Certain basic states and attitudes of heart and mind are a necessary prerequisite to any fruitful relationship with the Qur’an. Develop them as much as you can. Make them part of your consciousness, keep them ever-alive and active. Integrate them in your actions. Let them penetrate the depth of your being. Without the help of these inner resource you will not receive your full measure of the Qur’an’s blessings. They will be your indispensable companions, too, throughout your journey.
These inner resources are neither difficult nor impossible to find. Through constant awareness and reflection, through appropriate words and deeds, you can acquire and develop them. The more you do so, the closer you will be able to come to the Qur’an; the closer you come to the Qur’an, the greater will be your harvest.
1. Faith: The Word of Allah: First Come to the Qur’an with a strong and deep faith that it is the word of Allah, your Creator and Lord. This book is no ordinary book; it opens with the emphatic statement: ‘This is the Book [of God], there is no doubt in it’ (al-Baqarah 2:2). Your purpose in reading and studying it is no ordinary purpose; you seek from it the guidance that will transform your whole being, bring you and keep you on the Straight Path: ‘Guide us on the Straight Path’ (al-Fatihah 1:5) is the cry of your heart to which the Qur’an is the response.
2. Purity of lntention and Purpose: Secondly Read the Qur’an with no purpose other than to receive guidance from your Lord, to come nearer to Him, and to seek His good pleasure. What you get from the Quran depends on what you come to it for. Your niyyah (intention and purpose) is crucial. Certainly the Qur’an has come to guide you, but you may also go astray by reading it should you approach it for impure purposes and wrong motives. ‘Thereby He causes many to go astray, and thereby He guides many; but thereby He causes none to go astray save the iniquitous‘ (al-Baqarah 2:26).
3. Bringing Gratitude and Praise: Make yourself constantly alert with intense praise and gratitude to your Lord for having blessed you with the greatest gift – the Qur’an – and for having guided you to its reading and study. Once you realize what a priceless treasure you hold in your hands, it is but natural for your heart to beat with joy and murmur, and for your tongue to join in: ‘Thankful praise be to Allah, who has guided us to this; [otherwise] never could we have found guidance had not Allah not guided us’ (al-A’raf 7: 43).
4. Acceptance and Trust: Accept and trust, without the least doubt or hesitation, every knowledge and guidance that the Qur’an conveys to you. You have the freedom to question whether the Qur’an is the word of Allah or not, and to reject its claim if you are not satisfied. But once you have accepted it as His word, you have no basis whatever to doubt even a single word of it. For to do so would negate what you have accepted. There must be total surrender and abandonment to the Quranic teachings. Your own beliefs, opinions, judgements, notions, whims should not be allowed to override any part of it.
5. Obedience and Change: Bring the will, resolve and readiness to obey whatever the Qur’an says, and change your life, attitudes and behavior-inwardly and outwardly-as desired by it. Unless you are prepared and begin to act to shape your thoughts and actions according to the messages you receive from the Qur’an, all your dedication and labour may be to no avail. Mere intellectual exercises and ecstatic experiences will never bring you anywhere near the real treasures of the Qur’an.
6. Hazards and Obstacles: Always remain aware that, as you embark upon reading the Qur’an, Satan will create every possible hazard and obstacle to stalk you on your way to the great riches of the Qur’an.
7. Trust and Dependence: Trust, exclusively and totally, in Allah to lead you to the full rewards of reading the Qur’an
8. Participation of the Inner Self: Reading the Qur’an, the tilawah, must involve your whole ‘person’. Only thus will you be able to elevate your encounter with the Qur’an to the level where you can be called a ‘true’ believer in the Qur’an (al-Baqarah 2: 121).
What is the Heart?
The more important part of your ‘person’ is your inner self. This inner self the Qur’an calls the qalb or the ‘heart’. The heart of the Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, was the first recipient of the Quranic message: ‘Truly it has been sent down by the Lord of all the worlds, the Trustworthy Spirit has alighted with it upon your heart [O Prophet], that you may be one of the warners . . .’ (al-Shu’ara’ 26: 192-4).
You will therefore reap the full joys and blessings of reading the Qur’an when you are able to involve your heart fully in your task, InshaAllah.
May Allah always guide us to the right path and be pleased with us. Ameen.