Resources for learning the Quran

There are numerous resources available for learning the Quran. As I alluded to earlier, there is not just one subject area when it comes to studying the Quran. Consider the following areas and some of the better resources for studying these that I have found.

Learn to read with proper Tajweed:

The best possible thing you can do to learn Tajweed is to find a reputable Quran teacher, preferably someone whose mother tongue is Arabic. This is to get the most accurate pronunciation for the hard to articulate letters that are unique to the Arabic language.

In addition to learning Tajweed from a good teacher, you can also read up on this topic and watch videos:

I recommend the following book:
Al-Qaa’idah al-Qur’aaniyyah – An Introduction to Tajweed by Qari Muhammad Idrees Asim

I recommend the following video course:
Tajweed Series – By Wisam Sharieff

Learn Arabic for the Quran:

This is a lifelong journey for all serious Muslims particularly those who consider themselves to be students of knowledge. However, there are courses that one can take to get a focused education to really understand the Quran, at least on the elementary level so when you read the commonly recited verses, you actually know what they mean.

I recommend the following book: Learning Arabic Language Of The Quran by Izzath Uroosa
I recommend the following video course:
Learning Arabic Language of the Quran By Dr.Abdussamie

Learning Tafseer of the Quran:

So by now, you’ve learned how to recite the Quran and learned enough Arabic to actually know what the verses mean without relying on translations (for most common words anyway). The next step in our understanding of the Quran is to study the various authentic Tafseer books (also preferably with a reputable teacher). There are several very good books of Tafseer available to us these days. Additionally, there are a lot of good teachers who are teaching Tafseer in class rooms. Find and attend a good Tafseer class in your local area.

I recommend the following book: Tafseer ibn Katheer
I recommend the following video course: Dr Israr Ahmed Tafseer of Quran English

If you speak Urdu, there is a great resource available in Dr Israr Ahmed (Rahimahullah, May Allah have mercy on his soul): his explanation of the Quran are available in books and Multimedia (Audio/Video) formats.

And Allah knows best.

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Avoiding Misinterpretations of the Quran

The Quran is a fundamental source of Islamic knowledge. The Hadith which includes the sayings and recorded actions of the Prophet (ﷺ) among other things, closely follow the Quran as the second fundamental source of Islamic knowledge. Early scholars have done a great service to Islam to meticulously collect and authenticate the Hadith. They actually developed a science of Hadith authentication that is not found in any other literature religious or otherwise, specially from that long ago. Furthermore, early scholars also wrote Tafseer (exegesis or the explanation) of the Quran. Classical Tafseer also rely on the Hadith and Athaar (sayings of the companions of the Prophet (ﷺ).

In other words, simply picking up an Oxford printing of the translation of the Quran into English by an Western Orientalist author does not convey the real meaning of the Quran to anyone.

To understand and interpret the message of the Quran accurately, one has to find out what the Arabic words meant (i.e. the linguistic and cultural context of the people of Quraish tribe in Mecca at that time), the reasons of revelation (the historical context within which the verses were revealed), what the Prophet (ﷺ) said about the revelation and how the companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) understood it (recorded in the books of Hadith) and how the early scholars explained it (recorded in the books of classical Tafseer).

Trying to interpret the Quran any other way would result in misinterpretations. It makes no sense to base our understanding of the Quran on the explanation of people who neither know the Arabic language nor rely on the classical Tafseer and authentic Hadith collections. Yet we see a lot of people doing just that. May Allah protect us all from misguidance.

In the next chapter, I’ll write in more detail about the importance of relying on Hadith to arrive at the correct understanding of the Quran and hence getting an accurate picture of Islam as a whole.

And Allah knows best.

