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Fasting New Muslims

Ramadan Reminder Day 12

In Ramadan Reminder Day 12, Sheikh Yasir Qadhi comments of the miraculous nature of the Qur’an.

 

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New Muslims Qur'an & Sunnah

Qur’an: Matchless Perfection

 

Copy of the Qur'an

Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the word of Allah.

 

The authenticity of any scripture is considered from two significant aspects; the first is its authenticity with regard to its divine origin, and the other is its preservation in its original form.

Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the word of Almighty Allah revealed to His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and that it has retained its purity throughout history. Therefore, today, after centuries of turmoil, it remains the only divine book that has been protected from any form of corruption.

What is Meant by the “Qur’an?

First, it should be emphasized that, by the Qur’an, we do not mean its translation into any other language, but we mean the original Arabic scripture. This is, for instance, in contrast with the Christian point of view considering any translation of the Bible as the Word of God.

Most Christians are not concerned about the original language of the scriptures of the Bible as long as they have a translation in their own language. Muslims, on the other hand, would never call a translation of the Qur’an “The Qur’an.” To them the Qur’an is that in the original Arabic which was revealed fourteen centuries ago to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

It was, beyond any doubt, revealed to him in Arabic and it is still read in the same way as the Prophet recited it to his Companions. Almighty Allah says,

Thus we have revealed it as an Arabic Qur’an, and have displayed therein certain threats, that peradventure they may keep from evil or that it may cause them to take heed. (Ta-Ha 20: 113)

The Qur’an and its Translation

It is known that a translator chooses words and phrases from the vocabulary of the target language to express what he understands of the original text. He may not fully succeed in expressing what he wants to convey, nor can he rule out the possibility of a different choice and order of words and phrases by another translator.

In the course of translation, the first casualty is always the typical idiom of the source language. Even in the best translation, much of the power and appeal of the original text is, somehow, lost.
This leads us to the fact that the Qur’an, as the Word of Allah, maintains perfect harmony between its content and language. One may understand the meaning of the Qur’anic text from a translation, preferably with sufficient explanation. However, the beauty, appeal and influence of its language, could hardly be convoyed to non-Arabic speaking people.

The foregoing is meant only to point out the limitations of translation. This is not meant to decry the use of translation in general, as it is essential for non-Arabs.
It is noteworthy that the Qur’an came to Arabia at a time when Arabic poetry had reached its peak; but the master-poets of that day could not equal the Qur’anic richness in diction, style or beauty.

Moreover, the Qur’an challenged the Arabs – the commanders of language, eloquence and fluency – to invent ten surahs or even one surah like the Qur’an but they could not. Almighty Allah says,

Say: “If the whole of mankind and Jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support. (Al-Israa’ 17: 88)

He, the Almighty, also says,

Or they say: He has invented it. Say: Then bring ten surahs, the like thereof, invented, and call on everyone you can beside Allah, if ye are truthful! (Hud 11: 13)

The Qur’an’s Effects on Language and Society

The Qur’an was able to hold the Arabic language in thrall from the moment it was revealed. Indeed, its haunting rhythms rocked the whole of Arabia from Sudan to Syria and from Morocco to Oman.
While the languages of most of the other scriptures had become dead, the Qur’an continues to occupy the top position as an abiding model for literary Arabic. In fact, Arabic has defied the usual norms of the evolution of languages throughout history.

The French scholar, Ernest Renan (1823-1894), who carried out extensive research on Semitic languages, said about Arabic:

“The Arabic language is the most astonishing event of human history. Unknown during the classical period, it suddenly emerged as a complete language. After this, it did not undergo any noticeable changes, so one cannot define for it an early or a late stage. It is just the same today as it was when it first appeared.”

In acknowledging this “astonishing event of human history” the French Orientalist, was in fact, acknowledging the miraculous nature of the Qur’an. It was the Qur’an’s phenomenal literary style which preserved the Arabic language from alteration that other languages have undergone.

