For non Muslims and newly practising Muslims- reading the Quran

28 Jun

(Originally written for and published on the blog Yes I Have A Voice– Feb 28th 2011)

Yesterday I was subjected to an Islamophobic rant on Twitter.  The man pulled random verses from the Quran (Islamic holy book) to prove that Islam is evil /  violent ect.  People are entitled to their opinions, I only wish they would show more grace when expressing it.

Anyway, after blocking this person (I refuse to debate / argue on Twitter- 140 characters is just not enough) I thought that rather than complaining about people who use a religions holy book to insult that same religion, I would post some advice, for anyone who wishes to read the Quran.

Please note however, that I am no scholar, or person of knowledge.  This comes from my own heart.  As someone who started practicing afew years ago, I would have liked someone to tell me what I am about to tell you.  So, here goes…

1. The first mistake people make when they endevour to read the Quran is having a hidden agenda.  You can make anything sound the way you WANT it to sound.  Read anything, not just the Quran, with an open mind and an open heart.  If you delve into a holy book wanting to prove something, you will most probably find evidence for what it is you are trying to prove.  Your eyes will only let you see what your mind wants to see.

2. Anyone can cite anything from any holy book, and can pull any meaning from it, especially when quoting out of context.  A common mistake is pulling one verse from a chapter, and forgetting what comes before and after this verse.  I have seen people do this with the Bible aswell.

3. Another thing regarding context.  When it come to the Quran (I can’t speak for any other holy book)  chapters include events that happened, such as the birth of Jesus (peace be upon him), various battles ect.  We are to take lessons from these historical events, however, in order to really grasp the meaning of the verses, you need to learn about the event.  You should do this alongside reading the Quran.

4. Leading on from that point, I’d like to talk about the tafseer (explanantion) of the Quran.  The early prestigious scholars wrote in depth explanations of each chapter in the Quran.  It would be a good idea to get hold of an explanantion of the chapter you are reading (Tafseer Ibn Katheer is probably the most widely used), so that you can get a good understanding of the event surrounding the chapter, the lessons and wisdom wthin that chapter, and the language used.

5. With regards to language, the Quran was revealed in Arabic.  Although translations of the Quran are correct, the Quran is not really the Quran unless it is in Arabic.  Arabic cannot usually be translated directly into English- word for word that is.  If you are reading the Quran in English or any other language- great.  But in order to grasp the real beauty, poetry, and meaning of the Quran, you could (if possible) speak to an Arabic speaking Muslim, or someone who has good knowledge of the Quran, who may be able to explain to you, and even recite to you.

6. That takes me nicely onto talking to Muslims.  Please, do talk to us- we don’t bite (really!).  You can walk into your local mosque and speak to someone who is qualified to talk to you about anything you do not understand with regards to the meaning of the Quran.  And don’t just speak to one Muslim, speak to many.  Allegations that Islam preaches evil is illogical, when there are so many practicing Muslims in the world who love the Quran and learn from it, yet, we are not evil!

7. The points above also goes for Hadith (sayings and actions of the last Prophet peace be upon him).  Hadiths also have background and context, and it is important to take these into consideration.

8. Double check the authenticity of any hadith/verse you read on the net.  There are many false statements and translations floating around out there!

9. Even if you don’t believe the Quran or Hadiths to be true, for the moment you are reading them, place in your mind that they are true.  Usually, when we read something with a sceptical mind, it is nearly impossible to grasp a good meaning from it. Muslims believe that the Quran is the unchanged word of God.  It has been memorised by thousands of Muslims, from the time of revelation to today.  In Islam, committing things to memory is of high importance.

Learning from one another will not jeopardise our own beliefs, but enrich our lives with knowledge.

I sincerely hope that we can learn from eachother, and treat eachother with the utmost dignity and respect.

~ Zara ‘ZAS’

Read more about Zara here

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