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How to develop a relationship with the Quran

Developing a relationship with the Quran is very important for every single Muslim. A properly meaningful relationship with the Quran requires learning to read it, learning enough Arabic to understand it in its original Arabic without relying on a translation and reading it on a regular basis and reflecting upon what has been read. Furthermore, it requires that what is read and learned from the Quran is implemented in our own lives because that is truly what it’s for. Finally, it also requires that we relay what we have learned to others in a manner that is prescribed in the Quran itself as well as the Sunnah/Hadith.

Yet it is not prioritized as such by many people. Many Muslims simply don’t read the Quran regularly. And those that do read it, read it without really reflecting on what is being said. This is a direct consequence of not knowing Arabic. The miraculous verses of the Quran do not have any affect on the reader if they are not even making an effort to understand what it says. Reading with understanding is not optional. Reading the Quran without understanding is like reading a novel or a newspaper in a foreign language that one doesn’t understand.

A lot of Muslims simply read the Quran to get the reward of reading. Although, it is true that there is a reward for reading the Quran (it is one of the great forms of worship in Islam), the purpose of the Quran is totally missed by simply reading. The purpose of the revelation of the Quran is to serve as the source of guidance for mankind. But that guidance is not attained by simply reading it without understanding it. Quranic guidance is attained from reading and reflecting on the verses.

Often the reading is not even done properly. Many Muslims simply read the Quran without pronouncing the words correctly and it ends up not making sense or the meanings are changed. In that respect even the reward from merely reading the Quran is lost. Therefore it is important to learn to read it properly as well. Another reason is for our daily prayers. If we are not able to read the Quran properly, our prayers are deficient as well.

Therefore, learning to read the Quran properly and reading it with understanding (knowing enough Arabic to understand what we read in the Quran) are absolutely essential first steps to creating and maintaining relationship with the Quran. Without reading with understanding, a true and meaningful relationship with the Quran is not possible. Next, implementing what is learned from the Quran in our lives. Finally, relaying that knowledge to others in the prescribed manner to the best of our ability. If we do these, then we can expect to reap the benefits of the guidance that is promised from the Quran not to mention the eternal reward that is promised in the hereafter for people of the Quran, with the permission of Allah.

And Allah knows best.

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The reasons for studying the Quran & Tafseer

The reason for studying the Quran & its correct interpretation (the Tafseer) is obvious: the Quran is one of the two fundamental textual sources of Islamic knowledge. The other fundamental textual source is the Hadith literature which will discuss in the next chapter. Being the main source for knowledge it behooves us as Muslims and specially as students of knowledge to learn as much from the Quran and its authentic Tafseer or the correct interpretation as possible. For that end, learning Arabic is a fundamental requirement, as was discussed in the last chapter.

Learning the Quran has many aspects.

There are many areas of study when it comes to the Quran. Learning to read the Quran properly is from the knowledge of Tajweed (proper recitation with the correct pronunciation rules). Learning the meanings of words comes from the knowledge of the Arabic of the Quraish tribes in Mecca in Arabia at the time when the Quran was revealed. Learning the reasons of revelations is derived from the Hadith concerning the Asbaab un Nuzool to provide the correct historical context and the events that occurred at the time and the people that the verses may have been addressing and so on around the time of the revelation. Learning the true meanings and application of the text of the Quran comes from the many authentic traditions found in the Hadith where the Prophet (ﷺ) himself explained the meanings of the verses revealed to the companions who recorded, related and passed down the information to be collected later on in the Hadith collections. All of these areas of study serve to provide a complete understanding of the Quran. Failing to take any of these into account could potentially result in a deficient or partial or even incorrect understanding of the Quran.

And Allah knows best.

