Facts about the Qur’an

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The Glorious Qur’an is the Word of Allah as revealed to His Prophet, Muhammad, peace be on him and his progeny.

On reading the Qur’an one is at once convinced that it is the Word of Allah, for no man can write such perfect guidance on so many subjects.

The Holy Qur’an says that no man will be able to forge even a part of it and that no corruption shall touch it from any side. It is a miracle that the Holy Qur’an has remained unchanged and unaltered during all these 1400 years and it shall remain so till the Day of Resurrection, for Allah, has taken it on Himself to protect it.

The Book of Allah is like an ocean. The less learned, like children, collect pebbles and shells from its shores. The scholars and thinkers, like pearl divers, bring out from it the highest philosophy, wisdom and rulse of a perfect way of living.

For easy dailiy recitation, the Qur’an is divided into thirty equal parts. One part takes only twenty-four reading minutes, and the whole Book requires twelve reading hours. There are 114 chapters, and 6,226 verses, containing 99,464 words made up of 330, 113 letters.

Millions of Muslims read the Qur’an daily. Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq has said that, the minimum dailiy reading of the Qur’an should be fifty verses or one-fourth of the part, about five minutes reading.

Adapted from (Shakir, M.A.: Islamic History)

Let Us Know the Quran Better

by Sayyid Mujtaba Musavi Lari

The means for establishing the messengerhood of the Prophet of Islam are those we have already expounded. The conditions and clear signs which must exist in every bearer of a heavenly message must be shown to exist also in the Prophet of Islam.

Prophethood and messengerhood are closely and inseparably linked to the miracle that proves the relationship of the claimant to prophethood with the supra-natural realm; the miracle is the clearest and most objective evidence that disarms those who would illogically deny prophethood, for it demonstrates that the claim of the Prophet is founded on a reality.

All the Prophets had but a single aim in fulfilling their Divine missions; their teachings are all of a similar type, notwithstanding the peculiarities of the mission of each, and the truths they expounded concerning the supra-natural realm differ only with respect to the degree of detail.

It is true that there are differences with regard to acts of worship and social dealings; a common principle is implemented in differing ways that take into consideration the specific characteristics of each age and represent an evolutionary process.

It appears that one of the reasons for the variation in miracles is that in the times of earlier Prophets, people were inclined to believe only on the basis of material observations of visible objects that lacked any spiritual content. The fetters imposed on human thought by the seers and sages of those times caused people’s attention to be limited to a particular realm, which, in turn, was the most significant factor in separating them from God and causing their minds to stagnate. The destruction of such a limited mode of thought was therefore of necessity a principal aim of the Prophets.

The Prophets were entrusted by God with the duty of attacking this source of error by confronting the seers and soothsayers with deeds of a type similar to that which they performed, but enjoying a special advantage that placed them beyond the reach of all competition. By the power of the miracle they negated and destroyed that particular cause of the human beings’ separation from God-the concentration of their attention on the dazzling acts performed by the soothsayers of the age which enslaved their spirits. By demonstrating their own miracles and setting forth the realistic principles of Divine religion, they opened the doors of guidance, growth, and development toward perfection, and linked all dimensions of human life and activity to God. All of this survives from the real nature of the miracle.

The Prophet of Islam began conveying his heavenly message in the midst of a society where people’s minds revolved exclusively around eloquent speech and the composition of beautiful and attractive poetry and literary excellence. Precisely this concentration on a field of activity that cannot be counted among the basic and vital concerns of the human being was an important factor in prolonging the stagnation of thought and lack of attention to the source of all existence.

Under these conditions, God equipped His Prophet with a weapon, the Quran, that apparently belonged to the same category as the literary works of the age but possessed unique and astonishing characteristics that were beyond the capacity of the human being to reproduce.

The Quran’s sweetness of speech, the attraction exerted by the verses of God’s book, filled the hearts of the Arabs with new feeling and perception. Their deep attention was drawn to this Divine trust that had come to them, this inimitable work. Fully versed as they were in the arts and subtleties of rhetoric, they realized that the extraordinary eloquence of the Quran was beyond the power of man to produce. It was impossible for someone to hear the Quran and understand its meaning without being profoundly affected by its power to attract. From the beginning of revelation, the Quran was, then, the most important factor in bringing the human being to God’s religion.

Moreover, if the Prophet of Islam had performed some miracle other than the Quran, it would have had no meaning for that people, given their mental structure. The path would have been open for all kinds of doubt and hesitation. But the Arabs of that age who were addressed by the Quran could never have any doubts about its extraordinary eloquence, for they were well aware of all the mysteries of rhetoric and had living among them masters of language and literary composition.

At the same time, since the Quran is intended to be an eternal miracle, revealed to make science and learning blossom among humanbeings, it is also a scientific miracle. It has expounded, in the most eloquent fashion, truths of a metaphysical nature together with everything that touches, however slightly, on the happiness of wretchedness of the human being. Although those who are not acquainted with the Arabic language cannot fully appreciate its miraculousness, they can perceive the miraculous nature of the meanings and truths it contains.

The limitation in time of the miracles performed by the earlier Prophets was an indication of the impermanence of their religions and the laws that they brought. By contrast, the miracle attesting to the prophethood fo the Prophet of Islam cannot be temporally limited, because his message is universal and represents the culmination of all preceding religions; his prophethood requires an eternal miracle, a brilliant and eloquent proof of its immortality.

A permanent message must display to mankind a permanent and everlasting miracle, one which advances with time, so that just as it offered convincing proof to people of the past, it may do the same to people of the future. A short-lived miracle that is imperceptible to later generations cannot be a source of reference or judgment for the future.

For this reason, the Quran is presented as a permanent and everlasting miracle, the final manifestation of God’s revelation. The Quran itself says: “The true and well-formulated message of your Lord has now been completed, and none is able to change it.” (6:115)

From the very first day when he presented his religion as a universal school of thought, the influence of which was not to be contained by geographical or ethnic boundaries, the Prophet of Islam displayed this proof of his messengerhood to the whole of mankind, as a living proof that his mission and the revolutionary movement he inaugurated represented the final chapter in the history of prophetic missions and movements.

The Quran does not represent an ideological weapon for temporary use in moving from an inferior social system to a superior one at a given stage in history; it represents the permanent ideology of the human being living in the social and intellectual order of Islam.

The miracle accompanying the mission of the beloved Prophet of Islam brings to an end all the previous messages, limited as they were to a certain time. In its unique style, the Quran provides the human being with all necessary guidance by means of either recalling the circumstances leading to the revelation of various verses or of recounting of historical narratives or of describing the events that took place during the life of the Prophet, or by means of various similes and comparisons that touch on the different concerns of human life and guide the human being in the direction of higher degrees. By analyzing the stories and events contained in the Quran, which include also a distinctively Quranic mode of Judgment, it is possible to deduce certain general principles.

