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"O Allah! We seek goodness from Your Knowledge and with Your Power (and Might) We seek strength, and We ask from You Your Great Blessings, because You have the Power and We do not have the power. You Know everything and I do not know, and You have knowledge of the unseen. Oh Allah! If in Your Knowledge this action (We are about to take) is better for my religion and faith, for our life and end [death], for here [in this world] and the hereafter then make it destined for us and make it easy for us and then add blessings [baraka'] in it, for us. O Allah! In Your Knowledge if this action is bad for us, bad for our religion and faith, for our life and end [death], for here [in this world] and the hereafter then turn it away from us and turn us away from it and whatever is better for us, ordain [destine] that for us and then make us satisfied with it."

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Importance of a good shaykh by Shaykh Abd'al-Qadir al-Jilani Radi Allahu anhu

Al Ghawth al-Adham Shaykh Sayyad Abd'al-Qadir al-Jilani Radi 'Allahu anhu said: You must work hard to ensure that your hearts are not locked out of the door of His nearness. Be sensible! You are getting nowhere. You must seek the company of a Shaykh who is learned in the law [hukm] and knowledge ['ilm] of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), and who will show you the way toward Him. Without seeing the successful [muflih], one cannot succeed. If a person does not seek the company of scholars who put their knowledge into practice ['ulama 'ummal], he is a chicken from an egg abandoned by the rooster and the mother hen.

Seek the fellowship of those who enjoy fellowship with the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). What each of you should do, when the night has grown dark and people have gone to bed and their voices are silent, is get up, take an ablution [yatawadda'], perform two cycles of ritual prayer [yusalli rak'atain] and say: "O my Lord, guide me to one of Your righteous servants near to You, so that he may guide me toward You and make me familiar with Your path." The instrument [sabab] is necessary. Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) was quite capable of guiding [His servants] to Him without the Prophets [anbiya']. Be sensible! You are getting nowhere. You must awaken from your heedless folly. As the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam has said: If someone relies entirely on his own subjective judgement, he will go astray. Try to find someone who will be a mirror for the face of your religion [din], just as you look in the mirror to check the appearance of your outer face, your turban and your hair. Be sensible! What is this crazy foolishness? You say, "I don't need anyone to teach me," and yet the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam has said: The believer is the believer's mirror [al-mu'minu mir'atu 'l-mu'min].

When the believer's faith is sound, he comes to be a mirror for all creatures. They behold their religious faces [wujuh adyanihim] reflected in the mirror of his speech, every time they see him and get close to him. What is this craziness? Not a moment goes by without your begging Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) to provide you with more than you already have to eat, to drink, and to wear, with more sexual opportunities and more income. These are not things that could increase or decrease, even if you were to be joined in your plea by every supplicant whose prayers are answered [da 'in mujab].

Supplication [da 'wa] will neither increase one's sustenance by so much as an atom, nor reduce it by an atom. This is a foregone conclusion [mafrugh minhu]. You must devote your attention to doing what you have been commanded to do, and to avoiding what you have been forbidden to do. You should not worry about that which is bound to come your way, because He guarantees that it will come to you. Allotted shares [aqsam] arrive at their appointed times, whether they be sweet or bitter, whether you like them or dislike them.

The people [of the Way] attain to a condition in which they no longer have any prayer of supplication [du'a] or request [su'al] to make. They do not beg [in their prayers] to gain advantages, nor to get rid of disadvantages. Their supplication comes to be a matter concerning their hearts, sometimes for their own sake and sometimes for the sake of all creatures, so they utter the prayer of supplication without conscious premeditation [fi ghaiba].
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"O '' Allah, endow us with good behaviour in Your company under all circumstances!
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[When the believer's faith is sound], fasting [sawm], prayer [salat], remembrance [dhikr] and all acts of obedience [ta 'at] become second nature to him, mingled with his flesh and blood. Then he receives protection from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) under all circumstances. The restraint of the law [hukm] does not desert him, not for an instant, while he is on this course. The law comes to be like the vessel in which he sits, as he travels over the ocean of the power [qudra] of his Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He). He goes on traveling over it until he arrives at the shore of the hereafter, at the shore of the ocean of grace and the hand of nearness. Thus he is sometimes in the company of creatures and at certain times in the company of the Creator. His work and toil are with creatures, while his relaxation is with the Creator.
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From Shaykh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, "The Sublime Revelation (Al-Fath ar-Rabbani)," translated by Muhtar Holland (Al-Baz Publishing, Houston, 1992), p. 426-8.
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On the authority of Abu Hurayrah r.a., who said that Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. said: Allah SWT said:

Whosoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him. (It was related by al-Bukhari)
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“Allah! There is no God save Him, the Alive, the Eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep overtaketh Him. Unto Him belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he that intercedeth with Him save by His leave? He knoweth that which is in front of them and that which is behind them, while they encompass nothing of His knowledge save what He will. His throne includeth the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the Sublime, the Tremendous.”