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Seeking Forgiveness

Everyone sins. The best of those who sin are those who seek forgiveness. Seeking forgiveness is a great virtue. Allah loves those who seek forgiveness. And Allah does not love those who are too arrogant to seek forgiveness or are too heedless to know that they need to seek forgiveness for all their sins. Knowing this, we should hasten to seek forgiveness whenever we fall into sin. Forgiveness demands that we are thinking about Allah on a regular basis, in fact constantly. Otherwise, we will forget and go about our lives as if it doesn’t mean anything. Seeking forgiveness sincerely is the equivalent of wiping the sins off our record of deeds to clean them as though they never ever existed. But the condition is that the person is sincerely seeking forgiveness and not just showing off or something. And obviously, forgiveness only has meaning when sought while the person is still alive. Once the person has passed on, the chance to seek forgiveness is not there anymore.

The essence of forgiveness is remorse for doing or saying something that we are not allowed to do or say and begs Allah sincerely for forgiveness. Additionally, seeking forgiveness requires that the person who has fallen into sin make a determination to not to fall into that sin and takes certain actions to prevent falling into that sin (perhaps moving from that location or changing jobs etc.).

Sins can fall into two categories: sinning against Allah and sinning against fellow human beings (or other creatures). Sinning against Allah includes not obeying His commands (or whatever the Prophet (ﷺ) has commanded us) to do something (for instance, the command to pray five times daily or to fast from sun up to sun down during the month of Ramadan every year etc.). Sinning against Allah also includes doing something that Allah (or His Messenger (ﷺ)) has commanded us not to do (for instance to eat pork or drink alcoholic beverages or to not cover our bodies properly etc.). Sinning against fellow human beings includes everything from lying to people, stealing from people, tricking or cheating people while doing business, hurting people in any way shape or form be it through our words or bodily harm etc.

To seek forgiveness from the first kind of sins, one simply has to feel remorse, ask that Allah forgive him or her and stop falling into it immediately and make amends to ensure not falling into it again. To seek forgiveness from the second kind of sins, one has to additionally seek forgiveness from the people whom they sinned against (returning the stolen property for example). Without this additional action, the forgiveness is incomplete. If for instance, it is not possible to ask the person wronged for forgiveness (because they moved or died) or impossible to return the stolen property because the property is destroyed or no longer in possession of it, then they have to make duaa for the one they have wronged.

Seeking forgiveness is serious business in Islam. If one doesn’t seek forgiveness from Allah or from the people wronged, it is possible that they will need to be recompensed for it in the hereafter. They may end up being punished in the hereafter or Allah may forgive them due to the other good deeds that they performed. Wronging someone is particularly serious because as a result of wronging them, we may end up having to give them our good deeds on the Day of Judgment. So don’t delay, seek forgiveness immediately while we are still breathing. We don’t know how much time we have on Earth so we cannot afford to delay it even for a single day. May Allah give us all the ability to recognize the importance of seeking forgiveness and the ability to seek forgiveness before we die.

And Allah knows best.

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Developing God Consciousness

One of the primary requirements for being successful in the hereafter is to acquire Taqwa. Taqwa is defined by many scholars as the state of God consciousness, which makes the person aware of the importance of God in his or her life, constantly remembering that Allah is in control. And knows that Allah alone is our goal. The Muttaqi (the one who has or does Taqwa) is hopeful of Allah’s infinite mercy and forgiveness. At the same time, he or she is fearful of Allah’s punishment and wrath. The Muttaqi is hopeful, but doesn’t only rely on hope alone nor is he or she excessively hopeful so much so that he forgets that he should also fear Allah’s wrath. The Muttaqi does not get affected by fear alone, nor is he or she overly fearful of Allah’s punishment thereby falling into a state of despair. Rather, he is balanced in between hope and fear: hopeful of Allah’s mercy and fearful of his punishment at the same time. We are to be balanced between the two states. We should not be leaning so much in either hopefulness or fearfulness that we let one extreme or the other determine our actions and our state of mind.

Anything worthwhile takes time and effort to acquire. Taqwa is a great quality that Allah has praised in the Quran and the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) has advised us to try to acquire. Much of the worship is designed to inculcate the quality of Taqwa in Muslims. The benefits of having Taqwa are many, both in this life and in the hereafter.

