Read the Quran with no purpose other than to receive guidance from your Lord, to come nearer to Him, and to seek His good pleasure.
What you get from the Quran depends on what you come to it for. Your intention and purpose is crucial. Certainly the Quran has come to guide you, but you may also go astray by reading it should you approach it for impure purposes and wrong motives.
Thereby He causes many to go astray, and thereby He guides many; but thereby He causes none to go astray save the iniquitous (al-Baqarah 2:26).
The Quran is the word of God; it therefore requires as much exclusiveness of intention and purity of purpose as does worshipping and serving Him.
2 Do not read it merely for intellectual pursuit and pleasure; even though you must apply your intellect to the full to the task of understanding the Quran. So many people spend a lifetime in studying the language, style, history, geography, law and ethics of the Quran, and yet their lives remain untouched by its message. The Quran frequently refers to people who have knowledge but do not derive benefit from it.
3 Nor should you come to the Quran with the fixed intention of finding support for your own views, notions and doctrines. For if you do, you may, then, hear an echo of your own voice in it, and not that of God. It is this approach to the understanding and interpreting of the Quran that the Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, has condemned.
4 Nothing could be more unfortunate than to use the Quran to secure, for your own person, worldly things such as name, esteem, status, fame or money. You may get them, but you will surely be bartering away a priceless treasure for nothing, indeed even incurring eternal loss and ruin.
5 [Do not limit the Quran to just healing of bodily afflictions, psychological peace, and deliverance from poverty.] You may also derive other lesser benefits, from the words of the Quran, such as the healing of bodily afflictions, psychological peace, and deliverance from poverty. There is no bar to having these, but, again, they should not become the be all and end all that you seek from the Quran nor the goal of your niyyah. For in achieving these you may lose a whole ocean that could have been yours.
Reading every single letter of the Quran carries with it great rewards. 6 Remain conscious of all the rewards, and make them an objective of your intention, for they will provide you with those strong incentives required to spend your life with the Quran. But never forget that on understanding, absorbing and following the Quran you have been promised much larger rewards, in this-world and in the Hereafter. It is these which you must aim for.
Nothing brings you nearer to your Lord than the moments you spend with His words. For it is only in the Quran that you enjoy the unique blessing of hearing His ‘voice’ addressing you. 7 So let an intense desire to come nearer to God be your one overwhelming motive while reading the Quran.
Finally, 8 your intention should be directed to seeking only your Lord’s pleasure by devoting your heart, mind and time to the guidance that He has sent to you. That is what you barter when you surrender yourself to God: ‘There is such as would sell his own self in order to please God’ (al-Baqarah 2:207).
Purpose and intentions are like the soul of a body, the inner capability of a seed. Many seeds look alike, but as they begin to grow and bear fruits, their differences become manifest. The purer and higher the motive, the greater the value and yield of your efforts.
So always ask yourself: Why am I reading the Quran? This may be the best way to ensure the purity and exclusiveness of purpose and intention.
Excerpted and adapted from the book “Way to the Quran” by Khurram Murad