Saturday, January 3, 2009

TOWARDS UNDERSTANDING THE QUR'AN

ORIGINAL SOURCE

By Amanullah Vadakkangara


The Qur'an is the most sacred Book in the world. It is the uncreated word of Allah, given as the greatest blessing to the whole mankind through the last Messenger Mohammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). We all know that Allah the Almighty, being the Creator, Protector and Sustainer of the universe has taken the responsibility of giving guidance to the people. For this purpose He has sent Messengers to all places in all times with glad tidings for the good doers and severe warnings of punishment to those who reject the divine Message.

Allah has revealed divine books and pages of instructions to several prophets. But all the prophets before Mohammad (pbuh) were sent to a particular time and to a particular community. Their messages were confined to their respective areas. That is why the books revealed to them are not found now in the original form, though some copies with enough additions and omissions are kept with some communities and they consider it divine still today.

A sincere attempt to see the actual conditions of these scripts reveals that Allah has sent Taurat to Moosa (Moses), Injeel to Isa (Jesus) and Zaboor to Dawood (David) - peace be on them - before the prophethood of Mohammad (pbuh). Originally all these were from Allah with divine instructions to their community. But by the passage of time the followers of those books misinterpreted the verses and made their own words in the book so as to suit and safeguard their interests.

But the case of the Qur'an is entirely different. Since Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) has been sent to the whole mankind till the Day of Judgment and since he is the Last Messenger to the universe, Allah made the Holy Qur'an the last of His divine revelation and He Himself took up the responsibility of protecting it from all possible malpractices and misintrepretations. Thus we can see that the Qur'an is the most widely read Book in the whole world.

It is noteworthy that even after 14 centuries the Revelation exists in its original form without being affected even by a single change to any of its letters. Allah says: "Surely We have sent down the Qur'an and will protect it". This is very much clear and everybody will agree to this fact. It is wonderful to note that millions of people are reciting this Holy Book everyday knowingly or unknowingly the meanings of its contents.

The Qur'an contains 114 Suras (chapters) of unequal length. These Suras were revealed occasionally and were given parts by parts to the Prophet and hence it took 23 years to complete it. Scholars say that this was done with a purpose.

First, the Prophet (pbuh) was unlettered and he had to learn the revealed parts by heart. So Allah revealed His messages to him part by part to ease his memorisation. Most of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) were also unlettered. So this would help them also to learn by heart portion by portion. Secondly, the Prophet was moulding a typical Islamic society strictly with spiritual code and conduct throughout their life. So timely instructions and practical solutions to their problems had to be given. Allah wanted to convince them of the situations and give directions on the spot.

So we see several verses were revealed on several occasions and this in turn shows the miracle of this Holy Book. When the disbelievers highlighted this as a defect for a Holy Book, the Qur'an replied to them in Suratul Furqan. Allah explains this: "Those who reject Faith say: Why is not the Qur'an revealed to him all at once? Thus (is it revealed), that We may strengthen thy heart hereby, and We Rehearsed it to thee in slow, well­arranged stages, gradually".

Three reasons are given for the gradual revelation of the Qur'an: (1) "To strengthen thy heart": the tremendous task of winning the Arab nation, and, through them, the whole world, to Islam, required superhuman patience, constancy, and firmness, and these qualities were strengthened by the gradual promulgation of solutions to each difficulty as it arose. (2) "Slow, well­arranged stages": though the stages were gradual, as the occasion demanded from time to time, in the course of 23 years, the whole emerged, when completed, as a well­arranged scheme of spiritual instruction, as we have seen in following the arrangement of the Suras. (3) Questions put and answers given.

Divine knowledge is a fathomless ocean. But glimpses of it can be obtained by any individual sincerely searching for the Truth. Their progress will be in grades. If they ask questions, and answers are then furnished to them, they are more likely to apprehend the Truth, as they have already explored the part of the territory in which they are interested.

In the same way, when concrete questions arise by the logic of events, and they are answered not only for the occasion, but from a general standpoint, the teaching has a far greater chance of penetrating the human intelligence and taking shape in practical conduct. And this is the usual way of instruction in the Qur'an.

"(It is) a Qur'an which We have divided (into parts from time to time), in order that thou mightest recite it to men at intervals: We have revealed it by stages" (Sura Al Isra: 106). The marvel is that these parts, revealed at different times and in different circumstances, should fit together so closely and consistently as they do. All revelation is progressive. Each of them marked a stage in the world's spiritual history. Man's mind does not take in more than his spiritual state will have prepared him for God's revelation comes as a light to illuminate our difficulties and show us the way in actual situations that arise.