Although the gradual and orderly descent of the Quranic revelation was regarded as a defect by superficial and ignorant people, it should, in fact, be recognized as a principal factor in the triumph of the Prophet’s message, given the conditions of the age and the events with which he was confronted.

Just as chronic diseases require long-term treatment, a continuous struggle against the factors that constantly prevent the human being from perceiving the truths of existence and stand in the way of his growth and development must be grounded on a firm ideational basis and a comprehensive social organization. Only then will it be able to implement its goals over a period of time and guide human beings to its ultimate purposc their liberation from self-alienation.

Solutions whose efficacy does not transcend events limited in time and space will be unable to solve the problems of the human being. Islam represents the only system which is able to answer those problems because of the attention it pays to all phenomena.

For Muslims, the miraculousness of the Quran is a matter of religious belief; for scholars and researchers, it is a matter of scientific belief. The Quran possesses a remarkable comprehensiveness and richness, with respect to its worldview and scientific content, and its ability to guide the individual and society. There are still many matters contained in the Quran that call for investigation and await discovery by further research.

The Extraordinary Richness of the Quran

The Quran represents the principal source of all researches concerning the Islamic school of thought. Moreover, in every age and every part of the world, it can serve as the basis for a developed and free society which enables all the hidden capacities and potentials of the human being to blossom in all their dimensions; it lays down a path to the ideal society and the government of God.

More than fourteen centuries have passed since the revelation of the Quran. Throughout this period, mankind has undergone numerous changes, and passing through repeated stages of development and growth, it has attained a more comprehensive awareness of the mysteries of creation. Nonetheless, the Quran has at all times retained its proud and dignified presence on the stage of human history.

When this miracle first came into existence, at a time when the foundations of human thought had not fully developed, it served to prove categorically the messengerhood of the Prophet of Islam. In the present age, as the human being discovers in the treasure house of the Quran, more and more remarkable indications, commensurate with his own growth in perception, knowledge and civilization, the Quran still stands as a permanent historical miracle and a living universal proof for the veracity of the Seal of the Prophets. The increase in the volume of human knowledge and the opening up of new horizons of thought have given us the chance to benefit more fully from the Quran than past generations.

If the Quran had been able to establish itself only during a certain segment of time and in a limited spatial environment, it would not have been able thus miraculously to advance together with time. The reason for the eternal vitality and authenticity of the Quran is that it has always been a source for spiritual guidance and command in the face of the changing events of time.

History bears witness that the emergence of the Seal of the Prophets and his mode of activity within society marked the beginning of a new stage in human thought and ratiocination and in the development and expansion of the will and independence of the human being. For in his growth to maturity, the human being now advanced in his investigations from the stage of mere observation to that of thought; an exact and profound examination of phenomena took the place of simplistic assumption. All this is indicated by the fact that the human beings’ acceptance of true faith was no longer on the basis of miracles involving supranatural or extraordinary phenomena, as was the case with the mission of previous Prophets.

Human beings turning to faith on the basis of knowledge and thoughtùsomething to which the Quran repeatedly invites human belngsùrepresents in itself the miracle wrought by the heavenly message of Islam. Reliance on sensory miracles would not have been compatible with the nature of the final Divine message and its aim of liberating the human being and fostering the growth of his intellect. God, therefore, prepared the human being in the course of many thousands of years to receive the final guidance.

Our investigations of the Quran can be of value only when we empty our minds of all pre-existing notions and attitudes, because fanatical convictions concerning the contents of the Quran will yield nothing but mental stagnation and immobility. This is a pitfall that every alert and fair-minded researcher must seek to avoid.

It is an undeniable reality that the Quran is too elevated a book to be the product of ideas held by a group of scholars. It is even more impossible for it to have been produced by a single individual or to have been borrowed by him from other sources, particularly an individual who was unlettered, had not even studied, and had grown up in the degenerate environment of the Arabian peninsula at that time, an environment which was totally alien to science and philosophy.

When we consider the system and program of action proposed by the Quran for the uplift of the human being and compare it with the laws and systems of the past, we realize that it borrowed nothing from them and bore no resemblance to them. It represents an entirely new phenomenon, original and unprecedented in its fundamental nature, and among its lofty aims are the transformation of human societies and their restructuring on the basis of justice, equality, and freedom for the oppressed and deprived masses.

The Quran speaks in detail of the history of earlier Prophets and their communities, referring constantly to the events that occurred during their careers. When we encounter the narratives contained in the Quran, the events that it relates, we are brought into direct contact with reality, in an unparalleled fashion. Every reference they contain, direct and indirect, acquaints us with the very substance of truth. It is, then, totally impossible that the narratives of the Quran should have been borrowed from the Torah or the Gospels. The Quran always presents the stories of the Prophets in a positive framework by changing and modifying them so as to purge them of unworthy excesses and elements contrary to pure monotheism, reason, and sound religious thinking. A copying would have resulted in mere imitation, and would have been entirely negative.

Dr. Murice Bucaille, the French scholar, expresses himself as follows on this point: ‘In the West, Jews, Christians and Atheists are unanimous in stating (without a scrap of evidence, however) that Muhammad wrote the Quran or had it written as an imitation of the Bible. It is claimed that stories of religious history in the Quran resume Biblical stories. This attitude is as thoughtless as saying that Jesus Himself duped His contemporaries by drawing inspiration from the Old Testament during His preachings: the whole of Matthew’s Gospel is based on this continuation of the Old Testament…. What expert in exegesis would dream of depriving Jesus of his status as God’s envoy for this reason?

“The existence of such an enormous difference between the Biblical description and the data in the Quran concerning the Creation is worth underlining once again on account of the totally gratuitous accusations leveled against Muhammad since the beginnings of Islam to the effect that he copied the Biblical descriptions. As far as the Creation is concerned, this accusation is totally unfounded.

How could a man living fourteen hundred years ago have made corrections to the existing description to such an extent that he eliminated scientifically inaccurate material and, on his own initiative, made statements that science has been able to verih only in the present day? This hypothesis is completely untenable.

The description of the Creation given in the Quran is quite different from the one in the Bible.”

Taking these factors into consideration, no truth-loving individual can conceive of an origin other than Divine revelation for the Ouran which is not only a book, but also a proof of messengerhood and a manifestation of the miraculousness that supported the Prophet.

The Quran thus came to be the profound, brilliant and eternal miracle of God’s Messenger enabling the teachings and laws of Islam to retain their validity through time. The Divine commands and instructions were made manifest in phrases and sentences that were marked by miraculousness, thus implementing God’s will for the preservation of religion when faced with the assaults of rancorous enemies and for the frustration of their conspiracies.

Through the permanence and stability of the mould in which God’s Commands are uniquely set, these enemies who would reach out against them in order to change and distort them are permanently prevented from attaining their goal; the eternal teachings and laws of God will last throughout time, immune from change or distortion.

