The Higher Objectives of the Quran and the Etiquette of Dealing with it
The Noble Qur’an has great objectives, fair aims and elegant wisdoms, all of which are derived from the status of Allah (SWT). As Allah (SWT) did not create us for nothing, He, too, did not send His Book empty of secrets and high wisdom, to which He has opened some of His servants’ hearts to know about and understand them. Every one of them has tasted its nectar and inhaled its fragrance as much as Allah (SWT) has enabled them to look deep into the Qur’an and its aims.
In the introduction of his book, Fat’h al-Bayan fi Maqased al-Qur’an, Sheikh Muhammad Siddiq Hassan Khan al-Qanoggy, talking about the science of Tafsir(exegesis of the Qur’an)wrote, “Itaims to reach an understanding to the Qur’an and deducing its wisdoms in order to gain the happiness of this worldly life and the Hereafter. As the superiority of a science is derived from the superiority of its subject and aim, thus, this science [interpretation of the Qur’an] is the most superior and exalted science ever.”
Sheikh Rashid Reda, may Allah rest his soul, was one of those whom Allah (SWT) has granted success to set the objectives of the Noble Qur’an in his book al-Wahyy al-Muhammadyy. In that book, he numbered ten general objectives of the Noble Qur’an. After him, came Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradhawy, who mentioned in his book KayfaNata’amal ma’ al-Qur’an al-Azeemseven general objectives that are not quite different from what has been mentioned by Sheikh Rashid Reda.
One of the great books too that handled this subject was Fi Thelal al-Qur’an by the martyr SayyedQutb, who over and over again mentioned the general objectives of each surah (chapter of the Qur’an) at its beginning then started to discuss some of the particular objectives of the verses.
It is an honor from Allah (SWT)to grant one of His servants the success to grasp His wisdom or objective laid in the verses of the Noble Qur’an. This cannot take place unless one frees his heart and self from the preoccupations that may hinder him from understanding the Qur’an, gives it all it needs of contemplation and pondering.
In this article, we will try to tackle some objectives, goals and wisdoms of the Qur’an through what the Qur’an itself says about itself, the illuminations and noble secrets it has, which no human being can express just as the Qur’an itself expresses it in its chapters and blessed verses.
Tackling the objectives of the Qur’an, no doubt, needs huge efforts from the greatest and most renowned scholars and specialists. It is a great thing as it is related to a great Book. Therefore, it needs a huge effort in order to fulfill the responsibility and be blessed with some of its benefits.
No harm, however, if we, as much as our effort permits, brought up some of the particular objectives that have been defined by the Qur’an itself. Depending on our methodology in this series, we will trace the verses that have referred straightforwardly to what the Qur’an says about its objectives, goals and aims.
Let us, in the coming lines start to sow a good seedin the blessed land of the objectives of the Qur’an by tracing some of it as they have been stated by the Qur’an to itself. With this effort, we implore Allah (SWT) to provide the good environment for it to grow, its roots to dig deep down, its branches to strengthen and to give shades until it produces its fruits by the permission of its Lord.
Among of these objectives are:
Taking people out of the darkness into light
Among the great objectives of the Noble Qur’an is that it is revealed to guide people and take them out of the darknesses into light, save them from misguidance to guidance, from the darknesses of sin to the light of obedience and faith and from straying in the mazes of evil to the straightway of guidance and insight.
Ali Ibn-Abu-Taleb, in Nahj al-Balagha, talking about this great objective, said, “And know that this Qur'an is an adviser who never deceives, a leader who never misleads and a narrator who never speaks a lie. No one will sit beside this Qur'an but that when he rises he will achieve one addition or one diminution - addition in his guidance or elimination in his (spiritual) blindness. You should also know that no one will need anything after (guidance from) the Qur'an and no one will be free from want before (guidance from) the Qur'an. Therefore, seek cure from it for your ailments and seek its assistance in your distresses. It contains a cure for the biggest diseases, namely unbelief, hypocrisy, revolt and misguidance. Pray to Allah through it and turn to Allah with its love. Do not ask people through it. There is nothing like it through which people should turn to Allah, the Sublime.”
This objective has been expressed in a number of verses in the Book of Allah (SWT), when the Qur’an talks about itself, noticing that the word “guidance” is repeated many times as follows:
Guidance and light
The Qur’an has expressed the objective of the general guidance at the beginnings of the chapter of al-Baqara, where Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah.” (al-Baqara:2)
This Book, which defies those who may doubt it, guides the pious, whom they are described in the following verses as, “Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what we have provided for them.” (al-Baqara: 3)
Allah (SWT), then, declares that He is the source of this guidance, when He says, “And who believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith].” (al-Baqara: 4)
Should we look into the definition of ‘piety’, we would find that it is among the things that has many definitions and boundaries. All of them revolve within the scope of obeying the commands of Allah and staying away from prohibitions. In this context, it was mentioned that Omar Ibnul-Khattab(RA) asked UbayyIbn-Ka’b about piety. “Have you ever gone through a way filled with thorns?” Asked Ubayy. “Yes,” said Omar. “What did you do then?” Omar said, “I gathered my clothing and lifted it up to my shin, thereafter, I watched my steps carefully.” Ibn-Ka’ab said, “This is piety.”
Ibnul-Mu’tazz wrote his poem in this regard, saying,
Quit sins, whether big or little for this is piety
Do like a walker over a land of thorns, cautious of what he sees
Do not underestimate a little sin, for mountains are but littlepebbles
About the interpretation of ‘a guidance for those conscious of Allah’, SayyedQutb said, “Guidance is its [the Qur’an] truth. Guidance is its nature. Guidance is its entity. Guidance is its substance. But for whom?Who would this Book be guidance, light and a true adviser for? For the pious. The piety in the heart is the thing that enables it to benefit from this Book. It is the thing that unlocks the bolts of the heart for the Qur’an to enter it and perform its role. It is the thing that prepares that heart to grasp the Qur’an, understands and responds to it.
He who wishes to find guidance in the Qur’an should approach it with a sound heart. A clean heart. He, then, should approach it with a heart full of fear from Allah and piety. He should be ware of being misguided or inclined towards misguidance.Only then, the Qur’an will open up for him with its secrets and lights and pour it all in that heart, which has approached it filled with piety, sensitivity and prepared to receive from it.”
The circle of the guidance of the Qur’an extends even more to go beyond the pious to include all people, just as Allah (SWT) says, “The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion.” ( al-Baqara: 185)
In another place of the Qur’an, Allah (SWT) explains that the Qur’an is a light that illuminates the way before those whom Allah (SWT) wants to guide of His servants. He also clarifies the role of the Noble Messenger (PBUH), which is to guide people to the straight path, as Allah (SWT) says, “And thus We have revealed to you an inspiration of Our command. You did not know what is the Book or [what is] faith, but we have made it a light by which We guide whom We will of Our servants. And indeed, [O Muhammad], you guide to a straight path. The path of Allah, to whom belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Unquestionably, to Allah do [all] matters evolve.” (ash-Shura: 52-53)
In the above verse, there are two kinds of guidance: guidance from Allah (SWT)and another from the Messenger (PBUH). There must be a difference between them, however. The guidance of Allah (SWT) means to cast a bright light into the heart of the servant, so he submits to the guidance of his Lord. As for the guidance of the Messenger (PBUH), itis limited only to delivering the message and guiding to the path. The second guidance may be the guide for the first guidance.
The Qur’an in itself holds the qualifications of guidance and consciousness for all people. Whoever of them benefits from it, enters the circle of the Muslims, believers, fair-doers and the pious. Only then, they would be able to benefit from the rest of the objectives of the Qur’an in this context of mercy, good omen and healing as we will mention in the coming objectives. Other people, however, Allah (SWT) seals their hearts, so they do not benefit the least from this guidance. So, it would only be a claim against them, because guidance, in essences, is guiding to the path for he who wishes to reach his destination.
Maybe this is the meaning of the hadith of the Noble Messenger (PBUH), when he said,
“The example of guidance and knowledge with which Allah has sent me is like abundant rain falling on the earth, some of which was fertile soil that absorbed rain water and brought forth vegetation and grass in abundance. (And) another portion of it was hard and held the rain water and Allah benefited the people with it and they utilized it for drinking, making their animals drink from it and for irrigation of the land for cultivation. (And) a portion of it was barren which could neither hold the water nor bring forth vegetation (then that land gave no benefits). The first is the example of the person who comprehends Allah's religion and gets benefit (from the knowledge) which Allah has revealed through me (the Prophets and learns and then teaches others. The last example is that of a person who does not care for it and does not take Allah's guidance revealed through me (He is like that barren land.)” (Sahih al-Bukhary)
The Qur’an has referred to guidance in other places throughout it as‘taking people out of darknesses into light’, when Allah (SWT) says, “Alif, Lam, Ra. [This is] a Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that you might bring mankind out of darknesses into the light by permission of their Lord- to the path of the exalted in Might, the Praiseworthy.” (Ibrahim: 1)
Allah (SWT) also says, “[He sent] a Messenger [Muhammad] reciting to you the distinct verses of Allah that He may bring out those who believe and do righteous deeds from darknesses into the light. And whoever believes in Allah does righteousness- He will admit him into gardens beneath which rivers flow to abide therein forever. Allah will have perfected for him a provision.” (at-Talaq: 11)
He also says, “It is He who sends down upon His servant [Muhammad] verses of clear evidence that He may bring you out from darknesses into the light. And indeed, Allah is to you Kind and Merciful.” (al-Hadid: 9)
It would be sufficient in this context to mention what Imam Qushairy said about the first verse, “It is indeed a Book that has been revealed to you to take people out of the darknesses of ignorance into the light of knowledge; from the darknesses of doubt to the light of certainty; from the darknesses of self-direction to the openness of Allah’s destiny; from the darknesses of nonconformity [with Allah’s rulings] to the light of conformity; from the darknesses of the self’s claims to the light of the heart’s knowledge and from the darknesses of disunity to the light of unity. This is all by the well of their Lord, His prior knowledge and destiny. This is the path of the Oneness of Allah and the proofs of His uniqueness.”
