The Holy Qur’an and Ramadan

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Ramadan is the sacred/holy month during which the Holy Qur’an descended from the heavens to the realm of humanity. The Holy Qur’an came into this world in a month similar to the one we are experiencing today. It enlightens the path of a humanity that has been lost in a sea of darkness and loss of hope; it is the greatest bearer of good tidings for humanity, bringing hope of salvation and happiness in this world and everafter.

 In order to keep the glad tiding of the Qur’an fresh and alive in our minds and to expand the wisdom that humans can benefit from it, Our Gracious Lord has decreed that the act of seeking out the Night of Power in which this holy firman was sent to honor and bless humanity be considered “a more fruitful and rewarding period of time than a thousand (ordinary) months”. A night which, in return, rewards one’s self as if he has spent a lifetime filled with good deeds. What an incredible opportunity for the human being seeking to earn ever-lasting life, his only capital being the worldly life span that is bound by its limits and is ever wasteful and forgetful! Such a unique and incomparable blessing can only be possible through the inexhaustible treasures of the Most Generous One of All. This act of grace is without a doubt  a significant matter to remind us of the prominence of the Qur’an’s role in our daily lives.    

Well then, why is the Qur’an so important? It is because the Holy Qur’an is the eternal address delivered from Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds, to the whole of humanity until the end of time. It is the firman which carries His instructions and is the everlasting translation of what  we call the universe. It is a guide which explains the meaning and purpose of all creatures in the universe. In this material world which we witness with our eyes, it is the explanation of the supreme world of the unseen. It is the sacred atlas of the spiritual realm and a library which serves as the reference for the spiritual needs of the whole of humanity all in one book

If this world were to be thought of as a grand machine, the Qur’an would be its instruction manual or user’s guide. Just as company that produces a terrific machine will provide an instruction manual and employ specialists who will operate the machine and assist consumers in using it, our Lord has sent us the heavenly (holy) books along with His prophets to educate us and elevate humanity to its highest potential. The guidance of the Qur’an, makes it possible for a human being to operate smoothly and resolve his problems. Humanity, as it seeks perfection and strives to learn the lessons of the Qur’an, opens its doors to the eternal sun of prophethood and are inspired by the exemplary lives they have led and their impeccable standard of morals. They serve as living examples of virtue for all of humanity. This training and discipline is eternal. 

However, because the human race, by nature, is inherently forgetful, lazy and ungrateful, with the passing of time the grand blessings of the Holy Qur’an can be forgotten  so there comes a need for a renewal in people’s minds. It is very important for people to understand the ever-living characteristic of the Qur’an which essentially provides the nourishment that the human soul thrives on. It is, in fact, the spring from which the principles that give life to humanity and the hadith which describes the Holy Qur’an as “haddan tariyyan”, ever-young, ever-alive, draws attention to this point precisely. 1

When we consider the Holy Qur’an, there are the concepts of revelation and inspiration. Revelation refers to Al-Furqan’s (the distinguisher between good and evil) initial rise in the horizon of humanity. Inspiration refers to the new interpretations, teachings and manifestations that descend from the heavens into the hearts and minds of those who read it with an open mind for inspiration. Indeed, just as the Holy Qur’an has been revealed, its teachings and the meaning hidden inside are sent once more in accordance with the mysteries of revelation through Allah (swt)’s inspiration so one can succeed in truly understanding and internalizing the Qur’an. In order to be able to understand it as intended, a person must devote themselves to the Holy Qur’an and turn towards the Owner of the Qur’an. On the other hand, Those who do not search for and seek to come closer to Al-Rahman, the One who speaks through and addresses humanity through the Holy Qur’an itself, will, most naturally, not be able to benefit from the blessings it has to offer: “ I will turn away from My Revelations and signs those who act with haughtiness on the earth against all right. And though they see every sign (of the truth), they do not believe in it; and though they see the way of right guidance, they do not take it as a way to follow. But if they see the way of error and rebellion against the truth, they take it as a way to follow. That is because they deny Our Revelations and are ever heedless of them.2

Every season is indeed the season of the Qur’an, the beating heart of the universe, the Holy Qur’an supplies believers with its life-giving blood and nutrition by constantly teaching and guiding the believers. However, during the holy month of Ramadan, the extent to which the Holy Qur’an illuminates and brings joy into the lives of the Muslims is magnified. And so, is it not essential that we prepare ourselves accordingly to greet the Sultan of all the months as it comes around full of its blessings that flow in and out of this world? Indeed, as our hearts serve as the guesthouse in which we host Al-Rahman, we must do our utmost to clean our hearts and souls of all blemishes, grime, carnal desires and miserly inclinations so that the Majestic Ruler of the Qur’an will honor us with His presence and so to illuminate our hearts, open our eyes, and infuse our souls with the scent of roses.     

