Qur’an reading: Capturing the Qur’anic spirit for better living

World Qur’an Hour

Qur’an reading: Capturing the Qur’anic spirit for better living

The Qur’an is the greatest blessing that God – “Allah” in Islam – has been given to Muslims. This Islamic Holy Book ensures that, by following its guidance, the lives of Muslims remain guided and organised. God says: “Indeed, this Qur’an guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward.” (Qur’an, Chapter 17, Verse 9)

A copy of the Qur’an can easily be bought from a Muslim bookshop or acquired from a Muslim religious organisation. In fact, most Muslim homes at least has one copy.

 The Qur’an, left (within red boundary), shows the 7-verse first chapter of the Qur’an, called “Al-Fatiha” (The opening Chapter) on the Qur’an’s right-hand page, and, on the left-hand page, the start of the 286-verse second chapter, called “Baqara: (The Heifer). The photo on the right (within blue frame) is strictly not called the Qur’an as it does not contain the Arabic text only but also its translation and commentary in English, hence it’s called “The meaning of the Holy Qur’an – text, translation and commentary”, a splendid job by the well-known scholar, Abdullah Yusuf Ali from India who excelled in English at Oxford University.

A copy of the Qur’an can easily be bought from a Muslim bookshop or acquired from a Muslim religious organisation. In fact, most Muslim homes have at least one copy.

Friday prayer sermon

In this regard the sermon (kuthbah) of the Friday prayer of 1 June 2018 amplified on the importance of reading the Qur’an and applying the guidance given in it for comprehensive living.

The sermon posed several questions, such as: How is your relationship with the Quran? Do you recite it often? Do you reflect upon its verses and strive to enliven Allah’s commands? Are we among those who adhere to the Qur’an and strive to emulate its teachings? Do we take steps that we can pursue in order to further strengthen our relationship with the Qur’an?

The sermon points out it is important that Muslims, if they have done so, take “small steps to study and understand the verses of the Qur’an.”

To this effect, an interesting event, held to capture the spirit of the Qur’an in Ramadan, called the “World Qur’an Hour” is here again in Singapore. This event is also held in other Muslim communities all over the world in Ramadan.

Qur’an Hour:  Reading the Qur’an in groups at Aliman Mosque.

Qur’an Hour:  Reading the Qur’an at Istiqamah Mosque.

Qur’an Hour:  Reading the Qur’an at Mydin Mosque. (Those with knee problems sit on stools available in the mosque.)

All mosques in Singapore held the World Qur’an Hour on 2 June to coincide with 17 Ramadan (day of the first Qur’anic Revelation received by Prophet Muhammad, Peace be upon him).

The event aims at inspiring the ummah or the Muslim community worldwide to interact with the Qur’an by reciting, understanding and applying the knowledge and wisdom it offers so as to instil Qur’anic values in them, build correct Islamic character and make a difference in the way they live.

At Kassim Mosque: The Friday prayers sermon on 1 June (2018), in mentioning Muslims can also easily read the Qur’an from the handphone, expounds: “The advancement of technology today has made the Qur’an more accessible. We can even browse the Qur’an through our mobile phones. Hence, let us not deprive the Qur’an of its role in our lives. If we are constantly busying ourselves with smartphone applications to ease our daily affairs, should we not find time to utilise a Qur’anic application to better understand the Qur’an’s contents and the explanation and interpretation (tafsir)? If we are able to spend hours surfing the Internet, would it not be better that we set aside some time to ponder upon the verses of the Qur’an?”

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last year (2017):  World Qur’an Hour aims at encouraging reading, understanding and practising the Qur’an. It also aims at guiding people to foster happy and compassionate living.

As the Qur’an is so important in a Muslim’s life, let me in this article, mention a few aspects of the Qur’an to serve as a motivator to Muslims to read and study the Qur’an to benefit from it in their lives.

First of all, the Qur’an, in its entirety, is God’s Words. That means, the Qur’an was not written by Prophet Muhammad, Peace be upon him, because he was never schooled and so was unlettered. The Qur’an was also not written decades after his death by any person or persons.

What happened was, the Qur’an was recorded verbatim as and when its verses were revealed to Prophet Muhammad by God through Angel Gabriel (Jibrail) over 23 years. This book is called “Qur’an” (Book of Recitation or Reading), a name mentioned in the Qur’an itself in a number of verses.

The first Revelation, containing just five verses, was received by the Prophet in the Cave of Hira on 17 Ramadan. These first five verses, appearing in Chapter 96, called “Iqraa” (Recitation or Read!), are shown in the following slide

This Islamic date, 17 Ramadan, is known as Nuzul Al-Qur’an, the celebration of the day of the beginning of the Revelation of the Qur’an. And Muslims would read the Qur’an in groups or in one large group, especially in the mosque, in celebration of the start of the Qur’an. The “Qur’an Hour” event neatly falls into this annual Qur’an reading practice.

