Lailatul Qadr: A Different Interpretation

Within traditional Islamic thought, it is believed that the Lailatul Qadr (The night of Power) was the night in which Prophet Mohammad first received divine revelation. Therefore, it is considered to be a “holy” night during which God forgives everyone, accepts all prayers, and is the night in which the destiny of people for the coming year is decided.

Revealingly, this interpretation has almost no basis in the Quran. The Quran only talks about Lailatul Qadr in Ch 97, calling it a night of peace, which is better than a thousand months. However, even if we take the traditional interpretation at its face value, we come across the following problems:

1) If God really accepts all prayers in this night, then why don’t our prayers get answered? For years, Muslims have been praying for Palestine! Why, then, does the situation only deteriorate?

2) Human beings are provided with freewill, and that’s the whole purpose of revelation! There is no point of a test if the outcome has already been decided by God. This is unjust, while God is just.

3) The Quran says that it is a night of peace. What sort of peace? External peace or spiritual peace? If it’s external, then is there such a night in which there is no disharmony whatsoever, with no bloodshed, and every human being fully clothed and well fed? There isn’t.

If it is referring to internal peace, then is there such a night in which every human being feels profound peace within themselves? Again, no such evidence proves this. In fact, that is exactly why the Ulema are unsure of its precise date.

 

Because of these inconsistencies, I don’t subscribe to this interpretation.


In my opinion, Lailatul Qadr is not a specific night in Ramadan. Rather, it signifies the general phenomenon of attaining revelation. Thus, the Night of Power occurs when you have that eureka moment; when you understand something from the Quran.

The reason why it’s called the “Night” of Power is because night is considered to be an idle time in Quranic parlance; a time of seclusion (73:6-7). Thus it is advised that the reader ponders over the Quran at night (73:4), and God, in turn, would bestow upon him a profound message (73:5). Attaining this profound message is what the night of Power signifies, and is thus better than a thousand months of ignorance (97:3)! Receiving this profound message then brings us Islam, or peace, which is the ultimate purpose of revelation (97:5).

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Back2Quran Ramadan Series: Short Summary of Chapter 10 (Younus)

What this project is: This Ramadan, rekindle your spirituality and relationship with God by reading the Quran in a language you understand! To facilitate those who find reading the Quran for the first time daunting, we, at Quranalyze It, will be posting short chapter summaries to get you acquainted with the basic theme and content of a particular chapter. It is important to note, however, that these summaries are no substitute to reading the Quran, and should be used as a bridge towards the Quran, or as an additional tool.

If you like the idea behind this project, and would like to read the summaries of the subsequent chapters in the coming days, then subscribe to our blog to receive an email whenever we publish a new summary. Please read, and share it far and wide!


With chapter 10 starts the A.L.R series that continues until chapter 15. These chapters are very spiritual and persuasive in nature, having similar themes. I would recommend reading these short 5 chapters in one go!

Theme:

  1. The theme of Chapter 10 very much resembles the theme of chapter 6 and is primarily focused over monotheism vs polytheism, with numerous arguments to convince the reader to avoid dogmas and come towards the source (God).
  2. Another theme is the Quran: how people reject it without truly investigating it, it’s divine origins because it confirms your conscience, how people demand the messenger to change it, and being patient while it is being revealed.
  3. Outlines the many shortcomings of man in approaching God: asking for supernatural miracles, being ungrateful, and insincerity.
  4. Critical thinking and reasoning for yourselves is also another prevalent theme
  5. Shows two realms, the physical realm and the spiritual realm. Those who seek to attain only material possessions ignore their soul, and thus eliminate any chance to attain bliss.

Chapter Notes:

  1. Ch 10 mentions Quran for the second time by explaining how we can compare the guidance of Quran to other discourses claiming to guide people to a higher truth (10/31-42). Only Quran truly encapsulates the human condition. This is the first passage detailing Quran’s proof (From Introduction to the Quran: An Existential Reading by Farouk Peru)
  2. Has two calls to mankind.
  3. Freedom of belief is strongly advocated in this chapter.
  4. Narrates the account of Musa, Nooh and Younus (briefly).
  5. Urges people to ponder over the universe and within themselves to attain signs, instead of asking for supernatural miracles.

