Quran: The Book That Weeps, Hidden Inside Its Shelf!

The Quran is truly an amazing book. If there is one investment I have made that I will never regret in my life, it is the time I invested in understanding the Quran. The thing about the Quran is that it speaks to me like no other book I’ve read. Such is the magnificence of the book that there is never a hollow reading session; each time I walk away with some truly amazing insights I overlooked before. What makes this possible is that there are, at least in my opinion, infinite layers to the Quran. The more time you spend with it, the more it seems to give you. And so, as I went deeper into the Quran, I was just mesmerized by its structure, cohesiveness, and the metaphors it employs that reflect my being so precisely.

 

What’s heartbreaking for me, though, is how Muslims have abandoned the Quran, turning it into an object of service. You don’t pay reverence to the Quran by kissing it and keeping it on the top shelf, covering it with beautiful cloths. No, that would be akin to showering your parents with hugs and kisses, but not paying any heed to what they ask of you. Would you not call such a relationship hypocritical and selfish? Indeed, you would. But that’s what our relationship with the Quran is: one of hypocrisy and selfishness. It is used as a tool to gain rewards by reading it in a language that most Muslims don’t even understand, and comes out of its fancy covering only at “blessed” times such as Ramadan, or at times of need – when someone has passed away.

 

As Ramadan is just around the corner, I implore you to read the Quran in a language you understand this time around, so that you could start disassociating cultural Islam from Quranic Islam.

Here is a passionate response I wrote, outlining all that is wrong with the way we approach the Quran:

What was supposed to be a book that would bring mankind out of ignorance towards enlightenment–bringing with it a revolutionary message–you revolve around it, not understanding a word of what it says.

What was supposed to be a book that was meant to transform your heart, you don’t even let it cross your brain.

What was supposed to be a book with a universal message, you utter religious statements in Arabic, somehow supposing that Arabic language is holy and advocate Arab supremacy.


 

What was supposed to be a book that discouraged dogmas, you drink from a glass of water that you blew Quranic verses in, expecting it to heal you.

What was supposed to be a book advocating skepticism and critical thinking, you fear that thinking in matters of faith may lead you away from Islam.


 

What was supposed to be a book discouraging sectarianism and promoting unity, you kill your fellow Muslims in its name, and yell “Allahu Akbar!”

What was supposed to be a book advocating freedom of belief, you disregard it and demand blasphemers and apostates to be killed.

What was supposed to be a book advocating pluralism, you feel threatened by differences and push for uniformity.


 

What was supposed to be a book prohibiting child and forced marriages, you justify them through fabricated accounts of the messenger and sometimes, your culture.

What was supposed to be a book that advocated self-control, you partially blame the women who are raped and hasten to cover your women from head to toe.

What was supposed to be a book that encouraged you to follow the character of the messenger, you have twisted it to imply following the cultural norms that were prevalent in the time of the messenger.


 

What was supposed to be a book that advocated activism, you remain passive and pray for divine intervention to happen.

What was supposed to be a book that was fully detailed, you attach numerous books to it – claiming, without these books, the Quran is incomplete and hard to understand.


 

What was supposed to be a book that asked you to be wary of religious leaders,you have changed it into a book that can only be interpreted by these religious leaders.

What was supposed to be a book of values, you have changed it into a book of hollow rituals and shortcuts to heaven.

What was supposed to be a book advocating accountability for your actions, you have changed it into a book that will intercede on your behalf.


 

 

Quran is a book that is read widely, a book that is– at times– interpreted wildly, a book that is understood hardly.

 

Sometimes, on a quiet night, I can almost hear the Quran weeping.

Will you then, embrace it holistically, and release itself from its sorrows?

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Let’s be honest: Do you really believe in the Day of Judgment?

Over the years, belief has become a problematic word for me. Religious people are too fixated on scoring brownie points with God by exhausting all their efforts into believing this and believing that, all the while, failing to utilize that belief into something productive that makes them grow. It seems to me that people have made religion into a document that supposedly leads them to heaven just by signing on it (proclaiming they believe in it). What a shameful way to belittle God, this is!

The Quran, like any other book, is not to be “believed”, rather it is a self-help book that needs to be internalized so that the reader may evolve as a person. Quoting 14:1, “A book we have revealed to you so that you may bring people out of darkness towards light.” This, of course, can only be achieved when you act on it.