So, the ritual of fasting during the month of Ramadan enables the cleansing of oneself in preparation to welcome the Holy Qur’an. The wisdom behind the month of Ramadan directly related to the revelation of the Qur’an is this: Because the Qur’an al-Hakim (The Master Book) was sent down in the month of Ramadan, we must do our best to relive the time/season that it was first revealed. Thus, we must make the effort to be more like the heavenly/pure angels cleansing ourselves of superficial/lowly needs and fruitless interests. We must read and/or listen to the Holy Qur’an as though we were listening to it from our Beloved Prophet (saw), from Archangel Gabriel (as), or even yet, directly from the addresser of the Qur’an, the Lord of the Worlds, letting its holiness embrace us while we resolve to do our part to pass on its message to others. In this way, we manifest the degree of wisdom and purpose in the revelation of the Holy Qur’an.3.

The truth which lies in the hadith “The Earth has been made a place of prayer (masjid) for me..” is seen in a much more spectacular fashion with the coming of the holy month of Ramadan. The entire Muslim world unites as one big masjid. Millions of hafidh (those who have memorized the Qur’an by heart), and readers of the Qur’an, in every corner of this grand masjid, proclaim this message sent from the Heavens to all the dwellers of this land.

 There are physical guidelines to properly (adab) read the Holy Qur’an. One must cleanse themself from dirt, impurities and sins by performing the ritual wudu (ablution)–a word which translates as “beauty and purity”.  Once you are in a clean state and turning towards the qiblah, ( the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca) and sitting in a respectful manner, (down on one’s knees if possible,) you must read in a peaceful state by clearing your mind other matters. There are also non-physical guidelines such as tadabbur (contemplation), tafakkur ( reflection), and tabattal (cutting off all other connections in order to be only with your Lord). Once the person makes the commitment to read the Qur’an, and all preparations are taken care of, it is finally the time to be welcomed into the presence of the Beloved. That precise moment of admission into presence is the time when a person must be their most vigilant, most sensitive state of mind and soul. One must not forget, even for an instant, that they are, at that moment, supplicating to and conversing with their Lord and Sustainer.       

When the Qur’an addresses its reader as “you” or  uses terms as “do like this”, “warn”, “give”, “give in goodness” , or anything in the second person, the reader will be aware that being addressed personally,  that these directions are for them as though there were no other addressee’s in the whole world. 

In order to be able to receive the signs which bear great significance for the religious consciousness of a believer, heeding sincerely to the order of “tabattal” as is mentioned in the verse, “And keep in remembrance the Name of your Lord (and mention It in your Prayer), and devote yourself to Him whole-heartedly” is quite sufficient.4

For example, when one reads the verse, “O, you cloaked one (who has preferred solitude)!  Arise and warn!5., with such consciousness and receptivity, while on one hand aware of the fact that the first addressee of this verse was indeed Rasulallah (saw), the believer will make the effort to take into consideration their share of it as well: “O you who has been cloaked with comfort and ease!” “O you who have busied yourself with the pastime of gathering worldly possessions, and thus forgotten your duty to introduce the religion of Allah and its path of beauty to others!” “O you who have been bewitched by the affliction called fame!” It is as in the fairy tale, Gulliver’s Travels, when Gulliver had fallen captive in the country of “little people”, was tied up such that he could not even move while the tiny people ran wildly around by his feet like insignificant ants. Like him, through worldly desires and interests, you think that you are securing yourself a solid foundation in this world. Yet, your life is flowing like water, and everything that you find interest in is ultimately holding you back.  Seek and find the way to be freed of these invisible ties. Move to tear down the curtains that blind you, open up the doors that hold you captive and let yourself out into that free, open space! Tie yourself to the rope of Allah (swt), free yourself from servanthood of reliance on material goods and comforts that are fleeting! Shake off that dead earth that you’ve been buried under! However you will be on the day you wake up to the ultimate truth, be that way, right now!