Passage breakdowns:

Passage 1 (1-10)

  • The chapter starts off by questioning the reader: Why is it an astonishing thing that a messenger has come to you from amongst yourselves? Jealousy is an enemy of truth.
  • How God operates in the universe is outlined.
  • Only those who don’t expect accountability and are satisfied with the worldly glamor are heedless of God’s signs. These people will never truly attain bliss.
  • While those who acknowledge God’s signs and continuously reform themselves will make themselves worthy of bliss, continuously thanking and praising God for it.

Passage 2 (11-25)

  • It is God’s mercy that His Law of Requital does not grasp the oppressors instantly. He gives them time to mend their ways.
  • When affliction falls upon humans, they immediately turn to God. However, when that affliction is removed, they become ungrateful and plot against God’s commandments as if they had never called God.
  • When God’s signs/verses are conveyed to those who don’t expect to be held accountable, they ask you to alter the Quran to conform to their desires, or that you bring a new book altogether! However, the messenger is not allowed to do this.
  • These folks serve those who bring neither harm nor benefit, and expect them to be intercessors. However, all this is in vain.

 

  • Mankind was united, but they differed. If it were not for freewill, God would have judged their disputes immediately!
  • And they ask the Messenger to come forth with signs, while all the Signs belong to God! (Signs are what you witness within yourself, not externally)
  • First call to mankind: Your rebellion is against yourself! Enjoyment of the worldly life with disregard of Eternity, is but a fleeting delight.
  • Metaphors on how the worldly life is so temporary.
  • God calls you towards the abode of peace! And he guides those who will to be guided to the straight path.

Passage 3 (26-56)

  • Those who do good will attract more goodness (law of attraction). No trace of misery or humiliation will fall upon them.
  • While those who do commit evil will live a life of misery and humiliation.
  • On the day of accountability, the “idols” people had worshiped would disapprove of their service!
  • God controls everything, not the “idols” people serve. How, then, are you so deluded?
  • The majority of people follow nothing but conjecture. And it is God’s law that those who drift away from reason will never acknowledge.

 

  • This Quran is not something that can be fabricated as it confirms what you already possess (your conscience). Therefore, there is no doubt that it from the Sustainer of the Universe.
  • If you can, produce 10 chapters in similitude of Quran to challenge its divine authenticity.
  • But people reject the Quran, before even investigating it sincerely.
  • If they reject you, simply part ways. You are not accountable for them.
  • Those who do not reason can never be guided.

 

  • God does not oppress people, but people oppress themselves (freewill).
  • For every Ummah is a messenger who judged things in justice and never oppressed.
  • Every community determines its own rise and fall. When the time comes, they can neither delay, nor hasten the requital

Passage 3 (57-71)

  • Second call to mankind: There has now come to you Enlightenment from your Sustainer, and a healing for all that troubles your hearts; and guidance and grace to all who embrace it. This guidance is better than acquiring material possessions.
  • Do not invent lies about God, saying this food is lawful and that is unlawful when no such ordinance has been passed.
  • Whatever good or evil you do is recorded.
  • Let not their utterances grieve you. God will honor you.
  • And they say God has taken a son/favorite.

Passage 4 (72-74)

  • Briefly mentions the account of Nooh and how his people rejected him

Passage 5 (75-93)

  • Narrates the account of Musa and how Firaun rejected him. However, at the time of death, Firaun suddenly seemed to acknowledged Musa’s system but that was too late! As a sign, his body was saved (currently in the Cairo Museum).

Passage 6 (94-103)

  • If you have some doubts pertinent to the book, you are encouraged to ask folks who seem to have more knowledge than you.
  • The community of Younus was an exception, in the sense that they adopted belief holistically which benefited them.
  • If God had willed, every human would have believed. How, then, can you force people into accepting your faith?
  • He places confusions in the minds of those who do not reason.
  • If you want signs, ponder over the universe.

