To read or not to read. That is the Question

Time bears witness to the advent of thousands of Prophets (upon them be peace and blessings), each being sent with the message of Allah’s oneness and divinity. These guides were sent to rear the lost sheep of mankind aided by Allah in their task with miracles as a sign of their authority.

These miracles would be in line with the expertise of that specific nation. The Prophet Musa Alayhis Salaam was in a period when magic and sorcery was prevalent. Thus one of his miracles was a staff that turned into a serpent. Likewise, Esa Alayhis Salaam was able to cure the blind and heal the sick with Allah’s permission at a time when medicine was common. However these miracles only lasted during the lifetime of that Prophet and would be lifted when that Prophet passed away.

Time once again bears witness that during the finest of eras, the highest of angels brought down onto the greatest of Prophets May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him the best of words for the best of nations. This ultimate of miracles is the Holy Qur’an.

Such a miracle that it has remained even after the passing away of the Prophet May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him whom it was revealed to, time will also witness this great book maintain its presence in the world till Qiyahmah! Revealed in such an era when eloquence of speech and literature and poetry was widespread. It followed the above pattern that a literary miracle be revealed in accordance with the people’s interests.

Such a time when satirical lyrics were used to cause wounds that were deeper and more painful than the external injuries inflicted during battle. At a time when the Arabs would pride themselves over their command of such a language and they would hold competitions. The best piece of work would have the honour of being hung on the wall of the Holy Kaa’ba for that year for all to see. This miracle came down and left these show pieces of speech and literature dumbstruck!

The eloquence was unsurpassable and its composition was of a standard unreachable. Its verses had deep meanings and underlying messages when it was recited, its raw power would entrance the people. Many a time, the hearing of a single verse would be the cause for someone to enter the fold of Islam. We are also informed of many cases even in our own time when people who do not understand the meaning of the Qur’an are overcome by a mesmerising sensation upon listening to the words of Allah being recited so much so that it causes them to submit themselves and accept Islam!

People knew that Prophet Muhammed May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him was illiterate and that he could have not have produced such a masterpiece, and so it had to be from a divine entity, as all other possibilities were exhausted. As for those who out of stubbornness and arrogance still denied it to be Allah’s word and insisted that it must be man-made, the Qur’an set them a challenge of producing a chapter like that in the Qur’an, or at least ten verses. It then simplified the challenge from ten verses to at least a single verse. This challenge is still standing today, such a miracle that has been standing for over 1400 years. This challenge has remained unmet. It is also a miracle of the Qur’an, that compared to the other previous revelations, it has remained unchanged in its originate condition and is free of alterations. This is because Allah Taa’la himself has taken the responsibility of preserving the Qur’an and has done so in various ways. It is the most widely read book around the world as well as the most widely sold!

( reports record sales where they actually sold out of copies of the English translation!).

Allah Taa’la has preserved its verses through the Huffaz, the millions of Hafiz who specialize in memorising the whole Quran of and checking its recital. Allah Taa’la has preserved its meaning through the Mufasireen, the people who specialize in writing the commentary of the verses. The correct recitation of the Qur’an is maintained through the ‘Qurraa’ who teach its correct pronunciation. We must bear in mind that the true Arabic recitation is an obligation and the Qur’an must be recited in the manner that it was revealed. Just as teaching the Qur’an, preaching words of wisdom and cleansing the hearts of the people were prophetic objectives, the Qur’an tells us that the primary duty of Prophethood is to recite the Qur’an in the manner it was acquired, any other way is not called the Kalaam (words) of Allah.

Prononciation is paramount because without it listeners would hear different words and thus different messages. An english example would be the words Quill and Kill, if the letter Q is pronounced like the letter K then the meaning is very different. Likewise the words Coat and Quote. Some simple arabic examples, the word ‘Qaala’ which means ‘he said’, if the ‘Qaaf’ was not pronounced properly and were to be read ‘Kaala’, the meaning would totally change and translate as ‘he weighed’. If someone were to mispronounce the word ‘Qul’ and say ‘Kul’, it would change the command of ‘Say’ into ‘Eat’. Mistakes like these can nullify a person’s prayer. Another example is the word ‘Allahu-Akbar’ which means ‘Allah is the Greatest’. However, if the first letter were to be prolonged into ‘Aallahu’, it would not remain a statement but becomes a question, i.e. ‘Is Allah the greatest?’ May Allah protect us from such mistakes.