Another aspect of the miraculousness of the Quran which has had a great effect is the revolutionary transformation it brought about in human civilization. A matter calling for serious attention in the study of Islam is the fact that it received no assistance from factors extemal to itself when it began to create the nucleus of a universal society out of a scattered and disunited people that lacked all science and free thought and did not even seek to unify its constituent tribes; and when it began, moreover, to found a uniquely, vast and spiritual civilization.

All the factors for changing the world, for putting forward an international law with the slogan of unity among races, peoples, and social classes, for creating a movement for the liberation of thought and the ennobling of knowledge, were derived from the very text of the Quran, from the culture that emerged from the Quran and from the Islamic order. Islam never relied on a government or a power situated outside the society it had itself brought into being.

Even the aggressors who attacked the Islamic lands and triumphed over the Muslims, thanks to their military superiority, lost their dominance in the end when they were confronted with the spiritual power of Islam, and they adopted the religion of the people theyihad conquered. This history of nations does not record any other example of a victorious aggressor adopting the religion of the people it had defeated.

Complete Reference:

The Seal of the Prophets and His Message

Lessons on Islamic Doctrine

Sayyid Mujtaba Musavi Lari

Translated by Hamid Algar

Women in a Qur’anic Society

Lois Lamya ‘ al-F’aruqi

The topic of this paper was chosen out of the conviction that humanity is suffering today from a number of serious social problems related to women and to the interrelations of the two sexes in society. Although these problems may be more pronounced, disturbing, more debilitating for some of us than for others, there are probably few if any regions of the contemporary world whose citizens have not felt in some way the repercussions of these problems. Therefore, there is a pressing need for exploring possible solutions.

The problem of women is linked, for the present study, with the Qur’an, and what I have called the “Qur’anic society,” out of strong conviction that the Qur’an offers the most viable suggestions for contemporary social reform which can be found in any model or any literature.

Many of you may be puzzled by the title of this paper-“Women in a Qur’anic Society.” You may ask yourselves, “Why didn’t she say “Women in Muslim Society” or even “Women in an Islamic Society?” Let me explain why the expressions “Muslim” and “Islamic” were rejected for this paper, and how the use of the rather unusual appellation, “Qur’anic society,” is justified. There are at least three reasons for my choice of that title

The first of these derives from the concern that many beliefs and practices have been labelled “Muslim” or “Islamic” without warranting those names. There are approximately 40 nations of the world which claim to have a Muslim majority population and therefore to be exemplary of “Muslim” or “Islamic” societies. This of course results in a great deal of confusion as the question is asked: Which of these regions represents most faithfully the true “Islamic” society? Among Muslims that question is most frequently answered by the claim that their own national or regional society is the truest to the intentions of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

Non-Muslims, on the other hand, and especially the Western anthropologists who travel around the world to investigate the customs and mores of its peoples, tend to treat each variation within the Muslim World as equally valid. This results from their adherence to what I call the “zoo theory” of knowledge. Adherents of that theory regard all Muslims-and of course similar treatment of other non-Western people is discernible-as different species within the human zoo.

The “zoo theory” protagonists go to the field, record and snap pictures of every strange or exotic practice they see and hear; and for them, this is Islam or Islamic practice. A trip to another part of the Muslim World with the ubiquitous devices for recording and photographing generates a different body of materials documenting superficial variations in customs. But this, too, is Islam or Islamic practice for the “zoo theory” investigator or ethnographer. There is far too little effort spent on understanding Islam as a whole. As a result, the basic premise of scepticism and relativism is confirmed in the mind of the researcher; and he/she returns home convinced that there is not one Islam, but scores of Islams existent in the worl

d. In like fashion, the researcher reports that there are many definitions or descriptions of the status and role of women in Muslim society. Each one of the resultant definitions or descriptions is dubbed as “Muslim” or “Islamic” even if we as Muslims may hold some of these practices to be distortions or perversions of our principles and beliefs by the misguided or uninformed among us.

It was partly to avoid confusion with these variant descriptions and misunderstandings that I have chosen the appellation “Qur’anic” for the present discussion. In this way, I hope to move beyond the limited relevance and particularism of a “zoo theory” of investigation to a presentation which avoids such fragmentation and is ideologically in conformance with the true prescriptions of Islam. In regard to matters so determining of our destiny and very existence, we can never be satisfied with mere reportage about certain human animals in the “zoo” who are statistically “Muslim” or whose customs have been labelled as “Islamic.”

Those designations have sometimes been misapplied. “Qur’anic,” on the other hand, is a term which is unequivocal. It points clearly to the topic of this paper. Secondly, “Qur’anic society” was judged to be the most suitable title for it orients us towards discovering those core principles in the Qur’an itself which form the underlying framework for our societies throughout the Muslim World.

It is the society based on Qur’anic principles which is the goal of all of us, even though we may unknowingly deviate from time to time from those principles. It is the conformance to a Qur’an-based society for which we must all work if the Muslim peoples are to enjoy a felicitous future. It is not an Indonesian, Pakistani, Saudi Arabian, Egyptian or Nigerian version of that society that we should regard as indisputable norm, but one firmly based on the teachings of the Holy Qur’an. Only therein can we find a proper definition of woman’s role in society. Since it is these teachings which are the subject of my paper, “Women in a Qur’anic Society” seemed the most proper title. Thirdly, I wish by this choice of title to emphasize that we should regard the Holy Qur’an as our guide in all aspects of our lives.

It is not only the prime source of knowledge about religious beliefs, obligations, and practices, it is also the guide, whether specific or implied, for every aspect of Islamic civilization. In the centuries of past glory, it determined the political, economic, social and artistic creativity of the Muslim peoples. If we are to succeed as members of an Islamic society in the coming decades and centuries, it must again determine our thinking and our actions in an all-inclusive way. Din is not limited to the Five Pillars of the shahadah, salat, siyam, zakat, and the hajj. Din in fact defies simple equation with the English term “religion,” for the former’s significance penetrates into every nook and cranny of human existence and behaviour. Surely it should be our goal to relate every action to our Din.

We can only do this by allowing the Holy Qur’an to in-form and re-form every realm of our lives. As a step in this direction, let us consider what the Qur’an has to teach us about the society towards which we should be striving, and ponder its effect on the position of women. What are the basic characteristics of a Qur’anic society which particularly affect women? Five characteristics – which seem basic, crucial and incontrovertible – of Qur’anic society will be considered. Although they are presented in a series, each one rests upon the others and affects them. The interdependence of these five characteristics makes it difficult to speak of any one of them without mention of the others, and of course they do not and cannot exist in isolation from one another.

1. EQUAL STATUS AND WORTH OF THE SEXES

The first of these characteristics of a Qur’anic society which affect women is that both sexes are held to be equal in status and worth. In other words, the Qur’an teaches us that women and men are all creatures of Allah, existing on a level of equal worth and value, although their equal importance does not substantiate a claim for their equivalence or perfect identity. This equality of male and female is documentable in the Qur’an in passages pertaining to at least four aspects of human existence and interaction.