The Suras of the Qur'an are divided into two: Makki Suras and Madani Suras. Those Suras which were revealed to the Prophet in his Makkan period is termed as Makkan Suras and the Suras revealed to him in Madina are known as Madani Suras. The Suras which were revealed in the early Makkan period were mainly concentrating on the following three points.

1. Directives were given to the Prophet (peace be upon him) on how he should prepare himself for his great mission and how he should begin working for the fulfilment of his task.

2. A fundamental knowledge of reality was furnished and misconceptions commonly held by people in that regard - misconceptions which gave rise to wrong orientation in life - were removed.

3. People were exhorted to adopt the right attitude toward life. Moreover, the Qur'an also elucidated those fundamental principles which, if followed, lead to man's success and happiness.

In keeping with the character of the mission at this stage the early revelations generally consisted of short verses, couched in language of uncommon grace and power, and clothed in a literary style suited to the taste and temperament of the people to whom they were originally addressed, and whose hearts they were meant to penetrate. The rhythm, melody and vitality of these verses drew rapt attention, and such was their stylistic grace and charm that people began to recite them involuntarily.

This early stage lasted for four or five years, during which period the following reactions to the Prophet's message manifested themselves:

1. A few people responded to the call and agreed to join the Ummat (community) committed, of its own volition, to submit to the Will of God.

2. Many people reacted with hostility, either from ignorance or egotism, or because of chauvinistic attachment to the way of life of their forefathers.

3. The call of the Prophet, however, did not remain confined to Makkah or to the Quraysh. It began to meet with favourable response beyond the borders of that city and among other tribes.

The next stage of the mission was marked by a hard, vigorous struggle between the Islamic movement and the age­old Jahiliyah traditions of Arabia. Not only were the Makkans and the Quraysh bent upon preserving their inherited way of life, they were also firmly resolved to suppress the new movement by force. They stopped at nothing in the pursuit of this objective. They resorted to false propaganda; they spread doubt and suspicion and used subtle, malinsinuations to sow distrust in people's minds. They tried to prevent people from listening to the message of the Prophet. They perpetrated savage cruelties on those who embraced Islam. They subjected them to economic and social boycott, and persecuted them to such an extent that on two occasions a number of them were forced to leave home and emigrate to Abyssinia, and finally they had to emigrate en masse to Madina.

Despite the strong and growing resistance, enmity and opposition, the Islamic movement continued to spread to all nooks and corners of the Arabian Peninsula and during the Prophet's long and arduous struggle God continued to inspire him with revelations possessing at once the smooth, natural flow of a river, the violent force of a flood and the overpowering effect of a fierce fire.

These messages instructed the believers in their basic duties, inculcated in them a sense of community and belonging, exhorted them to piety, moral excellence and purity of character, taught them how to preach the true faith, sustained their spirit by promises of success and Paradise in the Hereafter, aroused them to struggle in the cause of God with patience, fortitude andhigh spirits, and filled their hearts with such zeal and enthusiasm that they were prepared to endure every sacrifice, brave every hardship and face every adversity.

At the same time, those either bent on opposition, or who had deviated from the right way, or who had immersed themselves in frivolity and wickedness, were warned by having their attentions called to the tragic ends of nations with whose fates they were familiar. They were asked to draw lessons from the ruins of those localities through which they passed every day in the course of their wanderings.

Evidence for the unity of God and for the existence of the After­life was pointed to in signs visible to their own eyes and within the range of their ordinary experience. The weaknesses inherent in polytheism, the vanity of man's ambition to become independent even of God, the folly of denying the After­life, the perversity of blind adherence to the ways of one's ancestors regardless of right or wrong, were all fully elucidated with the help of arguments cogent enough to penetrate the minds and hearts of the audience.

Moreover every misgiving was removed, a reasonable answer was provided to every objection, all confusion and perplexity was cleared up, and ignorance was besieged from all sides till its irrationality was totally exposed. Along with all this went the warning of the wrath of God. The people were reminded of the horrors of Doomsday and the tormenting punishment of Hell. They were also censured for their moral corruption, for their erroneous ways of life, for their clinging to the ways of ignorance, for their opposition to Truth and their persecution of the believers. Furthermore, these messages enunciated those fundamental principles of morality and collective life on which all sound and healthy civilizations enjoying God's approval had always rested.

This stage was unfolded in several phases. In each phase, the preaching of the message assumed ever wider proportions, as the struggle for the cause of Islam and opposition to it became increasingly intense and severe, and as the believers encountered people of varying outlooks and beliefs. All these factors had the effect of increasing the variety of the topics treated in the messages revealed during this period. Such, in brief, was the situation forming the background to the Makkan Suras of the Qur'an.