“Here is my intention: Let me reach the city

Let me let out a wailing cry of pity!” 

Take the path of the saintly poet who uttered these words! For once you leave this world, there is no way of coming back for a second try at living accordingly. 

A saintly man who lived his life as a true friend of the Almighty, was seen in a spiritual dream-like state by a friend of his following his death. Upon seeing that the saintly man wished to come back to the world, the friend asked in surprise, “How can this be, do you really wish to come back to this world?” Upon which the saintly man answered, “Yes, indeed I wish to come back to the world. I wish to hold my staff in my hand, walking from door to door, beating on their doorstep and crying out: ‘Are you at all aware of the opportunities you are letting pass you by?!’  For this, I wish to come back.” It is an admonition to throw off the bonds which tie you down, and serve The Ultimate Truth and the truths (of this world) today! So, you see, when the believer reads the above-mentioned verse and contemplates what it is saying, they will find in themselves a renewed strength and resolve to proclaim the Truth.  

When the Muslim reads the Holy Qur’an, they will form a friendship with the angels who will greet them and reflect on the reality of their prayers being received. They will become one with the righteous believers that came before them, they will become friends with the stars of mankind, the Holy Prophet (alayhimus salam). 

For example, through Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) (as) they will learn how to deal with the betrayal of those closest to them and to seek only Allah’s help in times of great strife. They will learn  to seek refuge in Allah’s mercy and turn down the temptations of the world and instead seek the pleasure of their Lord so ardently that they would be willing to be thrown into dungeon for it but then transform that prison into a platform of education and discipline to train oneself to be the best and most steadfast in their trade/occupation. They will be inspired to win over the hearts of others by showing compassion towards them and use their abilities as a means to proclaim the truths. And finally, how the reward for those who show patience and do not leave the path of taqwa (God-consciousness) will never go to waste, that in the end they will certainly succeed and the truth will come out victorious. In short, as they progress on the path of this worldly life, they will see how the prophets, the faithful ones, the martyrs of Allah’s path, and the righteous have driven out the darkness they may encounter on that path through the fires of light that they were carrying, and they will join the caravan of light following in their footsteps and form a never ending companionship with those blessed souls. 

The believer who understands that the true addressee of the Holy  Qur’an is one’s own self, and thus reads it with such a consciousness, will see that its life-giving breath and curative touch will heal their wounds, will become aware of how their hearts and souls are cleansed, and will rejoice in the bliss of having reached a state filled with the scent of purity. They will realize how their crude old selves no longer exist and will feel a sweet and warm breeze cooling their hearts. They will be saved from going astray and from being one who forgets their Lord thus made to forget their own pitiful state by Allah. They will be saved from a state in which they have forgotten their essence and origin, a state in which they are constantly feeding their egos and giving credit and justification only to themselves…   

In summary, the believer will learn to put all matters in their rightful place; they will learn to give all things such as time, place, this worldly life, the eternal afterlife, their spouse, their job, their children, their friends, their belongings and possessions their true value. The whole of humanity is desperately in need of the guidance of the Holy Qur’an. As for us, who believe in it, we Muslims are also in desperate need. So that we may realize, once again, who and what we should love and who and what we should despise, and that it may bring and end to all our troubles. As we are about to enter yet another season of renewal and rejuvenation with the Qur’an, as we are starting to feel the sweet caress of the spring breezes, let us welcome the sultan (of our hearts) by reciting this virtuous prayer that is recommended to be made when reading the Holy Qur’an: “O Lord, make the Qur’an the spring of our hearts and souls, the enlightenment of our eyes, the polish of our troubles (and the rising dawn that follows our nights).”    

by Prof. Suat Yildirim

Footnotes

  1. Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, el-Musnad, 1/7; Ibn Majah, Sunan, Introduction, p. 11.
  2. Surah Al-A’raf, 7/146.
  3. Bediüzzaman Saîd Nursî, Mektûbat (The Letters), p. 413.
  4. Surah Al-Muzzammil, 73/ 8.
  5. Surah Al-Muddathir, 74/ 1-2.
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