With less than 12 weeks to go before the month of Ramadan returns upon us, it is time to look at how we can develop our ibaadah, looking at various ways of pleasing Allah in this life for the benefits to be given to us both in this life and in the next - this week, building a relationship with the Qur'an.
One of the issues with maximising our rewards in Ramadan is the link we have to habits, and by that we should be focusing on losing our bad habits, in favour of good.
For those who have a habit of reading the Qur’an now will continue insha’Allah with the pursuit of the Qur'an throughout ramadan. However those of us who have a habit of watching television, the sad reality is that will continue on, and those of us who spend time visiting shops to pass time, will continue to do so, unless we take steps to change the path of our desires.
The plan for this short reminder is to look at how we can build a habit, some practical steps to engage with the Qur’an, and to give some inspirations for change, all in preparation for the blessed month that will shortly fall upon us.
How to build a habit
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Recite in the name of your Lord who created” (Surah Al-Alaq, v.1).
This was indeed the first ayah to be revealed from Angel Jibrael (Gabriel) to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It is particularly poignant in the days in which we live, where in many houses the mus'haf is not read from one Ramadan to the next.
We hear easy words flowing from the mouths of the imaams and the scholars... '...the Qur'an is the connection to Allah... the Qur'an softens the heart... the Qur'an relieves the despair of the believer...the Qur'an is the solution to your problems...' yet, despite listening to the words of the learned around us, collecting a Quran, and opening the book, becomes a real matter of difficulty for many of us.
So... what is the first step?
Pick up the Quran, and read just a few minutes... a few verses... half a page... a page...
“[This is] a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded” (Surah al Sad, v.29).
and with this, the few minutes each day will turn into 10 minutes, then 15... and your consistency today will build into a habit for Ramadan; remember the sayings of the Prophet, may the blessings of Allah be upon him:
“Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly, even if they are few” (Sunan Ibn Majah, 4240).
Make sure you have an App on your smartphone, an App for recitation, and maybe one to listen to the recitation... and plan to spend those 5 minutes that you would normally spend travelling to school or work, or those 10 minutes spent putting the baby to sleep to maximise every spare moment; for this is a distinguishing feature of every Muslim.
But what if I find reading Qur’an difficult?
Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her related that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Indeed the one who recites the Quran beautifully, smoothly, and precisely, will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. As for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, then he will have twice that reward” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
So don’t give up and don’t be disheartened when you are trying your best to recite. Reading regularly will help with our tajweed (pronunciation) and our memorisation. The feel-good factor when you have learnt a new ayah or surah is beyond words. It is also worthy to note, that it is important to revise as Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Read the Qur'an regularly. By the One in Whose Hand Muhammad's soul is, it escapes from memory faster than a camel does from its tying ropes" (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
Remember the rewards for reciting. This will help spur you on to the next ayah or chapter.
Narrated Muhammad bin Ka'b Al-Qurazi: "I heard 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud saying: 'The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "[Whoever recites a letter] from Allah's Book, then he receives the reward from it, and the reward of ten the like of it. I do not say that Alif Lam Mim is a letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter" (Tirmidhi).
Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr: that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "It shall be said - meaning to the one who memorised the Qur'an - 'Recite, and rise up, recite (melodiously) as you would recite in the world. For indeed your rank shall be at the last Ayah you recited'" (Tirmidhi).
When we read or hear this hadith, it should be humbling, making our souls long for paradise, for the blessed act of learning the words of Allah. Our hearts should jump for joy knowing that this is the true reward.
We should remind ourselves, that the Qur’an is a revelation purely from Allah. This is often stated, but do we really take heed, or heart? It is our Creator, Sustainer, Provider who is teaching us all that we need to know, understand, do or abstain from, in order to be successful, both in this life and the hereafter. We should take a moment to ponder. Do we really need to spend our time in vain?
And so, when there is an opportunity to open the mus'haf, or to open the Apps on our phones, do so, and ensure that it isn't ramadan to ramadan that passes without recitation... ensure that it isn't even a day that passes without recitation.
“Recite in the name of your Lord who created.”