Passage 7 (104-109) – A summation of the entire chapter.

  • You have been commanded to set your purpose towards Deen as a monotheist and never associate others with God.
  • Whoever guides himself guides for his own benefit and vice versa.
  • Obey what is revealed to you and be patient until God’s judgment comes towards you.

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Back2Quran Ramadan Series: Summary of Chapter 7 (Aa’raaf)

What this project is: This Ramadan, rekindle your spirituality and relationship with God by reading the Quran in a language you understand! To facilitate those who find reading the Quran for the first time daunting, we, at Quranalyze It, will be posting short chapter summaries to get you acquainted with the basic theme and content of a particular chapter. It is important to note, however, that these summaries are no substitute to reading the Quran, and should be used as a bridge towards the Quran, or as an additional tool.

If you like the idea behind this project, and would like to read the summaries of the subsequent chapters in the coming days, then subscribe to our blog to receive an email whenever we publish a new summary. Please read, and share it far and wide!


“Adam”, because of his selfish desires, fell from the “heaven” that the earth once was. This chapter, quite uniquely, has 4 calls to Bani Adam (those who seek to attain that state once again) and by example of previous communities, shows how messengers brought a reformation program but the political and religious heads completely rejected them, again because of their own selfish desires.

Some additional notes:

  • The emphasis in this chapter is not on individuals, but communities (Ummahs).
  • Emphasis on reformation (Islah).
  • It repeatedly warns the reader not to take Shaitan as an ally.
  • Advocates reasoning in all matters. Those who blindly follow are deemed as cattle.
  • First chapter to have a lengthy discourse on Musa and his people.
  • First chapter to mention Nooh, Hood, Salih, Loot, Shoaib – each outlining a segment of the society that these messengers went to reform.
  • Second chapter to expound on Adam after Ch 2.
  • Seems to echo chapter 11 (same theme).

Here are some excellent thoughts on Chapter 5 from the book Introduction to the Quran: An Existential Reading by Farouk Peru:

1. Ch 7  focuses on the state of *adam* and uniquely has calls to bani *adam*. It uses the stories of the messengers as a means for us o understand how to attain this state. It then closes with the use of revelation to attain this knowledge.

2. Ch 7 is the only chapter with calls of ‘oh children of *adam*’. This call is for people who seek to achieve the status of *adam* before he fell , to be in the garden. Ch 7 has four calls to the children of *adam* (7/26, 7/27, 7/31 and 7/35) which should give a strong indication of its theme.

3. Ch 7 has a second phase of adam’s story from 7/172. Therefore adam’s story brackets almost the entire chapter. It would therefore be good to read these stories of quranic personalities from the perspective of adam.

4. Ch 7 Vs 199-206 ends with our daily struggle with shaitan or forces of alienation and our interaction with revelation. This shows the place to start this project is to engage with revelation. Vs 203-204 echo 6/105-107 which talk about attaining insight from the Lord.


 

Passage Breakdowns:

Passage 1 (1-10)

  • You must not harbor doubts about the book, for it needs conviction (attained by reasoning, nonetheless!) to implement it. Obey what is revealed to you, and don’t take others as protectors.
  • Immediately introduces the reader to the annihilation of previous communities because of their oppression. Those who do good attract good, and vice versa. This should set the tone for the chapter.
  • Outlines the ungratefulness of human beings: how God made us vicegerents of this earth, and how we pay back by initiating oppressive systems.

Passage 2 (11-26)

  • The narration of how Adam fell is introduced to outline how every problem on this earth stems from arrogance and selfishness (Shaitan).