A. Religious Matters

The first of these Qur’anic confirmations of male-female equality are contained in statements pertaining to such religious matters as the origins of humanity, or to religious obligations and rewards.

1. Origins of Humanity.

The Qur’an is devoid of the stories found in the Old Testament which denigrate women. There is no hint that the first woman created by God is a creature of lesser worth than the first male, or that she is a kind of appendage formed from one of his ribs. Instead, male and female are created, we read, min nafsin wahidatin (“from a single soul or self”) to complement each other (Qur’an 4:1; 7:189).

Whereas the Torah or Old Testament treats Eve as the temptress of the Garden of Eden, who aids Satan in enticing Adam to disobey God, the Qur’an deals with the pair with perfect equity. Both are equally guilty of sinning; both are equally punished by God with expulsion from the Garden; and both are equally forgiven when they repent.

2. Religious Obligations and Rewards.

The Qur’an is not less clear in commanding equality for men and women in its directives regarding religious obligations and rewards. We read:

Lo! Men who surrender unto Allah, and women who surrender, and men who believe and women who believe, and men who obey and women who obey, and men who speak the truth and women who speak the truth, and men who persevere (in righteousness) and women who persevere and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give aims and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their modesty and women who guard (their modesty), and men who remember Allah and women who remember-Allah hath prepared for them forgiveness and a vast reward. (33:35)

B. Ethical Obligations and Rewards

Secondly, the Qur’an reveals to mankind the desired equality of the two sexes by establishing the same ethical obligations and rewards for women and men.

And who so does good works, whether male or female, and he (or she) is a believer, such will enter Paradise and they will not be wronged the dint in a date-stone. (4:124) Whosoever does right, whether male or female, and is a believer, him verily We shall quicken with good life, and We shall pay them a recompense according to the best of what they do. (16:97)

If Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala had not deemed the two sexes of equal status and value, such explicit statements of their equality in ethical obligations and rewards would not have been made in the Qur’an.

C. Education

Although the more specific commands for the equal rights of women and men to pursue education can be found in the hadith literature, the Qur’an does at least imply the pursuit of knowledge by all Muslims regardless of their sex. For example, it repeatedly commands all readers to read, to recite, to think, to contemplate, as well as to learn from the signs (ayat) of Allah in nature. In fact, the very first revelation to Prophet Muhammad (S) was concerned with knowledge.

In a Qur’anic society, there can never be a restriction of this knowledge to one sex. It is the duty of every Muslim and every Muslimah to pursue knowledge throughout life, even if it should lead the seeker to China, we are told. The Prophet (S) even commanded that the slave girls be educated, and he asked Shifa’ bint ‘Abdillah to instruct his wife Hafsah bint ‘Umar. Lectures of the Prophet (S) were attended by audiences of both men and women; and by the time of the Prophet’s death, there were many women scholars.

D. Legal Rights A fourth evidence in the Qur’an for the equality of men and women is its specification of legal rights which are guaranteed for every individual from cradle to grave. Unlike the situation in the West, where until the last century it was impossible for a married woman to hold property on her own, to contract with other persons, or to dispose of her property without the consent of her husband, the Qur’an proclaims the right of every woman to buy and sell, to contract and to earn, and to hold and manage her own money and property.

In addition to these rights, the Qur’an grants woman a share in the inheritance of the family (4:7-11), warns against depriving her of that inheritance (4:19), specifies that the dower (mahr) of her marriage should belong to her alone and never be taken by her husband (2:229; 4:19-21,25) unless offered by the woman as a free gift (4:44).

As with any privilege, these rights of women carry corresponding responsibilities. If she commits a civil offence, the Qur’an tells us, woman’s penalty is no less or no more than that of a man in a similar case (5:41; 24:2). If she is wronged or harmed, she is entitled to compensation just like a man. It is clear that the Qur’an not only recommends, but is even insistent upon, the equality of women and men as an essential characteristic of a Qur’anic society. The claim of the non-Muslim critics that Islam denigrates women is denied emphatically by the Qur’an. Similarly denied are the arguments of certain Muslims that women are religiously, intellectually and ethically inferior to men, as Jewish and Christian literatures had earlier maintained.

2. A DUAL SEX RATHER THAN UNISEX SOCIETY

Now let us consider the second basic characteristic of the Qur’anic society which affects the position of women. This is found in the directives for a dual sex rather than a unisex society. While maintaining the validity of the equal worth of men and women, the Qur’an does not judge this equality to mean equivalence or identity of the sexes.

Probably all of you are familiar with the contemporary move toward unisex clothes and shoes, unisex jewellery and hair styles, unisex actions and entertainments. In fact, it is often difficult in America to decide whether one is looking at a boy or a girl. This results from the current notion in Western society that there is little if any difference between the two sexes in physical, intellectual and emotional endowment; and that, therefore, there should be no difference in their functions and roles in society.

The dress and the actions are but superficial evidence of this deeper conviction. Accompanied by a downgrading of the qualities and roles traditionally associated with the female sex, this current idea has generated a unisex society in which only the male role is respected and pursued. Although meant to bring a larger measure of equality for women, the idea that men and women are not only equal, but equivalent and identical, has actually pushed women into imitating men and even despising their womanhood. Thus it is generating a new type of male chauvinism.

Tremendous social pressures have resulted in stripping women of their role-responsibilities formerly performed by them, and they are forced to live a life devoid of personality and individuality. The society based on the Qur’an is, in contrast, a dual-sex society in which both sexes are assigned their special responsibilities. This assures the healthy functioning of the society for the benefit of all its members.

This division of labour imposes on men more economic responsibilities (2:233, 240-241; 4:34), while women are expected to play their role in childbearing and rearing (2:233; 7:189). The Qur’an, recognising the importance of this complementary sexual assignment of roles and responsibilities, alleviates the greater economic demands made on male members of the population by allotting them a larger share than women in inheritance.

At the same time it grants women the right to maintenance in exchange for her contribution to the physical and emotional well being of the family and to the care she provides in the rearing of children. The unisex ideology generates a competitive relationship between the sexes which we find in America and which is disastrous for all members of society: the young; the old; the children; the parents; the single and the married; the male and the female. The dual-sex society, by contrast, is a more natural answer to the question of sexual relationships, a plan encouraging co-operation rather than competition between the sexes.

It is a plan which has been found suitable in countless societies through history. Only in very recent times did the idea of sexual non-differentiation or identity achieve prominence, and then primarily in the Western society. Even the medical evidence for mental or emotional difference between the sexes is suppressed in Western research, for it threatens the prevailing trends of thought. How long this socially disastrous movement will continue before it is rejected as bankrupt is not known. But certainly we as Muslims should be aware of its deficiencies and dangerous consequences, and make our societies and young people aware of the disaster caused by it. Protagonists of the unisex society have condemned the dual-sex human organisation as dangerous for the well-being of women. If dual sex means that one sex is superior to the other, such a situation could have arisen. But in the true Qur’anic society, toward which we all aspire to move, this is not possible. As we have seen above, the Qur’an advocates eloquently the equal status of women and men at the same time as it recognises their generally relevant differences of nature and function.

