Reciting Qur’an is a way to Taqwa
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
(Friday speech delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, NC on September 18, 1998)
From previous khutab, we know that having taqwa of Allah (S.W.T.) means: taking protection from the anger of Allah (S.W.T.) and his punishment. This protection is realized by doing what Allah (S.W.T.) commands, and refraining from everything that Allah (S.W.T.) forbids. In brief, this protection is realized by obeying Allah (S.W.T.) which emanates only from the correct and strong belief in Him. This belief comprises the genuine love of Allah (S.W.T.) as well as the genuine fear of Him.
Today we ask how can we achieve taqwa in our life?
We can answer this question in a general way based on the definition of taqwa that we mentioned; taqwa can be achieved by doing everything that increases and strengthens the belief, and doing everything (sayings and actions) that increases the love of Allah (S.W.T.) and increases the fear of Him (S.W.T.).
We would like to elaborate on how we can achieve taqwa in three ways.
The first way to achieve taqwa of Allah (S.W.T.) is reciting the Qur’an reflecting upon its meanings and implementing its verses. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Baqarah, (verse 121), what can be translated as, "Those to whom We gave the book (the Qur’an) recite it as it should be recited, they are the ones that believe therein. And who disbelieves in it (the Qur’an), those are the losers."
Imam Ibn Katheer says about this verse that Ibn Mas’oud, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "By the one whose hand my soul is in, the real recitation of Qur’an is to adopt its halal and refrain from doing its haram, and recite it exactly like Allah (S.W.T.) has revealed it, without altering the meaning of its words, and without interpreting anything from it except the way it is to be interpreted, so it is to be followed faithfully." Omar, may Allah be pleased with him, said about reciting the Qur’an the way it should be, "They (the ones who really recite Qur’an) are the ones who, when they pass by a verse of mercy, asked it from Allah (S.W.T.), and when they pass by a verse of punishment, they seek refuge from it, like the prophet (S.A.W.) used to do.
Indeed, this is the real recitation of Qur’an that leads to the knowledge of Allah (S.W.T.) and to the knowledge of His names, attributes, reward, and punishment. About this knowledge, the prophet (S.A.W.) said, "I am the most knowledgeable person, among you, about Allah (S.W.T.) and I fear Him more than you do." Whoever does not know Allah (S.W.T.), does not fear Him. For this reason, Allah (S.W.T.) specifically categorized those who fear Him only with those who have knowledge of Him. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Fatir, (verse 28), what can be translated as, "…It is only those who have knowledge among His servants that fear Allah."
This shows the greatness of the true recitation of Qur’an and the great effects it has on the lives of people and their behavior and conduct, and the greatness of reward for reciting, reflecting and understanding it.
Allah (S.W.T.) stresses that the purpose of revealing the Qur’an in Arabic; an understandable and clear language, with a lot of warnings in it, is to help people attain taqwa and wake them up from their absent-mindedness. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Taha, (verse 113), what can be translated as, "And thus We have sent it down as a Qur’an in Arabic, and have explained therein in detail the warnings, in order that they may have taqwa, or that it may cause them to learn a lesson from it."
Allah (S.W.T.) stresses that the purpose of revealing the Qur’an to Muhammad (S.W.A.) is to help people reflect upon his verses and understand them, so the verses will be a reminder for them. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Saad, (verse 29), what can be translated as, "(This is) a book (the Qur’an) which We have sent down to you, full of blessings that they may ponder over its verses, and that men of understanding may remember."
Allah (S.W.T.) scorns the people who do not reflect upon Qur’an and do not understand its meanings. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Muhammad, (verse 24), what can be translated as, "Do they not then think deeply in the Qur’an, or are their hearts locked up (from understanding)?"
Every verse that Allah (S.W.T.) revealed in the Qur’an is to help guide the people to achieve taqwa. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Baqarah, (verse187), what can be translated as, "Thus does Allah make clear His ayat to mankind that they may become Al-Muttaqun."
The companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.s) when they received the Qur'an they 'recite it as it should be recited' and because of this they achieved great benefits in their lives.
Their lives changed from being the ignorant ummah who did not enjoin the good and forbid the evil and did not establish the justice to becoming the greatest Ummah; and they became the best generation. With this quality, they completely changed the direction of the life of humanity. They led the way for all of humanity to follow from complete kufr and ignorance to the highest level of Iman and true civilization. Yes, they surely established all of the good things when they received the Qur'an and "recited it as it should be recited". If we look back into our Islamic history books, we will know clearly that which they had established. You will also find that even the non-Muslim writers acknowledge the achievements of the companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.s).
Why do we see so many Muslims today, reciting Qur’an so frequently without any positive effects on their lives?
We let two companions of the prophet (S.A.W.) answer this question. They are Abdullah Bin Omar and Jundob, may Allah be pleased be with them (this is reported, authentically, by Imam At-Tabarani.), "I lived a period of my life when some of us (the companions) would attain the Iman before Qur’an, while the surah was being revealed to the prophet (S.A.W.), so we learn its halal and its haram and learn to reflect upon it. Then, I saw people who would attain Qur’an before the belief, so they read between the Fatiha and the end of the book without knowing what commands them and what forbids them and where to reflect; reading it like throwing away bad dates." So, no one will benefit from the recitation of the Qur’an if it is not preceded with the correct belief, which will turn this recitation into a reality. Also, no one will benefit from the recitation of the Qur’an unless they understand the halal and haram, and the verses of glad tidings of Paradise and the verses of the warning of Hell Fire.
What are the reasons that make us not reflect upon the meanings of Qur’an when we recite it? There are two main reasons:
Firstly, weakness in the belief and absent-mindedness when reciting Qur’an. So, many of us recite Qur’an symbolically without any life in it to the extent that many of us look for the beautiful voice and great harmony when checking out the different reciters, and react and get affected by the voice and harmony, not by his appreciation for the meanings.
Secondly, our weakness in the Arabic language which Qur’an is revealed in. Many native Arabs do not understand many of the words in the Qur’an that they recite and do not exert any effort to understand the meanings of those words. The brief interpretation of Qur’an can help them a lot and there are many available resources.
As to the non-Arabic speakers, the problem is worse. It can be solved by referring to more than just one translation of the meaning of the Qur’an. They should not depend on one translation because the translator chooses from the language the word that is closest to the meaning of the Arabic word and ignores, on many occasions other words that carry different meanings. In many cases the a Arabic my include all of them and more
In conclusion, indeed, reciting Qur’an lively leads to the taqwa of Allah, and every verse in Qur’an increases the belief of the believers, while at the same time increases the ungratefulness of the non-believers. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat At-Tawbah, (verses 124&125), what can be translated as, "And whenever there comes down a surah, some of them say: "Which of you has his iman increased by it ? As for those who believe, it has increased their iman, and they rejoice. But as for those in whose hearts is a disease, it will add suspicion and doubt to their suspicion, disbelief and doubt, and they die while they are disbelievers."