Author Ms. Seen Noon
Just recently I came across a very interesting poem on Qur’an. Although written by a non-Muslim, the sketch was spot on. It was by Shankar Dayal Sharma, the 9th President of India, quintessential scholar, with a Master’s degree in English Literature, a doctorate from Cambridge and a law degree from Lincoln’s Inn in London. He secured some of the most important posts in the Congress(I) (political party) and in India, from being a CWC member to President of the party, Chief Minister at 34, Governor of three states and a Union Minister several times over. A dignified, modest and humble being with no lust for material things.
Although it was initially written in Urdu, I will share the poem with you, verse by verse, in English.
‘It was a Command for action. You turned it into a book of prayer.’
Just ponder over the verse, Allah Subhanahu wa ta’aala sent down the Qur’an so we can all take heed, act on the instructions and take guidance from it. But, we barely use it for understanding, rather for learning supplications, reciting at religious gatherings, holding over the bride as she gets married off or at times, to simply decorate our workplaces so blessings can be achieved in our earnings.
Allah says in the Holy Qur’an, in Surah Sad, Verse 29:
˹This is˺ a blessed Book which We have revealed to you ˹O Prophet˺ so that they may contemplate its verses, and people of reason may be mindful. (38:29)
A very simply communicated thought of analyzing the Qur’anic ayaahs by looking at the deeper meanings of the verses, and to direct our knowledge and acumen towards deeply connecting with the Book of Allah.
‘It was a book to understand. You read it without understanding.’
Is our Holy Qur’an merely a book to be read a few pages and then to be placed on our tables and cupboards? Or is it sent to us through our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ so we can read but also understand whatever or how much we read?
Myself included, whenever I pick it up, I just recite the desired Surah and put it away. There is no connection or enlightenment gained and I put no effort in reading the Surah with its translation so I can understand what Allah has said in that Surah. Our lives are to be shaped in a way to reflect the learnings of the Qur’an and Sunnah, to live in a way to be a blessing for all, but sadly, we don’t care enough to share a few moments of our busy lives with the Holy Qur’an.
‘It was a code for the living. You turned it into a manifesto of the dead.’
Allah narrates in the Holy Qur’an in Surah Sad, Verse 87 and 88:
‘It is only a reminder to the whole world. And you will certainly know its truth before long.’ (38:87-88)
After the earth was created, Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’aala sent down many prophets and messengers, along with holy books in order for the people to be reminded and warned about the mortality of this world and the never-ending Here-after. But slowly and gradually we started getting brainwashed by external influences, forgot about our basic morals and beliefs, and drowned away our religious teachings and learnings in the sea of desires and wants.
Sharma, although a Hindu, closely observed Muslim community members in the sub-continent and penned down how the Qur’an was reserved for getting the sins forgiven of the dead by reciting it on their funerals. Ironically, it should have been the other way round, of grasping the core of the Holy Book at a time when we can act on it, understand it, spread its message, rather when we leave this world for our final abode.
‘That which was a book of knowledge; You abdicated to the ignoramus.’
The Almighty states in Surah Muhammad , Verse 24:
‘Do they not then reflect on the Quran? Or are there locks upon their hearts?’ (47:24)
Allah, the Most Forgiving, questions why we don’t let our hearts and souls reflect on the Qur’an and have let our hearts become hardened as they show no sign of fear of Allah, no sign of Qur’anic knowledge, no impact of Allah’s commands in our daily lives.
This absence also caught Sharma’s eyes and he interrogates as to why this book of knowledge was handed over to people void of intelligence so they grasp the deeper context of the Holy Book? It is a sad reality of our society that we don’t ourselves read, and understand the Qur’anic verses. Sadly, we superficially recite the verses and let the ignorant fools guide us and seek their prayers and explanation for our forgiveness on the Day of Judgement.
‘It came to give knowledge of creation. You abandoned it to the madrassa.’
And then the poet mentions, that although this noble and Holy Book was sent down to us to guide us about the miracles of nature, and the secrets of creation of this earth, but we centered the focus of the Quranic verses towards becoming part of the syllabus of religious institutes only.
Ibn Abbas reported:
“The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Verily, one who does not hold anything from the Quran in his heart is like a ruined house.” Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2913, Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Suyuti
Pondering over the meanings of the Qur’an, making an effort to memorize the verses, alongside the learning and application of those verses in our daily lives should be our goal, if Allah wills. The Holy Book contains in it a message of Allah’s remembrance, a warning of fearing the Almighty for any injustice by us, and hope of an endearing after-life if we follow the path of hidayah (guidance) of Qur’an and Sunnah.
‘It came to give life to dead nations. You used it for seeking mercy for the dead.’
Allah the Almighty reveals in Surah Al-An’am, Verse 155:
This is a blessed Book We have revealed. So follow it and be mindful ˹of Allah˺, so you may be shown mercy. (6:155)
Countless times the Holy Qur’an guides us about itself being a book of blessing and mercy, so that we can be alert and mindful at all times of the consequences of our actions. Allah promises to us that if we follow His commands, do good deeds and remember our motive of coming to this earth then Allah will most definitely show His mercy to us and even reward us immensely here and in the here-after.
Sadly, we have failed as believers, not taking the learning from it, for becoming pious, devoted, motivated and enlightened souls, rather, we merely use the Qur’an for requesting Allah’s mercy for the departed souls. Simply reading the Qur’an is not sufficient, rather we need to nourish our hearts with the sayings of Almighty, turning our life’s steering wheel towards a path that takes us to Jannah!
‘O’ Muslims! What have you done?’
On a final note, the poet, Shankar Dayal Sharma asks us Muslims about our neglectful living practices, driving us farther from the path of a believer and more towards a ditch of darkness and regret.
Allah’s mercy can only be received if we become honest in our dealings with Allah, the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. Reciting and repeating the verses robotically without understanding and pausing to ponder over it would lead us to nothingness. Becoming familiar with the Arabic language, making an effort to grasp the generalities of the Qur’anic transcript should be the key to unlock the doors of Allah’s pleasure and forgiveness. Need of the hour is to shake our inner conscience, to deeply connect with the message of the Almighty, and to read the Qur’anic translation in a peaceful and relaxed environment so an immediate transformation can begin.