Thus while acknowledging the religious, ethical, intellectual and legal equality of males and females, the Qur’an never regards the two sexes as identical or equivalent. It justifies this stand in its assignment of variant responsibilities and its provisions regarding inheritance and maintenance which match those responsibilities.

3. INTERDEPENDENCE OF THE MEMBERS OF SOCIETY

The third characteristic of the Qur’anic society which is strongly assertive of women’s position is the insistence on the interdependence of the members of society. Contrary to the contemporary trend to emphasize the rights of the individual at the expense of society, we find the Qur’an repeatedly emphasising the interdependence of the male and female as well as of all members of society. The wife and husband, for example, are described as “garments” (libas) of each other (2:187), and as mates living and dwelling in tranquillity (33:21;see also 7:189).

Men and women are directed to complement each other, not to compete with each other. They are the protectors of each other (9:71). Each is called upon to fulfil certain assigned responsibilities for the good of both and the larger group. In order to insure this interdependence which is so necessary for the physical and psychological well-being of both men and women, Allah, in the Holy Qur’an, stipulated the reciprocal or mutual duties and obligations of the various members of the family-men and women, fathers and mothers, children and elders, and relatives of all degrees (17:23-26; 4:1, 7-12; 2:177; 8:41; 16:90; etc.). The care of and concern for other members of society is equally a duty of the Muslim.

It is not righteousness that you turn faces to the east and the west; but righteous is he who believes in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the prophets; and gives his wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free … (2:177)

The Qur’an thereby instils in the Muslim a sense of a place within, and responsibility to society. This is not regarded or experienced as a repression of the individual. Instead the Muslim is constantly encouraged in this interdependence by experiencing the benefits it brings. The economic, social and psychological advantages of such close relationships and concerns within the social group provide more than ample compensation for the individual to sublimate his/her individualistic aspirations.

The anonymity and lack of social interdependence among its members in contemporary Western society have caused many serious problems. Loneliness, inadequate care of the aged, the generation gap, high suicide rates, and juvenile crime can all be traced back to the ever-worsening breakdown of social interdependence and the denial of the human necessity for mutual care.

4. THE EXTENDED FAMILY

Closely intertwined with interdependence is the fourth basic characteristic of the Qur’anic society which serves to improve male-female relations. This is the institution of the extended family. In addition to the members of the nucleus that constitutes the family- mother, father and their children-the Islamic family or ‘a’ilah also includes grandparents, uncles, aunts and their offspring.

Normally Muslim families are “residentially extended;” that is, their members live communally with three or more generations of relatives in a single building or compound. Even where this residential version of the extended family is not possible or adhered to, family connections reaching far beyond the nuclear unit are evident in strong psychological, social, economic and even political ties. The extended family solidarity is prescribed and strengthened by the Holy Qur’an, where we find repeated references to the rights of kin (17:23-26; 4:7-9; 8:41; 24:22; etc.) and the importance of treating them with kindness (2 :83; 16: 90; etc.).

Inheritance portions, for not only the nuclear family members but those of the extended family as well, are specifically prescribed (2:180-182; 4:33,176). Dire punishment is threatened for those who ignore these measures for intra-family support (4:7-12).

The extended family of Islamic culture is thus not merely a product of social conditions, it is an institution anchored in the word of God Himself and buttressed by Qur’anic advice and rules. The extended family is an institution which can provide tremendous benefits for both women and men when it exists in conjunction with the other basic characteristics of a Qur’anic society. 1) It guards against the selfishness or eccentricity of any one party, since the individual faces not a single spouse but a whole family of peers, elders and children if he or she goes “off course.”

2) It allows for careers for women without detriment to themselves, spouse, children or elders, since there are always other adults in the home to assist the working wife or mother.

Career women in an Islamic extended family suffer neither the physical and emotional burden of overwork nor the feeling of guilt for neglecting maternal, marital or familial responsibilities. In fact, without this sort of family institution, it is impossible to imagine any feasible solution for the problems now facing Western society. As more and more women enter the work force, the nuclear family is unable to sustain the needs of its members.

The difficulties in the single parent family are of course magnified a hundred-fold. The strain that such family systems put on the working woman are devastating to the individual as well as to the marriage and family bonds. The dissolutions of families which result and psychological and social ramifications of the high divorce rate in America and other Western nations are the growing concern of doctors, lawyers, psychiatrists and sociologists as well as, of course, of the unfortunate victims of these phenomena.

3) The extended family insures the adequate socialisation of children. A mother’s or father’s advice in a nuclear or single parent family may be difficult to be followed by an unruly or obstinate child, but the combined pressure of the members of a strong extended family is an effective counter to non-conformance or disobedience.

4) The extended family provides for psychological and social diversity in companionship for adults as well as children. Since there is less dependence on the one-to-one relationship, there are less emotional demands on each member of the family. A disagreement or clash between adults, children or between persons of different generations does not reach the damaging proportions it may in the nuclear family. There are always alternative family members on hand to ease the pain and provide therapeutic counselling and companionship. Even the marriage bond is not put to the enormous strains that it suffers in the nuclear family.

5) The extended family or a’ilah guards against the development of the generation gap. This social problem arises when each age group becomes so isolated from other generations that it finds difficulty in achieving successful and meaningful interaction with people of a different age level. In the ‘a’ilah, three or more generations live together and constantly interact with one another. This situation provides beneficial learning and socialisation experiences for children and the necessary sense of security and usefulness for the older generation.

6) The ‘a’ilah eliminates the problems of loneliness which plague the isolated and anonymous dwellers in the urban centres of many contemporary societies. The unmarried woman, or the divorced or widowed woman in an Islamic extended family will never suffer the problems that face such women in contemporary American society, for example. In a Qur’anic society, there is no need for the commercial computer dating establishments, the singles’ clubs and bars, or the isolation of senior citizens in retirement villages or old people’s homes.

The social and psychological needs of the individual, whether male or female, are cared for in the extended family. As marriage-bonds grow more and more fragile in Western society, women tend to be the chief victims of the change. They are less able to re-establish marriage or other bonds than men, and they are more psychologically damaged by these losses.

7) The extended family provides a more feasible and humane sharing of the care of the elderly. In the nuclear family unit, the care of the elderly parent or parents of one spouse may fall entirely on one individual, usually the mother of the family. She must provide for the extra physical care as well as for the emotional well-being of the elderly.

This is a tremendous burden on a woman who probably has children’s and husband’s needs to attend to as well. If she is a working mother, the burden can be unmanageable; and the elderly are put in an old peoples’ home to await death. With the shared responsibilities and duties that the extended family provides, the burden is significantly lightened .