Guidance and mercy
We have discussed earlier that the Qur’an is guidance and light. Here, we add to guidance one more objective, which is mercy. So, it is guidance and mercy as it is mentioned in numerous verses in the Book of Allah (SWT).
Sheikh Sha’rawy- may Allah rest soul- has a pleasant comment on joining between guidance and mercy. He says, “Guidance is guiding to the good through the shortest way. The Qur’an was revealed to guide people who went astray. When it guided them and let them see the light, it was meant to keep this guidance for them, so that they would not go away from it. ‘Mercy’ here means that the mercy of Allah was meant to keep them away from turning back to misguidance. Allah (SWT) says, “As We send down of the Qur’an that which is healing and mercy for the believers, but it does not increase the wrongdoers except in loss.” (al-Isra’: 82) It means that it is healing for those who are ill and mercy that they do not become ill once again anymore.”
Among the verses that have emphasized guidance and mercy as objectives of the Qur’an, is what Allah (SWT) says, “Indeed, this Qur’an relates to the Children of Israel most of that over which they disagree. And indeed, it is guidance and mercy for the believers” (an-Naml: 76-77)
Allah (SWT) also says, “And We had certainly brought them a Book which We detailed by knowledge- as guidance and mercy to a people who believe.” (al-‘Araf: 52)
He, (SWT), also says, “And We have not revealed to you the Book, [O Muhammad], except for you to make clear to them that wherein they have differed and as guidance and mercy for a people who believe.” (an-Nahl: 64)
It is guidance and mercy for the people who believe. Belief, as the Prophet (PBUH) has defined it in the hadith of Jibril that it is to believe in Allah, His angles, Books, Messengers, the Last Day and Resurrection.
In his book At-Tahrirwa at-Tanwir, Muhammad at-TaherIbn-Ashurcommentedon the Qur’an being guidance and mercy for the believers and said, “As for it [the Qur’an] being guidance for the believers, this is something explicit. As for it being mercy for them, this is because when they took it as their guide, they won in this worldly life by reforming themselves, the straightforwardness of their deeds and the unity of their word. At the Hereafter, they won paradise. The message of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is meant to be mercy for all worlds, yet its mercy was for the believers in particular.”
Among the people who not only benefit from the guidance of the Qur’an, but also enjoy its mercy are the doers of good according to Allah’s blessed words, “These are verses of the wise Book. As guidance and mercy for the doers of good.” (Luqman: 2-3)
If we looked to the Qur’an’s definition to those doers of good, we would find big resemblance between them and the pious or those conscious of Allah, who have been defined by the Qur’an in the chapter of al-Baqara as, “This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah,” (al-Baqara: 2)which has been mentioned in the previous objective. In the Qur’an, the doers of good are defined as, “Who establish prayer and give zakah, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith].” (an-Naml: 3)
The doers of good and the pious share the same traits. The latter, however, have one more trait, that is believing in the unseen and what has been revealed to the Messenger and what has been revealed to the Messengers before him. Then comes the same Qur’aniccommentary on both verses to be, “Those are upon [right] guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful.” (al-Baqara: 6). The pious and the doers of good derive their guidance from Allah (SWT) and they all are the successful.
The Messenger (PBUH) defined ihsan (doing good) in the hadith of Jibril that you worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you do not see Him then He sees you.
Muhammad at-TaherIbn-Ashur in At-Tahrirwa at-Tanwir also defines the doers of good by saying, “They are the doers of good deeds, the best of which is belief, establishing prayer and paying zakah. Therefore, these three actions were mentioned in particular after talking about the doers of good because they are the best of good deeds, though the doers of good do other good deeds as well.”
There is another place in the Qur’an, where Allah (SWT) mentioned mercy and guidance together in addition to ‘instruction’ and ‘healing’. This is where Allah (SWT) says,
“O mankind, there has to come to you instruction from your Lord and healing for what is in the breasts and guidance and mercy for the believers.” (Yunus: 57)
“And We have sent down to you the Book as clarification for all things and as guidance and mercy and good tidings for the Muslims.” (an-Nahl: 89)
The Qur’an was revealed as instruction to people and healing the ailment of the heart like doubt, hypocrisy and disbelief. Whoever responded to its instructions, entered the circle of believers, for whom the Qur’an is guidance and mercy.
In another place, Allah (SWT) says, “And We have sent down to you the Book as clarification for all things and as guidance and mercy and good tidings for the Muslims.” (an-Nahl: 89).
In his commentary about this verse, the author of At-Tahrirwa at-Tanwir wrote, “Guidance, mercy and good tidings were mentioned in a special way for their importance. Clarification leads to straightening the creed and understanding and it saves from going astray. Mercy results in happiness in this worldly life and the Hereafter. As for the good tidings, it indicates the promise with the good in both this life and the Hereafter as well. Yet, this all is restricted to Muslims only in return for what they have given up in the worldly life.”
Guidance and glad tidings
If, as we have mentioned earlier, the Qur’an is guidance and light, and also guidance and mercy, it is also guidance and good tidings. It is guidance in the present for the believers to the way of truth and consciousness. In the future, it gives them the good tidings of high ranks and stations they would attain. This is mentioned in more than one place throughout the Qur’an like when Allah (SWT) says, “Say, "Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel - it is [none but] he who has brought the Qur'an down upon your heart, [O Muhammad], by permission of Allah , confirming that which was before it and as guidance and good tidings for the believers.” (al-Baqara: 97)
This matter becomes even clearer in what Allah (SWT) says and can be translated as,
“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.” (al-Isra’: 9)So, it guides to that which is most suitable and gives the believers the good tidings that they will have a great reward in the Hereafter.
Talking about making guidance and good tidings specially for the believers, SayyedQutb says, “The Qur’an is not a book of theoretical or applied science that every one reads it could benefit from and understands it. Rather, the Qur’an, speaks to the heart before anything else. It pours its light and scent into the open heart that receives it with faith and certainty. The more the heart is bedewed with faith, the more it is able to taste the sweetness of the Qur’an, perceive its meanings and directions, completely unlike the harsh and dry heart; the more it becomes guided by its light to what the denier cannot find, the more it benefits from its company as no absent-minded reader would benefit.
A human being reads a verse or a chapter a number of times while he or she is absent minded or in a hurry to end up benefiting nothing from the Qur’an. All of a sudden, the light shines in his heart. Whole new worlds that have never crossed his mind open up for him. It does miracles in his life and changes it from one method to another and from one way to another.
All systems, laws and ethics included in the Qur’an is founded, before anything else, on faith. He who has no faith in his heart of Allah (SWT), and does not perceive this Qur’an as a revelation from Allah (SWT) and that what it includes is the method that Allah wants, does not believe in the Qur’an as he should and does not feel what is in it as good tidings.”
Qutb, may Allah rest his soul, adds even more, “The Qur’an is full of great treasures of guidance, knowledge, activity and direction. Faith is the key to all these treasures, which would never be unlocked but by the key of faith. There are people who had real belief in their hearts, and they made miracles by this Qur’an. However, when the Qur’an becomes merely a book, whose verses are chanted by the chanters so it would not go beyond the ears nor enter the heart, it then does nothing and nobody benefits from it. It is kept as an unattainable treasure!”
