Ramadan is the month when not only the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the world; but it is the best time for Muslims to re-engage and develop our relationship with this most important of texts.
Through hearing it in group prayer and evening tarawih, or even setting up a daily schedule to read sections privately on your own, there are many ways that we can grow in our understanding and become closer to the true Word of God.
As a new Muslim, the Quran is also an important source of solace and self-reflection. Every time I open the Quran something new presents itself and it appears that no matter what state I am in ; no matter how hard or stressful the day has been, God finds a way to show me the right verses that I need to persevere. They have repeatedly – and quite mysteriously – always shown up right when I need them.
Here are three verses that I have always found as some of the most meaningful and impactful for my life.
1- The World is Bigger than You Think
Indeed, those whom the angles take [in death] while wronging themselves – [the angels] will say: “In what [condition] were you?” They will say. “We were oppressed in the land.” The angels will say, “Was not the earth of Allah spacious [enough] for your to emigrate therein?… (Quran 4:97)
This verse always seems to come to the forefront when we feel our lives are heading towards a dead end. You just lost your job or failed a test, are facing family problems; or you just realized that the dream project you have working on for months has just fallen apart. These are the times where we are all at our lowest and need inspiration.
I discovered the importance of this verse on my own as I changed careers and thought that there was no other job out there for me. If I had failed here, then where could I possibly fit?
It was here the above verse showed me that there was a wider world than the one I knew. There were different countries, peoples, and cultures to explore. Likewise, there were other fields of work and always new opportunities waiting around the corner.
To give up on looking for those opportunities – to withdraw from the fight and feel that you are oppressed – is actually one of the first steps towards loosing your way.
Remember that God’s creation is wide enough for all of us and that; even though you might feel out of place or in a bad moment right now, you must keep looking forward and let God show you the way to a better state.
2- Forgiveness: Give First
And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous. Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men; – for Allah loves those who do good. (Quran 3:133-4)
Dealing with all types of people across God’s world means that you are inevitably going to run into personal disagreements. Sometimes it is something simple, and at other times it could develop into a deep conflict with long-reaching effects on the lives all those involved. You will get hurt and, no doubt, you will end up hurting others.
These verses often show up for me when these conflicts reach their peak and I feel as though there is no way that I could ever talk to or work with that other person again.
The key to these two verses is that forgiveness – a concept that we are all familiar with and don’t need to repeat – comes from you first. Those who are righteous are those who “pardon all men,” not those who wait for the other side to forgive.
Even when it comes to dealing with God – the Most Gracious, Most Merciful – you still must start the process of forgiveness. Only then, when you have proven that you hasten towards forgiveness from God, spend freely in the path of God and bettering yourself, forgive others, and restrain your anger, will you begin to find your way to Paradise.
3- Remembering Our Purpose
So where are you going? Verily this is no less than a Message to (all) the Worlds: for whoever wills among you to take a right course. And you do not will except that Allah wills – Lord of the worlds. (Quran 81:26-9)
These verses and particularly the first one –where are you going – always come to mind when I see how busy the world around us has become. In our lives today, we are constantly running after money, better opportunities, and forgetting our true purpose: To worship God and truly better ourselves and the world around us.
We forget that, as the Quran tells us in another important verse, these are all merely decorations:
Wealth and children are [but] adornment of the worldly life. But the enduring good deeds are better to your Lord for reward and better for [one’s] hope. (18:46)
When things get tough in life we often see these material items as the main source of happiness and what we strive for. Where are you going? Do these things really matter? Why do we care so much about things that can disappear so easily, while ignoring the constant presence of God?
Finally, when we try to run away from our problems; when we ignore our fate, and deny the truth that all things are in the hands of God, we put material matters back at the forefront of our minds and forget the meaning of the above verses once again.
Where are you going?
Nothing escapes God’s authority, capability, or power.
That doesn’t mean that we are trapped and have no control over our own lives, but rather it is a reminder that; whenever you feel that you or the events of your life are heading astray, God is still there with you.
Through this and the other verses mentioned above, the Quran – that text that has stood as the marker for Islamic civilization for over 1400 years – continues to inspire and guide Muslims around the world, newly-converted or lifelong devotees.