It is vital that you should understand what Allah is saying to you and reflect over it as much as you can.
If you read the Quran without understanding, you may derive some reward because of your sense of devotion and your desire to read this Book.
But this would not, in the least, fulfill the purpose for which it has been revealed. It has come to vitalize you, mold you and lead you to a new life and existence. It is not merely a source of blessing, a sacred ritual, a revered relic or a holy magic.
The Quran is full of exhortations asking you as to why you “hear not”, “see not”, “think not”, “use not reason”, “ponder not”. It says that:
And those who, when reminded of the verses of their Lord, do not fall upon them deaf and blind.(25:73)
Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an, or are there locks upon [their] hearts? (47:24)
You will find elsewhere better guidance on how to understand and ponder over the Quran, but there are certain important principles you should keep in mind.
- Understand and reflect over the Quran as if it was being revealed today, as each word of it is as living and relevant today as it was when it was first revealed. In this light, you should try to relate and apply it to your own life, concerns, experiences and levels of knowledge and technology. Do not consider any verse of the Quran as merely a thing of the past.
- Read the whole of the Quran, from beginning to end, with the help of a translation. This will give you an overall idea of the Book, its style and message.
- Initially, read only short but good commentaries and do not delve in long and detailed tafsirs.
- Try to learn at least as much Arabic as will enable you to understand the meaning of the Quran without the help of a translation. It may seem an arduous task, but I have known semi-illiterate persons accomplish this within a few months, once they took to it seriously and devotedly.
- Ponder and think deeply over the various parts of what you read.
This requires reciting a particular verse or portion thereof slowly (with tarteel) or even repeatedly. The more you think and reflect, you will have a greater share of its rich and unlimited meanings.
It is in this sense that Ibn ‘Umar spent eight years on Surah al-Baqarah alone. The Prophet (peace be upon him) and many others used to spend whole nights repeating just one verse.
Excerpted from the author’s book: “Way to the Qur’an”.