I have an unusual question to ask you: What can you learn from a dog? I am not referring to the ones you find in kids stories or cartoons. The dog I’m going to tell you about was mentioned within the context of keeping good company and the favourable effect that has on a person either through influence on their character or externally on their situation. One finds in a hadith about the difference between the carrier of musk and the iron-smith where we are taught about Allah (glorified and exalted be He)’s Mercy and Forgiveness for those who sat with a group remembering Allah (glorified and exalted be He) even though they were just passing by. Do you think you can figure out who this dog is? If you are still puzzled about why I’m writing about a dog (!) keep reading and you’ll soon find out.
Allah (glorified and exalted be He) says:
“And you would have deemed them awake whereas they were asleep and We turned them over on the right side and on the left side, while their dog stretched forth his two forelegs on the threshold. If you had seen them, you would have surely turned away from them in fright, and would have surely been filled with awe of them}” [18:18]
In this verse, the dog just happened to follow that group of young believers in their attempt to escape from the non-believing people and protect their faith. Allah (glorified and exalted be He) had decreed that they, with their dog, become an example of Allah (glorified and exalted be He)’s ability to resurrect the dead and so they went into the cave and the rest is history. And thus a dog gained a mention among a righteous group of people in the Quran till the Day of Judgement.
SubhanAllah, how many times have I read Surah Al-Khaf and I came to learn about this example just two weeks ago in a course. How many lessons of guidance are we missing by not learning, living or loving the Quran as Muslims should?
Many a times we know the virtues and hear about the reward of contemplating the Quran but we still hold back because of one obstacle or another, some may say:
“But I don’t know Arabic!”
Indeed Allah, the Most High, chose Arabic to be the language of the Qur’an – Allah (glorified and exalted be He) has told us:
“We have sent it down, an Arabic Quran, in order that you understand” [12:2] and
“A Book, the verses of which are distinguished, an Arabic Quran for a nation who know” [41:3]
Did you notice how the revelation of the Quran in Arabic is mentioned alongside understanding and knowledge? The lesson we can learn here is that Arabic is not a barrier, it’s a tool to a clear and concise understanding of the Book of Allah. Once we consciously accept that, inshaAllah we would have made a brilliant start.
Learning any language takes time and effort, learning Arabic with the intention of reciting the Quran is a way that allows you to engage with the verses and ponder upon the meaning on a higher level. This Ramadan will pass by quickly, yet how about having a long and short term plan? The long term plan is to learn Arabic in an effective and consistent way. The short term plan should include reading the Quran in a language you understand.
1. USE A GOOD QUALITY TRANSLATION OF THE MEANING OF THE QUR'AN
Modern time English Quran translations include: The Qur’an (Oxford World’s Classics) by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem and The Noble Qur’an: A New Rendering of Its Meaning in English by Aisha Abdurrahman Bewley and Abdalhaqq Bewley.
2. CONCENTRATE WITH YOUR HEART AND MIND ON THE WORDS OF ALLAH,
as He emphasised: “We have made the Quran easy to remember, is there any that will remember?” [54: 17] Though we all know the Quran is the Holy Book, our attitude towards the Quran reflects how a ritualistic and cultural approach in understanding the Quran has made us defy the purpose of the Book in our lives today. It appears that by placing the Quran on the highest shelves and in the most elaborate of covers we manage to make it unreachable, physically and mentally. It almost needs a ceremony to be brought ‘down to our humble level’ and off the dusty shelves when we are seeking Allah (glorified and exalted be He)’s Help, or even sadly kept for when someone is ill or dying.
Ask yourself though – are not the living more deserving of the guidance of the Quran? In Surah Yaseen Allah (glorified and exalted be He) tells us:
“We have not instructed Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Poetry, nor is it meant for him. This is no less than a Message and a Quran making things clear, that We may give admonition to any (who are) alive, and that the charge may be proved against those who reject (the Truth)” [36:69-70]
Allah (glorified and exalted be He), the Most High tells us in the Quran:
“Say (O Muhammad) ‘Jibreel has brought it (the Quran) down from your Lord with truth, that it may make firm and strengthen (the faith of) those who believe and as a guidance and glad tidings to those who have submitted (to Allah as Muslims)”. [16:102]
3. ENSURE YOU HAVE YOUR OWN COPY of the Quran and keep it close. Is it next to your bed or on your desk? Recite regularly even if it is small portions and increase with time.
4. SCHEDULE it in your diary
5. TAKE YOUR TIME and ponder upon the meanings, you might find it useful to keep a notebook to jot down your thoughts and the verses you find enlightening so that you have something to refer back to or learn about more deeply later. Include the verses that you find confusing so you can look them up in a Tafseer or ask a knowledgeable person citing the Surah and Verse(s).
With a better understanding of the Quran we hope to emulate our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in his character. Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) was asked about the character of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to which she replied: “His character was the Quran” (Bukhari)
Recite the Quran and you find Allah (glorified and exalted be He) telling you about the qualities of the people of Jannah and the people of the Hellfire. We are told about the people before us and what brought them the wrath of Allah (glorified and exalted be He) or that when they stood firm upon His path they were blessed with His mercy.
By the Grace of Allah (glorified and exalted be He), much has been written and said about reciting, learning and benefiting from the Quran. We just need to go out there and live by it! Make the intention and set your plans for this Ramadan and the rest of your life to become a carrier of the Quran. May Allah (glorified and exalted be He) make you a carrier of musk, and remember Allah (glorified and exalted be He) will ease your path to Him and Jannah for :
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that Allah says of Himself:
“I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.”