Naturally, Taqwa is not an easily attained state. Therefore one has to work hard toward attaining that goal. We have to constantly remind ourselves of this goal. Whatever we do or say, should reflect that we take care to do or so what Allah will be pleased with us and take care to avoid doing or saying what will displease Allah. Obviously, it only makes sense for us to learn what pleases Allah and what displeases Him. The Quran is filled with instructions on what to do and what not to do, explicitly explaining everything. The Prophet of Allah (ﷺ) has also explained what Allah loves and what He does not love for us to do or say. Islam does not leave anything important to guesswork. Finally, one has to make duaa to Allah for Taqwa.

And Allah knows best.

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Why is it necessary to learn Arabic

Learning Arabic is a necessity for Muslims. This is because the Quran and the Sunnah, which form two of the most fundamental sources of Islamic knowledge are in the Arabic language. Of course, these primary sources of Islamic knowledge have already been translated into virtually every language there is. But the reality is that you only get the full and correct understanding of Quran and Sunnah in the Arabic language. Translation loses its essence.

Therefore, in order to understand the religion properly, the Arabic language is a pre-requisite. In other words, a person’s understanding of Islam is not complete if they rely solely on translations. Not only does it not suffice to read the translation for a complete understanding, but it is very likely to misunderstand Islam when all of our knowledge base is based on translated text. This is specially true if the person who did the translation does not himself or herself know Arabic that well. So now you have a very twisted understanding from what was originally intended.

Most Muslims have taken this very lightly and think that it is totally optional to learn Arabic. We should realize that we are only limiting ourselves when we assume that learning Arabic for the purpose of understanding the Quran and Hadith is not required. Every able Muslim should make every possible effort to learn the Arabic language for the sake of seeking a more complete and authentic understanding of Islam.

There are many people teaching Arabic at various mosques or schools around the world. Concerned Muslims do find a way to organize Arabic classes in their locality if at all possible. Additionally, with the internet and social media, there are numerous resources for learning the Arabic language available online these days. Interested Muslims can and should take advantage of the many opportunities for learning Arabic online. If it’s important to you, you will find a way. Learning Arabic is the most important basic knowledge areas that every Muslim should invest in.

And Allah knows best.

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Motivation to learn and serve Islam

To learn Islam and to serve Islam is to love Islam. The most precious thing we have as Muslims is the religion of Islam. It is every Muslim’s duty to learn Islam as much as they possibly can. And after learning it, to serve the religion in any capacity they can. To really thank Allah for the ultimate blessing of guidance to the faith of Islam, we as Muslims must serve Islam any which way we can. The religion of Islam has been misrepresented by so-called Muslims of late and the press has had a lot of opportunity to intentionally or unintentionally portray Islam in a negative light. Therefore, there is an even greater need for Muslims to step up and serve the religion by being good Muslims and examples of the character of the Prophet (ﷺ) for others to see and learn from.

To serve Islam could be to teach other Muslims about various aspects of Islam, to teach the Quran and Hadith to others, to implement Islam into our daily lives and behave like true Muslims for everyone to see, to write about Islam for everyone to read, to answer questions people have about Islam, to dispel misconceptions about Islam in any way possible, to learn and teach Arabic to non-Arabs solely for the purpose of understanding the Quran and, last but not least, to invite non-Muslims into Islam.

I often wonder what I ever did to deserve such a huge blessing? I also wonder if I hadn’t been born Muslim, would I have found Islam coming from another religion, say Hinduism. Hinduism was most likely my ancestors’ religion before Islam was introduced to Southern India where my ancestors are originally from. Therefore I am totally grateful to Allah for guiding my ancestors to Islam from whom I have come to inherit it. And I would love to meet and hug that one ancestor who first accepted Islam way back when. I’d tell him or her how I love them so for leaving Hinduism and embracing Islam for it must have been a challenge to switch religions.

And Allah knows best.