Great attention has to be paid to the correct recital because this type of distortion is unacceptable. As was mentioned before, Allah Taa’la has also preserved the very script it was written in at the time of revelation. The script of ‘Bismillah’ is as it was written in the copy of the Qur’an of Hazrat Uthman May Allah be pleased with him.

Arabic grammar requires a ‘hamza’ to be after the letter ‘Baa’ but because the letter ‘Baa’ was joined to the letter ‘Seen’ in the Qur’an of Hazrat Uthman, this script has been preserved till now. But, the main form of preservation, a miracle in itself, is that for over 1400 years, Allah Taa’la has kept it preserved and protected it in the hearts of his servants.

From the very young to the very old, men, women, and children, have memorised all 30 chapters of the Quran (i.e. all 114 Surahs). They have committed to memory a grand total of 6236 Ayah (verses) in Arabic which is not necessarily their native language. Indeed a huge proportion of Huffaz recite like natives-speakers but are not fluent basic Arabic (i.e. they pronounce the words correctly but do not speak/converse in Arabic). The same cannot be said about any other book in the world. This is the Miracle that was seen at the time of the Holy Prophet May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him, and every day since; for there has always been Huffaz of the Quran since its revelation. The numbers of Huffaz have increased so that today you can count millions walking about the Earth protecting the whole Quran in their hearts and publicly reciting in Arabic the entire Quran in Tarweeh prayers in the month of Ramadhan. In this public manner the recital is reviewed by all present and memorisation and protection of the Quran is maintained. In private Huffaz routinely review their memorisation by iterating its recital in front of dedicated listners.

Allah Almighty has protected the Qur’an and will therefore protect a person who recites it and memorizes it. The Holy Prophet May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him has stated in a Hadith that if the Qur’an is placed in a skin and then put in the fire, it will not get burnt. The Muhaditheen (the scholars of Hadith) have interpreted this Prophetic saying in two ways. One is where the words ‘skin’ and ‘fire’ are taken in the literal sense where it is referring to a miracle that had taken place at the time of Prophet May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him.

The second interpretation takes the word ‘skin’ to mean human skin and ‘fire’ to mean the fire of hell. This is a general application which means that a Hafiz of the Qur’an will not be affected by the fire of hell were he to be thrown in due to any crime on his part. This is also backed up by another Hadith which sates,

“Learn the Qur’an by heart, because Almighty Allah does not punish the heart which contains the Qur’an.”

This merit is enough to prompt us to memorize and dedicate our lives for the Qur’an. The Qur’an is not a poetry book, nor does it contain prose, rather it has a style of its own, a certain style that is unmatched. Its challenge is still unanswered and will remain so. The Qur’an is not a storybook, yet it contains historic events and incidents of nations that existed in the past. Some of these places have recently been discovered for example the city of ‘Iram’ which was found in the 1970’s.

These stories are not there to entertain, but to contemplate over and derive lessons from. The Holy Qur’an is not a science book, yet so many of its simple statements are confirmed in our age by scientific discoveries or rather confirmations. (Such information which could not have been attainable 1400 years ago)

It made statements which referred to things that could not have been known then, but the miracle is that these have stood the test of time and have not been wrong as their truth are now being unfolded.

Amongst other subjects, the Qur’an talks about embryology, water, the weather, cosmology, geology etc. A very interesting aspect of the miraculous nature of the Qur’an is its finely balanced structure where we discover some of its mathematical miracles.

Allah states in Surah Ale-Imran,

“The similitude of Esa Alayhis Salaam before Allah is as that of Adam Alayhis Salaam.” ( 3:59)

On one level, this means that Esa Alayhis Salaam was no more than a man and a Prophet as was Adam Alayhis Salaam (opposing the managed conception of the Christians). However if this is taken to represent an equation i.e Esa = Adam. We find that both names occur exactly 25 times in the Qur’an!

We also find various words having the same or opposite meaning to occur the same number of times. For example, ‘life’ and ‘death’ both occur 140 times and ‘man’ and ‘woman’ appear 24 times each. Furthermore, the word for ‘month’ occurs 12 times!

May Allah Almighty grant us the ability to fulfil its rights. This article is concluded with a description of the Qur’an, and no description can surpass its own description:

“Alif Laam Raa. A book which we have revealed unto you, in order that you might lead mankind out of the depths of darkness in light by the leave of their Lord – to the way of the Exalted in power, Worthy of all praise.”

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