Editor’s note: The following text is not strictly verbatim transcript of the video. Some editorial modification were made to make the text publishable as an article.
I received a question that I deem really important; it was asked by a young man who had a hard time reading the Qur’an. He kept trying to recite the Qur’an but he could not read that well. This young man had a sensitive personality; one time he was listening to the radio where small children were reciting the Qur’an; a young boy recited so beautifully that the teacher commented, ‘Subahan Allah, you have a really pure soul and that is why Allah gives you the ability to recite the Qur’an so easily.’
Upon hearing this, the young man got really disturbed because he felt like, ‘Maybe I cannot recite the Quran because I don’t have a good personality or because something is missing in my soul.’ He really took it to heart.
Now, I am sure that this was not the intention of the teacher who was talking to the child; he only meant to encourage him.
In one hadith the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told us that those who are expert in reciting the Qur’an are with the high-ranked angels but the ones who stumble in it and keep stuttering; those who cannot pronounce words properly and they find it very difficult every time, these are people who get twice the reward.
Scholars have different opinions regarding this double reward; is it twice the reward of a regular person or is it twice reward of the expert? I am personally inclined to think it is twice the expert’s; there’s no reason to think otherwise because Allah does not value accomplishment but rather He values effort.
We value accomplishments. Human beings are different from Allah Almighty; human beings value results, profits, gains; they look at how much you know; how much you memorize; how much you read.
We care about the quantity but Allah is not concerned with any of these things; Allah is concerned with how much effort you make.
To put this in perspective, somebody is a billionaire and gives a thousand dollars in charity; it is a good amount of money! That’s worth something. But, you know what, somebody has only one dollar and he gives fifty cents; that fifty cents is worth more to Allah than the thousand dollars a billionaire gave. It’s not about quantity, it is about the quality.
The same is true regarding your effort: you may not be able to recite the Qur’an perfectly, but that does not mean you are a bad person. The fact that you are trying to recite the Qur’an; the fact that you are struggling to recite every single letter and going through it is what matters.
It is Allah Who puts you in that struggle. Had Allah wanted, He could have made it easier for you; Had Allah wanted, Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) would not have a stutter; had Allah wanted, Pharaoh would never had a reason to say that Musa cannot even talk clearly.
People have disabilities, challenges and difficulties in life. Some people have a physical disability; some people have a psychological disability –all those challenges are actually given by Allah and we don’t know why. We know that is not because Allah curses them or because they are lesser than us. Maybe such disabilities are actually the reason they are far superior to us.
So we have to be mindful of the fact that our standards are not the same as Allah’s. People look down on those who are not accomplished.
I keep telling that to my Arabic students; Arabic class is judged by accomplishment: What is your score on the test? How well can you speak? How long can you read? How much you understand grammar?
Now, I had this one student who had a problem with Arabic; I like to say about him that Allah did not create him for Arabic although he is a genius; he is so smart in his profession; he is so smart at work; anything he touches turns to gold. But when it comes to Arabic, he could not pass 30 on a test. He just could not do it although he literally studied more than any other student I have ever met.
He spent hours and hours, day after day and yet he failed the test. While anybody else who failed the test would be too depressed and would not study for a few days, this guy went through all of his mistakes, did review and study further.
He was a friend of mine even before he became a student and sometimes I called him asking if he would like to hang out. “No, I got to study,” he answered.
Even though he did not score nearly as much as some other students who got hundreds, I respect him way more and insha Allah, Allah will reward him way more. That struggle and effort is what Allah values. Sometimes Allah puts you in difficulty because that is how He raises your ranks.
So, don’t let the assumptions that people make about you or comparing yourself to others disappoint you. The most noble in the sight of Allah are the ones that have the most taqwa. And taqwa will never be known by another person.