Belief, you could say then, is only the initial step of a ladder that ultimately leads towards it’s implementation: Necessary to take, however not as an end in itself; rather as a means to an end. Therefore, it is only reasonable to say, a belief that doesn’t translate into action is hollow, worthless, and a downright mockery of the self. This, I constantly remind myself, is an act of hypocrisy. And, most abominable in the sight of God is that you say what you do not do. (Quran, 61:3)

One of the fundamental teachings of the Quran is to acknowledge the Day of Judgment. But, why? Not many of us ask that question. When I started reading the Quran, my approach was to believe everything I read, without questioning. After all, how could I question God? However, as I went deeper into the Quran, I realized that doubt is an essential part of faith and spirituality. It is only when you question, does the wisdom behind every commandment reveals itself.

So when I questioned the point behind there being a Day of Judgment, I realized that if internalized from the core of your being, this belief molds people into responsible citizens who make decisions not on impulse, but by weighing and analyzing the pros and cons of it. People who realize that they are accountable for all their actions would never even think of wronging somebody else in the least. This, if adopted as a whole, would lead to Islam: a peaceful world.

Governments, too, try to replicate this model in order to ensure law and order in society. However, this still leaves room for people to commit injustices and indecencies in their private spaces, as well as public spaces through corruption. But there is no corruption in the court of God, is what some of us forget. It is a just system that judges you on behalf of your actions, not your beliefs. Hence, acknowledging the Day of Judgment should not be the focus. The focus, rather, should be on tuning our actions to the point where they act as a witness to our belief.

However, it is truly unfortunate and perplexing to see that so many Muslims, despite “believing” in the Day of Accountability, reject accountability in spirit. Through fabricated stories outside of the Quran, it is widely believed that Mohammad (salutes and respect to him) would intercede on behalf of every Muslim. Pause there. Before you react, imagine a judicial system where criminals could receive amnesty, just because they were “favorites” of the Judge. Would you call that justice? Surely, not! Then, what picture have we painted of God?

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And so it is, if you were to ask any Muslim whether he acknowledges a Day of Judgment, he would swiftly respond in the affirmative. “Of course, I do!” Yet, on the contrary, these very Muslims, though not all, don’t think twice before committing injustices and obscenities. Is that not a huge contradiction? The question that must be asked is, if you really believe in judgment, how is it that your actions don’t reflect it?

A million dollar question!

Are we not missing the point?

 

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Can Praying For The Deceased Make A Difference?

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It is common practice among Muslims and other faiths alike to hold ceremonies in which relatives come together to pray for forgiveness for someone who has passed away. There are “Quran Khawanis” in which it is allegedly believed that reading the Quran would somehow benefit the deceased. People go so far in this dogma that they send someone else on behalf of the deceased for pilgrimage, in the hopes that the reward may be given to the deceased person. From an empathetic point of view, I understand. I really do. There are withdrawal symptoms in play and it may give a sense of satisfaction to pray or do whatever you can to “help”. However, I am sad to break the bitter truth to you: it doesn’t make any difference.

When a person dies, his account of deeds is closed. Nothing can be added or subtracted. We are judged on the Day of Judgement purely on the merit of our own actions. And it’s only fair this way, if you think about it. If the wicked people could go to heaven just because their family prayed a lot, would that be justice? Likewise, if the deceased was a good person, he would then naturally go to heaven. What would be the purpose of your prayers, then? Let’s see what the Quran has to say about this:

Every person is responsible for his own actions

That no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another – 53:38

“And that the human being can have nothing except what he has earned (good or bad) – 53:39

And that his effort is going to be seen – 53:40

And then he will be fully rewarded for it – 53:41

Whoever chooses to follow the right path, follows it but for his own good; and whoever goes astray. goes but astray to his own hurt; and no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another’s burden – 17:15

And none can carry the load of another; and even if it calls on another to bear part of its load, no other can carry any part of it, EVEN IF THEY ARE RELATED. You will only be able to warn those who are concerned towards their Lord while unseen, and they hold the contact prayer. And whoever contributes, is contributing for himself. And to God is the final destiny –  35:18

 

Even the Prophet cannot redeem guilty people

Ask forgiveness for them, [O Muhammad], or do not ask forgiveness for them. If you should ask forgiveness for them seventy times – never will Allah forgive them. That is because they covered the truth about Allah and His Messenger, and Allah does not guide the Fasiqeen – 9:80

 

 Prophets couldn’t save their own family. What makes us think that we can?

