The Obligations Muslims Owe to the Qur'an
by Dr. Israr Ahmad
The pathetic and disastrous condition of the Muslim Ummah throughout the world is due to the abandoning of the Holy Qur'an by the Muslims. The attitude of indifference that we constantly show towards the last of the Allah's Revelations, along with our hypocritical lip-service, is tantamount to ridiculing it. Instead, we must clearly understand our responsibilities towards the Holy Qur'an and try our very best in fulfilling them. We can neither expect any improvement in our worldly state of affairs nor hope for salvation in the Hereafter, unless we carry out all the obligations that we owe to the Qur'an.
The Qur'an makes five demands from every Muslim, which are as follows:
- A Muslim is required to believe in the Qur'an;
- He is required to read it;
- He is required to understand it;
- He is required to act upon its teachings;
- He is required to convey its teachings to others.
OUR FIRST OBLIGATION is to have faith (Iman) in the Divine origin of the Qur'an. Iman has two phases: verbal profession (iqrar bil-lisan) and heart-felt conviction (tasdeeq bil-qalb). To have faith in the Qur'an means that we should verbally profess that the Qur'an is the Word of Almighty Allah (SWT) that was revealed by Him through His angel Gabriel to the last of His messengers, Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
The Messenger believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, as well as the believers….
OUR SECOND OBLIGATION is slow and thoughtful reading of the Holy Qur'an with correct pronunciation, generally described as Tilawat, Tarteel, and Tajweed. Note that Tilawat is not only an important form of worship, but it is also an effective method of continually refreshing our faith. The Qur'an is not a book to be read once; it is a book that needs to be read again and again. We must read it carefully, reflecting on its messages, constantly seeking guidance for our lives
The Holy Prophet (SAW) once remarked: "Surely, these hearts get rusted as iron gets rusted in water." He was asked how the heart’s rust could be rubbed off. He replied: "By frequent remembrance of death and the recitation of the Qur’an." (Narrated by Bayhaqi)
OUR THIRD OBLIGATION is to understand and comprehend the Holy Qur'an. The Qur'an has been revealed so that it may be understood and pondered upon. Of course, there are numerous levels and grades of comprehension, accessible to different persons according to their respective planes of intellect and consciousness. The first stage in the comprehension of the Holy Qur'an is called Tazakkur, a term which alludes to the fact that the teachings of the Qur'an are not at all foreign or alien to the human fitrah. The Holy Qur'an has been rendered very easy, by Almighty Allah (SWT), for the purpose of gaining this level of guidance. It does not matter if a person's intelligence is limited, or his knowledge of logic and philosophy is poor, or if he has no fine sense of language and literature. In spite of these drawbacks, he can still understand the basic message and practical guidance of the Holy Qur'an, provided he has an untainted nature not perverted by any crookedness.
The second stage in the comprehension of the Holy Qur'an is far from easy. Tadabbur is described as a penetrating study, an intense reflection, as thorough deliberation of the Holy Qur'an as possible, and diving deep into the bottomless ocean of its wisdom. This kind of understanding is impossible unless one is to devote his entire life, all his talents, and all his energies for the sole purpose of comprehending the Qur'an.
“Those to whom We have sent the book, study it as it should be studied; They are the ones that believe therein…” (Al-Baqarah 2:121)
OUR FOURTH OBLIGATION is to act upon the teachings of the Holy Qur'an. The Qur'an is the “Guidance for mankind.” The purpose for which this Book has been revealed will be fully realized only when people act upon its teachings and make it the guide for them in every sphere of their lives. If we disregard the injunctions of the Qur'an, then the reading and understanding of the Holy Book, instead of doing us any good, will only make us more guilty before Almighty Allah (SWT).
At an individual level, it is imperative for every Muslim to mould his or her life according to the teachings of the Qur'an. Our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has said: “None of you can become a true believer until his desires become subordinate to what I have brought.” The best way to benefit from the study of the Holy Qur'an is to go on changing our life-styles and mending our ways in accordance with its teachings.
At the collective level of the community, it is equally imperative for us to try and establish the system of Social Justice as given by the Holy Qur'an. The Muslims are, as a whole, responsible for establishing the Sovereignty of Almighty Allah (SWT) in the public as well as the private sphere, and each of us is obligated to try his utmost in this path. The struggle for the establishment of such a just and equitable order in accordance with the teachings of the Qur'an is the bounding duty of its followers.
“And this is a book which we have revealed as a blessing; so follow it and be righteous, that you may receive mercy” (An’aam 6:155)
OUR FIFTH OBLIGATION is to propagate the message of the Holy Qur'an to every nook and corner of the world. This was originally the responsibility of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), who fulfilled his own obligation by conveying the Divine message to the Ummah; since Prophethood has been concluded with the advent of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), who is the last of the Divine Messengers, it is now the duty of the Muslims to deliver that message to all humanity. Unfortunately, the proclamation of the Divine message to the whole world appears like a far-fetched and fantastic idea, because, at the moment, the Muslims themselves are ignorant of the teachings of the Holy Qur'an.
Therefore, a powerful intellectual and academic movement — back to the Qur'an — is needed in order to propagate and disseminate the knowledge and wisdom of the Holy Qur'an, both on a general scale for the benefit of our masses and on the highest level of scholarship in order to convert the educated and intelligent elite of the Muslim society.
“… So admonish with the Quraan such as fear my warning!” (Qaf 50:45)