Saudi Arabia: In the Honor of Ramadan…

The linguistic beauty and style are evident to only those who understand the language but the clarity and consistency of the message is for everyone regardless of their linguistic skills and they relevant for all times.

 

The Month of the Quran
8/3/2012 – Religious – Article Ref: IC1107-4790
Number of comments: 2
Opinion Summary: Agree:2 Disagree:0 Neutral:0
By: Dr. Aslam Abdullah
IslamiCity* – 

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Before it came to be known as the month of Fasting, the companions of the Prophet knew Ramadan as a month of the Quran, the last and ever lasting divine guidance to humanity. “The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the Criterion (between right and wrong). So, whoever of you sights the month, he/she must observe fasts that month and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number (of days which one did not observe fasts must be made up) from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and he does not want to make things difficult for you. He wants that you must complete the same number of days and that you must glorify Allah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.” (2:184).

The revelation began in the month of Ramadan. The night in which the Quran began to be revealed is referred in the Quran as the blessed night: We sent it (the Quran) down on a blessed night, (44:2) or the night of Decree, Verily, we have sent it (this Quran) down in the Night of Al-Qadr. (97:1). It was the strength, clarity, simplicity, and universality of the message that the night was described as an extraordinary night.

With its 6332 ayas (sentences) spread in 114 suras (chapters) divided in seven stages and 30 parts, the Quran was finalized and compiled in the life time of the Prophet who alone among human beings knew what it was. Only the Prophet could testify, verify and approve what the Quran consisted of as no other human being in his time shared that experience. He put his seal of approval on the finality of the divine message and gave his instructions on its arrangement. The Prophet ensured that every verse revealed to him was recorded and written at the time of its revelation.

In one of the several ahadiths (statements attributed to the Prophet) mentioned in Sahih Bukhari, one of the companions, Bara’a narrates that when the verse “not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home) except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame), and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives, Allah has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives above those who sit (at home) to each Allah has promised good, but has preferred those who strive hard and fight, above those who sit (at home by a huge reward.” (4:95) was revealed, the prophet immediately called one of the scribes of the Quran to bring in the ink, pen, and the tablet so that it could be written down.

It is also mentioned in Masnad Ahmed, Sunan Abi Dawood, Sunan Nasai, Jami Tirmdhi, Ibn Habban, and Musdark Hakim that Usman bin Affan, the third Caliph, narrated that whenever a verse was revealed, the Prophet used to call scribes immediately and gave them specific instructions to write it in the sura (chapter) where is was meant to be.

Zaid bin Thabit is reported as mentioned in Sahiah Bukhari, that in the life time of the Prophet there were at least four from Ansar of Medina, Abi binKaab, Maadh ibn Jabal, Zaid, and Abu Zaid who had the entire Quran written with them. It is also reported that in Medina Abdullah bin Saeed bin al-As, who was a calligrapher was specially instructed to teach the art of writing the Quran to the citizens of Medina.

Besides other materials, the paper was also used to write the Quran. The scriptures refers to the word paper twice: But even if we had sent down unto thee [O Prophet] a writing on paper, and they had touched it with their own hands – those who are bent on denying the truth would indeed have said, “This is clearly nothing but a deception!” (6:7), “For, no true understanding of God have they when they say, “Never has God revealed anything unto man.” Say: “Who has bestowed from on high the divine writ which Moses brought unto men as a light and a guidance, [and] which you treat as [mere] leaves of paper, making a show of them the while you conceal [so] much – although you have been taught [by it] what neither you nor your forefathers had ever known?” Say: “God [has revealed that divine writ]!” – and then leave them to play at their vain talk. (6:92) The Quran also uses the word Riq, “In a Scroll unfolded; (52:3), a kind of paper made from the skins of animals.

In the books of Ahadith, we come across the names of at least 45 more companions who knew how to read and write the Quran. They are (in alphabetical order):

Aban
Abdur Rehman
Abdu Rehman bin Hur bin Umr bin Zaid
Abdulla Saeed bin al As
Abdullah bin Arqam Zahri
Abdullah bin Rawah
Abdullah bin Saad bin Ab Sarh
Abdullah bin Zaid
Abdullah in Abdullah bin Abi Salool
Abu Abas
Abu Bakr
Abu Yunis Maula Ayesha
Ala bin Hadhrami
Ali ibn Talib
Aseed bin hadheer
Aus bin Khauli
Ayesha bint Abi bakr
Fatima bin Muhammad
Hafsa bint Umar
Handhala bin Rabi
Hundhala al-Asadi
Jaheem binal Salt
Khalid bin Saeed bin al-As
Khalid bin Walid
Muaqaib bin Fatima
Muawiya bin Abi Safiyan
Mughaira bin Shaaba
Muhammad bin Salma
Munzr bin Umr
Nafe bin Tareeb bin Umr bin Naufal
Najiatu Tafawi
Rafe binMalik
Sad bin al Rabee
Sad bin al-As
Sad bin Ibadah
Shahar bin Saad
Sharjeel bin Hasna
Ubi ibn Kaab
Umar bin al-Khattab
Umme Habiba bint Abi Safiyan
Umr bin Al-As
Umr bin Rafe
Usman bin Affan
Zaid bin Thabit
Zubair bin Awwam

The Prophet was so particular about preserving the Quran in writing that even at the time of his migration from Makkah to Median, he had a scriber with with him with ink and pen.

