She finally had a moment to herself: should she take out the Qur’an and read for a few minutes, or check her Facebook newsfeed to follow up with what is currently happening around her? She decided the Qur’an would do her soul some good. Opening to her last-read page, she realized that she had been on that page for a few weeks now. Upon beginning recitation, she instantly felt the peaceful rhythm of the verses soothing her mind and soul.
Why is it that she did not pick up the Qur’an every day then? If it made her feel so secure and connected to Allah (swt), then why couldn’t she spend a few minutes daily in this way? She realized that the Qur’an had the ability to ease her mind even before she began contemplating the words she was reading!
Does this sound familiar at all?
I often wonder why the serenity and focus that are felt after reciting the Qur’an or remembering Allah swt (in moments of dhikr) are not always carried along with me throughout the rest of the day. Why do I not regularly act with calmness when I need to most? These thoughts have been particularly prevalent now that the world around us is in such chaos. Perhaps it is due to a lack of peace and connectedness in my reservoir.
I have begun to realize that there exists a detachment in what I hold to be true in terms of belief, and in how I may actualize it in my daily interactions. That disassociation, a lack of being well-grounded in something ever-strong, is really a distance of the heart from the Source of strength, balance and stability. Imam Al-Shafi’i (may Allah swt have mercy on him) stated it ever so eloquently when he said, “how strange! You seek guidance, yet you do not tread its path. Surely a boat does not sail on land!” The distance and disconnect only prevail because I have not cultivated that belief into consistent action.
As I watched my children play one day, I realized that what made them most content was the knowledge that I would regularly provide them with what they needed. They enjoyed a routine consisting of when they ate, studied, played and slept. They felt grounded in knowing what was to come and on the contrary, it was not boring. Even when there were surprises that came their way, they were satisfied in their understanding that these types of surprises came from parents who care, and with whom they felt a deep connection.
I truly believe we are like these young children: our souls crave a steady diet of Qur’an reading with contemplation and time spent in quiet remembrance of Allah (swt). It has to become our routine, just as we all have morning and evening routines we habitually follow. We can all agree that if something is not practiced repeatedly, it will not become part of our repertoire of tools nor will we truly benefit from its fruits. From exercise to learning how to drive to memorizing something new, repetition and consistency are key to achieving that particular goal. In a beautiful narration of the Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu ‘alaihi wasallam), he teaches that, “…By Allah, Allah will never become tired, and will thus continue to reward you until you yourself become tired with doing good deeds. Verily, the most beloved deed to Allah is that which an individual is the most consistent upon.” [Bukhari]
On a more spiritual level, however, the implications of establishing a strong connection with the Qur’an are ever profound. Superficiality is a quality most dissatisfying and unreliable. And when it comes to finding what grounds us in this life when we most need it, it cannot be in something that is surface-deep. Have you ever felt a deep sadness and found yourself looking for comfort? Some turn to music as a refuge, only to find that it either amplifies that sadness or changes your mood only temporarily. Others turn to alcohol, video games, food or unhealthy relationships as a source of consolation. At the end of the day, these may only provide transient relief.
The reason we turn to the means around us is because we have established a connectedness with them out of habit. We soon realize how unstable that bridge we took really is, as it is not grounded in anything solid. We begin to see that what we considered relief was just an identification of our pain, not the cure. What if we were to turn to the Source of our emotions and to the One who knows us best? Wouldn’t it make sense that the One who created us actually has the solution to our problem? When I read the verse, “Allah (swt) does not burden a soul beyond that which it can bear” (Qur’an, 2: 286), it brings me comfort of the knowledge that Allah (swt), who made me and everything within me of emotions and moods, knows what I truly can handle — or else a particular calamity would have literally ended me.
Consequently, as we begin to regularly connect with the Qur’an for spiritual healing and growth, we will realize that what we derive from it of peace and stability are much more lasting and fruitful. This is because now, the words of Allah (swt) provide answers to our concerns and a cooling comfort to our heat of despair. The guarantee is there when He (swt) states that “verily, it is with the remembrance of Allah (swt) do the hearts find rest” (Qur’an, 13:28). When you find solace in the One who owns an endless supply of it, you cannot go wrong. We even begin to derive true inspiration from it and can actually thrive in our other spheres of life. Have you ever noticed yourself lacking the inspiration to do some of the things you used to do (write poetry or paint, for example) if you have not been regular in whatever it is that kept you focused? That authentic connectedness is what we need in whatever work we engage in, whether it is activism of any kind within the community or raising righteous and morally sound children.
We need to break our habit of grounding ourselves in superficial means of satisfaction and peace and come back to a more stable connection with the Source of it all. The Qur’an and remembrance of Allah (swt), if approached regularly and with focus, will provide an endless amount of serenity, wisdom and strength in all of our moments in life. Some practical steps in doing this are:
- Pick a time of day when you are free. Make that a regular time for this worship, if possible. Pick a quiet space where there is minimal to no interruption. It is best to hide your phone so that you are not distracted by it. Using the Qur’an app on your phone is nice but it can lead to being tempted to check other things.
- Have a goal for that sitting: If you are reading the ayat (verses) with meaning, then perhaps half a page or a whole page is enough. Maybe you would like to read more to complete a section.
- Upon completing your goal, take a minute or two to make du’aa to Allah (swt) to benefit you with what you just read and to strengthen you by it.
- If you are a person who likes to listen to Qur’an, you can do that and follow along in your own copy to benefit from the proper reading and pronunciation. Listening to the Qur’an throughout the day can really help to establish that love and appreciation for it.
- Write down some thoughts or feelings that may come from contemplating the book of Allah (swt) so that you can reread them later on. You may even share these thoughts with family and friends to encourage them to do the same. Remember, however, you are only doing this for yourself.
- Reciting the Qur’an is a form of dhikr (remembrance of Allah swt). If you have time and want to do more, you can begin by simple supplications such as: SubhanAllah (Glory be to Allah), Alhamdulillah (all praise is to Allah) and Allahu Akbar (God is greater) all the while contemplating on the many blessings He (swt) has provided for you. Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu ‘alaihi wassalam) has taught that upon saying SubhanAllah 100 times, one thousand good deeds are recorded and one thousand bad deeds are wiped clean. [Muslim]
Over time, this habit will feel less like a chore and will become more enjoyable. And the most satisfying outcome of this, I believe, will be the desire to continue to connect and learn about the Qur’an, because it is Allah (swt)’s message to us. It is not only a matter of how it makes us feel. I pray that we are all guided to make the right choices when seeking comfort and strength in our troubled times. I pray that Allah (swt) grants us success and ease in establishing such a beautiful habit, and that we are able to see its fruits in our lives, in our work, and in our relationships with one another.
Photo Credit: http://www.islamicpluralism.org/2618/which-parts-of-the-quran-touch-your-heart-the-most