Even after 13 years of relentless efforts the Prophet (pbuh) and his companions found Makkah unfavourable to continue their mission and were forced to migrate to Madina. During this stage, circumstances changed drastically. The Muslim community succeeded in establishing a fully­fledged state; its creatives of the ancient ignorance of Arabia. The community also encountered followers of the former prophets, i.e. Jews and Christians. An additional problem was that hypocrites began to join the fold of the Muslim community; their machinations needed to be resisted.

After a severe struggle, lasting ten years, the Islamic movement reached a high point of achievement when the entire Arabian peninsula came under its way and the door was open to worldwide preaching and reform. This stage, like the preceding one, passed through various phases each of which had its peculiar problems and demands.

It was in the context of these problems that God continued to reveal messages to the Prophet. At times these messages were couched in the form of fiery speeches; at other times they were characterised by the grandeur and stateliness of majestic proclamations and ordinances. At times they had the air of instructions from a teacher; at others the style of preaching of a reformer. These messages explained how a healthy society, state and civilization could be established and the principles on which the various aspects of human life should be based.

They also dealt with matters directly related to the specific problems facing the Muslims. For example, how should they deal with the hypocrites (who were harming the Muslim community from within) and with the non­Muslims who were living under the care of the Muslim Society? How should they relate to the People of the Book? What treatment should be meted out to those with whom the Muslims were at war, and how should they deal with those with whom the Muslims were at war, and how should they deal with those with whom them were bound by treaties and agreements? How should the believers, as a community, prepare to discharge their obligations as vicegerents of the Lord of the Universe?

Through the Qur'an the Muslims were guided in questions like these, were instructed and trained, made aware of their weaknesses, urged to risk their lives and property for the cause of God, taught the code of morality they should observe in all circumstances of life - in times of victory and defeat, ease and distress, prosperity and adversity, peace and security, peril and danger.

In short, they were being trained to serve as the successors of the mission of the Prophet, with the task of carrying on the message of Islam and bringing about reform in human life. The Qur'an also addressed itself to those outside the fold of Islam, to the People of the Book, the hypocrites, the unbelievers, the polytheists. Each group was addressed according to its own particular circumstances and attitudes. Sometimes the Qur'an invited them to the true faith with tenderness and delicacy; on other occasions, it rebuked and severely admonished them. It also warned them against, and threatened them with, punishment from God. It attempted to make them take heed by drawing their attention to instructive historical events. In short, people were left with no valid reason for refusing the call of the Prophet.

Such, briefly, is the background to the Madani Suras of the Qur'an (Tafheemul Qur'an, Syed Abul A'la Maudoodi, Part 1, P­17).

As we have already noted in our earlier articles it was in a Ramadan the revelation of the Holy Qur'an was started. It is vivid clear in the history that the social conditions of the sixth century Arabia was deplorable and people led a barbarian life of immoralities. They didn't follow any ethics or never considered values. Their life was concerned mainly in what is called three w's viz. war, wine and women. Even before the prophethood Mohammad (pbuh) hated such acts and spent time in the cave of Hira involved in deep mediation. It was on this time the Angel Jibreel appeared before him with the first message. There he was given the first five verses from the Suratul Alaq.

Guidance for the mankind

When we think about the revelation of the Holy Qur'an it comes to our mind, that Allah, the Creator, Evolver, Sustainer and Cherisher of all the creatures had considered Himself as His responsibility to guide the mankind to the right direction before they come before Him for judgement. Unless and until enough instructions are not given regarding how to live on the earth there is no meaning in assembling the people, judging their deeds and dividing them into Paradise or Hell.

Allah is All­wise All­knowing and all seeing so He took as a practice of sending messengers to all people with glad tidings to those who move along with the right path, obeying the commands of the Creator and His Messenger and warning of severe punishment to those who reject the appeal of the prophets and go astray. We know that Allah's providence encompasses not only the entire physical side of human beings but it also furnishes with the means of spiritual sustenance to enable them to attain the Ideal of becoming his vicegerents on earth. Prophets were sent for this purpose.

It should also be noted that man has unlimited and ever increasing problems in this world. He himself is not able to overcome it or find any suitable solution for it. That is why Allah gave clear­cut instruction since His first creation. He ordained "When there comes to you a guidance from Me, then whosoever follows My guidance, no fear shall be on them, nor shall they grieve. And those who choose disbelief and belie Our Signs, these be the Companions of Fire, in that they abide for ever." (Sura Al­Baqara: 38­39).

From these verses we can understand that it is not for man to prescribe the way of life which his fellow human beings should follow. In his double capacity as the subject and vicegerent of God, man is required to follow the way of life prescribed by his Lord and there are only two means of access to this way, either by direct revelation from God or by following one to whom God has revealed guidance. Resorting to any other means in quest of salvation is not only fundamentally wrong but tantamount to rebellion.

Since the chain of prophethood is closed with the sending of Mohammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as a mercy and guidance to the all world there are no chances left over for anybody to reject his teachings in the way of right direction. It was on this account the Prophet (pbuh) said, "I have left two things with you, so long as you behold that you will not go astray. They are the Book of Allah and the Sunna of the Prophet."