Passage 3 (27-36)

  • First call to Bani Adam: God has revealed to you Libaas (usually translated as garments) that covers you from evil and as a source of elegance and protection. So, adopt the Libaas of Taqwa (taking guarding against evil). That is best for you (Libaas, of course, being a metaphor for your spiritual outlook.)
  • Second call to Bani Adam: Let not Shaitan tempt you as he tempted your Father, Adam. He stripped them off of their Libaas by creating false desires in him. So, be wary of Shaitan. (This is the most defining verse of the chapter which includes the overall theme of it!)
  • God never commands people to commit injustice/immoralities. On the contrary, he commands justice. In addition, he commands you to devote yourself at every institution that submits to God’s laws (Masjid) and that you remain dedicated to Him alone in Deen.
  • Third call to Bani Adam: You are allowed to take your Zeenat (means of comfortable living, perhaps?) from every Masjid. Just don’t be extravagant.
  • There are some who might forbid you from taking this Zeenat, however God allows it. What God forbids is that you commit injustices/immoralities, other evils, and that you associate authorities with God.
  • Fourth call to Bani Adam: There has come to you a messenger from yourselves, clarifying God’s signs to you. If you believe and reform yourself, you will live a life of bliss (attain that garden on Earth).

Passage 4 (37-53)

  • Details the result of the communities that failed to build paradise on Earth.

Passage 5 (54-58)

  • Call to your Lord being humble. He does not like the transgressors.
  • Do not spread corruption on the land after it has been reformed.
  • Communities can revive if they adhere to God’s laws.

Passage 6 (59-64)

  • Narrates the fall of the community of Nooh because of their transgression.

Passage 7 (65-72)

  • Narrates the fall of the community of Hood because of their transgression.

Passage 8 (73-79)

  • Narrates the fall of the community of Salih because of their transgression.

Passage 9 (80-84)

  • Narrates the fall of the community of Loot because of their transgression.

Passage 10 (85-102)

  • Narrates the fall of the community of Shoaib because of their transgression.

Passage 11 (103-171)

  • Narrates the fall of the community of Musa because of their transgression.

Passage 12 (172-206)

  • You will not be questioned what others used to do. Individual accountability.
  • Do not follow Shaitan.
  • Whoever chooses to guide himself is for his own benefit and vice versa.
  • Those who do not reason are like cattle, and even further astray!
  • Some communities who choose to guide themselves will uphold justice. The communities that belie our revelations will eventually destroy themselves in time.
  • The Prophet did not know what will happen in the future.
  • Do not set up authorities with God.
  • God is a protector to those who reform.
  • Pardon those who differ, and uphold justice.
  • Do not seek miracles, attain conviction by reasoning.
  • Be humble when you call upon God, and pay heed to the Quran in order to attain mercy.
  • Do not be proud to serve God. Instead, work in harmony with the universe and submit to His laws.

Back2Quran Ramadan Series: Summary of Chapter 6 (Anaam)

What this project is: This Ramadan, rekindle your spirituality and relationship with God by reading the Quran in a language you understand! To facilitate those who find reading the Quran for the first time daunting, we, at Quranalyze It, will be posting short chapter summaries to get you acquainted with the basic theme and content of a particular chapter. It is important to note, however, that these summaries are no substitute to reading the Quran, and should be used as a bridge towards the Quran, or as an additional tool.

If you like the idea behind this project, and would like to read the summaries of the subsequent chapters in the coming days, then subscribe to our blog to receive an email whenever we publish a new summary. Please read, and share it far and wide!


Ch 6 is an awe-inspiring chapter, and certainly one of my favorites. The chapter starts with Al hamdu lillah (a feeling of praise for God), and mentions sirat ul mustaqeem (The straight path) 5 times! This shows that it is complimentary to Chapter 1.

Unlike Chapters 2-5 (which were more informative), Chapter 6 adopts a persuasive style and is very spiritual in nature. A good part of the chapter is devoted to God and how he works in the universe, showing a divergence from earlier chapters which focused on ordinances. This is the first chapter to mention as many as 18 different messengers/prophets.

Furthermore, the chapter outlines the shortcomings of people in approaching God: They ask for supernatural miracles. To these people, the answer is that even if God were to perform these supernatural miracles, you would still not detest and continue arguing. Instead, attain conviction by reasoning.

