best incentive to read the Quran and to finally memorize the verses within it for the highest place in Paradise.

 

Take Time to Get to Know Prophet Muhammad

Prophet Muhammad, coined in the Quran as the Mercy to Mankind: {We did not send you, except as a mercy to all the worlds.} (Al-Anbiya 21: 107), is the best embodiment of the Quran. His wife Aisha once described him as the walking Quran, as he lived his life in full devotion of the principles of the Scripture, out of his love for God. With this, to get to know the Quran better, Muslims should make full use of their efforts to learn about the Prophetic Seerah.

Prophet Muhammad’s life is intrinsically documented through the compilation of Hadith and has been well written out by stalwart Muslim authors to better depict his life for Muslims today. From the way he ate to the way he slept; from how he treated his family members to his staunchest enemies; from the way he worshipped to the way he taught his followers – Muslims will learn exactly how Islam should be practiced in light of the Quran, the ultimate source of knowledge for all believers.

 

Suggested website for Quran translations

http://quran.com/

Author’s Note: Although this article encourages Muslims to study Arabic, it should not be placed as a priority as learning a new language can be overwhelming, especially for new Muslims who are just learning to read the Quran and understanding the tafseer. Learning Arabic here, also does not necessarily mean that a Muslim needs to become fluent in Arabic, but emphasizes more on learning the key words in the Quran. More importantly is to learn about Islam in stride at one’s own pace. However, if one is comfortable with beginning to study Arabic, it is a wonderful way to become better acquainted with the Quran.
Related Links:
My Journey Through Prayers
Learning Islam the Right Way
Seeking Knowledge: The Guiding Light
Lesson 1: What Is Your Name?
My Search for Moral Guidance Led Me to Islam
Maria Zain is a freelance editor and writer living in Malaysia. While her evenings and nights are spent supporting different Muslim communities through her work, she shares her life with her husband and three busy little children below the age of five, whom she homeschools during the day. 

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