5. A PATRIARCHAL FAMILY ORGANIZATION

The fifth basic characteristic of a Qur’anic society is that it is patriarchal. Contrary to the goals of the Women’s Liberation movement, the Qur’an calls for a society which assigns the ultimate leadership and decision-making role in the family to men. Any society is made up of smaller organisations of humans, governments, political parties, religious organisations, commercial enterprises, extended families, etc. Each of these organs needs to be stable, cohesive and manoeuvrable if it is to be beneficial to its constituents. In order to acquire these characteristics, the organisation must assign ultimate responsibility to some individual or some group within its ranks.

Therefore, the citizens may vote, parliament may legislate, and the police may enforce the law; but it is ultimately the head of state that carries the burden of making the crucial decisions for the nation, as well as the onus or approval, i.e., the responsibility, for those decisions. In like manner, the work of a factory is conducted by many individuals, but all of them are not equally capable of making the ultimate decisions for the company. Neither is each employee equally charged with the responsibility for the organisation’s success or failure.

The family also has need for someone to carry the burden of ultimate responsibility for the whole. The Qur’an has assigned this role to the most senior male member of the family. It is this patriarchal assignment of power and responsibility which is meant by such expressions as “wa lil rijali ‘alathinna darajatun ” (2.228; see supra, pp. 40, 41), and “al-rijalu qawwdmuna ‘ala al-nisa’i…. ” (4:34).

Contrary to misrepresentations by the Qur’an’s enemies, these passages do not mean the subjugation of women to men in a gender-based dictatorship. Such an interpretation shows a blatant disregard of the Qur’an’s repeated calls for the equality of the sexes and for its command to show respect and kindness to women. The passages in question point instead to a means for avoiding internal dissension and indecision for the benefit of all family members. They advocate for a patriarchal society. In addition, we would draw attention to the use of the word qawwamun in the statement, al-rijalu qawwamuna ‘ala al-nisa’i … (4:34).

Certainly the verb qawwama, from which the verbal noun qawwamun is derived, does not imply despotic overlordship. Instead, the term refers to the one who stands up (from qama, “to stand”) for another in a protective and benevolent way. If an autocratic or domineering role for the male half of the society had been meant, there are many other verbal derivatives which would have been more applicable, for example, musaytirun and muhayminun Other instances of the Qur’anic use of the term qawwamun confirm this supportive rather than authoritarian or tyrannical meaning of the term (see 4:127-135; 5:9). Ascription of a different significance to the passage in question is, therefore, ideologically inconsistent as well as linguistically unsupportable. Why should the Qur’an specify male leadership for the ‘a’ilah, i.e., a patriarchal family, rather than a matriarchal organisation? The Qur’an answers that question in the following manner:

Men are in charge of women, because Allah has made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women)….(4:34)

Physical and economic contributions and responsibility are, therefore, the Qur’anic reasons for proposing a patriarchal rather than a matriarchal society. Some Westerners, confronted by the problems of contemporary society, are beginning to ask such questions as:

Where can we turn for help? What can we do in the face of the present social disintegration? It is a time of despair and searching as Western society reels under the blows of steadily increasing personal disorientation and societal dissolution. What can we do as Muslims to help? First of all, we must build true Qur’anic societies throughout the Muslim World. Without these, we cannot establish equitable and viable accommodation for the interaction of men and women in society.

In addition, we cannot hope to establish in the coming generations a respect for and loyalty to our societies and their accompanying institutions if pseudo-Islamic societies are the only ones we are capable of producing and maintaining. Pseudo-Islamic measures or institutions are actually anti-Islamic; for they posit a model which cannot be respected, and attach to it the label of “islam” in the minds of many Muslims as well as non-Muslim. this results in a wrongful transfer of the onus of the faulty institution to the religion of Islam itself.

We must educate our fellow Muslims-and especially the youth for they are the leaders of tomorrow-with regard to the importance and viability of their (Qur’anic traditions concerning women, the family and society. Despite the failure of alternative contemporary Western social patterns, some Muslims seem to hanker after the Western brand of sexual equality, its unisex ideas and modes of behaviour, overemphasis on individualism or personal freedom from responsibility, and the nuclear family system.

We must awake to the dangers which accompany such social ideas and practices. If the consequences of these ideas and practices are not pointed out and combated, we are doomed to an unfortunate future as such social experiments are to fail ultimately. But even this is not an adequate response for us as Muslims.

As vicegerents of Allah on earth (2:30), it is our duty to be concerned about the whole world and about all of God’s creatures. In the light of the command to propagate the will of Allah in every corner of the earth, we should not neglect to suggest or offer the good that we know to others. It is time for Islam and the Muslims to present their solutions of the problems of contemporary society, not only to the Muslim audience, but to the non-Muslim audience as well.

This can and should be done through the living example of true Qur’anic societies in which the problems of men and women are resolved. It should also be done through informative writings and discussions by our scholars which could be made available to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. There is no better way to serve the will of Allah and the whole of mankind. There is no better da’wah than such offering of a helping hand to the struggling victims of contemporary society.

Importance Of The Holy Qur’aan

The first lesson to be learned by all students is about the importance of the Holy Qur’aan. The Qur’aan is the Book of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aalaa. Every word in the Qur’aan has come from Allah. That is why we say that it is a Holy Book. The words in the Qur’aan were sent by Allah to Prophet Muhammad sallal-laahu ‘alayhi wa-aalihi wa sallam. The Prophet (s) received the words of Allah through angel Jibra’eel. This Qur’aan is a Holy Book that was not written by anyone but sent by Allah to Prophet Muhammad (s) through Jibra’eel.

It is the most truthful speech:

Prophet Muhammad (s) regularly read the words of Allah to Muslims around him. These Muslims were very pleased and excited to receive the words of Allah. Prophet Muhammad (s) said:

The most truthful speech, the most eloquent advice, and the greatest stories are in the Book of Allah.

The Muslims listened carefully to what the Prophet read, memorized the sentences and passages of the Qur’aan, recited them regularly and followed the teachings of the Qur’aan. In order to preserve the words of Allah the Prophet appointed special people known as “Scribes of the Qur’aan” to write down the words of Allah.

It is in original language:

Prophet Muhammad (s) was an Arab and the majority of people in Mecca and Medina spoke Arabic. Therefore the Qur’aan was sent in Arabic. Arabic is written from right to left. It is better to learn to read the Qur’aan in its original language. Therefore, we will put efforts to learn Qur’aan written in Arabic instead of simply reading its translation in other languages.

The Holy Qur’aan contains Allah’s message to all people.

It tells people how to act correctly. It guides us to a correct way of life in this world. The Book of Allah also talks about life after death. It tells us that Allah has prepared Paradise for good people and Hell for bad people. The Qur’aan encourages the worship of only one God Who creates and provides for them.

