Ramadan is the month of heightened Allah-consciousness, of attaining taqwa / God-consciousness; of training ourselves to be the best we can be; a month to initiate improvement of reputation, character and for cultivating good habits.
Ramadan is also the month of the initiation of the Final Divine Revelation, al-Qur'an. To truly benefit from the Qur'an, we have to be able to relate to the Qur'an in a practical way, every day of our lives. The month of Ramadan, this month of siyaam, this month of qiyaam and of the Qur'an; provides the ideal opportunity for us to reconnect our relationship with the Qur'an fully and to enhance that relationship by maintaining the following five responsibilities :
1. Belief and Honor -iimaan wa ta'ziim
We regard the Qur'an as the words of Allah and believe it to be the best book of guidance for those who want to live righteous lives. We respect its message and honor it above all other books and commit ourselves to abide by its precepts.
2. Reading and Recitation - tilaawah wa tartiil
Since the Qur'an was communicated to the Prophet through the angel Gabriel orally and the Prophet, in turn, conveyed it to his companions and family orally, we should learn to read the Qur'an properly and recite it correctly. There are great blessings in reading the Qur'an in the correct manner and it is our duty to recite it the way it was revealed, thus maintaining its originality.
3. Understanding and Reflecting - tafakkur wa tadabbur
Many Muslims learn to read the Qur'an, but few strive to understand its meaning. Since the Qur'an is primarily a book of guidance [Q 2:185], we have a responsibility to understand its message and reflect on what it says. What is not understood can not truly be implemented.
4. Implementing the Guidelines - hukm wa iqaamah
One of the greatest duties we have is to live by the commands of Allah. The primary reason Divine revelation was sent was to guide human beings to be good and be of benefit to the world; and not to do wrong or harm the world.
5. Conveying and Clarifying - tabliigh wa tabyiin
Each Muslim has the responsibility of conveying the message of Islam to others; with wisdom, beautiful preaching and practical example.
If we believe in the Qur'an as we ought to, respect the Qur'an with due respect, read it how it is supposed to be read, recite it with propriety, understand its message and live by its commands then our behavior will reflect the Qur'an. The Prophet's wife was asked to describe the Prophet's conduct and she said: "his character is the Qur'an." The Prophet's life was an embodiment of the values of the Qur'an. In the words of the poet Akbar Allahabadi; "a unique phenomenon many people do not seem to realize is that a true Believer is seen reading the Qur'an but in reality, the Believer is a reflection and embodiment of the Qur'an."
May we elevate ourselves in this Ramadan, from being a reciter of the Qur'an to being an embodiment of the values of the Qur'an.
Shaykh Sadullah Khan is CEO of Islamia College in Cape Town, South Africa