Sunday, 2 September 2012

IQRA’...Read to Understand

The book that Allah sent down to us contains the guidance for living in this world. And if we were to ask most Muslims they will acknowledge that the Quran is a guide to humankind. In my previous entry we can understand the importance of it as the key to our faith. However, let us ponder, if we have really used it as a guidance for us to live our life? Many of the people that I asked have said yes. However, when probed further, they admit to reading the Quran only on Thursday nights and focussing only on Surah Yassin.

Even then, when asked if they understand the message in the verses they are reading, many answered “NO”. When asked why they read it on Thursdays they answered “everybody else is doing it...”. Meanwhile, in the Quran (6:116) Allah instructs not to simply follow what others are doing without understanding. Furthermore, neither the Quran nor the Hadith provide the instructions to do so. This tells us that they only read it because it has become a culture to read Surah Yassin in our community but do not understand who asked them to do so and what they are reading.

Have we ever thought why we keep on reading only one chapter of the whole book our whole life, and not even understand the message behind it? If we were to read a novel of 114 chapters, would it be logical for us to take out only chapter 36 and keep reading it over and over even though we don’t understand it? Furthermore, can we understand the message in Chapter 36, if we didn’t even finish reading and understand the previous chapters (1-35)?

Let us look in Surah Yassin 36:69 itself, Allah mentioned:

“And We did not give Prophet Muhammad, knowledge of poetry, nor is it befitting for him. It is not but a message and a clear Qur'an”

The verse above tells us that Quran is not but a message. Therefore, there must be a very important message that Allah wants to tell us, and sadly we have not understood it. Why? Why do we keep on reading it but not benefitting from it? What is the biggest obstacle? A majority of the people that I’ve talked to say they don’t understand what they read because it is in Arabic. They don’t know the language. In a simple comparison we can understand what has happened to our community in our time (please click image to view more clearly):

Allah knows this dilemma. He answered in Surah Taha 20:2:

"We have not sent down to you the Qur'an that you be distressed"

and in Surah Ad Dukhan 44:58:

"And indeed, We have eased the Qur'an in your tongue that they might be reminded"

These two verses tell us that the Quran is sent down to us to ease us and in order to understand the Quran easily, we have to read it in the language that is most comfortable and familiar to us – our mother tongue. That is why under the leadership of Khalifah Uthman, the Quran started to be translated in various languages of the world. However, this does not tell us to do away totally with Arabic language in the Quran. Arabic is after all still an important reference point if there is any dispute in the translations.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us read the Quran in the language that is familiar to us in order to understand correctly Allah’s message of guidance to us, so that we can apply and practice rightly what is expected from us by our Creator for this life and the hereafter.

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