The Quran describes itself as a book (kitab), a word that appears 230 times in various contexts.

Even though there are narrations in many books that suggest that the Quran in the form that we have it today was compiled during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr at the insistence of Second Caliph Umar bin al-Khattab and later finalized at the time of third Caliph, Usman bin Affan, the verdict of the Quran about its finalization, preservation, authenticity and compilation is overriding. “We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).” (15:17) “And (moreover) We have guarded them from every evil spirit accursed.” (15:17). Or “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. (5:3).

It is obvious that the efforts of the Caliphs were to make copies of the Quran from the original for wider distribution in the Muslim world. It is evident from the writings of Ibn Hazm in his book Kitab ul Fisl that over 100,000 copies of the Quran were present in the entire world at the time of Umar bin Al-Khattab.

The Quran describes itself as a book that proves the commonality of the divine messages previously revealed to earlier prophets that were not preserved in the original form by their followers. It also asserts that the divine message has essentially been the same revolving around three main principles;

1) monotheism in the sense that the source of all divine messages is Allah, the initiator and the creator of the universe,

2) the guidance from a higher and neutral source is needed by human beings to lead a simple and disciplined life. It is only through following the divine guidance human beings can discipline their lives the same way as every thing else in the universe runs in a perfect order.

3) the life is in constant evolution and the death would not end the life but move in a difference stage of existence where individuals and groups would be held accountable for every thing that they do and say in their limited life in this world.

The greatest miracle of the Quran is the consistency of this message evident in all its suras (chapters) and ayas (sentences). The linguistic beauty and style are apparent to only those who understand the language but the clarity and consistency of the message is for everyone regardless of their linguistic skills and they relevant for all times. In other words every sura of the Quran is connected with its overall message with variations in emphasis and every aya is related with a particular aspect of the message within the context of the total guidance.

Thus the month of Ramadan offers the believers a unique opportunity to refresh their understanding of the guidance and live it for an entire month so that the life in coming months could be disciplined around that. Thus, the first task for every believer is to get connected with the divine guidance in a disciplined, consistent, and regular basis.

The fasting enables a person to live the principle of self control and self discipline, which is essential to realize the strength and relevance of the divine message.

Seemingly, a large number of Muslims do not know the Arabic language and hence find it hard to understand when the Quran is recited to them. Moreover, we have the traditions informing us that the reading of the Quran gives us the reward of reading one letter to the equivalent to the 30 letter reward. The mercy and the divine measurement for good deeds are limitless and this narration should be read in that context.

Besides earning reward for reading the Quran without understanding, we can also make efforts in the month of Ramadan to read it with understanding. This may even double or triple the reward. It is no harm to read the Quran with translation. Non-Arabic speaking believers can recite the Quran in Arabic and listen to its pronunciation during the taraweeh prayers, besides reading the translation in their own languages to understand the essence of the divine message. This understanding will enable us to get closer to the guidance of Allah.

Often it is argued that it is difficult to understand the Quran in any other language. The Quran, on the other hand repeats the following verse four times: “And We have indeed made the Qur’an easy to understand and remember: then is there any that will receive admonition? (54:17) Besides, the Quran also says: “And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors: verily in that are Signs for those who know.” (30:22)

The reading of the Quran with meaning would give us an opportunity to understand the divine message as is and inspire us to appreciate its relevance for us in our times. Thus in addition to reading the Quran, we can also make efforts to live it.

We spend much of our efforts in correcting our pronunciation of the Quran. This is good and the proper sound of every letter and word must be perfected authentically. However, the main purpose of perfecting the pronunciation must never be ignored: i.e. to understand so that we could live the Quran, the way our Prophet lived it.

During the month of Ramadan we arrange lavish functions for the breaking of fast, a good practice to bring people together. However, if in these functions, we make it a habit to focus on understanding one of the passages of the Quran, probably we can make better use of these gatherings. It would not take us more than 5 to 10 minutes to reflect on the message of the Quran in these functions, but it would help us understand the divine guidance, the main reason for decreeing fasting in this month. “The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the Criterion (between right and wrong). So, whoever of you sights the month, he/she must observe fasts that month and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number (of days which one did not observe fasts must be made up) from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. He wants that you must complete the same number of days and that you must glorify Allah for having to guided you so that you may be grateful to Him. (2:184).

*****

Dr. Aslam Abdullah is editor in chief of the weekly Muslim Observer and director of the Islamic Society of Nevada.
Visit IslamiCity Quran Center

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9 Responses

  1. Thank you for the post. I enjoyed reading it.

  2. I would like to add that though i am native to the language i also find a need to look up words, meanings and occasionally explanations of the texts (tafseer) as i read.

