>by Mozaffar Partowmah
Praised be the name of Allah Who created all that exists in the
heavens and on the earth, Who made mankind superior to all His creatures
by teaching him to choose between two ways, namely the acceptance
or the rejection of guidance, which He revealed to His Messengers,
Whoever grasps and follows His command will reach salvation sure
without doubt and those unfortunate ones who choose knowingly to
reject Him or associate partners with Him will taste the bitter
fruits of their choice.
May the peace and clemency of Allah be showered upon His Messengers
who devoted their entire lives to His noble cause and especially
upon Muhammad, peace be upon him, whose living example became a
pattern for all believers in Allah to follow and whose message from
Allah is preserved and protected by His favour for all ages and
for all generations.
The Qur'an has been the source of guidance for many past generations
and it will be the prime source of inspiration for many individuals
and many Islamic organisations to come, In a changing world such
as ours, every Muslim must keep his contact with the Qur'an, read
it regularly, apply its teachings in his daily life, and commit
its beautiful verses to memory through practice and application.
In communities where people have deviated in their practice of
Islam because of decadence it is not easy for individuals to pay
due attention to the Qur'an; nor is it an easy matter for organisations
to obtain original works and writings on this Holy Book. "Modern
Man" is being pushed around by "Modern Civilisation". Luxury living
and following the fashions of the day to the point of worship, have
contaminated even the best of minds. Years may pass of a man's life
before he can get a chance to realise how deeply he has fallen into
slumber and ignorance. In fact, such an occasion may never be felt
by many. God, of course, knows best who should obtain such moments
of realisation and who should not. For those who are fortunate enough
to be given the chance, God has a variety of ways to "turn them
back" to His Straight Path. It is true that everything is easy and
simple for God, and for those who get the favour of admonition,
the ways in which they receive the inspiration are very simple,
Many realise their ignorance when reading a book, some realise it
when participating in a get-together with other Muslims, many times
the death of a dear person becomes the turning point, and no less
frequently the birth of a child in the, family and the responsibility
of his upbringing makes parents realise how little they know of
the teachings of Islam.
Mine was of the last category. Before my son was born, I must
admit that I was just another student among all those who seek after
modern knowledge and technology. I left the country in which I was
born, not to approach God's way, but merely to obtain a better and
more 'progressive' status by obtaining a degree from a famous University
in one of the so-called advanced countries. The burning desire for
prestige and pleasure which had been implanted in my heart from
the very beginnings of my school days had directed me towards indulging
in most of the activities prerequisite for my future rank as an
'enlightened modern intellectual'. It is not my purpose to present
an autobiography in this short paper, but unfortunately the number
of those men and women who stay in the state I was in is not small,
and there are many who even forget how to pray and behave like a
Muslim under the alien systems which have penetrated their lives
so deeply. Once some of these young men and women come to be 'reborn'
as Muslims, their complete transformation becomes hard work and
almost a burden to them. Some may give up and pursue their life
of ease and ignorance. This is when the duty incumbent on all Muslims
becomes essential, to enjoin right and to forbid wrong, getting
all united under one single banner of faith and extending help to
those who are in need of help so that in an atmosphere of brotherhood,
equality and deep concern, every- one may come to understand the
words of God with an open heart. No organisation can fulfil this
need unless it is deeply involved in the practice of the teaching
of Islam and deep understanding of its concepts. This comes about
by deep research into the Qur'an and the Traditions of the Prophet
Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.
The following are some of the most practical ways to fulfil the
needs of understanding while at the same time recognising the pressure
on modern individuals and communities, as well as on the organisations
which strive to perfect their knowledge of truth. Individuals who
are not 'reborn' Muslims often complain that with their involvement
in scholastic problems, for the sake of which they have come to
this country, they cannot find time to read the Qur'an or to participate
in certain Islamic activities. Yet everyone spends in the order
of at least one or two hours daily going to school or college from
their home and returning. It is quite possible to take ten to fifteen
minutes every morning to read only two or three verses, repeat them
until you can remember them correctly and in order, and try to remember
them on your way to classes and back. By frequent repetition as
often as your time of walking or riding a bus or driving your car
permits, you can memorise the verses and thoroughly understand them.