There is no other book in human history that has molded, and continues to mold, the lives of generations of people as the Qur’an. It has reformed and refined all the aspects of the lives of Muslims.

The Qur’an has been miraculous to all human beings. It is the book that:

  • Reformed and refined the lives of thousands of Bedouins who had not thought of anything beyond the confines of their clans,
  • Transformed the shepherds of Arabia into Caliphs and judges “Qadis“,
  • Brought into being the renowned universities and centers of learning that awakened a new enlightenment in the world that no other civilization of the world could match.

This was indeed a brilliant and lasting miracle of Almighty Allah reflected through the Qur’an, because Prophet Muhammad’s only source of inspiration for the revolution he brought about was the Qur’an. With Allah’s Book in hand, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) formed a model of the nucleus of a universal society in Arabia.

This society was formed out of those scattered and cantankerous desert tribes who had very little scientific knowledge or material resources. Their initiation into a stable Islamic cultural order was effected independent of all the socio-political systems or powers existing in the world at that time.

The Qur’an was the backbone of this unique spiritual revolution which has shone throughout history. The verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) over 23 years of his life. As soon as the Prophet received these verses, he dictated them to his Companions who not only wrote them down, but also learned them by heart.

There were so many people who had memorized the Qur’an, that from the first day of its revelation, the Qur’an was in the hands and hearts of the people. You cannot say this about the Bible or about any other scripture.

Before the death of the Prophet, the entire Qur’an had been written down, examined and verified by the Prophet himself. From that time onwards, it has remained intact; safe from any corruption as several of its copies were in the possession of Muslims.

So, it was impracticable, even impossible, to make any changes to its verses even if someone had strongly intended to do so. Moreover, distorting the Qur’an was impossible as Allah Almighty has promised to protect it, He says,

Surely We have revealed the Reminder (Qur’an) and We will assuredly guard it “from corruption” (Al-Hijr 15: 9)

At the time of the Prophet’s death, a number of his Companions had already compiled the portions of the Qur’an into one volume. During the reign of the first Caliph, Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him), a leading scholar and scribe of the Prophet, Zayd ibn Thabit (may Allah be pleased with him), was appointed to compile an official version. After meticulous work, he prepared the official collection (mushaf ).

An Everlasting Miracle

One of the foremost reasons for the Qur’an’s continuing incorruptibility is that it has been preserved in Arabic, its original language, unlike the Bible. Thus, we can see that the Qur’an we have today is the same Qur’an that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) received from Almighty Allah. Its authenticity and genuineness therefore, is unimpeachable. Almighty Allah says,

And say: The truth has come and the falsehood has vanished; surely falsehood is a vanishing “thing”. (Al-Israa’ 17: 81)

He, the Almighty also says,

If there were a Qur’an with which mountains were moved, or the earth was cloven asunder, or the dead were made to speak, “it would be this one!” (Ar-Ra`d 13: 31)

One of the miracles of the Qur’an, which was revealed 14 centuries ago, is that it can be read and understood by the Arabic-speakers living today. Every language undergoes changes as time passes, and a period of one or two hundred years is long enough for a language to undergo substantial changes.

Thus, anyone who knows the rudiments of the history of languages knows that logically, it would be impossible for Arabic-speakers of today to read and understand a book that is fourteen centuries old.

Yet, every day, every hour, every minute, in fact every second of the 24 hours of the 365 days in every year of the past centuries have been alive with reading and studying the Qur’anic verses. That, certainly, will go on forever.

The volume and scope of the Qur’an increase in every imaginable way with the coming of multimedia. This had started at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and it has continued unceasingly till the present day, making this the ever-present miracle of Prophet Muhammad, rivaling all other miracles so far.

Even the invaders who ravaged the Islamic lands and triumphed over the Muslims, owing to their military superiority, lost their dominance in the end when they were confronted with the spiritual power of Islam, and eventually, most of them adopted the religion of the people they had conquered.

Almighty Allah says:

This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah. (Al-Baqarah2: 2)

The foregoing inevitably leads us to the conclusion that the Qur’an is undoubtedly the word of Allah the Almighty.