The Book forbids people from evil and condemns those who do wrong. It contains stories of the past Prophets and the examples of bad and good people. People are advised in the Qur’aan to be good to others and respect them. It teaches people to live in peace and harmony.

Qur’aan brings happiness in this world and the Hereafter.

Following the Qur’aan brings happiness in this world and the world after death. The Prophet (s) said:

If you desire the life of the fortunate, the death of a martyr, the salvation on the Day of Regret and the shade on the Day of Extreme Heat, then you should study the Qur’aan because it is the word of the Merciful, a sanctuary from Shaytaan and a causes the tilting of the Balance.

In another Hadith we read that the Prophet (s) has said:

The recitor of the Qur’an will be spared from the calamities of the Hereafter.

It is the only Divine book that has remained unchanged.

Allah sent the Qur’aan to His Prophet. A book sent by Allah to people is known as a Divine Book or a Heavenly Book. Other Divine Books were also sent to previous prophets. These are: Suhoof to Prophet Ibraheem ‘alayhis salaam; Zaboor to Prophet Dawood ‘alayhis salaam; Tawraah to Prophet Moosaa ‘alayhis salaam; and Injeel to Prophet ‘Eisaa ‘alayhis salaam.

The difference between the Qur’aan and past revealed books is that the Qur’aan is the only Divine Book that has remained unaltered. The Qur’aan we have with us contains exactly the same message that was sent to Prophet Muhammad by Allah through Jibra’eel.

Our supplications get answered if we were to pray after reading the Holy Qur’aan. The Prophet (s) said: One who starts the Qur’an and finishes it, Allah will grant him one answered supplication. It also helps in strengthening our faith. Imam Ali (a) said: Reciting the Qur’an plants the seed of faith.

The Qur’aan is the best companion.

It can be of great help when a child or adult is feeling lonely. Imam Ali Zaynul ‘Aabideen (a) said: If all who live between the East and West perish, I will have no fear as long as I have the Qur’an with me.

Students get wise when they start reading the Qur’aan in their childhood. Prophet Muhammad (s) said: Whoever reads the Qur’an before becoming Baaligh, has indeed been given wisdom as a child. The Holy Book is the best intellectual treasure a student can have. Prophet Muhammad (s) said: The Qur’an is a wealth with which there is no poverty, and without which there is no wealth. On the other hand not caring to read and study the Qur’aan is a great loss. Prophet Muhammad (s) said: Surely the person in whose heart lacks the trace of the Qur’an is like a ruined house.

Muslims read the Qur’aan to understand the true teachings of Islam. Prophet Muhammad (s) left the Holy Book and the Ahlul Bayt (a) as the most important legacy for Muslims after him. He said: I leave tow weighty things among you: The Book of Allah and my family – the Ahlul Bayt. Indeed these two will never separate until they reach me near the pool of Kawthar.

All Muslims recite some Soorahs in their prayers. However, it is good to memorize more Soorahs and read them in Salaat. Imam Muhammad Al-Baaqir (a) said:

Whoever recites the Qur’aan while standing in his prayer, Allah will bestow on him a hundred blessings for every letter; and whoever recites it while sitting in his prayer, Allah will reward him fifty blessings for every letter; and whoever recites it outside of his prayer, Allah will grant him ten blessings for every letter.

The Qur’aan is a cure to mental and spiritual diseases:

Imam Hasan al-‘Askaree (a) said: The Messenger of Allah (s) said: I advice you to the Qur’aan since it is the beneficial cure, the blessed medicine, the protection (‘Isma) for he who holds fast to it, and the salvation for he who follows it. Neither does it cause crookedness so that it departs (from the truth) nor does it deviate so that it causes trouble. Its marvels do not come to end and the vastness of refutations does not wear it.

Respect And Rights Of The Holy Qur’aan

Now that we know that the Holy Qur’aan is not an ordinary book, but a Divine Book sent by Allah for the guidance of all people, we must show respect to it. Here are some of the points we need to remember.

1. A part of the Qur’aan carries the same respect as the entire Qur’aan. Allah says:

When the Qur’aan is recited, listen to it (7:204).

We know that when recitation takes place it is always of a part of the Qur’aan. Even then Allah uses the word Qur’aan for the part that is being recited. Therefore, if you have a Siparah, a binder or a booklet that contains Soorahs and passages from the Qur’aan, you treat it like a Qur’aan.

2. The Qur’aan should always be carried with proper care. When your Madrasah bag contains the Qur’aan, or a part of it, take extra care of the bag. Keep the bag slowly on the desk or floor instead of letting it fall on its own. Use both hands to remove the Qur’aan from your bag, kiss the cover of the Qur’aan, place it slowly on a desk (or on a wooden carrier specially built for holding the Qur’aan) and open the pages gently.

3. When the Qur’aan is being recited, listen to it and be attentive (7:204). If you are busy with something else then at least do not disturb the recitation by talking, for example, or making noise. There is reward for listening to the Qur’aan. Imam Ali Zaynul ‘Aabideen (a) said:

Whoever listens to a letter of the book of Allah, the Glorious and Almighty, without even reading it, Allah will write down for him one good deed, forgive a sin, and raise him a degree.

It was the practice of unbelievers in Mecca to make a lot of noise so that others could not listen to the Qur’aan (41:26). Do not be like them and instead lend your ears to the Qur’aan and give it respect. We often wish that God would talk to us. One way to achieve this is by reading the Qur’aan. Prophet Muhammad (s): said:

Lo! Whoever has longing for Allah should listen to the word of Allah!

Also, if you wish to talk to God then do Tilaawa. Prophet Muhammad (s) said:

Whenever one of you would like to talk to his Lord, he should read the Qur’an.

4. The Qur’aan should be recited regularly. It is disrespect to keep the Holy Qur’aan unread. Prophet Muhammad (s) said:

Brighten your homes with reciting Qur’aan; do not turn them into graves. Surely the house in which a lot of recitation takes place enjoys many blessings and the members benefit from it. Such a household shines for the inhabitants of Heaven as stars shine to the inhabitants of the earth.

On the Day of Judgment the Prophet will complain to Allah about some Muslims who had abandoned the Qur’aan (25:30). Another Hadith of the Prophet (s) says:

Indeed hearts rust in the same way irons rust.

He was asked: “What will polish the hearts?” The Prophet answered:

Reading the Qur’an.

The more Qur’aan we read the better it is. We should discipline ourselves to read a good portion of Qur’aan daily. Imam Ali (a) said:

He who recites 100 verses daily from the Book in the order it is in, Allah writes for him the reward equal to all the good actions of every one on this earth.

Shaytaan would like us not to read, understand and study the Qur’aan. Let us fight him with all our strength and faith. Imam Ja’far As-Saadiq (a) said: There is nothing more unpleasant to Shaytaan than to see a man reading the Qur’an to gain insight.

