Here is a challenge for you. My purpose is not to criticise your knowledge of the Quran but to help you make a self-assessment of where you stand in your relationship with the Quran. Most of us think we’re familiar with The Majestic Quran, just because we read it a lot but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are. In fact, we aren’t.
How many stories of the Quran do you know?
How many parables of the Quran do you know?
How many proverbs of the Quran do you know?
What do you know about the Quran’s teachings on:
- Worship and devotion to Allah? His beautiful names and amazing creative power seen in the creation around us.
- The vivid description of the delights of Heaven and the horrors of Hell.
- Moral character, can you define moral virtues like kindness, goodness, gratitude, generosity, courage, justice?
- The spiritual relationship with Allah, the mighty creator, do you know what is Taqwa? What is reliance?
- Our responsibilities towards fellow human beings (the rights of parents, children, relatives, friends, community fellow workers?
We must learn these gems and understand them. Once we make this kind of careful and thoughtful assessment of our knowledge and understanding of the Quran, we will identify the gaps and then begin to fill them. This is meditation and reflection the Prophet (peace be upon him) commended when he said “a moment’s reflection is better than sixty years of worship” (Suyuti, Jamiu’s-Saghir).
The Quran says ‘You are mentioned in it’, can you find yourself?
Ahnaf Ibn Qais (d. 684 CE) a leader of the tribe of Banu Tamim was a follower of Ali the fourth Caliph. One day he was among his friends when someone read “We revealed a book to you, it mentions your fame and honour, why do you not understand?” (Al-Anbiya: 10). In other words ‘you’re mentioned in it’. He was surprised and sat up and asked for the Quran to see for himself where he’s mentioned. He said, “I want to find out which category of people I belong to.” So, they began flipping its pages, until they reached: “those who spend in charity in good and bad times, controlling their anger and pardoning people. Allah loves those who strive to do good” (Ale Imran: 134). He didn’t feel this description fitted him. So, asked them to move on to another passage: “The pious servants of al-Rahman are those who walk humbly on Earth and when the ignorant confront them they say ‘peace.’ They spend their nights before their Lord prostrating and standing” (Al-Furqan: 63-64). Again he felt short of this glory. So, requested them to look elsewhere, until they reached: “Those who truly believe in our verses when they are reminded of them fall in prostration and glorify and praise their Lord and they are not arrogant. Whose sides rise from the beds to pray to their Lord out of fear and hope and they spend from what we have provided them” (Al-Sajda: 16). He laughed at himself as unfit for such accolades.
As they searched in desperation they came across “they answer by obeying their Lord and pray constantly and settle their affairs through mutual consultation and they spend from what We provided them” (Al-Shura: 38). He frowned at himself for the paucity of these qualities. As they flicked the pages of the Divine book they read: “There are others who have confessed their sins, and have a mixed bag of good and bad deeds, hoping that Allah may forgive them. Surely, Allah is Forgiving, Caring” (Al-Tauba: 102). “Stop right now, this is describing me”, he exclaimed spontaneously.
Can you find your description in the Quran?
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