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Source: Taken with slight modifications from onislam.net.

 

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New Muslims Qur'an & Sunnah

What Do You Know about the Qur’an?

The Fatihah

 

The Qur’an is a record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. It was memorized by Muhammad (peace be upon him) and then dictated to his Companions, and written down by scribes, who cross-checked it during his lifetime.

Not one word of its 114 surahs (chapters) has been changed over the centuries, so that the Qur’an is in every detail the unique and miraculous text which was revealed Muhammad fourteen centuries ago.

This opening chapter of The Qur’an, the Fatihah, is central in Islamic prayer. It contains the essence of The Qur’an and is recited during every prayer.

Muslims believe the Qur’an to be God’s final revelation.  They believe it is the literal word of God, revealed over many years, to His final prophet, Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.

The Qur’an is full of wisdom. It is full of the wonder and glory of God, and a testament to His mercy and justice.  It is not a history book, a storybook, or a scientific textbook, although it contains all of those genres.

The Qur’an is God’s greatest gift to humanity – it is a book like no other.  In the second verse of the second chapter of the Qur’an, God describes the Qur’an by calling it :

…a book whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are pious, righteous, and fear God. (Al-Baqarah 2:2)

Believing in it is a requirement to be Muslim

The Qur’an is core to Islam.  Believing in it is a requirement.  One who does not believe in the Qur’an, in its entirety, cannot claim to be a Muslim.

The Messenger (Muhammad) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers.  Each one believes in God, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers.  (They say,)  ‘We make no distinction between one another of His Messengers’ — and they say, ‘We hear, and we obey.  (We seek)  Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the return (of all)’. (Al-Baqarah 2:285)

Islam has two primary sources, the Qur’an, and the authentic Traditions of Prophet Muhammad, that explain and sometimes expand on that of the Qur’an.

And We have not sent down the Book (the Qur’an) to you (O Muhammad, except that you may explain clearly unto them those things in which they differ, and (as) a guidance and a mercy for a folk who believe. ( An-Nahl 16:64)

The Qur’an was delivered to Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel and revealed in stages over a period of 23 years.

And (it is) a Quran which We have divided into parts, in order that you might recite it to men at intervals.  And We have revealed it by stages. (Al-Israa’ 17:106)

Prophet Muhammad was commanded by God to convey the Qur’an to all of humankind and the responsibility weighed heavily upon him.  Even in his farewell address he called on the people present to bear witness that he had delivered the message.

The Qur’an explains the concept of God, it explains in detail what is permissible and what is forbidden, it explains the basics of good manners and morals, and gives rulings about worship.  It tells stories about the Prophets and our righteous predecessors, and describes Paradise and Hell.  The Qur’an was revealed for all of humankind.

The book in which the Qur’an (the words of God) are contained in is called a mushaf . The Qur’an is considered so unique in content and style that it cannot be translated; therefore, any translation is considered an interpretation of the meanings of the Qur’an.

what do you know about the Qur'an

The world’s oldest Quran manuscript found lately at Birmingham University.

When God sent Prophets to the various nations He often allowed them to perform miracles that were relevant to their particular time and place. In the time of Moses magic and sorcery were prevalent therefore Moses’ miracles appealed to the people he was sent to guide. In the time of Muhammad, the Arabs, although predominantly illiterate, were masters of the spoken word. Their poetry and prose were considered outstanding and a model of literary excellence.

When Prophet Muhammad recited the Qur’an – the words of God – the Arabs were moved tremendously by its sublime tone and extraordinary beauty.

The Qur’an was Prophet Muhammad’s miracle from God. Muhammad was unable to read or write therefore the Arabs knew that he was unlikely to have produced such eloquent words, but even so some refused to believe that the Qur’an was the word of God.  God therefore challenged them, in the Qur’an, to produce a rival text.

