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How to Interact With the Quran: 4R
Interaction is very important in any conversation that we have. Interaction is defined as the situation between two or more people or things communicating with each other or to react to one another. By interacting, we are showing to the other party, that we are participating in the conversation, and we understand what they are saying.
Mainly, as we interact, we exchange ideas, information, stories, and views on certain issues with the other person or group. The main key in interacting is to listen and observe very carefully before responding, to ensure that we are on the same page with the one we are talking to.
But how do we interact with a non-living thing, specifically the Quran? The Quran is a holy book, unlike any other book. It is special, because it is from our Creator, Allah the Almighty. The Quran isn’t like those enchantment books we see in movies or read in books. There are no pages with lights coming out from it, or voices that explains its words or the story lines, nor are there three-dimension visuals to illustrate what is in the Quran. Quran is not a magic book, it is a book of guidance – a complete guidance and manual from Allah SWT. Therefore, as we read the Quran, we must understand what Allah is saying and teaching us, thus we will be able to take lessons from it and use the knowledge to lead out lives according to what is most pleasing to Him.
It is the nature of human being to upgrade their life from one condition to another. We seek assistance from the skilled ones to lend a helping hand for us to reach the best level of betterment possible. But, how many of us actually have the faith that the Quran is able to help us despite it being a non-living material?
Subhanallah. By interacting with the Quran, your life will change, together with your ideas, beliefs, understanding, habits and actions – it will change bit by bit. The more learning you do, the more impacted your life will be by it. Thereupon, as we read the Quran, aside from just focusing on completing (khatam) it and reciting it with the perfect tajweed, do concentrate on implementing the lessons from the Quran for directions in a life that is inclined towards righteousness and piety towards Allah SWT.
I classify ‘how’ to interact with the Quran into four main points that I will, insha-Allah, explain briefly in this chapter. There are 4Rs to simplify the ‘how’, which are Recite, Read, Reflect and Relate. These Rs are well connected to each other to fully understand the surah or aayahs that you read from the Quran. To be able to take the Quran as our life manual, we need to practice these 4Rs to constantly remind us the essence of our number one guidance book in life – the Quran. Hopefully, this four points will be beneficial to you and you will be more excited to start ‘interacting’ with the Quran!
All these 4Rs are the ones I strive to complete every single day in order to help me improve and strengthen my relationship with Allah and be a better version of myself for Him, my parents, husband, family members, friends, and the whole community in general. The more I do these 4Rs with the Quran, the further I raise my standards in being a Muslim – a slave to Allah and an example to others. I pray that Allah will constantly inspire me to continue practising the 4Rs for every second I spend with the Quran, ameen.
The first R would be‘Recite’.Yes,recite!Justlikehowwearespeaking to someone, to deliver the message or interact with the person. The way the Quran speaks to us is by us reciting the aayahs. Not just reciting, but recite with the intention to receive khayr (goodness) and reward from Allah SWT. Motivate yourself to always do things in the best of manners with the intention to please Allah SWT and to receive rewards from Him. The Prophet PBUH encouraged us about reciting the Quran recitation in one of his hadith:
Ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah said, “Whoever recites a letter from the Book of Allah, he will be credited with a good deed, and a good deed gets a ten-fold reward. I do not say that Alif-Lam-Mim is one letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter.”
Subhanallah! Read the hadith carefully. For every letter that you read, Allah will reward you 10 times. Allah does not count one word for 10 rewards but rather, each letter that spells out the word will be rewarded tenfold of rewards. Imagine just by reciting the basmalah, you’re being rewarded with like urmm… 1,000 rewards? I lost count! But I am positively certain that by just reading a line in a surah, we can easily receive a ginormous award. Look at how generous Allah is in giving us rewards for every good thing that we do.
This hadith uplifts my Quran spirit from the very beginning of my Quran journey. I was already in love with the Quran when I first read the translation, and I fell in love even more with it when I heard my teacher read the aayahs in our halaqah. But the love becomes more meaningful when I was able to read the Arabic aayahs little by little.
My Quran recitation journey will always be the best memory I’ll ever treasure in my whole life. It took me a while to realise how important it was to recite the Quran itself, and not just reading the translation because at first, I thought it was enough to understand the translation so why bother learn how to recite it? Oh my, I was completely wrong! The day I could recite the Quran with proper tajweed is literally the best day of my life ever!
Somewhere near the end of 2013, I started to embrace Islam fully. In other words, I started practicing it for real. It started with the hijab, my fardh prayer, the clothes I donned, reading the Quran translation and attending classes. My routine changed, from the girl who enjoyed hanging out at the malls on weekends, I was now attending courses at every end of the week. I was all about planning daily activities, from praying time to learning classes online, attending lectures on site, sitting in a halaqah, reading books, spending time with the Quran — that was basically how I would spend my day.
As I continued searching for true meaning of life, calmness and peace started to fulfil the yearning in my soul. Slowly but steadily, I am feeling more unruffled and relaxed. I never felt this way for so many years. Subhanallah.
At this point, I was relentlessly attending all courses, lectures, classes available, be it free-of-charge or the paid ones, I was all set for it. I had a group of friends who were as enthusiastic as I was and we sort of ‘devoted’ our lives to seeking ‘ilm (knowledge) all year long.
