My parents were visiting and we needed a taxi to get to downtown Cairo. After refusing to get into many – which looked like they were falling apart – a cab pulled up. The driver was a young man who was listening to loud Arabic music and smoking a cigarette. The condition of the car was better than any that had pulled up previously, so we got in and prepared for the ride. Within a few seconds, the smoke was too much to handle. “Excuse me, would you mind not smoking?” I asked. He apologized
and let his cigarette go. A few minutes went by and my dad looked at the driver and politely asked, “Qur’an?” The driver didn’t fumble to find the usual Cairo Qur’an channel to which most taxi drivers flip; he took out a tape and pressed play. We were suddenly blasting `Afasy’s recitation of Surah Maryam, and for the rest of the ride the young driver began reciting the Surah, word for word, verse by verse.
Subhan’Allah (glory be to God), I thought, it is not easy to recite every single word correctly unless you have memorized the surah or listened to it many, many times. From blaring music to Qur’an…how Allah molds hearts! We reached our destination and I took out money to pay the driver. “Keep it,” he told me. Wait a second, keep it? I’m in Egypt, the brother barely makes money, and he just drove 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 tawbah (repentance) in action; he 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, 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 Ashaab al-Qur’an – 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 copies of the Qur’an open, reviewing their hifdh (memorization), to sisters running local businesses and blasting `Afasy, to Khan Khalil bazaar owners listening to the recitation of Faris Abbad…Subhan’Allah, 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 and His Book are everywhere; and that this Ummah is truly filled with people ready to live for the deen (religion), 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. Ages seven and five, they were both understandably excited; as I walked in with them, I reflected on the concept of an arcade. For kids it can be a different story, but the arcade is often where adults waste time and money, forget prayers, and dive into a state of heedlessness.
As I continued thinking about the arcade, observing the teens running from one side of the place to the other, the seven-year-old decided she wanted to ride the Asteroid ship. The only customers for the ride, we entered the area and found the worker, a young man in his early twenties, sitting and reading his Qur’an. We came up to the ship, he strapped the girl in and started the ride, then returned to his mushaf, overlooking the ride between his ayat (verses). Subhan’Allah, I am in an arcade, and the young man controlling the rides is spending every spare second with the book of Allah.
A few minutes passed and my friend’s daughter was ready to leave. But first, we went to collect a prize she had won; as we approached, I noticed there was a popcorn stand. The employee selling popcorn was an older man who was reading. Suddenly I realized, he’s not reading – he’s working on his memorization! Holding the Qur’an, this man, possibly in his sixties, was reading and then darting his eyes to the ceiling while he seemed to work on the verse he had just memorized, and then glue his eyes back to the mushaf.
Allahu Akbar! God is great! Two companions of the Qur’an in an arcade, who could not bear to be apart from their best friend during work, 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, and insha’Allah (God willing) will intercede for them in the next.
Subhan’Allah, some time later I walked into an internet café and found two grown men intently 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. Surat al-Kahf 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. Allahu Akbar!
Subhan’Allah, how many of us, would think of an arcade or an internet café as a place where Ashaab al-Quran are located? But these places, because of these people, may actually be filled with 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.
How, subhan’Allah, insanely cool would it be if we checked our Qur’an as much as we checked our email? If we updated our status with the Qur’an as much as we updated our status on Facebook?
Perhaps we do not yet feel we have a strong friendship with the Book of Allah, but it is not too late! We can start RIGHT NOW insha’Allah! Here are just a few suggestions on how to begin incorporating the Qur’an into our daily lives, and making a friend who will insha’Allah always be by our side:
- Recite Ayat al-Kursi after every salah (prayer). It was narrated that Abu Umamah said, the Messenger of Allah (s) said, “Whoever recites Ayat al-Kursi immediately after each prescribed prayer, there will be nothing standing between him and his entering Paradise except death.” (An-Nasa`i)
- Recite Surat al-Mulk every night. It was narrated that Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said, “Whoever reads tabarakallahi biyadihil mulk every night, Allah will protect him from the torment of the grave.”
- Recite Surat al-Kahf every Friday. “Whoever recites Surat al-Kahf on Friday, light shall shine forth for him between the two Fridays.” [Ibn Hajar]
- Last, but not least! Make a commitment to the Qur’an. You make time to check your email. You’ve made time to read this article. 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 you do not understand Arabic, is also massively beneficial insha’Allah, and will help increase your love and bond with the Qur’an as you will understand the message which was revealed FOR YOU from the Lord of EVERYTHING.
Imagine the sweetness you’ll find in your life, inshaAllah, when you make a conscious decision to make the Qur’an your best friend. Abu Jahl, one of the greatest enemies of Islam, 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 [or jinn] who is more knowledgeable of poetry or prose than I…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.” (at-Tabari)
May Allah make us all companions of the Qur’an, and let the Qur’an be an intercessor for us in the Hereafter. Ameen.