Unless you are prepared and begin to act to shape your thoughts and actions according to the messages you receive from the Qur’an, all your dedication and labor may be to no avail. Mere intellectual exercises and ecstatic experiences will never bring you anywhere near the real treasures of the Qur’an.
Failing to obey the Qur’an and to change your life because of human frailties and temptations, natural difficulties, and external impediments is one matter; failing to do so because you have no intention or make no effort to do so is quite another. You may, then, attain fame as a scholar of the Qur’an, but it will never reveal its true meaning to you.
The Qur’an reserves one of its most severe condemnations for those who profess faith in the Book of God but when they are summoned to act or when situations arise for decision-making, they ignore its call or turn away from it. They have been declared to be kafir, fasiq (iniquitous), zhalim (wrongdoer).
6. Hazards and Obstacles
Always remain aware that, as you embark upon reading the Qur’an, Satan will create every possible hazard and obstacle to stalk you on your way to the great riches of the Qur’an.
The Qur’an is the only sure guide to the straight path to God; to walk that path is man’s destiny. When Adam was created he was made aware of the hurdles and obstacles man would have to surmount in order to fulfill his destiny. All his weaknesses were laid bare, especially his weakness of will and resolve and his forgetfulness (Taha 20:115). It was also made plain how Satan would try to obstruct him at every step of his journey:
(I shall surely sit in ambush for them all along Thy straight sath; I shall, then, come on them from before them and from behind them, from their right and their left. Thou wilt not find most of them thankful.) (Al-A`raf 7:16-17)
Obviously the Qur’an, the “Guidance from God,” is your most powerful ally and help as you battle all your life against Satan and strive to live by God’s guidance. Hence, from the very first step when you decide to read the Qur’an till the last when you try to live by it, Satan will confront you with many tricks and guiles; illusions and deceptions; obstacles and impediments which you will have to surmount. Satan may pollute your intention, make you remain unmindful of the Qur’an’s meaning and message, create doubts in your mind, erect barriers between your soul and the word of God, entangle you in peripheral rather than central teachings, tempt you away from obeying the Qur’an, or simply make you neglect and postpone the task of reading it. All of these dangers are fully explained in the Qur’an itself. Take just one very simple example: Reading the Qur’an every day, whilst understanding it, sounds very easy. But try, and you will find how difficult it becomes; time slips away; other important things come up. Concentrating your mind and attention become something you wish to avoid: Why not just read quickly for gaining barakah (blessing)? It is with the consciousness of these perils and dangers that your tongue should, in obedience to the Qur’an, say “A`udhu billahi min Ash-Shaytan ir-rajeem.”(When you recite the Qur’an, seek refuge with Allah from Satan, the rejected.) (An-Nahl 16: 98)
7. Trust and Dependence
Trust, exclusively and totally, in God to lead you to the full rewards of reading the Qur’an.
Just as it has been God’s infinite mercy that has brought His words to you in the Qur’an and brought you to it, so it can be only His mercy that can help in your crucial task. You need weighty and precious provisions, and these are not easy to procure. You face immense dangers that are difficult to overcome. Whom can you look to but Him to hold you by the hand and guide you on your way? Your desire and effort are the necessary means, but His enabling grace and support are the only sure guarantees that you will be able to tread your way with success and profit. In Him alone you should trust as true believers. To Him alone you must turn for everything in life. And what thing is more important than the Qur’an? Also, never be proud of what you are doing for the Qur’an, of what you have achieved. Always be conscious of your inadequacies and limitations in the face of a task that has no parallel. So approach the Qur’an with humility, with a sense of utter dependence upon God, seeking His help and support at every step. It is in this spirit of trust, praise, and gratitude that you should let your tongue and heart, in mutual harmony, begin the recitation:
Bismi illah Ir-Rahman Ir-Rahim
In the name of God, the Most-Merciful, the Mercy-Giving
This is the verse that appears at the head of all but one of the 114 surahs of the Qur’an. And also pray, asking His protection:
(Our Lord! Let not our hearts swerve (from the Truth) after Thou hast guided us; and bestow upon us Thy mercy, indeed Thou alone art the Bestower.) (Aal `Imran 3:8)
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