From the approach of the Qur'an we can see that all prophets were sent down with the same message of emancipating people from the worship of the creatures and leading them to the worship of the God, the Creator.

The following Qur'anic lessons deserve special mentioning in this regard.

1. All nations of the world were provided with spiritual guidance through their Prophets: And every community had its warner
And for each community there was a messenger


2. These prophets were all human beings, as human beings only could serve as perfect models to and reformers of mankind: And nothing prevents men from believing when the guidance comes to them except that they say: Does God raise up a human being as a messenger? Say: Had there been in the earth angels walking therein as settlers, surely We would have caused to come down upon them from above an angel as a messenger.
And We sent not before thee except men whom We gave Our command. Therefore ask ye of the People of the Book if you know not. And We gave them not bodies not taking food and they were not exempt from death.


3. All these prophets were sinless: It is not attributable to a prophet that he should act unfaithfully.


4. They were all given books for the guidance of their people: Then God sends His Prophets (Anbiya), bearers of glad tidings and so warners, and He sends with them the Book with the truth.
Surely We have sent Our messengers (Rusul) with clear proofs and We have sent down with them the Book and the balance that mankind may keep up justice.


5. Only some among them were mentioned by name but there were many more whose names were not mentioned: And there are messengers We have related to thee ere this and messengers We have not related to thee.


6. Belief in the prophets of all nations is an essential article of a Muslim's faith and forms the basis of the brotherhood of all nations:

7. And who believe in what has been sent to thee and what was sent before thee.

We should understand that the Holy Qur'an is the most important blessing from Allah to the mankind. Allah has offered reward for reciting this Holy Book even without knowing the meaning. When we recite, learn and memorise it Allah will give countless rewards and blessings for us by this act of virtue. The Prophet (pbuh) has said, the best among you are those who learn Qur'an and teaches it.

The Qur'an says: Allah will exalt those who believe among you, and those who have knowledge, to high ranks and God is well acquainted with all you do (Suratul Mujadala ­ II). It come in a hadith that "One who is skilled in the Qur'an is associated with the noble, upright recording angels; and he who falters when reciting the Qur'an and finds it difficult for him will get double reward from Allah.

It is also a known hadith that the Prophet (pbuh) advised his companions "Recite the Qur'an, for on the Day of Resurrection it will come as an intercessor for those who recite it. See the translations of some of the Hadiths shedding light on the significance of the recitation, memorisation and learning the Holy Qur'an.

1. If anyone recites a letter of the Holy Qur'an he will be credited with a good deed and a good deed gets a tenfold reward, ten sins are forgiven and he is raised ten ranks high. I do not say that ALM are one letter, but alif is a letter, lam is a letter and mim is a letter.

2. "On the Day of Judgment it will be said to the People of Qur'an: Go on reciting the Qur'an and continue ascending the storeys of paradise and in measure you had been reading in worldly life, your final abode will be where you reach at the time of the last verse of your recitation."

3. Those who act up on the injunctions of the Holy Qur'an are the favourites and friends of Allah.

4. On the Day of Resurrection the Holy Qur'an will appear in the guise of a lean human being and will say, "Do you recognise me?" The Holy Qur'an will say, "I am your companion, the Holy Qur'an, who kept you thirsty in the scorching heat and awake at night.

Every trader expects to be benefited from his articles of trade and today you are under the shade of your all kinds of articles of trade. Then he will be given kingship in his right hand and the warrant of permission for entry into Paradise in his left hand. He will be made to wear the crown of respect and dignity. His parents will be made to wear two silky robes.

The worldly people did not attach any importance to them. They will ask, "Why they have been made to wear this dress?" They will be told that your son obtained knowledge of the Holy Qur'an. Then his son will be asked to start recitation of the Holy Qur'an, and for every Verse (ayat) read by the child, the status of the parents will be raised to the next higher grade of the Paradise (Jannat) till the recitation of the Holy Qur'an is completed.

5. Allah will honour with this (Qur'an) some people and disgrace some people.

6. Allah says: Whoever engaged in recitation of the Qur'an and in remembering Me, I will give him the best I will give for those who ask Me. The greatness of the words of Allah over other words is the greatness of Allah over the creatures.

7. Whoever recite the Qur'an and work accordingly Allah will adorn his father with a throne in the Day of Judgment, which will be brighter than the sun in the world. What you think about the one who follow Qur'an?

8. You read Qur'an because Allah will not punish the heart filled with Qur'an. The Qur'an is a feast of Allah whoever enter there is secured. Whoever loves it can have the good news (of Paradise).