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Studying the Seerah

The study of the Seerah is an essential knowledge area for every Muslim. The more a person learns about the Seerah the better his or her understanding of Islam will be. Allah sent the Prophet (ﷺ) as a guide to human beings until the Day of Judgment. He revealed the Quran gradually over a period of twenty three years to the Prophet (ﷺ). The Quran and the Seerah are connected in a way that the Quran was not revealed as a complete book all at once, rather it was revealed according to the time, place and situation that was suitable for its revelation. Therefore a study of the Quran without an understanding of the Seerah is never complete or accurate.

This is largely because the Seerah provides a context and therefore a proper understanding of the Quran. The reasons for revelation of the verses, the time, the place and how the Prophet (ﷺ) explained the verses is often recorded in authentic Hadith. Together, they form a complete picture for the understanding of Islam. Leaving one of these components out will result in an incomplete picture of Islam. This is another reason why the Hadith is an important primary source of Islamic knowledge right after the Quran. Without a complete picture, the Quran maybe interpreted incorrectly and understood differently than what was intended. This misinterpretation would not be possible if the Hadith or Sunnah and the Seerah were used to provide the context required for the correct understanding. Often the reason for the many deviations that appeared in the Ummah is the rejection of the Hadith by the people.

The source for the Seerah is Hadith and Aathar (recorded sayings of the companions of the Prophet (ﷺ). The verses of the Quran often leave out the details of events that were the reasons for the revelation. The background of the events are recorded meticulously in the Hadith and the Aathar.

And Allah knows best.

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More on Learning Arabic

If you’re not a native Arabic speaker, how do you go about learning the Arabic language for the purpose of understanding the Quran and Hadith and other Islamic literature in its original Arabic? This is a tough question to answer because everyone has a different background and everyone is different in the way that they learn languages. It was rather easy for me for a couple of reasons: I am a native Urdu speaker and Urdu is a language that borrows a lot from the Arabic language from its alphabet to actual words from the language. Also, a lot of the Islamic cultural backdrop of the languages is similar so it’s not shockingly different for an Urdu speaker to discover Arabic as it may be for Westerners for example.

By far the two most important ingredients for anyone’s success in learning Arabic (or any other language for that matter) is their motivation and the amount of effort they put into it. Obviously these two go hand in hand. The more motivated you are, the more effort you’re willing to put into it. And the more effort you put into it, you will naturally become better faster and be even more motivated to do so. Whatever the case maybe, anyone can learn Arabic if they put their mind to it. Do it for the sake of Allah and each step of your journey will carry reward for you for the hereafter.

For every Muslim, it is extremely important to try their best to learn the Arabic language. It is akin to learning English for anyone trying go to University in USA/Canada or finding work there. Without learning the language, you are simply missing out on a world of opportunities and you might not even realize it. Don’t miss out on learning Islam properly. Learn Arabic and get a more in depth experience. Read Quran & understand in its original Arabic inshaaAllah!

Having said that, it is never too late to learn Arabic. No matter how old you are or what your background might be, the best way to do it is to learn from the bottom up. You want a strong foundation, so learn the alphabet really well. Learn how to read, pronounce and recognize letters. Once you’ve mastered that, learn how to join letters to make words, read, write and pronouncing well. The natural next step after that is to learn basic grammar rules to get a feeling of the language. This can be a bit daunting, because Arabic grammar is truly fascinating and therefore could be complicated for some. So don’t get bogged down by the intricacies of Arabic grammar but simultaneously build your Arabic vocabulary and practice with everyday phrases. The key to learning any language is to use it as much as possible on a daily basis. There are tons of resources available for learning Arabic these days. Use as many resources as you can get your hands on from audio/video, books, TV, YouTube and web sites to get benefit from various resources. Try to get a few Arab acquaintances to help you out. Arabic classes with native Arabic speakers, online or offline, may be even more helpful.

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