We are reposting this article in response to the recent burning of the Qur’an by Pastor Terry Jones.
On September 11th 2010, the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida was due to host ‘Burn a Qur’an day’, which seems to have been called off – for now. The Pastor responsible for the event explained his reasoning simply as “Islam is of the devil” – yet he had never actually read the Qur’an. An interesting thought came up on twitter in that regard: “Wonder if the Florida Qur’an-burning Christians will spare the pages that praise Jesus.” While they will not be burning Qur’ans on this day, we can see that hate for the Qur’an was not born out of knowledge but rather out of ignorance. Unfortunately, some of us are guilty of the same thing this church is. None of us want to burn the Qur’an of course, but we may be guilty of something else: ignorance of the Qur’an.
Since Ramadan has come to an end, it is an apt time for us to assess our relationship with the book of Allah. Many of us probably read some Qur’an during the holy month. For some of us, it was a question of quantity; can we complete the Qur’an in one month? How many times can we complete it? Since we are rewarded for every letter recited, this is a logical way of looking at the Qur’an. But as Muslims, and moreover, as educated Muslims, we need to move beyond that basic level. If it is simply about quantity, we remain ignorant of the Qur’an’s beautiful message and its purpose in being sent down as a guide. A more crucial way of looking at this great Book is assessing the affect it has on our hearts. Allah says,
“If We had sent down this Qur’an upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of Allah. And these examples We present to the people that perhaps they will give thought.” (Qur’an, 59:21)
How often have we felt the weight of the Qur’an on our hearts? The Qur‘an is able to humble a mountain, yet our hearts remain hard. Our hearts are more moved by novels about fictional scenarios – such as stories about vampires! But Abu Bakr (ra) was known to weep when he recited the Qur’an. Umar (ra) was transformed by the Qur’an from a drunkard who abused Muslims and beat them, to a man who felt responsibility if an animal was being abused under his rule. What accounts for this difference? Simply that we fail to reflect on the reality that the Qur’an speaks of, and the fact that it is addressed to us. We forget that the Qur’an is Allah’s Words, directed to us.
We need to have a Ramadan resolution- and that is to connect to the Qur’an. Our goal should be to attain the level of Abu Bakr (ra), who was so moved by the Qur’an that he could not help but weep every time he recited. He was conscious of the fact this Book is not solely to be read for blessings. Khurram Murad, in his book “Way to the Qur’an” said, “You must remain alive to the reality that, while you are reading the Qur’an, you are in the very presence of Him who has sent these words to you.”
Finally, some practical tips to help up to connect to the Qur’an:
- Start a Qur’an study circle: the best way to engage with the Qur’an is to understand it. Allah says “Say, “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” Only they will remember [who are] people of understanding.” [Qur'an, 39:9] And doing that with others ensures we have support.
- If you cannot do that, aim to listen to or read some tafseer [commentary of the Qur'an] at least a couple days a week.
- Try to reflect on Allah’s Names. This directly related to the Qur’an because we gain a deeper understanding of the One who has sent down the Qur’an to us.
- While ‘Burn a Qur’an Day’ has been called off, this should serve as a motivator for us to be proactive rather than reactive. We should increase our outreach activities, explain Muslim beliefs and engage with those who may otherwise be in the dark about Islam. Wherever we have a Muslim community, either at work or at the mosque or at a university, we should hold informational events and invite our fellow citizens.