But those who areblessed with an opportunity to learn Qur'an and memorise it should stand for the cause of Allah with a sincere intention of getting his reward. When one does this for worldly publicity and approval he will not be eligible for any reward from Allah rather he will be thrown to the Hell for punishment. The Prophet (pbuh) says in this regard.

"The first person to be judged on the Day of Resurrection will be a man who died as a martyr. He will be brought forward, and after Allah has reminded him of the favour He showed him and the man acknowledges it, He will ask, "What did you do to show gratitude for it? The man will reply, I fought for Thy cause till I was martyred. Allah will say, You lie. You fought that people might call you courageous, and they have done so. Command will then be issued about him, and he will be dragged on his face and thrown into Hell.

Next a man who has acquired and taught knowledge and read the Qur'an will be brought forward, and after Allah has reminded him of the favour He showed him and the man acknowledges it, He will ask, What did you do to show gratitude for it? The man will reply, I acquired and taught knowledge and read the Qur'an for Thy sake. Allah will say, You lie. You acquired knowledge that people might call you learned, and you read the Qur'an that they might call you a reader, and they have done so. Command will then be issued about him, and he will be dragged on his face and thrown into Hell.

Next a man whom Allah has made affluent and whom He has given all kinds of property will be brought forward, and after Allah has reminded him of the favour He showed him and the man acknowledges it, He will ask, What did you do to show gratitude for it? The man will reply, I have not neglected to give liberally for Thy sake to all the causes approved by Thee for this purpose. Allah will say, You lie. You did it that people might call you generous, and they have done so. Command will then be issued about him, and he will be dragged on is face and thrown into Hell. (Muslim transmitted it).

After acquiring the knowledge of this Holy Book of Allah, We must protect it and practice it throughout life. Because Allah's Messenger (pbuh) has said. One who obtains the knowledge of the Qur'an and afterwards neglects it will meet the same fate of the one who passes away the timings of the obligatory prayers in sleep.

Abdullah Ibn Umar reports from the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet said "May I tell you a practice by which you will become a permanent reciter of the Holy Qur'an. I submitted: Why not? O Messenger of Allah! I always intend to seek piety and virtue, where upon the Prophet said: Fast the most superior type of fasting that is the fasting of Prophet Dawood (pbuh). He was the greatest worshipper. Recite the whole Qur'an in one month's time. I said, I can do more than that. Then the Prophet said. Then finish it in ten days. I said I can do more than that. There the Prophet said then finish the recitation of the whole Qur'an in seven days, and do not finish it less than this period.

These hadiths are sufficient guidelines for us in recitation of the Holy Qur'an. When we spend the holy month of Ramadan, that is the month of Qur'an - in recitation of the Holy Qur'an we must see that we follow it strictly abiding by the rules and regulations of recitation as the companion of the Prophet (pbuh) reported from the Prophet: Allah has asked me to recite the Holy Qur'an in a clear and distinct manner.

May Allah help us all to learn more and more about this sacred Book of Guidance and to strengthen our relation with it so that it may come to recommend for us in the Day of Judgment.

Here is an open challenge

THE Qur'an is a unique Book of divine guidance. Anybody blessed with a common sense of understanding can see that this a revealed book from the Creator. Actually the scholars who allege that Mohammad (peace be upon him) was the author of the Qur'an claim something which is humanly impossible. Could any person of the sixth century CE utter such scientific truths as the Qur'an contains? Could he describe the evolution of the embryo inside the uterus so accurately as we find it in modern science?

Secondly, is it logical to believe that Mohammad (pbuh), who up to the age of 40 was marked only for his honesty and integrity, began all of a sudden the authorship of a book matchless in literary merit and the equivalent of which the whole legion of the Arab poets and orators of highest calibre could not produce? And lastly, is it justified to say that Mohammad (pbuh) who was known as AL­AMEEN (The Trustworthy) in his society and who is still admired by the non­Muslim scholars for his honesty and integrity, came forth with a false claim and on that falsehood could train thousands of men of character, integrity and honesty, who were able to establish the best human society on the surface of the earth?

Surely, any sincere and unbiased searcher of truth will come to believe that the Qur'an is the revealed Book of Allah. Allah has answered to the allegations of the disbelievers of Makkah with an open challenge to bring a book similar to that of Qur'an with the help and co­operation of all people: see the following verses of the Qur'an challenging whosoever came forward to spread that the Qur'an is the creation of Mohammad.

First, Allah asked them to bring a similar book in the following verses.

Or do they say, "he fabricated the (Message)"? Nay, they have no faith! Let them then produce a recital like unto it, if (it be) they speak the Truth! (Sura Tur: 33­34).

"Say: If the whole of mankind and Jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur'an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support." (Sura Bani Israil: 88).

When they were not able to respond to this challenge by presenting a book similar to the Qur'an Allah challenged them by demanding to bring ten chapters.