The Qur’an reading practice is not held on just one day or one hour in a year, but for about one hour each night of Ramadan, after the terawih (Ramadan night-time) prayer in a session called “tadarus al-Qur’an” (Qur’an recital) until “khatam” (completion of the whole Qur’an), a few days before Ramadan ends.

The Qur’an says that it is for all mankind. It contains not only religious guidance but also a wide spectrum of subject matter with themes on social behaviour and the sciences to history and reasoning, all interwoven with the central theme of Tawhid or Oneness of God (Allah): “There is no god but Allah”.

Uniqueness of the Qur’an

The features of the Qur’an are unique in many ways, a few of them are as follows:
• The Qur’an came in Arabic and exists in Arabic, the original language as spoken by Prophet Muhammad himself. Arabic is a living language, one that is widely spoken and written right to this day.

• The entire Qur’an was recorded in writing as instructed by the Prophet in his presence. It was also seen and recited by Prophet Muhammad himself as a means of approving its entire contents and coverage.

• The Qur’an’s text over 114 chapters remains entirely intact and reliable. It has not been altered, edited, or tampered with since the time it was revealed more than 1400 years ago.

• The entire Qur’an was recorded by scribes in the presence of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as and went the verses were revealed to him by God. The Prophet then asked the scribe to read what he had recorded to ascertain accuracy and then keep the recorded verses after his Companions and others had memorised the verses as instructed by him. Thus, the Qur’an has been preserved from the start in two ways – by always reading the whole Book in Ramadan and at other time of the year as well as by memorisation. (Those who have memorised the whole Qur’an are called Hafiz, people who might have graduated in Hafiz-training schools.)

• The Qur’an’s chapters have been memorised by generation after generation of Muslims right from the time they were delivered by Prophet Muhammad. Also, the entire Qur’an is memorised by millions of Muslims right to this day through an unbroken chain of reciters from day one, so much so, as someone said, if all the copies of the Qur’an in the world were to disappear mysteriously, exact copies of the Qur’an could be produced overnight from the recitation of these people.

• The Qur’an comprised verses as received from God, not in a narration form as any writer, professional or not, would write; not in a continual development style like a story book but the verses in the Qur’an are all instructions, guidance, advices, mention of previous prophets and what happened to them, and so on.

• The Qur’an is called the Qur’an only when it is in Arabic, the original language by which it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad and recorded in print and available to anyone. If a translation is totally in English or in any other language than Arabic, that volume is not the Qur’an but a translation or interpretation. Hence, all those verses quoted in the non-Arabic language, strictly speaking, are not Words of Allah but words of the various writers, though for ease of communication, Muslim writers, might use such indicators as “The Qur’an says” and “Allah says”.

Great opportunity

With such a unique and comprehensive Holy Book right in their hands, the Muslim ought to take this great opportunity to read the Qur’an and gain from the wisdom it offers.  God tells Prophet Muhammad, Peace be upon him: “[This is] a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they (people) might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded.” (Qur’an, Chapter 38: Verse 29)

God also says: “The month of Ramadhan (is when) the Qur’an was revealed, as a guide to humankind, and clear signs for guidance and judgement.” (Qur’an, Chapter 2: Verse 185)

The 1-June Friday prayer sermon urges Muslims: “In this blessed month of Ramadan, let us reflect upon the verses of the Qur’an,” and be guided.

Shaik Kadir
3 June 2018

(1) The whole Friday prayer sermon (kuthbah) of 1 June 2018, prepared by Muis, is available on Muis’ website: https://www.muis.gov.sg/officeofthemufti/Khutbah

(2) Photo credit for current article: Apart from the writer’s own photos and one taken from the internet, credit goes to Mr Abdul Karim Aludeen, Mr Abdul Halim Amin and Ms Mukminah Abdul Razak for their photo contributions.

(3) The writer’s other articles on the World Qur’an Hour lin the last two years can be accessed in this blog:

(a) 17 June 2017: “’Quran Hour’ gains huge success”: https://readnreap.wordpress.com/?s=quran+hour

(b) 8 June 2017: “Qur’an Hour: Let’s read Al-Quran together this Sunday, 5 – 6 pm”: https://readnreap.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/quran-hour-lets-read-al-quran-together-this-sunday-5-6-pm/

(c) 16 Sep 2016: “World Qur’an Hour- Enhancing Islamic spirituality and togetherness”: https://readnreap.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/world-quran-hour-enhancing-islamic-spirituality-and-togetherness/

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