‘The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion’. (Al Baqarah: 185)
Is Ramadan all about the food?
Ramadan is right around the corner and most of us are already dreading the long hours and hot summer days. When the month of Ramadan is mentioned our thoughts predominantly turn to fasting, iftar, suhur and taraweeh. Speaking of taraweeh perhaps some of us even engage in the age old debate of eight rak’ah or twenty on the mentioning of this month but how many of us think of Qur’an when we hear the word Ramadan? Probably not many. The sad reality is that we have reduced this month to grand feasts and petty arguments on how many rak’ah of taraweeh we should pray, whilst completely missing the most important aspect- connecting with the book of Allah, a book which ‘will come on the day of resurrection interceding for its companions’ (Muslim).
Ramadan and Qur’an
In the aforementioned verse regarding Ramadan, Allah ‘azza wa jall mentions the revelation of the Qur’an before anything else. In fact, from a linguistic point of view the emphasis is to such an extent that He ‘azza wa jall describes the revelation of the Qur’an using the passive verb saying ‘it was sent down/revealed’ as opposed to ‘We sent it down’, highlighting the importance of the Qur’an in relation to this blessed month as well as making it a focal point. During this month we starve our bodies but feed our souls and what better food for the soul than the words of Allah? The Qur’an by itself is simply the miracle of this ummah, perfect in every way, gifted to us by our creator. Imagine a flawless speech which is full of wisdom, guidance and salvation for mankind, this is the Qur’an, the word of the almighty revealed to His final messenger ﷺ.
How is it then possible that we claim to be true believers without making a conscious and active effort to understand what our Lord and Creator is saying to us? A sahabi by the name of Khabbab (radiyallahu anhu) is reported to have said ‘Get close to Allah as much as you can and know that you won’t gain closeness to Him by any means that is dearer to Him than His own word’. Perhaps some of us may view understanding the Arabic as far-fetched but the absolute minimum we can do is make the effort to at least recite the book of Allah properly with correct tajweed, the way it should be recited. Unfortunately, Qur’an recitation during Ramadan (the only time many of us take the mushaf off the shelves!) is limited to a marathon race to complete it, without correctly reciting it nor understanding or reflecting upon that which is read. As we await the start of Ramadan we need to make preparations in advance to break this cycle of apathy towards the Qur’an and ask ourselves how we are going to come out of Ramadan having gotten closer to the Qur’an and as a result closer to Allah.
Sow the seeds and reap the rewards
Ramadan is a perfect opportunity to develop our connection with the Qur’an, the results of which then can be seen throughout the rest of the year, by the will of Allah, as long as we foster and sustain the efforts that we developed in Ramadan.
Having recently taken it up, a gardening analogy comes to mind when describing the journey we intend to take with the Qur’an this Ramadan inshaaAllah. Before we plant a seed we need to cultivate the soil, we then plant the seed which germinates but only under the correct conditions. Finally, when the seedling shoots up out of the soil it needs constant care otherwise it will wither and die. Similarly, the cultivating of the soil is like preparing ourselves, doing the groundwork and having a sincere intention to connect with the book of Allah this Ramadan like we have never before. The germination step can be likened to the process of elimination of all evil deeds, company and surroundings from our lives. Just as the seed needs the correct conditions to germinate our hearts need to be free of all misdeeds before the effect of the Qur’an can be felt and fostered. Then we move on to the planting of the seed, which for us is incorporating the daily doses of Qur’an which I will discuss below. The final and perhaps the hardest step is to maintain and sustain the plantlet. In our case, once Ramadan is over we tend to revert back to our old ways, but, if we truly made a sincere effort in Ramadan and made Qur’an a part of our daily lives then the maintenance, however small, will be made easy for us by the will of Allah. All it takes is sincere intention, efforts and dua!
Time to dust off the mushaf and get to work!
There are many things we can do both before and during Ramadan in order build up our connection with the Qur’an, below are a few ideas that one may wish to implement, I hope they are of benefit.
- Learn to recite with correct tajweed. If you struggle with reciting the Arabic text of the Qur’an then find yourself a teacher! By struggle I do not only mean those of us who are unable to decipher the Arabic letters but also those who can read but not with the correct rules and the way it should be read. Many of us do not even realise this until we seek help. Help is out there and it absolutely does not matter how old or young you are. There is no room for embarrassment when it comes to something as important as this.
- Not only is it important to recite the Qur’an as it should be recited but we also need to make a major effort to understand what is being said to us. How can we do what is required of us as part of our deen if we fail to understand the book in which it is conveyed?! The best thing to do in this instance is to join an Arabic class. We really cannot have any excuse not to do so, opportunities are widely available both onsite and online and can be tailored to meet individual work schedules.
- In the meantime we need to make sure we have a translation of the Qur’an which we refer to as often as we can when we are reciting the Arabic. Many good tafaaser are also widely available and should be used as well in order to truly understand and ponder upon the meaning.
- During Ramadan, we should make the effort to study the juz that is being recited in taraweeh that day beforehand, so when we are praying taraweeh behind the imam we are not daydreaming and wondering what time it is, rather we are focused because we at least understand the context and maybe even recognise various ayaat that we studied earlier that day from what he is reciting, if not all of it. For the more confident reciters, reciting the juz itself before it is read in taraweeh should not be much of a challenge either. If we can recite one juz a day then by the end of Ramadan we will have completed the entire Qur’an.
- Ramadan is also the perfect time to start memorising parts of the Qur’an. It does not have to be anything major we can start small and do a few verses a day. (A good memorisation tip is to use what you memorise regularly in your salah, that way it is ingrained into your memory.)
- We cannot save it all for Ramadan though, we must start now. We can start by making a habit of reciting a portion of Qur’an every day without fail, even it is a few verses. What is also very important is that we make the effort to understand and reflect upon what we recite, so if we can only do a few verses due to adding this on then that is absolutely fine. The key is to keep the action constant regardless of size as the prophet ﷺ said: ‘the most beloved of deeds to Allah are the most consistent of them, even if they are few’ (Bukhari).
- Making a Ramadan action plan listing the various Qur’an related activities we will do each day is also a good practical method to keep ourselves focused and consistent. It can also be used once Ramadan is over too so it will help with the maintenance step post-Ramadan bi idhnillah.
The aforementioned list only contains a small number of things that we can do as we approach this month and also during it but it is inshaaAllah a good starting point. As long as we do as much as we can during this blessed month, we will see the fruits of it throughout the rest of the year inshaaAllah. But it does not come without hard work, nothing that is worth having comes easy as the saying goes and it could not be truer in this case. As I mentioned before we have to sustain the work we do in Ramadan by continuing our efforts outside of it too. I end with the hadith of rasulullah ﷺ that ‘the Qur’an is evidence for you or against you’ (Muslim). May Allah ‘azza wa jall make us from amongst the people of the Qur’an, from amongst those whom it be evidence for and not against and will intercede for. Aameen.
‘O Allah, I am your slave, the son/daughter of your slave. My forelock is in Your Hand. Your judgment of me is inescapable. Your trial of me is just. I am invoking You by all the names that You call Yourself, that You have taught to anyone in Your creation, that You have mentioned in Your Book, or that You have kept unknown. Let the Qur’an be the delight of my heart, the light of my chest, the remover of my sadness and the pacifier of my worries.’ (Musnad Ahmad)