As the Qur’an has mentioned that it is guidance and good tidings for the believers, it has also mentioned that it is guidance and good tidings for the Muslims as well. This is according to what Allah (SWT) says, “Say, [O Muhammad], “The Pure Spirit has brought it down from your Lord in truth to make firm those who believe and as guidance and good tidings to the Muslims.” (an-Nahl: 102)
It is guidance and good tidings for the Muslims represented by that Companion, whose story was mentioned in the hadith narrated by TalhaIbn-Ubaydullah, in which he said,
“A person with disheveled hair, one of the people of Najd, came to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). We heard the humming of his voice but could not fully discern what he had been saying, until he came near to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). It was then (disclosed to us) that he was asking questions pertaining to Islam. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said,“Five prayers during the day and the night.” (Upon this he said,“Am I obliged to say any other (prayer) besides these?” The Prophet (PBUH) said,“No, but whatever you observe voluntarily, out of your own free will, and the fasts of Ramadan.”The inquirer said,“Am I obliged to do anything else besides this?” The Prophet (PBUH) said,“No, but whatever you do out of your own free will.” And the Messenger of Allah told him about Zakah. The inquirer said,“Am I obliged to pay anything else besides this?” He (PBUH) said,“No, but whatever you pay voluntarily out of your own free will.” The man turned back and was saying,“I would neither make any addition to this, nor will decrease anything out of it.” The Prophet remarked,“He is successful, if he is true to what he affirms.” (Sahih Muslim)
Guidance and cure
Guidance is the common thing between many of the objectives of the Qur’an. It is common between it being a light, mercy, good tidings and healing. This is according to what Allah (SWT) says, “And if We had made it a non-Arabic Qur’an, they would have said, “Why are its verses not explained in detail [in our language]? Is it a foreign [recitation] and an Arab [messenger]? “Say, “It is, for those who believe, a guidance and cure.” And those who do not believe- in their ears is deafness, and it is upon them blindness. Those are being called from a distant place.” (Fussilat: 44)
It is worth mentioning the golden words wrote by Al-Fakhrar-Razy in this contexts, when he says, “As for it being guidance, it is because it guides to the good and leads to happiness. As for being cure, if one is guided by it, thus this guidance is a cure for him from the ailments of disbelief and ignorance. On the other hand, if one is lost in this world and keen on following the steps of Satan, this Qur’an, then, would be deafness in his ears, just as it is mentioned in the Qur’an, where Allah (SWT) says, “…and in our ears is deafness.” (Fussilat: 5) It would be blindness for them as it is mentioned, “…and between us and you is a partition,” (Fussilat: 5)“…Those are being called from a distant place,” (Fussilat: 44) because of this partition, which has prevented them from benefiting from the Qur’an.”
Cure and mercy
This objective, as we can see, does not include guidance, which has been common in all the previous objectives. Yet, it is described here as cure and mercy, which was a close companion to these two objectives earlier. It is as if there is a fine thread, that still exists; it is guidance and mercy, and it is guidance and cure and at the same time it is cure and mercy, just as Allah (SWT) says, “And We send down of the Qur’an that which is cure and mercy for the believers, but it does not increase the wrongdoers except in loss.” (al-Isra’: 82)
It is noticeable here that ‘cure’ is mentioned in a comparison between the believers and the non-believers. In the last verse, Allah (SWT) clarifies that the Qur’an is cure and mercy for the believers. On the other hand, it does not increase the wrongdoers except in loss.
In another place, He mentioned that it is guidance and cure for those who believed, while on the other hand those who do not believe, it is deafness in their ears and blindness upon them. As if He means that the cure that is prescribed in the Qur’an cannot be attained but by those who truly followed it and certain that it is capable of curing.
About the Qur’an being cure and mercy, Ibn-Kathir, may Allah rest his soul, said, “It [the Qur’an] takes away the ailments of the heart such as doubt, hypocrisy, associating others with Allah, swerving and inclination. The Qur’an cures this all. It is also mercy that contains faith, wisdom and seeking good. This all cannot be attained but by those who believed in it, believed it and followed it. Only then, they feel that it is cure and mercy for them.
As for the disbeliever, who is being unjust to himself, listening to the Qur’an does not increase him but in denial and disbelief. It is the fault of the disbeliever not the Qur’an however, just as stated by Allah (SWT), when he says, “Say, “It is, for those who believe, a guidance and cure.” And those who do not believe- in their ears is deafness, and is upon them blindness. Those are being called from a distant place.” (Fussilat: 44)
Giving the good tiding in return for obedience and warning against disobedience Linguistically, ‘bisharah’ means the good tidings that is unknown to the receiver. ‘Nitharah’, on the other hand means informing with a command and warning against its consequences before it takes place and using fear when delivering it.
It is the mercy of Allah (SWT) that among the high objectives of the Messengers and Divine Books is to tell people about the Hereafter, and warn them against neglecting it. In some verses, warnings are added to the verses that contain glad tidings for the believers and the pious that Allah would be pleased with them and they would enter paradise. We have talked about giving the glad tidings in the previous objective, and here we indicate it once more because of the link between it and the warning in some places in the Qur’an.
One of the greatest Divine Books that hastackled this matter is the Noble Qur’an, in which some of its verses speak about this great objective: giving the glad tidings and warning. It gives the glad tidings for the believers and warns the wrongdoers and sinners.
The methodology of the Qur’an in tackling this objective varies between talking about the addressed and their nature in addition to speaking about giving the glad tidings and warning as a task of the Messengers and the Divine Books as shown in the following:
The nature of the addressed
The generality of warning and particularity of giving the glad tidings
There are many verses that indicate warnings addressed by the Qur’an to the public. For example, “Blessed is He who sent down the Criterion upon His Servant the he may be to the worlds a warner.” (al-Furqan: 1) So, it is a warner to the worlds, generally, no matter what their place, time or gender is. In this respect, Allah (SWT) also says, “Then do you wonder that there has come to you a remainder from your Lord through a man from among you, that he may warn you?” (al-A’raf: 69)
In another place that indicates the generality of the warning is in the following verse “[This is] a Book revealed to you, [O Muhammad] – so let there not be in your breast distress therefrom – that you may warn thereby and as a reminder to the believers.” (al-A’raf: 2) So, it is an admonition for the public and a warner against the consequences of disobeying Allah’s commands. It is also a reminder and lesson as well for the believers, whose hearts and minds open up to receive the lesson and reminder.
There are other verses that warned all mankind and gave glad tidings to the believers.Among of those verses are the following, “Have the people been amazed that We revealed [revelation] to a man from among them, [saying], “Warn mankind and give good tidings to those who believe that they will have a [firm] precedence of honor with their Lord"? [But] the disbelievers say, "Indeed, this is an obvious magician.” (Yunus: 2)
“[All] praise is [due] to Allah, who has sent down upon His Servant the Book and has not made therein any deviance. [He has made it] straight, to warn of severe punishment from Him and to give good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a good reward. In which they will remain forever. And to warn those who say, ‘Allah has taken a son.’” (al-Kahf: 1-4)
The last verse has two levels of warning: a general warning for whoever disobeyed the command of Allah (SWT) and thus fell within the circle of the severe punishment. The other level of warning is directed to those who claimed that Allah (SWT) has taken a son, Exalted is He and high above what they say by great sublimity!
The particularity of the warning and glad tidings
In some places in the Qur’an, Allah (SWT) has, particularly, warned people, who have some particular traits. Among of those warned are the hostile people. This is because of their sever hostility and deviation. Allah (SWT) on the other hand, gave glad tidings, particularly to the righteous as is in the following verse, “So, [O Muhammad], We have only made Qur'an easy in the Arabic language that you may give good tidings thereby to the righteous and warn thereby a hostile people.” (Maryam: 97) So, it gives the glad tidings for the believers and warns the disobedient.
Another warning was given to those who claimed that Allah (SWT) has taken a son as mentioned in what He says, “And to warn those who say, ‘Allah has taken a son.’” (al-Kahf: 4)
There is also warnings to those who did not received the message as in what Allah (SWT) says, “Or do they say, ‘He invented it’? Rather, it is the truth from your Lord, [O Muhammad], that you may warn a people to whom no warner has come before you [so] perhaps they will be guided.” (as-Sajdah: 3)
There is also another verse, in which Allah (SWT) says, “And this is a confirming Book in an Arabic tongue to warn those who have wronged and as good tidings to the doers of good.” (al-Ahqaf: 12) So, it is a warner for the wrongdoers and a giver of good tidings for the doers of good.
Warnings are not always limited to the disobedient and deniers. Rather, there is a warning given to those who believe in Allah’s promises and warnings as well, and who act to please Him, pursue everything that may save them from the severe punishment of Allah just as at-Tabbary commented on the verse, “And warn by the Qur’an those who fear that they will be gathered before their Lord-for them besides Him will be no protector and no intercessor- that they might become righteous.” (al-An’am: 51)
The spatial and temporal boundaries of the warning
The generality of the spatial and temporal boundaries of the warning, as an objective, has been referred to in the Noble Qur’an. Among the verses that indicates so is the following, “Say, ‘What thing is greatest in testimony?’ Say, ‘Allah is witness between me and you. And this Qur’an was revealed to me that I may warn you thereby and whomever it reaches.’” (al-An’am: 19)
Ibn-Kathir reported the commentary of Muhammad Ibn-Ka’b on the previous verse, “Whoever the Qur’an reaches him is as if he saw the Prophet (PBUH).” He said too, “Ibn-Ka’b even added, “… and talked to him [to the Prophet (PBUH).”
This old story indicates the generality of the warning of the Qur’an, whether in place or time. Whomever the Qur’an reaches in whatever place or time, the warning then has reached him and the evidence is established upon him.