"Or they may say, he forged it. Say, Bring ye then ten Suras forged, like unto it, and call (to your aid) whomsoever ye can, other than Allah! if ye speak the truth!" (Sura Hud: 13).

When they failed to face even this challenge Allah asked them to bring a single Sura similar to that of Qur'an.

This Qur'an is not such as can be produced by other than Allah; on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that went before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book - wherein there is no doubt - from the Lord of the Worlds. Or do they say, "He forged it"? Say: "Bring then a Sura like unto it, and call (to your aid) anyone you can, besides Allah, if it be ye speak the truth!" (Sura Yunus: 37­38).

In Suratul Baqara Allah repeats this challenge and finally gives a strong warning to those who disbelieve deliberately even after realising the truth. And if ye are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Sura like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah, if your doubts are true. But if ye cannot - and of a surety ye cannot - then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones and which is prepared for those who reject Faith. (Sura Baqara: 23­24).

It should be noted that the Arabs of the pre­Islamic period were masters of literature and got excellent command over the language. So Allah sent the Prophet to them with an unchallengeable book of literary significance apart from its moral and ethical values. But though they were well versed in the literary styles and usages of Arabic language they could not effectively face the challenge of the Qur'an to bring even a single Sura similar to the Qur'an.

Thus Qur'an proved its divinity beyond doubt and invited them all to believe in it. But unfortunately most of them turned from it for safeguarding their vested interests. It was also clear that when the great men of letters failed to bring a similar chapter how an illiterate person like Mohammad can make it?

The Qur'an is the greatest miracle given to the Prophet (pbuh). Everybody can realise that an unlettered person like Mohammad can never make such a great Book either by himself or with the help of others. Its style, approach, names of Suras, all are unique and attractive. Nobody can say that whether it is a prose style or a poetry style. It is mixed with all noble examples for mankind. Apart from its literary excellence, it is a healing and mercy to the people.

Allah says: We send down (stage by stage) in the Qur'an that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe: to the unjust it causes nothing but loss after loss." (Sura Bani Israil: 82)

In the Suratul Kahf Allah says: (He has made it) straight, (and clear) in order that He may warn (the godless) of a terrible punishment from Him and that He may give glad tidings to the believers who work righteous deeds, that they shall have a goodly reward. (Al Kahf: 2)

In Sura Al Luqman Allah says: These are verses of the wise Book, a Guide and Mercy to the Doers of Good.

On the basis of this observation we may proclaim that the Qur'an is a guidance, Mercy and Healing to the burning problems of man. But it should be understood that the guidance of the Qur'an will not get except to those who possess within themselves some qualities which the Qur'an has pointed out in the beginning of the Suratul Baqara.

Allah says: This is the Book of Allah, there is no doubt in it, it is a guidance for the pious, for those who believe in the existence of that which is beyond the reach of human perception, who establish Prayer and spend out of what We have provided them, who believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed before you, and have firm faith in the Hereafter. Such people are on true guidance from their Lord; such are the truly successful. (Sura Baqara 2­5).

These verses clearly prove that while the Book is potentially for all only those who possess certain qualities can benefit from it. The first such quality is piety: those who want to benefit should be disposed to distinguish between good and evil and to shun evil and do good. Those who lead an animal existence, who never stop to consider whether their actions are either good or bad, who cynically follow the prevailing winds, who are helplessly tossed about by the animal desires that dominate their minds, such persons are altogether incapable of deriving any benefit from the guidance embodied in the Qur'an.

This is the second prerequisite for deriving benefit from the Qur'an. The Arabic wordGhayb signifies the verities which are hidden from man's senses and which are beyond the scope of man's ordinary observation and experience, for example the existence and attributes of God, the angels, the process of revelation, Paradise, hell and so on, Belief in the Ghayb means having faith in such matters, based on an absolute confidence in the Messengers of God and despite the fact that it is impossible to experience them.

According to this verse, Qur'anic guidance can prove helpful only to those prepared to affirm the truths of the suprasensory realm. People who make their belief in these questions conditional upon sensory perception of the object of belief, and who are not prepared even to consider the possibility of the existence of things that cannot be weighed or measured, cannot profit from this Book.

This is the third requirement. It is pointed out that those to whom belief means merely the pronouncement of a formula, who think that a mere verbal confession of faith is enough and that it makes no practical demands on them, can derive no guidance from the Qur'an. To benefit from the Qur'an it is essential that a man's decision to believe should be followed immediately by practical obedience to God.

Prayer is the first and continuing sign of practical obedience. No mothan a few hours can pass after a man has embraced Islam than the Mu'adhdhin calls to Prayer and it becomes evident whether or not the profession of faith has been genuine. Moreover, the Mu'adhdhin calls to Prayer five times every day and whenever a man fails to respond to his call it becomes clear that he has transgressed the bounds of practical obedience. An abandonment of Prayer amounts to an abandonment of obedience. Obviously, if a man is not prepared to follow the directives of his guide, it is immaterial whether or not true guidance is available to him.

