This article has been edited from its original publication in 2009. We pray for the ease and success of the Egyptian people and all those seeking freedom and justice throughout the world.
My parents were visiting me in Egypt. We flagged down a cab for ourselves to get to downtown Cairo. The driver was a young man who was listening to crazy loud music and smoking a cigarette. Within a few minutes, the smoke was too much to handle and we had difficulty breathing.
“Excuse me, would you mind not smoking?” I requested. He apologized and let his cigarette go. A few minutes went by and my dad looked at the driver and politely asked, “Qur’an?” My dad loves listening to Qur’an and was hoping he’d score the opportunity to listen on our drive. The taxi driver didn’t fumble to find the usual Cairo Qur’an channel to which most taxi drivers flip. Instead, he took out a tape and pressed play. We were suddenly blasting Afasy’s recitation of Surah Maryam. For the rest of the ride, the young driver began reciting the Surah, word for word, verse for verse.
Subhan’Allah (praise be to God), I thought. It’s not easy to recite every single word correctly unless you have memorized the surah or listened to it many, many times before. We reached our destination and I took out money to pay the driver. “Keep it,” he told me.
Wait a second, keep it?! The brother just took us from Madinat Nasr to Ramses – this is good money to turn down! We insisted he take it and he eventually did, apologizing for smoking and smiling humbly.
I felt like I had just seen the light of this man’s heart in action. The young man seemed to be so moved by the Qur’an that his entire face changed from the time I had originally requested the cab to when we departed. Subhan’Allah, how we have no idea how close someone really is to Allah, what their rank is with Him, and what their rank might be with him after only a few minutes.
Spotting Companions of the Qur’an was one of the most amazing experiences I had while living in Egypt. From brothers walking on busy streets with their masahef (plural of mushaf, the book of the Qur’an) open to review their memorization, to sisters running local businesses and blasting Afasy, to Khan Khalil bazaar owners listening to the recitation of Faris Abbad… SubhanAllah, I was blessed to spot Companions of the Qur’an everywhere!
But beyond this, there were three instances which really hit me and helped reinforce that those who love Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) and His Book are everywhere, that this Ummah is truly filled with people ready to live for the deen (way of life), regardless of where they are.
One time my friend’s two children really wanted to go to the Arcade, so we took them to play a few games. Being seven and five, both of them were super excited. The seven-year-old decided she wanted to ride an Asteroid ship. As the only customers for the ride, we entered the area and found the young worker around in his early twenties, sitting and working on his Qur’an. It was incredible to see his focus on the Qur’an while maintaining his work responsibilities. The arcade was nearly empty and we were the only customers in the area he supervised. Before we approached him, he worked on his Qur’an. Once we arrived at his station, his attention was fully dedicated to the girl’s safety and working the ride for her. Once the ride was complete and we walked away, he continued with his Qur’an since there were no other customers waiting for his service. He could have spent his time playing games on his phone, but he instead chose to invest in his relationship with the Qur’an. SubhanAllah.
Soon, my friend’s daughter had collected tickets from playing games and she was ready to cash in for her prize. As we approached the prize counter, I noticed there was a popcorn stand and the employee selling the popcorn was an older man reading. Suddenly I realized, subhanAllah, he’s not reading – he’s working on his memorization! Holding the Qur’an, this man, possibly in his sixties, was reading from the mushaf, then darting his eyes to the ceiling while he worked on the verse he had just memorized, and then he would glue his eyes to the mushaf again. Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest)! Two hard-core companions of the Qur’an in an Arcade, two companions who would never leave their Best Friend, could not bear to be apart from their Best Friend during work, and so they took their Best Friend with them! They spent as much time as they could enjoying their Best Friend’s companionship and reaping the benefits of being best friends with the Book that will stay with them in every instance in this life insha’Allah (if Allah wills), and inshaAllah intercede for them in the Next.
Sometime later I walked into an internet café and found two grown men dedicatedly playing a videogame. A few minutes after I had sat down, the employee of the café put on – that’s right, you guessed it – nothing more amazing than the Qur’an itself. Surah Kahf (Qur’an 18) was now surround sound in the café, and one of these two men, still deeply engrossed in the game, began reciting along with Shaykh Afasy’s recitation.
SubhanAllah, how few of us (unfortunately) may judge by deciding that places like Arcades, internet cafes with a focus on games, movie theatres, or other entertainment areas are not places of the Companions of the Qur’an? But these places, because of these people, may actually be filled with so many Angels racing to surround them, to write down their good deeds and to protect them. Perhaps it is because of these people that we too are being encompassed by Allah’s Mercy. Being a companion of the Qur’an doesn’t mean stopping life and work or never being entertained. It simply means committing to that relationship even while enjoying entertainment.
Many of us may not feel we have a strong friendship with the Book of Allah in this moment, but it is not too late! We can start RIGHT NOW, God willing! Here are just a few suggestions on how to begin incorporating the Qur’an into our daily lives, God willing, and make a friend who will always be by our side:
- Recite ayatul kursi(Qur’an 2:255) after every prayer: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever recites Ayatul Kursi immediately after each prescribed prayer, there will be nothing standing between him and his entering Paradise except death.” (An-Nasa`i and Ibn Hibban).
- Recite Surat al Mulk (Qur’an 67) every night: It was narrated that Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said: Whoever reads tabarak allahi biyadihil mulk every night, Allah will protect him from the torment of the grave.
- Recite Surat al Kahf (Qur’an 18) every Friday: Whoever recites Surat al-Kahf on Friday, light shall shine forth for him between the two Fridays. (Ibn Hajar, Talkhis al-Habir)
- Last, but not least! Make a commitment to the Qur’an. How subhanAllah insanely cool would it be if we checked our Qur’an as much as we check our email? If we updated our status with the Qur’an as much as we update our status on Facebook? Make time for the Qur’an. Commit yourself to reading one, two, three, ten pages a day—whatever amount is easy for you—and try your best to read that small amount every single day. Reading a translation, if we do not understand the Arabic, will help increase your love and bond with the Qur’an as you will actually understand the message which was revealed FOR YOU from the Lord of EVERYTHING.
Imagine the sweetness we’ll find in our lives, God willing, when we make a conscious decision to make the Qur’an our Best Friend. This is the Book that, in response to Abu Jahl who said: “Say to Muhammad something that would convince your people that you oppose him,” Al-Walid ibn Al-Mughirah replied: “And what can I possibly say? There is not a single man who is more knowledgeable of poetry or prose than I, or even that of the Jinn, and by Allah, what he says (the Qur’an) bears no resemblance to these things. By Allah, what he says has a sweetness to it, and a charm upon it; the highest part of it is fruitful and the lowest part of it is gushing forth with bounty; it dominates and cannot be dominated, and it crushes all that is under it.” (Reported by al at-Tabari in ‘Jami’ al-Bayan’ 29/156)
The Qur’an is waiting for you! It’s ready for you! It’s your turn! Be ready for it!