It was narrated too, that the Messenger (PBUH) said, “Convey from Allah. Whomever a verse from the Book of Allah reaches him, the command of Allah has already reached him.”
Another evidence on the outreach of the warning of the Qur’an with regards to place is that in what Allah (SWT) says, “And thus We have revealed to you and Arabic Qur’an that you may warn the Mother of Cities [Makkah] and those around it and warn of the Day of Assembly, about which there is no doubt. A party will be in Paradise and a party in the Blaze.” (ash-Suraa: 7)
“And this is a Book which We have sent down, blessed and confirming what was before it, that you may warn the Mother of Cities and those around it. Those who believe in the Hereafter believe in it, and they are maintaining their prayers.” (al-An’am: 92)The Mother of Cities is Makkah, which is the center of the globe and from which the light of the revelation shines to spread all over the whole world from East to West.
Imam Qushayryy said, “The whole world revolves around the Ka’ba, because it is the navel of the globe.
Reminding mankind with what in their benefit
Ibn-Kathir mentioned that Allah (SWT) has sent down His Book, sent His Messengers as a mercy for His servants, so they may remember and benefit from what they heard of the Book of Allah, in which He stated what is permitted and what is prohibited. Meaning, that among the objectives of sending Messengers and Books is to remind people with what would benefit them in this worldly life and the Hereafter. Therefore, Allah (SWT) says, “And We have certainly diversified [the contents] in this Qur’an that mankind may be reminded, but it does not increase the disbelievers except in aversion.” (al-Isra’: 41)
In his book Fi Thelal al-Qur’an, SayyedQutb, may Allah rest his soul, commented on this verse that the Qur’an has come down to tell us about the Oneness of Allah. In order for it to explain this creed, the Qur’an took many ways, used numerous styles and tools. He mentioned then that the Oneness of Allah (SWT) does not need more than to remember man’s natural disposition and turn back to it and its logic along with the universal signs and their indications.
The Qur’an mentions the characteristics of those, with whom the reminder would work and they would benefit from it in what Allah (SWT) says, “Ta, Ha. We have not sent down to you the Qur’an that you be distressed. But only as a reminder for those who fear [Allah]. A revelation from He who created the earth and highest heavens.The Most Merciful [who is] above the Throne established.” (Taha, 1-5)
It means that it is for those who fears Allah (SWT); those who are touched by the warning because of the tenderness of his heart; or those whom Allah knows that they would not submit but through fear, according to al-Alossy.
This is affirmed even more in what Allah (SWT) says, “We are most knowing of what they say, and you are not over them a tyrant. But remind by the Qur’an whoever fears My threat.” (Qaf: 45) So, those who fear the threat of Allah (SWT) and become ware of it are the ones who benefit from the reminder. The Qur’an, however, affirmed the uselessness of reminding for all mankind in the following verse, “So remind, if the reminder should benefit. He who fears [Allah] will be reminded. But the wretched one will avoid it. [He] who will [enter and] burn in the greatest Fire.” (al-A’la: 9-12)
In his book, Al-Bahr al-Madid, Ibn-Ajeebah comments on limiting the reminding by saying, “As the Messenger (PBUH) used to remind people and exert the best of his effort to preach to them because he cared for them, yet it did not increase some of them except in aversion. Therefore, the command of the Messenger (PBUH) was that we do not remind but those whom we think would listen and be reminded. So we would not spend time and effort with those who do not increase but in insolence and aversion and Allah has sealed their hearts.”
Among the traits of those, with whom a reminder would work is having a sound mind to receive and perceive as Allah (SWT) says, “[This is] a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded.” (Saad: 29)
Although the Qur’an has pointed out those traits, yet, in another place, it referred to that it, in itself, holds remembrance and reminder to all mankind. Some of them would learn the lesson and remember. Yet, others, whose hearts and foresights have been sealed do not increase but in aversion. They even claim that the Messenger (PBUH) is mad as it is mentioned in what Allah (SWT) says, “And indeed, those who disbelieve would almost make you slip with their eyes when they hear the message, and they say, ‘Indeed, he is mad. But it is not except a reminder to the worlds.’” (al-Qalam: 51-52)
The Qur’an has talked about its nature and essential essence in Allah’s saying, “And thus We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur’an and have diversified therein the warnings that perhaps they will avoid [sin] or it would cause them remembrance.” (Taha: 113) Allah (SWT), here, mentions that the Qur’an has been sent down in Arabic. It included warnings that would lead to piety for whoever hasa heart or who listens while he is present in mind. It causes them remembrance, which means they may be warned when they listen to it as mentioned by al-Khatib ash-Sherbiny.
The Qur’an used the word ‘remembrance’ to indicate ‘reminding’, which is sometimes used to refer to reminding others with what in their benefit. It is also used as a synonym to ‘mentioning’ such as in the following verse, “[This is] the mention of the mercy of your Lord to His servant Zechariah.” (Maryam: 2) This is according to the commentary of Muhammad at-TaherIbn-Ashur in his book At-Tahrirwa at-Tanwir, when he was explaining the verse, “We have certainly sent down to you a Book in which is your mention. Then will you not reason?” (al-Anbya’: 10)
He also added, commenting on the same verse, “The word ‘mention’ is used here to indicate both meanings: first, as the Qur’an holds the best of guidance, so, it is reminding them with what is in their benefit. Second, being in their language [the Arabic] and among their people and through one form amongst them is a great mention as Allah (SWT) says, “In a clear Arabic language,” (ash-Shura: 195) and “Just as We have sent among you a messenger from yourselves…” (al-Baqara: 151)
The old scholars have explained this verse by these two meanings. In Tafsir At-Tabary some said, ‘The meaning of “…in which is your mention,” (al-Anbya: 10) is honor; that this is of your honor.
Ibn-Attiya said, “Probably He means your honor and that you will be remembered and mentioned until the end of time as the great things are mentioned. He resorted to the same explanation with the verse, “And indeed, it is a remembrance for you and your people…” )az-Zukhruf: 44)”
Amongst the ways the Qur’an resorted to for reminding is giving examples such as in the verse, “And We have certainly presented for the people in this Qur’an from every [kind of] example- that they might remember. [It is] an Arabic Qur’an, without any deviance that they might become righteous.” (az-Zumar: 27-28)
The verses that have referred to this way are numerous, among of which is, “And We have certainly diversified for the people in this Qur’an from every [kind] of example, but most of the people refused [anything] except disbelief.” (al-Isra’: 89)
“And We have certainly presented to the people in this Qur’an from every [kind of] example. But, [O Muhammad], if you should bring them a sign, the disbelievers will surely say, ‘You [believers] are but falsifiers.” (al-Rum: 58)
“And We have certainly diversified in this Qur’an for the people from every [kind of] example; but man has ever been, most of anything, [prone to] dispute.” (al-Kahf: 54)
Establishing justice on earth
Amongst the general objectives that has been delivered by all Prophets and Messengers, and for which Divine Books have been sent down is establishing justice on earth, so that the life of all mankind would be established upon this Divine justice, with which worldly life would go in balance and without which, this life would shake and go in the mazes of misguidance. Therefore, Allah (SWT) says, “We have already sent Our messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them the Scripture and the balance that the people may maintain [their affairs] in justice.” (al-Hadid: 25)
In his commentary on this verse, SayyedQutb said, “All revelations came down to establish on earth and in people’s life a stable scale, to which humanity would resort. They would resort to it in order to judge deeds, events, things and people. They would establish their life upon it to be safe from inclinations and imbalanced whims and clash of interests. A scale that would not favor one to the other because it weighs through the Divine right of everybody. It does not do injustice to anybody because Allah is the Lord of everybody.”
So, establishing justice is the objective of all Divine Books and Messages, including the Noble Qur’an and its last message. Among the most remarkable ways of establishing justice on earth is to judge by the Sacred Law of Allah, and refer to His Book. Therefore, the command was as clear as the sun to our Noble Messenger (PBUH) that he should judge between people by the verdict of Allah (SWT) that is revealed in His Noble Book. Allah (SWT) says, “And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it. So judge between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations away from what has come to you of the truth. To each of you We prescribed a law and a method. Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return altogether and he will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ. And judge, [O Muhammad], between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations and beware of them, lest they tempt you away from some of what Allah has revealed to you. And if they turn away –then know that Allah only intends to afflict them with some of their [own] sins. And indeed, many among the people are defiantly disobedient.” (al-Ma’ida: 48- 49)
Allah (SWT) has sent down His Noble Book to guide mankind to Him, give them the glad tidings, warn them against His punishment and take them out of the darknesses into the light, as we have previously mentioned. Allah (SWT) then made it as a judge between people in what they dispute about. The Qur’an, thus, is not restricted to unseen matters only. Rather, it is like a spirit that flows in every society to breathe into it the Divine life, which is the natural disposition of this universe and which has proved to be the answer for the big problems and dilemmas that have faced humanity throughout history.