Despite my best efforts, I really can’t do any justice to this chapter. It is a chapter that needs to be read and enjoyed. However, here are the more prominent interests of the chapter:

  • Monotheism: Come back to the source (God), and don’t set up authorities with Him. All spiritual practices should be for God, not earthly entities.
  • Chapter primarily concerned with atheists and hardline religionists.
  • Individual accountability, no intercession.
  • Freedom of belief. Do not insult the “gods” of others.
  • Every prophet had enemies who ascribed sayings to him he never uttered.
  • Book is fully detailed.
  • Only chapter to mention 18 personalities and linking them all to Alkitab (The book).
  • Do not obey the majority. Majority does not equate to truth.
  • Advocates reasoning in religious matters. “How can god have a son without a partner?” Not the “God can will whatever” mantra most religionists like to use.
  • Enlightenment and ignorance not equal. How can they deserve the same treatment?
  • Degrees according to deeds, not beliefs.
  • Ordinance on food.
  • Fatalism shunned.
  • Division discouraged.
  • Different understandings of the same truth given so that he could test you in your individual capacities. Therefore, Islam was never supposed to be a monolith.

Narrates the account of Ibrahim: His own spiritual journey, and how he challenged the prevalent religion of his times. (6:74-83)

 


Advocates one of the strongest arguments for Quranism (6:112-117):
Remember, We have appointed to every Prophet enemies. The rebellious among the urban and the rural populations rose in opposition, (since the Message struck at their personal interests.) They plotted and inspired each other with fancy words. If your Sustainer willed, they would not do that. Disregard them and whatever they fabricate.

Those who love quick gains and neglect the long-term benefits and the Hereafter, are parties to such fabrications. Let them delight in it and let them earn from it what they may.

Shall I seek for Judge and Ruler someone other than God? He is the One Who has revealed this Book, well expounded in detail for you? Those whom We have given the Book know that this is revealed in truth from your Sustainer. Be not among those who argue for the sake of argument.

Perfected is the Word of your Sustainer in truth and Justice. None can change His words and His laws. And He is the Profound Hearer, the Knower.

(People will confront you with what the majority is doing.) Now if you pay heed to, or get intimidated by majority of those who live on earth, they will lead you astray from God’s way. Most of the people follow nothing but conjecture and they only live by guesswork.

Only your Sustainer (shows the right path and) knows best those who stray and those who are rightly guided.


The Nine commandments of Islam, so to speak (6:151-152):

•You shall not set up idols besides Him.

•You shall honor your parents.

•You shall not kill your children from fear of poverty – we provide for you and for them.

•You shall not commit immoralities and injustices, obvious or hidden.

•You shall not kill – God has made life sacred – except in the course of justice.

•You shall not touch the orphans’ money except in the most righteous manner, until they reach maturity.

•You shall give full weight and full measure when you trade, equitably. We do not burden any soul beyond its means.

•You shall be absolutely just when you bear witness, even against your relatives.

•You shall fulfill your covenant with God.


Here are some very useful notes on Chapter 6 from Introduction to the Quran: An Existential Reading by Farouk Peru:

1. Ch 6 is like Ch 1 as it also starts with the feeling of joy and thankfulness (hamd) for Allah who created the heavens and the earth, darkness and light. However, those who reject or cover up this feeling will make others equal to Allah. This sets the tone for the chapter which is about attaining the direct connection with Allah.

2. Ch 6 has a long section talking about man’s relationship with Allah and how we can relate to him. This is from Vs 1-73. This is the first long metaphysical treatise in Quran and helps us to understand how we can build such a relationship with Allah.

3. Ch 6 mentions *ibrahim* and his reaction to the sun, moon and planets (7/74-83). This shows our contemplative route towards Allah where we see the source of power and light fade before turning to Allah himself. This process can be seen as an actual experience of 6/1-73.

4. Ch 6 mentions 18 personalities, linking them to ‘the book, governance and prophecies’ (6/83-89). These personalities should be understood as means for us to achieve the straight and establishing path. (siratin mustaqeem).