And if you (Arab pagans, Jews, and Christians) are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down (i.e. the Qur’an) to Our slave (Muhammad), then produce a chapter of the like thereof and call your witnesses (supporters and helpers) besides God, if you are truthful. (Al-Baqarah 2:23)

Of course they were unable to do so. In contrast to those who questioned the origin of the Qur’an, many Arabs converted to Islam after hearing the recitation. They knew immediately that such sublime beauty could originate only from God.

Even today it is possible to see Muslims moved to tears while listening to or reciting the Qur’an. In fact some people, unable to understand even one word of the Arabic language are moved by the intrinsic beauty of the Qur’an.

After establishing that Qur’an is the word of God and that it is a recitation, it is also important to understand that Qur’an has remained unchanged for more than 1400 years.

Today when a Muslim in Egypt holds his mushaf in his hands and begins to recite you can be sure that in far away Fiji another Muslim is looking at and reciting the exact same words. There are no differences. The child in France holding his first mushaf is tentatively reciting the same words that flowed from the lips of Prophet Muhammad.

The Qur’an is the literal word of God, revealed over many years, to His final prophet, Muhammad.

God assures us in Qur’an that He will surely protect His words. He says,

Verily, it is We Who have sent down the Qur’an and surely, We will guard it (from corruption). (Al-Hijr 15:9)

This means that God will guard against anything false being added or any part of it being taken away.[1] It is protected from tampering and if anyone attempts to distort the meanings of Qur’an, God will guide someone to expose the deception.[2]

Muslims believe that the previous revelations from God, including the Torah and the Gospels of Jesus were either lost in antiquity, or changed and distorted, so it is a source of comfort to them knowing that God’s words – the Quran – are now well guarded.

God sent down the Qur’an, from  above the heavens, to the Angel Gabriel in the glorious month of Ramadan. The story of how this recitation was revealed and how Qur’an came to be available worldwide, with an interpretation of the meanings translated into over 100 languages[3].

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[1] From the Tafseer of Ibn Jareer al-Tabari

[2] From the Tafseer of Al-Sa’di

[3] The Centre for African studies at the University of Pennsylvania claims that the Quran has been translated into 114 languages.

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New Muslims Qur'an & Sunnah

Tips for New Muslims on How to Read the Qur’an

It is very important for Muslims to read the Qur’an and get a better understanding of its message. This is how we can learn and practice the basic concepts of Islam as a balanced way of life.

someone teaching another how to read the qur'an

The first word of the Qur’an revealed to Prophet Muhammad was “Read”.

Reading the Qur’an also shows us the universe in a new light: we learn many amazing facts about ourselves and the different creatures of God, the environmental balance and our role in it, human behavior and relations, financial and economic concepts, and much, much more.

In other words, when we read the Qur’an we must free our minds and open up our souls to get a much deeper understanding of our world and ourselves. It is not just a book of worship and religious rules; it is a book of wisdom that will change our lives.

Here are some general guidelines on how to read the Qur’an:

1- Find a good translation in a language you understand well. For English speakers, I recommend Professor Mohamed Abdel Halim’s modern English translation (The Qur’an, a new translation- Oxford University Press).

Always bear in mind that reading the Qur’an in any other language than its original Arabic is only an approximation of the meaning and not the exact text, simply because it is impossible to reproduce the same literary experience in any other language.

Dr. Mostafa Mahmoud, a philosopher and scientist, describes the Qur’anic style:

“There is no end rhyme, nor is the Qur’an written in verse. The prose, however, is so unique that one can detect a law of verbal architecture that governs its internal music pattern. It remains impossible to imitate the structural and rhetorical brilliance of the Qur’an”.

2- Listen to a recitation of the Qur’an from an experienced reader, even if you don’t understand. It is important to get the feeling of the original text, and it is mesmerizing to hear its unusual music.

3- If this is your first encounter with the Qur’an, plan two consecutive readings: a first quick and general reading to get the big ideas, then a second more thorough reading to delve deeper and get a much closer look at the details.

4- Start your first reading with a neutral frame of mind. Approaching the Qur’an with a pre-conceived perception will only slow your progress and color your understanding of its true message, resulting in a confused impression.