The enemies of this religion tried their best to limit it within the boundaries of mosques. They tried to restrict it to the unseen and spiritualties. They tried to isolate it from the society and the practical life to end up only with a stream of disasters, one after another. When the law of Allah (SWT), however, became the main reference, things returned to normal. The earth, obediently, submitted to its Lord as He has created it at the first time, when He called it along with the heaven when it was mere smoke, so they both said, “Here we come in obedience.” Later on, Muslims, however, gave up this Divine method. Therefore, they become backward after they have been advanced. They slopped down after progress. They fell behind after they had been in the forefront of all nations.
Most of the Qur’an chapters contain verses of rulings, which have been counted by some in hundreds and about which many books and references have been written down. All those verses leave no doubt that this Book is applicable in all times and places. One of the marvelsof this Book is the signs and affirmations in it that it should be resorted to judge between people. This represents the utmost challenge to all earthly methodologies and schools of thought, which are limited to specific time or place. They quickly prove their failure as long as they are away from this marvelous Book.
Among the verses that prove this meaning is what Allah (SWT) says, “Indeed, We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth so you may judge between the people by that which Allah has shown you. And do not be for the deceitful an advocate.” (an-Nisa’: 105)
He also says, “And We revealed to you the message that you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them and that they might give thought.” (an-Nahl” 44)
“And We have sent down to you the Book as clarification for all things and as guidance and mercy and good tidings for the Muslims.” (an-Nahl: 89)
We can see that the Qur’an affirms this issue through al-Hasrwa al-Qasr (exclusion) in what Allah (SWT) says, “And We have not revealed to you the Book, [O Muhammad], except for you to make clear to them that wherein they have differed and as guidance and mercy for a people who believe.” (an-Nahl: 64)
Allah (SWT) has affirmed the inclusiveness of the Noble Qur’an and that it contains everything people may need according to what interpreters of the Qur’an have deduced when explaining the verse, “And there is no creature on [or within] the earth or bird that flies with its wings except [that they are] communities like you. We have not neglected in the Register a thing. Then unto their Lord they will be gathered.” (al-An’am: 38)
Some have explained ‘Register’ here as al-Lawh al-Mahfouz (the Preserved Slate), while others think that it is the Noble Qur’an.
Allah (SWT) instructed the Companions (RA) not to hasten and be persistent in their inquiries about some things, which if they would be patient for a little more and waited for the Qur’an, it would be mentioned in a clear cut, so their heart would be settled and their souls would calm down. About this, Allah (SWT) says, “O you, who have believed, do not ask about things which, if they are shown to you, will distress you. But if you ask about them while the Qur’an is being revealed, they will be shown to you. Allah has pardoned that which is past; and Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing.” (al-Ma’ida: 101)
Another example of the rulings mentioned in the Qur’an, and how important it is to take them seriouslyis what He says, “And they request from you, [O Muhammad], a [legal] ruling concerning women. Say, “Allah gives you a ruling about hem and [about] what has been recited to you in the Book concerning the orphan girls to whom you do not give what is decreed for them-and [yet] you desire to marry them- and concerning the oppressed among children and that you maintain for orphans [their rights] in justice.” And whatever you do of good- indeed, Allah is ever Knowing of it.”(an-Nisa’: 127)The Qur’an here, as we can see, does not only give the legal ruling, but also affirms the importance of taking it from the Book of Allah (SWT). The Book which contains an account of those before us, and news of those who will follow us and commands on what we encounter as we have been told by the Noble Messenger (PBUH).
Establishing the evidence of Allah (SWT)upon His creation
Allah (SWT)has sent down His Book to establish evidence upon His creation and to defy the pretexts of those who claim that they have not received any Message from the Divine and if they had, they would have been the first to embrace it. Allah (SWT) has sent a Messenger to every nation from amongst themselves telling them to worship Him. He sent His Prophet, Muhammad (PBUH), to be the last of all Messengers and an evidence upon the worlds as Allah (SWT) says, “[We sent] messengers as bringers of good tidings and warners so that mankind will have no argument against Allah after the messengers. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise.” (an-Nisa’: 165)
Allah (SWT)had revealed to His Messenger the Last Book, which He preserved from alteration and distortion, so it would keep as the everlasting document between Allah (SWT) and His creation, until the Day of Judgment.
Among the verses, in which Allah (SWT) established the evidence upon His ceration in His Noble Book is what He says, “And this [Qur’an] is a Book We have revealed [which is] blessed, so follow it and fear Allah that you may recieve mercy. [We revealed it] lest you say, ‘The Scripture was only sent down to two groups before us, but we were of their study unaware. Or lest you say, ‘If only the Scripture had been revealed to us, we would have been better guided than they.’ So there has [now] come to you a clear evidence from your Lord and a guidacne and mercy. Then who is more unjust than one who denies the verses of Allah and turns awayy from them? We will recompense those who turn away from Our verses with the worst of punishment for thier having turned away.” (al-An’am: 155-157)
In his commentary about these verses, ar-Razy says, “These verses are meant to establish evidence upon them by sending the Qur’an down upon Muhammad (PBUH), so on the Day of Judgment they would not say, ‘The Torah and the Bible have been sent down on two groups before us and we were not aware of them.’ So, Allah (SWT) their excuses would not be acceptable after sending the Qur’an down upon them.”
In the same context, the Qur’an narrates a dialogue between Allah (SWT) and His creation of the Jin and human beings. A dialogue, in which they acknowledge the evidence of Allah upon them as He says, “O company of jinn and mankind, did there not come to you messengers from among you, relating to you My verses and warning you of the meeting of this Day of yours?” They will say, “We bear witness against ourselves”; and the worldly life had deluded them, and they will bear witness against themselves that they were disbelievers.” (al-An’am: 130)
In another verse, the Qur’an tells us about the Divine warning for mankind after the evidence has been proved upon them through sending the messengers and sending down the verses upon them. In this regard, Allah (SWT) says, “O children of Adam, if there come to you messengers from among you relating to you My verses, then whoever fears Allah and reforms- there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve. But the ones who deny Our verses and are arrogant toward them-those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide therein eternally.” (al-A’raf: 35-36)
There is also another warning in the divine speech of Allah (SWT) to the Messenger (PBUH) in what He says, “Indeed, We sent down to you the Book for the people in truth. So, whoever is guided- it is for [the benefit of] his soul; and whoever goes astray only goes astray to its detriment. And you are not a manager over them.” (az-Zumar: 41)
The Qur’an states the divine blame on the Day of Judgment for the disbelievers and the arrogant after they have known about the verses of Allah (SWT) by saying, “But as for those who disbelieved, [it will be said], “Were not Our verses recited to you, but you were arrogant and became a people of criminals? And when it was said, ‘Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth and the Hour [is coming]- no doubt about it, ‘you said, ‘We know not what is the Hour. We assume only assumption, and we are not convinced.’” (al-Jathiya: 31-32)
About the Qur’an being favored over all the previous Divine Books because it establishes the evidence of Allah (SWT) upon His creation, the Qur’an states, “And if there was any Qur’an by which the mountains would be removed or the earth would be broken apart or the dead would be made to speak, [it would be this Qur’an], but to Allah belongs the affair entirely. Then have those who believed not accepted that had Allah willed, He would have guided the people, all of them? And those who disbelieve do not cease to be struck, for what they have done, by calamity- or it will descend near their home- until there comes the promise of Allah. Indeed, Allah does not fail in [His] promise.” (ar-Ra’d: 31)
According to the commentary of Ibn-Kathir, this verse means, “… meaning, if there was a book amongst the previous books that would cause mountains to be removed from their places, or the earth would be broken apart, or the dead would be made to speak in their graves, then the Qur’an would be the one, which is able to do so. This is because of its marvels that neither the jinn nor human beings, altogether, could ever bring something like it or even one chapter of it. The disbelievers, yet, still do not believe in and deny it.
Making firm the heart of the Messenger (PBUH) and the believers
Among the objectives that the Qur’an has proved to itself is that it was sent down to strengthen the hearts of those who believe in it and make it firm on the truth. On top of those believers is their great Imam, the Messenger (PBUH), who received this great speech from His Lord and delivered it as it is revealed. During this deliverance, the Messenger faced such terrible hardships, obstacles and harm, because of which he would need something to ease things for him and strengthen his heart and make firm of his belief. The same goes with the preachers or the callers for the path of Allah in all times and places. They need what would make them firm on the path of truth. The Qur’an has proved to be the best companion, with which the souls would calm down and be settled and the hearts would find long to and the minds would enjoy contemplating it.
