Living and obeying the Qur’an
Reading the Qur’an will be of little benefit to you, it may even bring misery and harm, unless you, from the first moment, begin to change and reconstruct your life in total surrender to God who has given you the Qur’an. Without the will and striving to act, neither the states of heart and enraptures of the soul, nor the ecstasies of mood, nor intellectual enrichment will be of any use to you. If the Qur’an does not have any impact upon your actions and if you do not obey what it enjoins and avoid what it prohibits, then you are not getting nearer to it.
On every page of the Qur’an is an invitation to surrender and submit, to act and change. At every step the reader is confronted – to decide and commit himself. Those who do not submit to it are declared to be Kafir, zalim (wrongdoer) and fasiq (iniquitous) ( al-Maidah 5:44-7). Those who are given the Book of God but do not understand it nor act upon it are described as ‘asses which carry loads’, but neither know nor benefit from what they carry’ ( al-Jumuah 65:5). They are those against whom the Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, will plead on the Day of Judgement:
O my Lord! Behold, [some of] my people have taken this Qur’an as a thing to be shunned (al-Furqan 25:30).
To shun the Qur’an, to leave it, and to put it aside, means not to read it, not to understand it, not to live by it, to consider it a ‘thing of the past’, which has ceased to be relevant.
The Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, is no less emphatic in stressing the necessity of obeying the Qur’an:
Many of the hypocrites in my Ummah will be from among the readers of the Qur’an (Ahmad).
He is not a true believer in the Qur’an who treats as halal (permissible) what it has made haram (prohibited) (Tirmidhi).
Read the Qur’an so that it enables you to desist (from what it prohibits]. If it does not enable you to desist you have not really read it (Tabarani).
For the Companions of the Prophet, to learn the Qur’an amounted to reading it, pondering over it, and acting by it. It is narrated that :
Those who were engaged in reading the Qur’an told that people like ‘Uthman Ibn ‘Affan and Abdullah Ibn Masud, once they had learnt ten verses from the Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, did not go any further unless they had really ‘learnt’ whatever these verses contained by way of knowledge and practice [understood them and acted upon them]. They used to say that they learnt the Qur’an and knowledge together. That is how they sometimes spent years in learning only one Surah (al-Itqan fi ‘Ulum al-Qur’an, Suyuti).
Al-Hasan al-Basri said : ‘ You have taken the night to be a camel that you ride on to you to pass through various stages of the Qur’an. Those before you considered it as messages from their Lord; they pondered over them at night and lived by them by day’ (Ihya).
Reading the Qur’an should induce faith inside your heart; that faith should shape your lives. It is not gradual, piecemeal process, by which you first spend years reading the Qur’an, then understanding it and strengthening your faith, you only then act upon it. The whole is one unified process, all things take place simultaneously. As you hear or receive the words, they kindle faith inside you; as you have faith inside you, your life begins to change.
What you must remember is that to live by the Qur’an requires a major decision on your part: you have to completely alter the course of your life, irrespective of what may be the dominant thought-patterns around you, of what your society may be dictating, or what others may be doing. This decision requires major sacrifices. But unless you, as believers in the Qur’an being the word of God, are prepared to take the plunge, not much good will come out of the time you spend with the Qur’an.
From the very first moment, at the first step, it is made abundantly clear that the Qur’an is a guidance for those who are prepared to act to save themselves from the harm that comes from living against God’s will, from earning His displeasure, and who fear the consequences – they are the al-muttaqin (al Baqarah 2: 1-5). The Qur’an does not recognize any polarity between knowledge and action, between faith (Iman) and righteous deeds (al-amal al-salih).
This excerpt was taken from ‘Way To The Qur’an’ by Khurram Murad