5. Ch 6 has the means of attaining the detailing of God’s judgment, 6/114. This is represented by the Quran and opposite to flowery sayings (6/112-113) which alienate us from the path (shaitaan). From this judgement of 6/114, we are to attain the fulfillment of the words of our lord in truth and justice (6/115).

6. Ch 6 has the detailing of the straight path (6/151-153) and immediately after that, Allah mentions *musa* and the book as well as the Quran (6/155)

7. Ch 6 ends with ibrahim who is the model of the perfect deen. Ibrahim’s philosophy of life is linked to his level of deen.

 

 

Back2Quran Ramadan Series: Summary of Chapter 1 (Fatiha)

What this project is: This Ramadan, rekindle your spirituality and relationship with God by reading the Quran in a language you understand! To facilitate those who find reading the Quran for the first time daunting, we, at Quranalyze It, will be posting short chapter summaries to get you acquainted with the basic theme and content of a particular chapter. It is important to note, however, that these summaries are no substitute to reading the Quran, and should be used as a bridge towards the Quran, or as an additional tool. Please read, and share it far and wide!


Chapter 1 (Fatiha) is possibly the most read chapter of the Quran. It is an integral part of Muslim prayers and is repeated tens of times in a day. Yet, we must ask ourselves, what purpose does it serve? Why is it the very first chapter of the Quran?

 

I think the answers to those questions lie in Ch2 V2: “Quran, as a revealed message, will only serve as a guide for the Muttaqeen (those who are conscious of God).” This is because everyone else wouldn’t embrace the message holistically to allow it to have a meaningful and drastic impact in their life.

 

So, to me, Chapter 1 demonstrates the attributes of a person who has figuratively awoken from sleep, suddenly becoming conscious of God (Muttaqi). These 6 verses could be considered as universal truths of a spiritual awakening, regardless of the faith one subscribes to. They immediately grab the attention of the reader, and go onto demonstrate Islam in a nutshell.

 

(Note: I am not referring to the bismillah as verse 1.)

 

Summary

Verses 1-4 deal with the symptoms of a spiritual awakening. What are they?

 

1st symptom: An immense feeling of praise and gratefulness for God, who is:

 

  • The Nourisher-Sustainer of the universe.

 

  • The Almighty (Rahman), and at the same time, The Merciful (Raheem).

 

Since both of the above words come from Rahm (literally: womb), these attributes outline the protective and evolusionizing aspect of The Beloved. The Muttaqi has experienced these attributes on a personal level. (V1-2)

 

2nd symptom: The realization of being dependent on a Higher Being (Maalik), and the fact that he is accountable for his actions. Therefore, it is only Him that he would seek to serve and only His aid that he would seek. (V3-4)

 

V5-6 is the prayer of the Muttaqi. What does he ask for?

 

He only implores God for guidance towards the straight path: A path on which there is positivity (favor and blessings); not a path involving negativity (wrath) and misguided people.

 

This, again, signifies the utmost importance given to God, while moving away from human authorities (idols). Furthermore, Islam is defined:

 

  • It is a straight path (without contradictions)

 

  • It is path on which you encounter positivity

 

  • It is a path devoid of negativity and misguidance

 

This short chapter includes much repeated key words in the Quran such as deen, ibadah, rabb and includes major themes of the Quran such as:

 

  •    Being grateful.
  •    The oneness and other predominant attributes of God.
  •    Accountability for our actions.
  •    Dependence on a higher power.
  •    Avoiding Shirk (Association).
  •    Seeking guidance and aid.
  •    What Islam is as a system.

 

Conclusion

A grandeur introduction, isn’t it? So rich with detail, despite its briefness! Needless to say, I am completely awed!

 

At the risk of repeating myself, I would say that Chapter 1 is the Quran in a nutshell! If your Quran reading can be considered a spiritual workout, then Fatiha is the nutrient-dense pre-workout snack.


A beautiful song by Ani Zonneveld on AlFatiha. Very spiritual:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftFngSwgj-k&list=UUNzuc5HTJJTxTdkxXC9ddjA&feature=share&index=5


*If you like the idea behind this project, and would like to read the summaries of the subsequent chapters in the coming days, then don’t forget to subscribe to our blog, so you could receive emails whenever we publish a new post!