  3. Thank you AB for this article. Yes Dr Naseef even my husband is a native speaker of this language and he understands(he said it sounds incredible) but as you he needed guidance.and before someone throw jabs about “hey the Quran is mubeen why…” then this website should be able to clarify http://onlyquraan.blogspot.com/2009/08/characteristics-of-quran.html?m=1

    Allahualam

  4. Dr. Nassef, if you don’t mind, where are you from and were primary educated at?
    My educated language is English. Indeed, it is my only primary educated language in my life. All others are learned after adulthood (which makes it triple difficult, due to how human brains form).
    I don’t mean disrespect, only an openly honest wish to “know where you are coming from” socially, or more correctly, sociologically.

    As an American of Sicilian-American heritage, I tend to comprehend the sociological aspects of Arabian and even Aramaic language, as the language tends toward concept driven terms, whereas English is rather object oriented (well, that is BEYOND oversimplified)…

    In some languages, language is treated as an equation. In others, language is treated as conceptual in nature. In a few, philosophical in nature. English is more like the equation, with assorted insanity in exceptions to most rules added. Arabic tends to be more of conceptual in nature, which requires comprehension of the society.
    I was exposed at an early age to Jews, who DO share some base culture. So, while I was prevented from learning the languages (other than some multiple heritage slang), I DID get to learn some derivative cultural concepts.
    Which has served me QUITE well in many nations in the Levant and Persian Gulf.
    Just so that you hopefully understand where *I* am coming from in my question.
    Since we can’t see each others faces when asking questions.

  5. I have read this article. It is beautiful, well worded, well said, well explained, very well refrenced. But some will not accept it as Allah swt has said in the Qur’an.I would advise every muslim (at least) to read it it and understand.
    There is no scope of any comments on this article but to accept it as it is very true.

  6. sami, on August 8, 2012 at 11:36 am said: There is no scope of any comments on this article but to accept it as it is very true.

    I agree with my long lost friend, Sami, on his pronouncement. Why to question things which are “very true” and are self-evident. Minds and hearts and nimble fingers are too precious and terrible things to waste on such “idle talk”.

    We should just accept it “as is”. The facts in the article are as mubeen as night and day and as is truth from falsehood. Sami, you should grace this forum more often so that we can all benefit from your wisdom!

    Ramadan Raheem, Everyone!

  7. Interesting article.

    Sadly the most irritating but oft repeated tactic is used here just as in daily life here in Saudi for many situations:

    The article states that people complain that the Koran is incomprehensible in translation (completely true, I try repeatedly to skim books patients bring me and invariably set them aside as gibberish after a page or two),

    The articles reply? Yes, but the Koran says itself 4 times (big whoop) that it is easy to understand. Next question?

    This isn’t an answer. The translations/ explanations in English are incomprehensible. Saying “they’re not” isn’t an answer. This is the kind of argument I get in any conversation about Islam with people here in Saudi. Zero regard for the point being made, but sweeping negation of the point using nothing for justification, incomprehensible.

  8. 2000 words in the article and not one about the hate and violence against non-Muslims in the Quran. Also absent are any comments on the immorality and human rights abuses in Islamic societies — these supposedly based upon the “clear, simple” teachings of this book.

    The article is silly and stupid. The Quran is full of ignorant sayings, bad facts and contradictions. Dr Abdullah (and Sami) is a perfect example of why Muslims are incapable of serious reason and proper logic, at least when it comes to their religion. A book that informs us that the sun sets in a muddy field or that says Christians believe Mary to be part of the trinity is hardly perfect, I think. This is just another “the Quran is wonderful and amazing” article written by a Muslim who was taught to believe without any questioning that the Quran is amazing and perfect If it is so perfect, why do Muslims argue about what it really says or why can’t Muslims understand basic concepts such as human rights, equality, and freedom of speech and religion. Perfect indeed.

    If one searches the Quran for a single verse that provides Muslims with guidance as to the purpose of their lives on earth, it seems that Quran 9:111 stands out. Unlike much of the Quran, that verse is simple and clear. Hint: It is not about justice, love or peace.

    So, why not, instead of striving to achieve the proper pronunciation of every sound of every letter and word in the Quran (as if Arabic pronunciation is the same today as 1400 years go, ha!) why not just follow something like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Those 11 words are more inspiring and eloquent than his 2,000 words or 114 suras and 100,000 words.

    PS: By the way, so there were 100,000 copies of the Quran present by the time of the 2nd Caliph Omar? Really ? Perhaps Dr Abdullah could tell us where these books are? Don’t Muslim histories tell us that four “first edition” copies initially were complied under the 3rd Caliph, Uthman (and then he ordered the destruction of all other texts? In fact, one copy was in his hands and covered with his blood when he was attacked and killed, by Muslims). The fact is there are no early copies of the Quran, not from Mohammed’s time, not from the time of the caliphs either. What Muslims use today is the 1920’s Cairo version, with vowels and accent marks added, and complied using specific variant readings selected by the committee.

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