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Question: Ramadhan is the month of the revelation of the Qur’an. Are there some tips you can suggest which would help us to benefit from our reading of the Qur’an?

The Qur’an is Allah’s choicest gift to humanity; it is the miracle of miracles testifying to the apostleship of Prophet Muhammad, may Allah shower Him with blessings and peace, and the eternal source of divine guidance, healing, light, mercy; it is glad tidings for the God-conscious, and warning for the heedless and the insolent. It contains inexhaustible wisdom; it is the quintessence of the knowledge of both ancients and the moderns, the Decisive Criterion; Spirit from God, and revelation from on High on the heart of the Messenger; finally, it is our rope of salvation, pleader for us or against us on the Day of Final Reckoning: It is therefore imperative that we respond to the Divine Word most appropriately: Here are a few tips to help us benefit from the Qur’an optimally:

1) Visualize the grandeur of the Word and the August Majesty of its Speaker: In order to properly benefit from the Qur’an it is imperative that our mind and heart be filled with a deep sense of reverence and awe for the Mighty Word, and its Author, the Creator and Sovereign Lord of all beings, a Word, about which Allah says, “Had We sent down this Qur’an on a mountain you would see it humbling itself, breaking asunder for awe of Allah." (Qur'an: 59: 21)

2) Presence of mind: We cannot expect to benefit from the Qur’an unless we pay undivided attention to it; so it is imperative that we dispel all distractions; one may do well to take the necessary steps to induce proper concentration: Steps such as purifying oneself both physically and inwardly; sitting comfortably in a relaxed manner, etc.

3) Reflection: Since the main purpose of reading the Word is none other than reflecting the message we ought to reflect upon it: Ali said, “There is no good in worship without knowledge; there is no good in reading without reflection.” That is the reason why we read in the sources that the Prophet, Companions and salaf al-ssalih often would repeat the same verse continuously in order to better reflect upon the deeper meanings of the verse.

4) Removing veils and obstacles: Often one is prevented from attaining due reflection because of the many veils and obstacles that stand in the way of appreciating the Qur’an; veils such as the following: 1. Obsession with external rules of recitation/articulation of sounds to such an extend that one is so totally pre-occupied with them and is thus distracted from paying due attention to pondering the meanings; 2. Blind imitation of a particular sect or school or ideology and being fanatically attached to it so his own preconceived biases or prejudices preventing him from perceiving the deeper meanings of the Word; 3. Persistence in sins or pride whereby one’s heart’s mirror becomes rusted so that it is incapable of gaining true spiritual insights; 4.Clinging to a particular work of Tafsir so dogmatically that one holds the false view that the author has exhausted the entire meanings of the Qur’an in his exposition, no matter how articulate and profound he may be, for the Qur’an is inexhaustible in its depth.

5) Identifying with the meanings of the verses he reads and responding to them sensitively: When reading the verses about attributes of Allah, bring to mind Allah’s incomparable nature and absolute uniqueness; when reading the verses that speak of God’s creation think of the manifestation of divine power as revealed in His work, thus being led to recognize God’s Might and Glory; when reading the verses describing paradise (Jannah) cherish such ardent fervour to it that one spontaneously seek Allah’s mercy; when reading descriptions of hell (jahannam) one should tremble and pray that Allah keep him/her safe from its torments.

6) Visualizing that God is speaking to him directly through the Qur’an. As the late Dr. Iqbal said, “No advice from anyone benefited me as much as I benefited from the advice of my mother who told me, “My son, when reading the Qur’an visualize in your mind that Allah is speaking to you through it!” This is why Muhammad b. Ka’b al-Qurazi, one of the scholars of the generation of tabi’un (successors) said, “Whoever has received the Qur’an Allah has certainly spoken to him!”

7) Sensitivity: Imam Ghazzali says: In order to benefit from the Qur’an, three of our faculties must participate in the act of recitation, namely, the tongue, the mind and the heart: Thus the tongue articulates the sounds, the mind translates the meanings and the heart becomes sensitive and receives admonition or counsel.

8) Qualify yourself with the qualities of the Servants of the Merciful: The ultimate objective of the revelation is to transform our inner personalities in such a way that we personify the ideals and ethics of the Qur’an. This is why the Prophet was described by A’ishah as a walking Qur’an. So one must read, reflect on the message and act accordingly as the Companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, did-- thus combining knowledge with practice.

9) Salute the Messenger, the medium of the Word: We cannot detach the Message from the Messenger; for he alone is the interpreter par excellence of the Word and its living exemplifier; therefore we ought to consistently send salutations of peace and blessings on him. For without a deep love for the Messenger, we cannot truly appreciate the revelations sent down by Allah to him through the medium of Angel Jibreel. May Allah for ever shower His choicest blessings and peace on His servant and Messenger Muhammad, his family and companions. And may He grant us all the honour of joining their august company after we depart this transient world--aameen.

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