In August 2014, I joined a spiritual camp held by a local organiser. It was a four days three nights event in a very quiet place with an exquisite chalet. We were surrounded by the greens, cold refreshing river, the sounds of tiny creatures, and beautiful flowers and plants around us – basically with the other majestic creations of Allah SWT. It was such a peaceful place to learn and reconnect with Allah.
During Jumaah prayer, as the brothers went for Jumaah prayer, the sisters had our own al-Kahf pool session. So, we sat in a circle, and each one of us would recite a small portion of the surah – three or four lines per person. I was nervous, overthinking and my inner thoughts were, “These sisters they don’t know me, they have never listened to me reciting the Quran, it will be so embarrassing if they knew that I don’t know how to recite the Quran properly. Since we are in an Islamic gathering, they expected that everyone knows how to read Quran.”
I listened to their recitation, they were all good. I felt a bit demotivated, but I quickly submitted my du’aa to Allah and said, “O Allah, help me and allow me to recite Quran fluently like them.”
It was so nerve wrecking up to the point I felt like escaping from the circle. My palms were all sweaty. I couldn’t lie to them saying that I was on my menses because I would be attending Jumaah prayer later. Plus, lying shouldn’t be an option for me, as I was there to improve myself, and lying was sinful. I reminded myself again of the intention of why I was there.
So, I gathered all my courage and took a leap of faith. I tried my very best to recite when it was my turn. As I finished, it wasn’t as bad as I had in mind, because the sisters were way too nice, merciful and very patient listening to my slow recitation. Few of them helped me as I read and corrected me for the mistakes I made during the session. I was glad I made it. Alhamdulillah.
Later, during tea break, a sister approached me. She introduced herself and we exchanged salaam. She asked me if I was interested to learn to recite the Quran with her since she was teaching tajweed with The Quran Tajweed Academy I mentioned in the previous chapter. I excitedly nodded as a yes. I made the du’aa just a while ago, and Allah already answered my du’aa! There was no way I would turn the offer down, plus the academy was just few kilometres away from my place. No excuse for not going.
A few months after the camp, I went back and forth to the academy for 13 weeks – every Tuesday learning tajweed with my beloved ustazah. She made the whole learning very easy to be understood and terms used to each tajweed rulings were not difficult to be memorised.
Alhamdulillah. Once I completed my 13 weeks tajweed course, I was then able to join the recitation class that was conducted online via Skype. As a tech savvy girl, it really excited me, it saved a lot more time rather than driving three times a week for a class on site. Besides, I got to choose the class time according to what was convenient to me, alhamdulillah, what a blessing to be able to fully utilise the amazing technology Allah had bestowed upon us. Truly, which favours of your Lord would you deny? No more excuses for not learning and attending classes as I got to learn from the comfort of my own home. Thus, the Quran recitation journey began. Bismillahirrahmanirrahim.
I was placed among the earliest colours – mind you, students were classified into coloured classes according to their ability to recite. The highest level was black, the level I aspired to achieve. I started with Pink, I was able to recognise the hijaiyah letters, able to combine few letters in a word, able to identify the harakah of each letter but, I didn’t recognise several tajweed rulings and had a poor and slow recitation. I remember how my ustazah – a Macedonian, trying her best to help to get rid of my lahn jali and the melody in my recitation. She said the melody was the cause of the mistakes in my recitation. Removing the melody was harder than I thought, but alhamdulillah I am happy to say that I have gotten rid of it completely now!
Anyway, I stayed for the longest of time in this level. I struggled a lot during this period. The academy worked in such a way that once you had improved, the teachers would nominate your name to go for a recitation exam and the higher level teachers would listen to and examine you. Every time I got nominated I was happy thinking that I would move to the next colour, but instead I failed four times in this level. The disappointment was real. I was so frustrated every time I was told, “Sorry, Sister Ayesha, you can try again for the next exam.” Failing one exam after another, I was almost immuned to it, to the extent I was glad if I was not nominated because I didn’t want to feel the ‘failure’ again.
Narrated Aisha: The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Such a person as recites the Quran and masters it by heart, will be with the noble righteous scribes (in Heaven). And such a person exerts himself to learn the Quran by heart, and recites it with great difficulty, will have a double reward.”
The hadith above kept me motivated to go on. For every time I stumbled on certain aayah or mispronounced words in the Quran, I reminded myself how Allah was so Merciful, and He promised to reward me twice, so why was I giving up? Imagine for every mistake you make, you are paid double the amount of rewards compared to when you have it right on the very first time? Isn’t that amazing? And to those who excel, Allah will raise their ranks to be with the noble righteous people. If that doesn’t sound great to you, I don’t know what else is. This was what kept me going. Though the double reward sounded glorious, I also aimed to join the people of Jannah as mentioned in this hadith and all I must do was to learn to recite Quran the right way.
Subhanallah. If we take time to ponder how blessed we are to have Allah in our lives, indeed Allah is sufficient for us. Sometimes we think we are alone, we think that no one in this world is supporting our cause. But how can we forget Allah is continuously reminding and motivating us to do better, so that we can be with Him in His highest level of home together with the Prophet PBUH, the companions, the mu’minin and all the people that Allah loves unconditionally?
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