Prophet Nooh tried to save his son but was reprimanded by God very severely as he was not among the reformists. Upon this, Nooh asked for forgiveness (11:45-47).

Prophet Ibrahim sought protection for his father from God, but to no avail. (9:114)

Loot’s wife was not saved from the punishment. (11:81)

 

There is no intercession on the Day of Judgement

And fear a Day when no soul will suffice for another soul at all, nor will intercession be accepted from it, nor will compensation be taken from it, nor will they be aided – 2:48 (Also check 2:123, 2:254, 39:44, 43:86, 74:48)

Conclusion

All these points go on to prove that we are judged purely based on our actions. As I have previously mentioned in an article, prayer alone does not influence the outcome – action does.

Having said that, it just baffles me that this has become common practice in our society, especially since the Quran is crystal clear on this subject. If one would stop, and think just for a moment – one immediately realizes how illogical a practice this is. But, perhaps, this is what happens when “Muslims” stop reading the Quran and get their information from secondary sources. We were never supposed to be a dogmatic lot. You would be surprised to see the amount of emphasis the Quran puts on critical thinking, especially when it comes to matters of religion as this is where most of the exploitation is done. But it’s easily overlooked  as these “scholars” portray themselves as representatives of God. Only if we would read the book we so dearly claim to believe…

 

For those who persevere in doing good there is the ultimate good in store, and more [than that].No darkness and no ignominy will overshadow their face: it is they who are destined for paradise, therein to abide – 10:26

On the other hand, there is he who has inevitably deserved suffering (for his persistence in following false ‘authorities’). Can you save the one already committed to fire? – 39:19

 

 

 

Eid Milad Un-Nabi

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It is supposedly the birthday of Prophet Mohammad today (Sunnis and Shias celebrate it on different days). I am all for celebrating birthdays, as they are an integral part of many cultures and allow families to spend some quality time together. However, what I’m against is hypocrisy. Some of the Muslims think that celebrating birthdays is a “Bidah” (innovation) and are adamantly opposed to it. Still, they find no harm in making an exception when it comes to the birthday of the Prophet.

O you who have believed, why do you say what you do not do? 62:9

On my Facebook Feed, I am exposed to updates which portray Prophet Mohammad as the sole reason this Universe was created. This has absolutely no basis in the Quran. Now, let me remind you that Prophet Mohammad deserves no special importance compared to the the other Prophets. All the Prophets brought the same message (42:13), and so we are to treat them equally. The Quran repeatedly warns us against making distinctions between messengers:

Say: “We have believed in Allah and what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Ibraham and Ismael and Ishaq and Yaqoob and the Descendants and what was given to Musa and Eesa and what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims for Him.” 2:136

The Messenger has believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, and [so have] the believers. All of them have believed in Allah and His angels and His writings and His messengers, [saying], “We make no distinction between any of His messengers.” And they say, “We hear and we obey. [We seek] Your protection, our Lord, and to You is the [final] destination.” 2:285

But they who believe in Allah and His messengers and do not discriminate between any of them – to those He is going to give their rewards. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful. 4:152

 

So, please, do not think of Prophet Mohammad as a pinnacle of Messengers. It is one thing to respect him, and totally another to idolize him. Did he not come to eradicate idolization? Yet, how ironic it is that on his own birthday, we deviate from his message and think that we are respecting him. Indulging in singing and listening to naats while completely oblivious to his message seems like a great disrespect to me. Don’t you think?

If you invoke them (anyone besides God), they do not hear your supplication; and if they heard, they would not respond to you. And on the Day of Resurrection they will deny your association. And none can inform you like [one] Acquainted [with all matters]. 35:14

 

In his own words, Prophet Mohammad said:
“I am not different from other  messengers, nor do I know what will be done with me or with you. I only follow that which is revealed to me, and I am not but a clear warner.” 46:9

This verse alone clears two major misconceptions:

One, that he did not consider himself as superior to other messengers. So, why should we?

Second, he did not know what would be done with you, so clearly he can’t intercede for you on your behalf. This notion is also supported by 2:48, 2:123, 2:254, 39:44, 43:86, 74:48.

 

So, if you will celebrate this day, celebrate it by pondering on the message he brought. Support his mission in propagating it. And, donate your money to a worthy cause. That seems like a befitting tribute to him!

 

A very happy Eid Milad Un-Nabi to you & your family! 🙂