To avoid any loss in vigour or interest, one need not read verses
in their formal succession. Rather, one could choose verses that
come to the attention momentarily, memorise them and later connect
the adjoining sections together.
For example, supposeLailatu-l Qadr is approaching. It would
be opportune if one reviews Surah 97 and commit it to memory. When
the season of pilgrimage comes, one could memorise a few of the
verses relating to the pilgrimage. When one is scheduled to give
a Friday khutbah on Jihad (or any other topic), one could prepare
the appropriate verses which are related to that particular topic,
and when one meets a 'hypocrite' one could study verses describing
them. In this way, which I have tested and which proved successful
in my case, one could gradually digest and understand the Qur'an
and relate its content to one's daily life.
For those who do not know how to read the Qur'an there is a practical
way of learning. Some educational institutions do offer courses
in Arabic. One should not hesitate to take such courses and benefit
from them. Most of them are extremely useful for beginners, as well
as for those who already know some Arabic. The universities which
do not offer such courses should be requested by as many students
on their campuses as possible to put such courses in their curricula
or place the appropriate material in their Language Laboratories.
The modern techniques of teaching languages which are utilised can
make these Arabic courses enjoyable and very helpful.
Modern life requires a degree of concern and respect for time.
It would be wise if one could arrange one's schedule so that one
can have a day or a night off per week for oneself. This is certainly
most practical. In this night one can meet fellow Muslims and benefit
from their experiences and share one's findings with them. The Friday
Prayer certainly must not be neglected. likewise, vacations and
other off- school days can be used for further contact with other
Muslims or general reviews of the Qur'an and Hadith or other sources
of Islamic information or both. Those students who have an assistantship
of one sort or another, and those employed can use their vacation
rights as well.
Although every soul will bear the burden of his or her own deeds
and no-one will be held responsible for the shortcomings of another,
organisation and brotherhood in Islam are very important concepts.
Important services that organisations should offer to their members
are not just holding Eid celebrations or social gatherings which
may be useful for their own part, but also to create an atmosphere
of brotherly love and concern through regenerating the practices
of Islam throughout their meetings. They should request schools
and institutions of higher learning to include Arabic, History of
Islam, and Muslim culture and civilisation in their curricula and
if such attempts prove unfruitful they must offer Arabic courses
of their own, so the non-Arabs can benefit. It has been suggested
that these Muslim organisations should pay some attention to the
physical fitness and the health of their members promoting physical
activities and recreation parallel to the spiritual help.
Finally, the most important engagement in which individuals as
well as organisations can take part is research into the Qur'an
in order to uncover answers to problems that may arise everyday.
The following may help us under- stand why such an engagement is
most important and will bear most fruitful results:
There are many traditions about the fact that the Prophet Muhammad,
peace be upon him, used to review the Qur'an every year during the
month of Ramadan. It has become a useful habit for all Muslims to
review the Qur'an at least once in the month of Ramadan, and in
fact, to facilitate this review the Qur'an was divided into thirty
parts (ajzaa', sing, iuz').
In the history of Islam no movement has been successful without
original scholarly writing directly based on the Qur'an and the
Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. The common schools
of jurisprudence in Islam are the most noteworthy examples.
Many organisers, after reaching a certain level of understanding,
become involved in the preaching and organising and tend to forget
about their own self-improvement, while there is no limit to self-improvement.
In order to understand the Qur'an and remember its Divine teachings
it must be read with utmost attention and emphasis and not only
for the sake of its beauty or its music or as some people may tend
to say, for the sake of its blessing, since if it is not understood
fully it will not shower blessing in the highest degree.
Although we have been trained to read with pen and paper in front
of us, most of us have not used this skill in our reading of the
The study of the Qur'an must be an important part of our daily
lives as individuals and of our collective life as a community for
in the Qur'an we find solace for our troubled hearts, guidance for
and warnings against our erring ways and good news of Allah's promise.
This article is part of the introduction to a lengthy paper which
contained a detailed plan for the study of the Qur'an and presented
to one of the meetings of the Muslim Students Association of the
USA and Canada.