Consult your own open heart and mind in the first reading, and not other people’s opinions, whether from classical books or from the mainstream media. The Qur’an reaches straight into your soul if you let it, so please allow yourself the experience.

Dr. Mohamed Enani writes:

“The Qur’an speaks the language of the human heart wherever humans are found and whatever the age they live in; it is a universal language rooted deep in a human’s natural constitution”.

5- Do not be afraid to challenge what you read. The Qur’an actually invites the reader to do just that, as long as you diligently and earnestly try to find the answers, because in the process, you end up re-discovering your true self.

This rewarding journey of mental and spiritual growth is described in the works of many prominent western Muslims such as American Professor of mathematics Jeffrey Lang, who was challenging the Qur’an as a fierce atheist, yet couldn’t help but surrender to it eventually (Struggling to Surrender, Amana Publications), he writes of his first reading:

“You cannot simply read the Qur’an, not if you take it seriously. You either have surrendered to it already or you fight it. It attacks tenaciously, directly, personally; it debates, criticizes, shames, and challenges. From the outset it draws the line of battle, and I was on the other side. I was at a severe disadvantage, for it became clear that the Author knew me better than I knew myself. The Qur’an was always way ahead of my thinking; it was erasing barriers I had built years ago and was addressing my queries”.

6- Allow yourself time to contemplate. Don’t read the Qur’an like you read the newspaper, rather, read it as a direct message from God Himself to you in particular! When you read verses where God talks to the reader, stop and let the message sink in, then allow yourself time to think of yourself and your life in relation to this divine communication, think of how you could put it to good use to adjust your convictions and behavior.

When you read stories about previous nations, find contemporary parallels and try to learn the lessons. When you read about God’s magnificent creations, think of educating yourself about nature and showing gratitude to Him through respecting life and natural resources. Think of the Qur’an as a dialogue or a conversation rather than a one-way communication of do’s and don’ts. Be brave enough to provide the honest answers to the questions your heart and mind will throw at you while you read.

7- Get additional insights from trusted sources about the Qur’an’s message from different perspectives: scientific, sociological, behavioral, regulatory…etc. in addition to reading about the historic context in which it was revealed, including the biography of the man who transmitted it to us: Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions.

I advise you to read original writings from fellow Muslims of your native culture, rather than translated works from Arabic, with the exception of a few outstanding works (for example, Dr. Mostafa Mahmoud’s book Understanding the Qur’an, a Contemporary Approach, translated by Dr. M Enani- Amana Publications).

Read also about the brilliant achievements of Muslim scientists across history, when they understood and applied the Qur’anic rules of acquiring and applying knowledge to serve humanity as God’s vicegerents on Earth.

A good source is “Lost History, the Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers, and Artists” by Michael Hamilton Morgan, National Geographic.

8- Plan to read the Qur’an in its original language one day by learning Arabic, and the science of the correct recitation of the Qur’an called ‘tajweed‘. There are lessons in all the mosques in the world, and there are transliterated Qur’ans especially for this purpose, to help you pronounce correctly, and many new Muslims have excelled at this and teach others, you can easily find their sites through a simple online search.

The experience is unparalleled if you allow yourself to absorb it in full. In his book “The Amazing Qur’an“, Dr. Garry Miller writes:

“Calling the Qur’an amazing is not something done only by Muslims, who have an appreciation for the book, and who are pleased with it; it has been labeled amazing by non-Muslims as well. In fact, even people who hate Islam very much have still called it amazing”.

Dr. Miller then explains his surprise as a scientist during his first reading:

“Within the last century the scientific community has demanded a test of falsification for any new scientific theory. This is exactly what the Qur’an has. Basically it states, “If this book is not what it claims to be, then all you have to do is this or this or this to prove that it is false.” Honestly, I was very surprised when I first discovered this challenge. In 4:82 the book openly invites the non-Muslim to find a mistake. In 1400 years no one has been able to do that, and thus it is considered true and authentic”.

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Taken from Onislam.net.

 

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