By Zaynab Dawood
Allah, in His Wisdom and Knowledge, informs us that the holy Quran is a Book of Guidance. This unique truth is delivered to us in the very beginning of the Quran, before we are gently ushered into the beautiful gems of guidance that each verse illuminates:
“This is the Book, about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of God.” (2:2)
Therefore my task in choosing only three lessons was a difficult one but I have presented three general lessons that I feel will benefit those new to the life of Shahadah and those, like me, who are in constant need of reminders.
Lesson One: The source of Truth
Truth is the only filter through which any sane, rational and kind person can view the world. We now live in a world that is filled with falsehood and fake news. Confusion has become an established form of an alternative world view, and for some, even a celebrated standard to live by. When archangel Jibril (upon him be peace) was revealing the verses of the Quran, it was during a time where falsehood took on the crude forms of idolatry and the ensuing behaviour resulted in the accepted tradition of burying baby girls. What darkness crept over the people’s minds and hearts that jolted them eons away from the truth? The Quran lifted them out from that corrosive chasm. Truth was their deliverance: returning them back to the safe shores of humanity and reviving their souls with the remembrance of Allah. The Quran did this because it is the Truth.
Regardless of whether we are reverts or not, the need for truth is fundamental. Humans can never truly be content if they do not have a firm grasp of the truth. Allah saves us the beguilement of seeking the truth devoid of the nurturing lens of Revelation:
“I have not created men except that they should serve Me,” (51:56).
This truth begins with who we are and why we are here, living an existence that undoubtedly takes us towards the ultimate truth, a truth no one can deny: our death.
Many people choose to avoid this truth, living a life full of distractions, heaping frivolity upon frivolity in their daily lives, which only gives temporary satisfaction and demurs the path back to this reality. Allah reminds us of this in Surah Al Haqqah:
“The Inevitable Reality-
What is the Inevitable Reality?
And what can make you know what is the Inevitable Reality?” (69:1-3)
For me, verses like these remind me of this “Inevitable Reality,” of my own impending end and the end of everything in our world. This constant reminder of death may appear too much for our human hearts to cope with, as we crave comfort and ease, which is also necessary for us to have balanced lives. The reminder of death, however, need not be one of dread or darkness. Allah has many treasures stored away for the believers: His Infinite Mercy, His Beautiful Gardens, His Promises to be reunited with loved ones in the Aakhirah, free from any calamities and discomforts that weigh us down in this earthly life. And the best treasure of all, to be in His Presence.
Who wants to shy away from this truth?
Lesson two: The source of Comfort
I often think of Quranic verses as panes of pure radiant light that shoot through the dense, dark canopy of this world. We are greeted with Allah’s Beautiful Names that are intricately meshed in Allah’s commandments, His analogies, the stories of the Anbiya (Prophets) and it is no small wonder that Allah chooses to begin His Book with His Attributes of Ar-Rahman (Most Gracious) and Ar-Raheem (Most Merciful). Bar one, all the chapters begin with this divine cue: “In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.” Allah soothes us with His comforting Words and reminders that He is in control of our lives, it is He Who is shaping our destiny and He knows that we are in constant need for His Mercy.
An enlightening aspect of seeking comfort from the Quran is the truth that Allah is fully aware of our infantile emotions and actions. We commit to a life of faith, then waver and sin, repent and often the cycle continues. Allah not only comfort us with His Names of Al-Ghafoor (Most Forgiving) and Ar- Ra’oof (Most Kind), Allah reminds us through stern warnings in order for us to snap out of our ghaflah (forgetfulness) so we get back on to the solid, safe and comforting track of the ‘sirat al Mustaqeem’ (the straight path of the believers).
In my daily life, when the humdrum of chores gets tedious, when problems arise from nowhere and from those I inflict upon myself, and from the troubles that seem to saturate the world around us, I remember these beautiful words:
“Do not be sad, indeed Allah is with us,” (9:40)
Lesson three: Interact with the Book of Blessings
Just pick it up, hold the Quran, look at it, listen to it and recite!
Interact, engage, involve yourself with the Quran. Not just through reading but by immersing your senses in it. Tip yourself into this interaction, empty your heart into it, shed your mind of mental clutter and dive right in.
Many non-Muslims find the care and sanctity we ascribe to recitation, prayer and even handling the Quran, as rather cumbersome. Believers appreciate the extra care we take in ablution, reciting it in places free from distraction, storing copies of the Quran on high shelves and ultimately the bond we have with it by making it a central part of our lives. Our engagement with it is not simply momentary immersions in its recitations, tilawah and during salah, but the Quran becomes our moral compass, guiding us in our daily lives. Our engagement with the Quran determines our future trajectory, in this life and in the next.
The remarkable power of the Quran is that it does not need your full, entire concentration: a small interaction on your part, perhaps even a weak and muddled intention, can reap immense blessings. (Of course, as dedicated Muslim adults we strive to engage with the Quran with full concentration and sincere intentions.) Did not the mighty Umer (RA) absorb the blessings of the recitation of the Quran? Umer (RA) was pumped with the rage of the Quraysh and hardened by years of shirk but that did not prevent the great transformation that resulted because of his initial experience with the Quran. What then for believers seeking guidance?
The lessons are plenty and the blessings infinite: I invite you to begin your journey anew and discover them for yourself…
About the author:
I’m Zaynab Dawood from Lancashire, England. I’m a busy mum of four, a teacher and author. For me there are three delights in life: ibadah, spending time with family and friends, and reading good literature!