3 Things You Should Avoid This Ramadan To Make It More Spiritually Meaningful!

As I sit here writing this, I am exuberated with joy that Ramadan is almost here! We, Pakistanis, are always fashionably late; so that should explain why we start fasting a day after most other countries.

Anyhow! Personally speaking, Ramadan is my favorite time of the year. A month I exclusively dedicate to my relationship with God, focusing on spiritual growth and reflections. It would be great if every Muslim tried to make a conscious effort in changing some part of their personality that needs to be improved during Ramadan, but this, unfortunately, is not the case. It is sad to note how each year Ramadan is wasted, and so the primary purpose of this blog is to address those issues.

As Ramadan approaches, Muslims suddenly change character. They fast, occupy the mosques, read the Quran, give away in charities, and try to avoid all the detrimental things they’ve become accustomed to. But as soon as it is over, they revert back to their ways of old, happily content that they’ve performed their religious rights and have pleased God. It’s almost as if Eid liberates them from their moral responsibilities they so fervently upheld in Ramadan!

So, here are the three things you should try to avoid in this Ramadan:

  1. Don’t Take Fasting As An End In Itself

I’ve always thought of Ramadan as a training program, and this really helps me keep things in perspective. To convey my point, let’s take the example of an intensive revision class set up by your university to help you achieve your goal: passing the exam.

Now here’s what happens: The students make it incumbent upon themselves to attend every class, but pay no attention whatsoever to what they’re doing. Having sat in these classes for a month, they expect the professor to be pleased with them for attending all his classes, hoping that he would pass them in the exam because of their dedication. Unprepared as they were, they miserably fail the exam, and thus repeat the year. For many, this becomes an on-going process. But, any sign of progress is nowhere to be found!

You probably understand the analogy. A major factor of why this happens, though, is because religious people tend to take their rituals and rights as an end in themselves, rather than taking them as a means to an end. They think, albeit naively, that performing these rituals somehow pleases God, and so they have no incentive to make an effort and derive any values from the rituals they perform.

The mere act of fasting, in no way, pleases God. This is an idea alien to the Quran. Rather, the purpose of fasting is that it should teach us self-control, make us more conscious of God (2:183), and develop an attitude of gratitude (2:185)! It is by these values that we attain during Ramadan, that boosts our relationship with God and helps us in connecting with It.

Otherwise, what’s the point?

  1. Don’t Read The Quran In A Language You Don’t Understand

This is something that needs to be stressed a lot, before we come out of the Arab supremacy complex.

I realize how hard it is to pick up the Quran and read it, for the first time. So, for those of you that have never read the Quran, the month of Ramadan provides an excellent platform. Presumably, your family members would already be reading the Quran this month, so the environment is all set up for action! However, I implore you not to make the mistake of reading the Quran in Arabic if you don’t understand it. Indeed, that defeats the whole purpose of sending down revelation!

 

A book we have revealed to you so that it may bring people out of ignorance, towards enlightenment.” Quran, 14:2

The purpose of the Quran has never been to encourage people to read it for the sake of it, or to attain rewards! Needless to say, you don’t become enlightened by reading it in a foreign language.

As I wrote in a previous blog,

“What was supposed to be a book with 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.” (I encourage you to read the entire blog here)

[Side note: You’d probably have a translation of the Quran in your home, but if not, you should download this translation here.]

If you’re looking to read the entire Quran this month, then let me do the math for you. There are 30 Juz (parts) in the Quran, each Juz consisting of roughly 20 pages. So, 30 days and 30 Juz. Still with me? Good. 1 juz every day. 20 pages. Yeah, not so much, is it? Of course, there is no “rule” that you have to read the entire Quran. Read whatever is easy to read. Quality over quantity, always!

Moreover, if you intend to attend Taraweeh, do realize that although these are optional, they’re a great way of reviewing the message of the Quran in Ramadan. I’ll repeat this again: Please don’t just stand there for the sake of it, having no idea of what is being recited. It defeats the purpose. Take your translation with you to the mosque, or if you don’t have one, you could always download it on your cell phone and take that instead. Whatever you do, make good use of it!