Among the methods the Qur’an resorted to in order to make firm the heart of the Messenger (PBUH) is the stories of the previous messengers. Knowing their life stories, would tell him about the consequences of the path he is walking. They would urge the self to take them as role models when it comes to patience and steadfastness. Among of those verses is the following, “And each [story] We relate to you from the news of the messengers is that by which We make firm your heart. And there has come to you, in this, the truth and an instruction and a reminder for the believers.” (Hud: 120)
Another method the Qur’an has resorted to too is that it was sent down over 23 years according to the circumstances, events and updates at the time of the Messenger (PBUH). This was the best answer for the claims of the disbelievers that the Qur’an was sent down all at a time like the Torah and the Bible. In this regard, Allah (SWT) says, “And those who disbelieve say, “Why was the Qur’an not revealed to him all at once?” Thus [it is] that We may strengthen thereby your heart. And We have spaced it distinctly. And they do not come to you with and argument except that We bring you the truth and the best explanation.” (al-Furqan: 32-33)
The first aim of the Qur’an being revealed in parts was to make the heart of the Messenger (PBUH) steadfast throughthe continuous link between the heaven and keeping the Qur’an live and updated according to the change in the circumstances surrounding the Messenger (PBUH). This has made his state swing between happiness and sadness, easiness and difficulty, good and bad and all other changes in time and events.
The Qur’an support to the heart of the Messenger (PBUH) extends to include the believers as well, who believed in this Book and by which they increased in certainty and confidence and believed in its nasikh (abrogating) and mansookh(abrogated)as Allah (SWT) says, “And when We substitute a verse in place of a verse- and Allah is most knowning of what He sends down- they say, “You, [O Muhammad], are but an inventor [of lies].” But most of them do not know. Say, [O Muhammad], “The Pure Spirit has brought it down from your Lord in thruth to make firm those who believe and as guidance and good tidings to the Muslims.” (an-Nahl:101-102)
How needful are the believers, in all their states, for their Lord to make them steadfast in this worldly life and the Hereafter as well, as He says in this verse, “Allah keeps firm those who believe, with the firm word, in worldly life and in the Hereafter. And Allah sends astray the wrongdoers. And Allah does what He wills.” (Ibrahim: 27)
The Ethics of dealing with the Qur’an
The Noble Qur’an is the Book of Allah (SWT). Therefore, it draws its special sacredness from the state of Allah (SWT). Meanwhile, it was sent down to guide humanity and take it out of the darkness of ignorance into the open horizons of light of knowledge and good.
There are, hence, special ethics and sacredness about this Book that is different from any other book. The more sacred a book is, the more respect and courtesy we should show to it. What do you think, then, when we are dealing with the most honored speech, the wisest book, which Allah (SWT)from above seven heavens stated that He is the one who has sent it down, and who will bear the responsibility of preserving it?
Our dear and eminent scholars have mentioned some ethics and duties towards the Qur’an. Yet, it is nice to know how to deal with the Qur’an from its own verses.
Ibn-Manzour has defined recitation that it is reading. He then said, “Tilawa for the readers is to read the Qur’an successively. The difference between tilawa, ada’(performance) and reading is that ada’ is to learn recitation through sheikhs and scholars. As for reading, it is more general than the first two.”
Reciting the Qur’an is a general term that includes reading it and following its instructions. Recitation, for scholars of Tajweed, has three levels: tartil, hadr and tadwir.
Tartil is improving the utterance of the letters and knowing where to pause, just as it has been mentioned by Imam Ali (RA).
Hadr is to read quickly while keeping the rulings of Tajweed correct. As for tadwir, it is a middle state between tartil and hadr.
Amongst the meanings of tilawa-as we mentioned earlier- is to follow. It was reported from Ibn-Mas’oud(RA)his commentary on the verse, in which Allah (SWT) says, “Those to whom We have given the Book recite it with its true recital. They [are the ones who] believe in it. And whoever disbelieves in it- it is they who are the losers,” (al-Baqara: 121), that he said, “I swear by in He, in Whose Hand my life is that the true recital is to do what is permitted in it, prohibit what is prohibited in it, read it as it has been sent down from Allah (SWT), does not distort it and does not resort to unusual explanations when one explains it.”
There is a clear and direct command from Allah (SWT) to the Messenger (PBUH) to recite the Qur’an. It is mentioned in two verses in the Qur’an, which are, “And recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book of your Lord. There is no changer of His words, and never will you find in other than Him a refuge.”(al-Kahf: 27)
“Recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater. And Allah knows that which you do.” (al-Ankabut: 45)
In the first verse, the command was mentioned after relating the story of the People of the Cave. So, after He settled the matter by His saying, “And they remained in their cave for three hundred years and exceeded by nine,” (al-Kahf: 25), He commanded His Messenger (PBUH) to let the Muslims pay attention to an important thing, that is all the unseen issues are known only by Allah (SWT), who says, “Say, “Allah is most knowing of how long they remained. He has [knowledge of] the unseen [aspects] of the heavens and the earth. How Seeing is He and how Hearing! They have not besides Him any protector, and He shares not His legislation with anyone.” (al-Kahf: 26)
Allah (SWT) then wanted to complete this high educational tip that all the unseen matters are only known by Him, then we should focus our efforts in what would benefit us and our religion and reality. This would be by reciting the Book of Allah (SWT) and thus came the command, “And recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book of your Lord. There is no changer of His words, and never will you find in other than Him a refuge.” (al-Kahf: 27)
To recite the Qur’an a true recital- as we have mentioned earlier- needs some help along the way, keeping a good company around one’s self that would help one accomplish what he pursues. Therefore, the next verse came to tell us about it, “And keep yourself patient [by being] with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life, and do not obey one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his desire and whose affair is ever [in] neglect.” (al-Kahf: 28)
In the second verse, however, Allah (SWT) mentioned the command to recite the Book and establishing prayer jointly, as the latter prohibits immorality and wrongdoing. This is exactly what provides security in the society that we lack for to a large extent in our life, and this is because we do not obey the commands of Allah (SWT) as He wishes us to do.
In a third place, the Messenger (PBUH) was told about some divine commands that have been sent down upon him. Those commands include everything such as worshiping Allah (SWT) to be of the Muslims, then reciting the Qur’an, as Allah (SWT) says, “[Say, O Muhammad], "I have only been commanded to worship the Lord of this city, who made it sacred and to whom [belongs] all things. And I am commanded to be of the Muslims [those who submit to Allah ].And to recite the Qur'an." And whoever is guided is only guided for [the benefit of] himself; and whoever strays - say, "I am only [one] of the warners.” (al-Naml: 91-92)
The Qur’an is the evidence of Allah upon His creation. Therefore, people are split into two groups with regards to it, a group whose heart is touched by faith, so they are guided and submitted to the Lord of the Worlds. This group will benefit from such guidance. It is for their own sake after all. The other group, faith has not find its way to their hearts, so they went astray and led others astray as well. This group’s misguidance would harm them severely. Therefore, Allah (SWT) commands His Messenger not to waste his time with this group, because the Messenger’s job is limited to warning and informing only.
Yet, in another place in the Book of Allah (SWT), He relates about His servants who recite His Book, establish prayers and who spend of their money secretly and publicly that they look for a profitable trade that would save them from severe punishment. Allah (SWT) says, “Indeed, those who recite the Book of Allah and establish prayer and spend [in His cause] out of what We have provided them, secretly and publicly, [can] expect a profit that will never perish,” (Fatir: 29). Then He specified their profit by saying, “That He may give them in full their rewards and increase for them of His bounty. Indeed, He is Forgiving and Appreciative.” (Fatir: 30)
So, their profit is that they will be given their rewards in full and He will increase for them of His bounty, then He will forgive them for their minor sins and then He will thank them for the good deeds they did.
Linguists say, “Rattala al-kalam means to spell words well with clarity and slowly. Recitation while reading is to utter words well so it would sound clear with no exaggeration.”
Al-Fakhrar-Razy, may Allah rest his soul, says, “Tartil means that speech comes out successively with deliberateness and slowness.” We have previously mentioned that tartil is a type of recitation.
Allah (SWT)has sent down the Noble Qur’an to be a method of life. He sent it in separate parts, recited and successive so it would be easy for people to apply and abide by it. Therefore, Allah (SWT) told us that He has sent this Qur’an distinctly spaced in order to strengthen the Messenger’s heart and to refute the arguments of the disbelievers. Allah (SWT) says, “And those who disbelieve say, ‘Why was the Qur'an not revealed to him all at once?’ Thus [it is] that We may strengthen thereby your heart. And We have spaced it distinctly. And they do not come to you with an argument except that We bring you the truth and the best explanation.”(al-Furqan: 32)
As Allah (SWT) has sent this Book spaced distinctly, then we have to recite it as He wants us to recite it, in order to achieve the aim of Allah (SWT). Therefore, the divine command to the Messenger (SWT) at the beginning of the revelation was to pray at night and recite the Qur’an. “O you who wraps himself [in clothing], Arise [to pray] the night, except for a little - Half of it - or subtract from it a little. Or add to it, and recite the Qur'an with measured recitation.” (al-Muzzamel: 1-4)
Allah (SWT) then mentioned the reason of His command, that is, “Indeed, We will cast upon you a heavy word.” (al-Muzzamel: 5)
The mission is heavy and hard. It needs a spiritual preparation, which can be achieved through praying the night and reciting the Qur’an with measured recitation. The callers for the path of Allah need to abide by these divine directions like they need nothing else. They should recite the Qur’an in a way that would make them benefit from it on the spiritual level, as it will help them to bear the hardships of the path of da’wa.