5. Children should get familiarized with the Qur’aan early in their lives. Imam as-Saadiq (AS) said:

He who recites Qur’aan while he is young, Qur’aan mixes with his flesh and his blood, and Allah places him amongst the blessed and the chosen righteous. On the Day of Judgment, Qur’aan shall become his defender and [pray for him a handsome reward.]

6. It is the right and respect of the Qur’aan that it should be followed. Imam Ja’far Saadiq (a) said:

Lo! One, who learns the Qur’aan, teaches it and practices according to it, I will guide and lead him to Paradise.

7. It is also the right and respect of the Qur’aan that those who have the knowledge of the Qur’aan should teach it to others. This is among the noblest acts. Prophet Muhammad (s) said: The best of you is he who learns the Qur’an and teaches it.

8. Take the interpretations of the Qur’aan from the Holy Prophet (s) and the Imams from his family, i.e. the Ahlul Bayt (a). Imam Hasan al-‘Askaree quoting Prophet Muhammad said:

Recite it (i.e. the Qur’aan) as Allah gives you ten rewards for each letter that you recite from it.

Then the Imam (a) said:

Do you know who really holds fast to it and reaches to such honor and reward? He is the person who takes Qur’aan and its interpretation from us Ahlul-Bayt (a) or from the deputies that we send to our followers, and takes its (interpretation) neither from the opinions of those who argue (on the speech of Allah) nor form the analogy of those who compare (different parts of the speech of Allah).

1. Once you have completed reading your lesson or referring to the Qur’aan then close it gently instead of leaving it open.

2. Do not put another book or any weight above the Qur’aan. The Holy Book should always be kept on the top in a pile of books.

3. It is Haraam (forbidden) to make Najaasaat (impure things like blood and urine) touch the Qur’aan. In the event where the Qur’aan becomes Najis, for instance if it falls in Najis water, it is Waajib (obligatory) to purify it (make it Taahir).

4. Old and worn out copies of the Qur’aan should be disposed in safe places. This includes sending them for recycling, burying them in the earth or casting in rivers.

Manners Of Reciting The Holy Qur’aan

By now we know that the Qur’aan is a special book and deserves respect. Now let us look at some of the manners of reciting the Qur’aan. It is the right of the Tilaawa (recitation of the Qur’aan) that we follow the rules when reciting the Qur’aan.

1. Perform Wudhoo before you prepare to read the Qur’aan.

Allah says: None can touch it (the Qur’aan) save the purified ones (56:79). Once Imam Ja’far As-Saadiq (a) asked his son Ismaa’eel to read the Qur’aan. The latter said that he was not in Wudhoo. The Imam said in that case he could recite it but should not touch the writings of the Qur’aan. Therefore, it is advisable to use a stick or pen to point to the words or sentences of the Qur’aan you are reading if you are not in Wudhoo.

2. Read Du’aa before Tilaawa.

Reading of the Du’aa helps to keep our focus and reminds us of what we need to take from the Holy Book. Ma’soomeen (a) have recommended a number of Du’aas. The Du’aa taught by Imam Ja’far As-Saadiq (a) appears in this booklet with Qur’aan lessons.

3. Always say A’oodhubillaahi minash shaytaanir rajeem

(اَعُوْذُبا اللهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيْم) when you begin reading the Qur’aan. It means: I seek refuge in Allah from the cursed Shaytaan. This is what Allah instructs us to do in Aayah 16:98.

4. Next say Bismillaahir rahmaanir raheem

(بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم ) The meaning of this phrase is: In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Whenever Imam Moosaa Al-Kaazim (a) wished to make a point to Haroon Rasheed using Aayaat from the Qur’aan, the Imam would begin with A’oodhubillaah . . . followed by Bismillaah . . .

5. Sit facing Qiblaah when reciting the Qur’aan. Please note that this is the best direction to face. However where it may be difficult or impossible to face Qiblaah when reading the Qur’aan (for example if your desk is facing another direction) then it is all right not to face the Qiblaah.

6. Recite the Qur’aan with Tarteel as instructed by Allah in Aayah 73:4. This means that we should recite the Qur’aan in a good voice with rhythm instead of plain reading.

7. Recite the Qur’aan slowly Allah said to the Prophet do not move your tongue with it (Qur’aan) to make haste therein (75:16). The aayaat of the Qur’aan should be recited in slow tones with each word being pronounced clearly. The Prophet (s) advised Muslims not be concerned about finishing a Soorah when reciting the Qur’aan.

8. Be Humble when reciting the Qur’aan. The Prophet (s) says that the best recitor is he who is humble when reciting the Qur’aan and realizes his own insignificance. Some people exhibit their insignificance and the awe of talking to Allah through weeping. This is a good sign. Prophet Muhammad (s) said: Eyes that weep when reciting the Qur’an will be shining with delight on the Day of Resurrection.

9. Try to understand the recitation. Holy Qur’aan is a book of Guidance (2:2). It is necessary for us to understand the message Allah sent all people through Prophet Muhammad (s).

10. Read from the Qur’aan by looking at the writings instead of reciting from your memory. In a Hadith from one of our Imams it is said that mere looking at the writings of the Qur’aan carries reward.

11. Interact with the Qur’aan. Imam Ja’far As-Saadiq (a) says that it is important to react to the aayaat of the Qur’aan when reciting it. When we come across aayaat on Paradise, Mercy and Grace of Allah, Good Outcome in the hereafter, we should hope for these in our hearts. On the other hand if we are reading aayaat that warn us about the punishment, fire, Hell, etc. we should pray to be saved from these.

12. Open your heart and mind to the Qur’aan and ponder over what you read. Allah often invites us to think and ponder over the contents of the Qur’aan. In 47:24 Allah says: Do they not then think deeply in the Qur’aan, or are their hearts locked up?

13. Perform Sajdah where required to do so In the entire Qur’aan there are 15 places where performing of Sajdah is required. At 4 places it is Waajib (obligatory) to do Sajdah if we were to read or listen to these sections of the Qur’aan. For the rest of the places it is Mustahab (recommended) to do Sajdah.

14. Say Sadqallaahul ‘Aliyyul ‘Azeem

(صَدَقَ اللهُ العَلِيُّ العَظِيْمُ) every time you end a recitation of the Qur’aan. The meaning of this phrase is: Allah, the Sublime, the Great, is truthful in what He has said

15. Read one of the Du’aas after Tilaawa

. The Ma’soomeen have taught a number of Du’aas, from these two have been included with Qur’aan lessons. In these Du’aas, amongst other things, we pray to the Almighty to enlighten us through the Qur’aan and make us follow the teachings of the Qur’aan.

Hadiths in the lessons taken from:

Forty Hadiths (1), Virtues of The Qur’an, Department of Qur’anic Affairs, 1998.

Wasaa’ilush Shi’ah, v. 27. 3. Al-Kaafee, v. 2 4. Bihaarul Anwar, v. 89/92.

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