If things go as planned, I intend to start a BACK2QURAN project, in which I will be writing short summaries of every chapter in the Quran. Be on the lookout for those! (The first part is up! Read it here)

  1. Don’t spend in charities to accumulate rewards

As per popular opinion, spending in the month of Ramadan supposedly earns more rewards as it is deemed to be a “blessed” month. But to donate money in hopes of accumulating rewards is very paradoxical indeed!

The purpose of giving is just that: giving! No more, no less. We should help others, not only in Ramadan but all year round, simply because it is the right thing to do. It is what the soul yearns for! Expecting “rewards” for our service makes the whole process unnatural. It’s no more about benefiting others anymore, it becomes self centered. The ego comes in: “What can I get from this?”

Spend, because the other person deserves it. Understand his condition, and give selflessly. Suppress the ego, and boost your soul! Be altruistic!

In the famous words of Rumi: “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy!”

Final Thoughts

It’s always best to maintain a balance, and Ramadan is no exception. Don’t burn yourself, but don’t waste it either. What are the goals you wish to achieve this Ramadan? Jot them down, now! Written goals are easier to review and evaluate progress.

A major theme of the Quran is that of accountability, self-control, and being conscious of God. If you think about it, these are the values that fasting should help us internalize. And if one internalizes these values from the core of their being, then nothing could steer you towards wrong-doing.

This Ramadan, re-gain control of yourself!

Ramadan-and-change

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The Fall And Rise Of Adam: How It Speaks To Me!

Disclaimer: I feel that this post has the potential to be misinterpreted, so let me clarify my position beforehand. I am not suggesting that this perspective reflects the true account of what happened. And, for the conservatives, this is not a “modern re-interpretation.” This, simply, is one of the ways I personally resonate with Adam’s account mentioned in the Quran.

Adam is the very first figure we come across in the Quran (Ch2 V30). We are told of the origin of mankind, and how he was tempted by the “tree” of greed which lead to his downfall. This, I think, you are perfectly aware of.

Notwithstanding the original account, allow me to share my perspective.

I’ve always looked at the account of Adam in terms of our evolution from birth to attaining spiritual liberation – a pattern, I believe, any spiritual person can relate to. If we view it as such, and put ourselves in Adam’s place, we realize that everyone is born into Paradise – a state of bliss: A state, in which most of us, live in abundance and joy, enjoying the little pleasures of life.

“And We said: “O Adam, dwell thou and thy partner in this garden, and eat freely thereof, both of you, whatever you may wish; but do not approach this one tree, lest you become oppressors.” Quran, 2:35

However, as we grow older, Shaitan (I take it to be the negative aspects of society, in this case) tempts us towards the “tree” of greed, obscenities and oppression; which causes us to “fall” from our blissful state. This degradation makes us live a lowly existence, resulting in enmity with one another and division as a whole, all because of a lack of peace and contentment within ourselves.

“But Satan caused them both  to stumble therein and got them out of the happy state they were in. And so We said, Degraded you have become with wedges of discord among yourselves! There shall be for you habitation and livelihood on earth for a while.” Quran, 2:36

Unfortunately, most of us never transcend this stage. Running behind the daily chores of life, we ultimately fail to fulfill the purpose of life: evolving our souls. Not all are content with this condition, though. That’s when we seek some change in our lives, seeking what you would call a “paradigm shift.”

The spiritual quest begins. We explore different paths, and finally come across a path that speaks to us louder than others. Feeling ecstatic, we are consumed and are redeemed by the Beloved’s messages; regaining peace and contentment within ourselves while becoming one with God again.

“Thereupon Adam received words [of guidance] from his Sustainer, and He accepted his repentance: for, verily, He is the Acceptor of Repentance, the Dispenser of Grace.” Quran, 2:37

For-certainly

Thank God for God! 🙂

 

Related article: Stages of Consciousness

 

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