It should also be noted that the expression 'establishment of Prayer' has a wider meaning than mere performance of Prayer. It means that the system of Prayer should be organised on a collective basis. If there is a person in a locality who prays individually but no arrangements are made for congregational Prayer, it cannot be claimed that Prayer is established in that locality.

This, the fourth prerequisite for a person to benefit from the Qur'an, demands that the person concerned should neither be niggardly nor a worshipper of money. On the contrary, he should be willing to pay the claims on his property of both God and man, and should not flinch from making financial sacrifices for the sake of his convictions.

The fifth requirement is that one should believe in the Books revealed by God to His Prophets in the various ages and regions of the world, in the Book revealed to Mohammad (pbuh) as well as in those revealed to the other prophets who preceded him. The door of the Qur'an is closed to all those who do not consider it necessary for man to receive guidance from God. It is also closed to those whom, even if they believe in the need for such guidance, do not consider it necessary to seek it through the channel of revelation and prophethood, but would rather weave their own set of ideas and concepts and regards them as equivalent to Divine Guidance.

Belief in the After­life is the sixth and last requirement. The term Al­Akhirah embraces a whole set of ideas:

1) The man is not an irresponsible being, but is answerable to God for all his conduct in this world;

2) That the present order of the world is not timeless, but will come to an end at an appointed hour known only to God;

3) That when this world comes to an end God will bring into being another world in which He will resurrect, at one and the same moment, all the human beings ever born on earth. He will gather them together, examine their conduct and grant each one just reward for his actions;

4) That those who are accounted good in God's judgment will be sent to Heaven, and those judged by Him as evil­doers will be consigned to Hell;

5) That the real measure of success and failure is not one's prosperity in the present life, but one's success or failure according to God's judgement in the Next. (Tafheemul Qur'an [Vol I, Page­48] by Syed Abul A'la Maududi).

The same idea is expressed in a different way in Sura Luqman also. All these remind us that whoever turn to Allah without prejudices and with a clear mind of truth searching and following he can find Allah, the most magnanimous and the most merciful helping him to know the reality of his life by all ways and means. I think what Syed Abdul A'la Maududi - the famous Islamic scholar of this century - wrote in the introduction of his Qur'an translation is highly relevant in this context:

The Qur'an is a Book to which innumerable people turn for innumerable purposes. It is difficult to offer advice appropriate to all. The readers to whom this work is addressed are those who are concerned to acquire a serious understanding of the Book, and who seek the guidance it has to offer in relation to the various problems of life. For such people we have a few suggestions to make, and we shall offer some explanations in the hope of facilitating them study of the Qur'an.

Anyone who really wishes to understand the Qur'an, irrespective of whether or not he believes in it, must divest his mind, as far as possible, of every preconceived notion, bias and prejudice, in order to embark upon his study with an open mind. Anyone who begins to study the Qur'an with a set of preconceived ideas is likely to read those very ideas into the Book. No book can be profitably studied with this kind of attitude, let alone the Qur'an which refuses to open its treasure­house to such readers.

For those who want only a superficial acquaintance with the doctrines of the Qur'an one reading is perhaps sufficient. For those who want to fathom its depths several readings are not even enough. These people need to study the Qur'an over and over again, taking notes of everything that strikes them as significant. Those who are willing to study the Qur'an in this manner should do so at least twice to begin with, so as to obtain a broad grasp of the system of beliefs and practical prescriptions that it offers.

In this preliminary survey, they should try to gain an overall perspective of the Qur'an and to grasp the basic ideas which it expounds, and the system of life that it seeks to build on the basis of those ideas. If, during the course of this study, anything agitates the mind of the reader, he should note down the point concerned and patiently persevere with his study. He is likely to find that, as he proceeds, the difficulties are resolved. (When a problem has been solved, it is advisable to note down the solution alongside the problem). Experience suggests that any problems still unsolved after a first reading of the Qur'an are likely to be resolved by a careful second reading.

As far as Muslims are concerned it is their compulsory duty to learn the Qur'an and follow it as their constitution of life. Because once they have accepted Allah as their Lord and Mohammad as the last Messenger of Allah it become necessary for them to live on the basis of the teachings of the Holy Qur'an and Sunna of the Prophet, or else there is a strong warning from Allah.

Allah says: Who so judges not by that which Allah hath revealed, such are unbelievers. (Sura Al­Maeda: 44). In Suratul Baqara Allah says: Lo, those who hide aught of scripture which Allah hath revealed, and purchase a small gain therewith, they eat in to their bellies nothing else than fire. (Al Baqara: 174)

So we must keep on asking Allah to help us to know more and more about this Holy Book and live in the way which He has selected for the true believers.