About this blessed verse, Ibn-Kathir’s commentary was, “It means read it slowly, for one is more likely to understand the Qur’an this way and ponder it. Moreover, Lady A’isha said, “The Messenger (PBUH) would recite the surah (chapter of the Qur’an) in such a slow-measured tone (that duration of its recital) would become more lengthy than the one longer than this.”
In Sahih al-Bukhary, when AnasIbn-Malik (RA) was asked about the recitation of the Messenger (PBUH), he said, “It was characterized by the prolongation of certain sounds.” He then recited: In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful prolonging the pronunciation of ‘In the Name of Allah, ‘the All-Merciful,’ and ‘the Ever-Merciful.’
On the authority of Ibn-Jurayj, who reported from Lady Umm-Salama through Ibn-Abu-Malika that when she was asked about the recitation of the Messenger (PBUH), she said, “He used to recite: “In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful. [All] praise is [due] to Allah , Lord of the worlds - The All- Merciful, the Ever-Merciful, Sovereign of the Day of Recompense,” (al-Fatiha: 1-4) breaking its recitation into verses, one after another.”
Therefore, our reading of the Qur’an should be different from any other reading to other books. We should read it as we are commanded by its Sender and as its receiver, [the Messenger (PBUH)] did.
It is worth mentioning here a nice meaning Abu-Hamid al-Ghazaly has mentioned by saying, “Know that tartil is desirable, not only for reflection, for even the non-Arab, who does not comprehend the Qur’an, it is desirable for him to read the Qur’an with deliberateness, but because it is more honoring and respecting. It also affects the heart much more than hastening while reading it.”
In Lisan al-ArabIbn-Manzour says, “Tadabbara al-amr means examined its consequences and reflected upon it, pondered and understood it.”
Reflecting upon the Qur’an is an excellent manner and a high rank that is unattainable unless by those who pursued the means to achieve it and ascended their way up to it, so Allah (SWT), the Most-High, granted them success and ability to reason His words, opened their hearts to understand its consequences, contemplating its meaning and understanding its aims. One of the most important means of reflection is to seek the means of recitation and tartil itself that we have mentioned earlier.
The Companions and tabi’on (second generation of Companions) have great stories about how they reflected upon the Qur’an and how important it has been for them. It is enough here to mention what Ali (RA) said, “There is no good in a worship that is empty of fiqh (deep understanding) nor in a reading that is empty of reflection.”
In three positions in the Qur’an, Allah (SWT)blamed those who do not reflect upon His Book, stopped using their minds and closed their hearts before the Qur’an marvels and clear statements. This blame is quite clear in the interrogatory style used in what Allah (SWT) says, “Then do they not reflect upon the Qur'an? If it had been from [any] other than Allah , they would have found within it much contradiction.” (an-Nisa’: 82)
He also says, “Then do they not reflect upon the Qur'an, or are there locks upon [their] hearts?” (Muhammad: 24)
“Then have they not reflected over the Qur'an, or has there come to them that which had not come to their forefathers?” (al-Mu’minun: 68)
Abul-So’oud al-Imady in his commentary about the first verse says, “A blame and disapproval for them not reflecting upon the Qur’an, nor contemplating the evidences on faith that it contains.
“Reflecting upon something means to examine it and its consequences and climax. ‘
Why do they turn away from the Qur’an and not reflect upon it to know that it is from Allah (SWT), especially with all proofs it contains? Why they do not contemplate this truthful revelation that shows clearly their hypocrisy as it is?”
The second verse shows the most important reasons that keep away from reflecting upon the Qur’an, among of which is closing the heart and blocking it against the truth to reach out to it, just as Allah (SWT) says in another place of the Qur’an, “No! Rather, the stain has covered their hearts of that which they were earning.” (al-Mutaffifin: 14)
The bad earning of the human being blocks him from the light of reflection and keeps him away from enjoying the divine lights that are not given to a sinner. The Messenger (PBUH) warned against these locks, when he said, “Beware of the apparently small sins. It is like when a group of people setting in a valley, so this one would bring a straw, and the other would bring another straw (to set fire), until their food is well done. The apparently small sins, when its doer is punished for them, he is ruined.” (Musnad Ahmad)
Whoever wants Allah (SWT) to open his heart so that he would understand the Book, its meanings and understand its aim should be ware of sins. A sin after another is like a straw over the other that may burn one, and leave a black mark in the heart until it becomes totally smudgy. That heart, then, would be marked with sin and then locked and partitioned from the Book of his Lord in this world and from his Lord (SWT) Himself in the Hereafter according to what Allah (SWT) says, “No! Indeed, from their Lord, that Day, they will be partitioned.” (al-Mutaffifin: 15)
In the third verse, Allah (SWT) refers to the Qur’an by the word ‘qawl’ (speech), for the Qur’an is from among their speech and their forefathers as well, who are people of eloquence. If their intentions were sincere, it would have been much easier for them to understand what is sent to them from their Lord in their own language, with which they challenge others.
In another place, Allah (SWT) describes those who contemplate and are reminded by the Qur’an that they are people of sound minds and powerful understandings. He (SWT) says, “[This is] a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded.” (Saad: 29)
In the last verse, Allah (SWT) mentioned the Book in the form of indefinite. In Arabic, this indicates honoring. He, then referred to its Source, who is Allah (SWT), Exalted and Sublime be He ‘We have revealed’. The Messenger is the one who received it ‘to you’. Then, He described it as ‘a blessed Book’. All these virtues cannot be perceived, remembered or contemplated but by those of sound mind and understanding.
Ibn-Manzour said that submission is an act of invoking that comes right from the heart;the submission of the senses. Therefore, when the heart shows humbleness, the senses submit.
According to this definition, submission to the Qur’an is achievable only after acquiring the manners that we have mentioned earlier. Acquiring the essentials recitation leads to reading the Qur’an in a way that would help one understand and reflect upon it. If the heart is prepared and free from its locks, it would be able to reflect upon the Qur’an and then it would submit and show humbleness that would manifest on the senses to submit to the speech of its Lord as well.
The Qur’an deserves to be submitted to. It even goes beyond the submission of the heart to the submission of the stones as Allah (SWT) told us in the Qur’an by saying, “If We had sent down this Qur'an upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of Allah . And these examples We present to the people that perhaps they will give thought.” (al-Hashr: 21)
If the Qur’an was sent down upon a mountain it would have been humbled and coming apart from fear of its Lord, who depicted it in the Qur’an in the best way ever.
Here, the Qur’an shows how sorrowful it is that there are Qur’an is for the hearts that have hardened and became even crueler, that they did not submit or show humbleness to the words of its Lord. The heard heart is even harder than the hard stones as we are told by Allah (SWT)in another place, “Then your hearts became hardened after that, being like stones or even harder. For indeed, there are stones from which rivers burst forth, and there are some of them that split open and water comes out, and there are some of them that fall down for fear of Allah. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.” (al-Baqara: 74)
The submission of the senses to the Book of Allah (SWT) is a result of the submission of the heart. Allah (SWT) has expressed this meaning in a very touching way when He said, “Allah has sent down the best statement: a consistent Book wherein is reiteration. The skins shiver therefrom of those who fear their Lord; then their skins and their hearts relax at the remembrance of Allah. That is the guidance of Allah by which He guides whom He wills. And one whom Allah leaves astray - for him there is no guide.” (az-Zumar: 23)
From the previous verses, we can notice the strong link between submitting to Allah and fearing Allah (SWT). The first verse mentioned that the reason of the mountain submission, if the Qur’an has been sent down upon it, is fearing Allah. The second verse favored the stones over the hard heart, because some stones fall down for fear of Allah. The third verse described those whose skins and hearts shiver then relax at the remembrance of Allah that they fear their Lord. Thus, whoever aims to submit to the Qur’an, let him reflect upon its verses that tackle Paradise and Hellfire; mercy and punishment. Let him live with two wings: fear and hope.
Allah (SWT) in another place in the Qur’an told us that the people of knowledge are those whom Allah granted them success to submit to and be touched by the Qur’an. He says,
“And [it is] a Qur'an which We have separated [by intervals] that you might recite it to the people over a prolonged period. And We have sent it down progressively. Say, "Believe in it or do not believe. Indeed, those who were given knowledge before it - when it is recited to them, they fall upon their faces in prostration, And they say, "Exalted is our Lord! Indeed, the promise of our Lord has been fulfilled." And they fall upon their faces weeping, and the Qur'an increases them in humble submission.” (al-Isra’: 106-109)
Showing submission with the Book of Allah has such importance, this is the reason that Allah (SWT) urged His believing servants to seek the means of achieving submission, when He said, “Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient.” (al-Hadid: 16)
This noble verse is a proof that he who is keen on seeking the means of submission, Allah (SWT) grants him success and opens his eyes to the lights of His wisdom. Among the pleasant statements of the Qur’an that would strengthen this meaning is the verse that says, “Know that Allah gives life to the earth after its lifelessness. We have made clear to you the signs; perhaps you will understand.” (al-Hadid; 17)
He who understands, perceive that He who gives life to the earth after its lifelessness is capable of giving life to the heart after its lifelessness. This can take place, however, if the possessor of this heart sought the means of bringing this heart to life, so he would water it with reflection, weed out heedlessness and incessant hope, which leads to hard-heartedness.
Seeking refuge in Allah beforerecitation
Among the manners the Qur’an has mentioned when one reads it is to seek refuge in Allah from the cursed Satan. This shows in what Allah (SWT) said, “So when you recite the Qur'an, [first] seek refuge in Allah from Satan, the expelled [from His mercy].” (an-Nahl: 98)
Ibn-Kathir said that the command here means that it is advisable and not obligatory.
Isti’atha (seeking refuge in Allah) before reading keeps the reader from the insinuations of Satan that would turn the reader away from reflecting and contemplating what he is reading.
Isti’athais a preparation for the self, mind, heart and feelings to live with the words of Allah (SWT) by seeking the refuge in Allah, to whom we resort to save us from the insinuations of Satan. Whoever cares about it, overcomes his devil as explained in the coming two verses, “Indeed, there is for him no authority over those who have believed and rely upon their Lord. His authority is only over those who take him as an ally and those who through him associate others with Allah.”(an-Nahl: 99-100)
Insat to its recitation
Insat (paying attention while listening) is an advanced level of istima’ (listening). Listening means that the ear picks the surrounding sounds willingly or involuntarily. Insat, however means taking everything else out of one’s circle of attention and preparing himself for receiving the words with great interest and reflection. Allah (SWT)commanded us to listen and pay attention while listening to the Qur’an and stated that receiving the mercy of Allah (SWT) is one of the results of doing so, when He said, “So when the Qur'an is recited, then listen to it and pay attention that you may receive mercy.” (al-A’raf: 204)
If some scholars have linked between the command stated in this verse to pay attention while listening and prayer only and that is according to the hadith of the Messenger (PBUH), in which he said, “Imam is meant to be followed, so when he says ‘Allahu Akbar,’ say, ‘Allahu Akbar’ and when recites, then pay attention while listening to him…”. No harm then if this manner would be manifest in all our states with the Qur’an. The highness of the Qur’an and its rank requires paying attention when listening to it and emptying the heart from any other thing in order to receive from the Lord of the Worlds.
Moreover, not paying attention while listening results in missing what we have mentioned earlier of the manners of reflection and submission, which can be attained through listening. The Messenger (PBUH) once asked Abdullah Ibn-Mas’oud to recite the Qur’an for him. “Shall I recite it to you while it has been revealed to you?” Said Ibn-Mas’oud. He said, “I like to hear it from others.” (Sahih al-Bukhary)
Furthermore, paying attention while listening to the Qur’an runs counter to the disbelievers actions and sayings, “And those who disbelieve say, "Do not listen to this Qur'an and speak noisily during [the recitation of] it that perhaps you will overcome.” (Fussilat: 26)
Among the indications of paying attention while listening is silence. It is narrated that the Messenger (PBUH) said, “Allah likes silence in three situations: during the recitation of the Qur’an, when heading to war and during funerals.” (Narrated by at-Tabarany in al-Kabir)
Prostration of recitation
A Muslims is commanded to prostrate to Allah (SWT) in all prayers, with obligatory or optional. Prostrating is a pillar of prayer. There are, however, other times, in which prostrating away from prayer is lawful, such as: sujud as-Sahw (prostration of forgetfulness), sujud ash-Shukr (prostration of thankfulness) and sujud at-Tilawa (prostration of recitation).
Among the ethics to be followed during Qur’an recitation is to prostrate in specific spots. They are 15 places, ten of which have been agreed upon by scholars. These spots are: al-A’raf, ar-Ra’d, an-Nahl, al-Isra’, Maryam, the first prostration in the chapter of al-Hajj, al-Furqan, an-Naml, as-Sajdah and Fussilat. Scholars, however, have disagreed upon five spots, which are: the second prostration in the chapter of al-Hajj, Saad, an-Najm, al-Inshiqaq and al-‘Alaq.
The Noble Qur’an has referred to prostration when listening to the Qur’an or reciting it. Some interpreters of the Qur’an said that the reason is showing submission. Others said that we are meant to prostrate for the sake of prostration itself.
To stay away from disagreements in this issue, a Muslim should abide by what has been stated by the scholars regarding the spots of prostration as a kind of showing good manners and abidance by the commands of Allah in His Book. Scholars have also disagreed whether prostration of recitation is obligatory or just sunnah. The latter is the opinion of the majority of scholars.
Among these spots, what Allah (SWT) has mentioned in praising some messengers and their followers, about which He said, “Those were the ones upon whom Allah bestowed favor from among the prophets of the descendants of Adam and of those We carried [in the ship] with Noah, and of the descendants of Abraham and Israel, and of those whom We guided and chose. When the verses of the Most Merciful were recited to them, they fell in prostration and weeping.” (Maryam: 58)
Those, whom Allah (SWT) have bestowed favor upon them from among prophets and the best of their descendants throughout the different ages and Messages, when they hear the verses of Allah (SWT), they fell in prostration, weeping and fearing Allah (SWT).
Something almost of the same meaning but in a different spot in the Qur’an, Allah (SWT) limited faith to only those who fell in prostration, glorifying their Lord when they are reminded with His verses. Allah (SWT) says, “Only those believe in Our verses who, when they are reminded by them, fall down in prostration and exalt [Allah] with praise of their Lord, and they are not arrogant. They arise from [their] beds; they supplicate their Lord in fear and aspiration, and from what We have provided them, they spend.” (as-Sajdah: 15-16)
This is how the state of the Qur’an companion should be. When the verses of his Lord are recited to him, he should prostrate with no arrogance, keen on praying the night, getting closer to Allah through supplication, swinging between fear and hope, keen on spending in the cause of Allah so as to gain the reward that is unimaginable for a human being and unperceivable by a mind. “And no soul knows what has been hidden for them of comfort for eyes as reward for what they used to do.”(as-Sajdah: 17)
In another spot and different state to the previous one, Allah (SWT)blames those who do not believe in Him; those whose hearts do not move for what they hear of the Qur’an, so they refuse to prostrate out of arrogance. About this, Allah (SWT) says, “So what is [the matter] with them [that] they do not believe. And when the Qur'an is recited to them, they do not prostrate [to Allah ]?” (al-Inshiqaq: 20-21)
Prostrating for the words of Allah is, actually, related to what the human’s heart holds of belief in Allah, fear, admiration and respect to His Might.
Do not abandon it!
Among the manners a Muslims should keep is not to abandon the Book of Allah (SWT). Whoever loves something cannot abandon it or let his be attached to other than it. Therefore, the Qur’an stated the complaint of the Messenger (PBUH), “And the Messenger has said, ‘O my Lord, indeed my people have taken this Qur'an as [a thing] abandoned.’” (al-Furqan: 30)
Ibnul-Qayyem, in his book Al-Fawa’id said, “There are types of abandoning the Qur’an: first is to abandon listening to it, believing in it and paying attention while listening.
Second, not abiding by what its rulings, or be ware of its permissions and prohibitions, even if one reads it and believes in it.
Third, not resorting to it to judge in the matters pertaining to the origins and branches of religion; believing that it does not benefit one’s certainty and that its proofs are merely verbal and do not reach the level of knowledge.
Fourth, not reflecting on it, understanding it, nor knowing the message that is meant to be delivered from it.
Fifth, not resorting to it to cure the aliments of the heart. So, one would resort to other than it instead of seeking it to cure his ailments. Yet, some kinds of abandonment is better than other kinds.”
Believing in its precise and unspecific verses
Among the manners that we should keep towards the Book of Allah (SWT) is to believe in it as it has been revealed, including its precise and unspecific verses, just as those, who are firm in knowledge, about whom Allah (SWT) told us saying, “It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] precise - they are the foundation of the Book - and others unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]. And no one knows its [true] interpretation except Allah . But those firm in knowledge say, "We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord." And no one will be reminded except those of understanding.” (Ala-Imran: 7)
Scholars have various opinions about the meaning of ‘precise’ and ‘unspecific’ verses in the Qur’an. It will be sufficient here to mention what Ibn-Kathirhas stated in this regard, when he defined the precise verses as those clear in their indications that there is no vagueness about them to anybody. The unspecific verses, on the other hand, are those whose indications are vague for many or some people.
He then added, “Whoever refers what is vague for him to that which is precise and make the precise prevail over the unspecific [for him], then he is guided. Whoever does the opposite, he is,then, not guided.”
On the basis of recitation, reflection, humbleness and submission, we should believe in all that is revealed in it. Our belief in what we have understood and perceived should not differ from that which our minds could not perceive. Whatever we did not perceive, we should attribute this to failure of our minds. This is what the people who are firm in knowledge do; those who the more knowledge they attain, the more they perceive the failure and inadequacy of their minds. Their trust and certainty of what is revealed from their Lord, then, becomes even stronger.
 (SWT)= Suhanahu wa Ta'ala [Glorified and Exalted Be He].