Read in the Name of Thy Lord (Quran 96:1)

Reading the Quran in Ramadan (photo: istock by Getty Images)

Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured, Highlights Topics: Ramadan Values: Knowledge, Spirituality Views: 1504

Iqra (translated as “read”) was decided by Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala (SWT), glorified and exalted is He (Allah)) to be the first word revealed of the Noble Quran, the most glorious of books, which was also decided to be first revealed during the most sacred month of Ramadan.

Reading is a pillar of dunya (the worldly life). People who are blind learn braille to read with their hands to survive and succeed in dunya. In education, the immediate and primary focus is learning to read. However, Allah (SWT) commanded to “Read in the name of thy Lord” (Quran 96:1) and to recite the most beautiful words in the highest form of Arabic. Reciting and implementing this ayah (verse) establishes that everything in this dunya that Allah (SWT) permits and encourages is meant to be done for Him (SWT) and for no other purpose.

Only deeds of obedience in dunya with the intention to adhere to Allah’s (SWT) command translate into the elevation of one’s status in the Akhirah (the Hereafter), and ultimately with Allah (SWT). In this manner, everything becomes Ibadah (worship). Allah (SWT) is always fair and even those who are working hard solely for the sake of the glitter of dunya, He (SWT) provides what is due to them in dunya. However, Allah (SWT), always and eternally with no benefit to Himself (SWT), provides His (SWT) servant with greater arrangements and returns in dunya and reward in the Akhirah than the servant, with his or her limited thinking, could ever imagine. In this way, Allah (SWT) bestows blessings on those striving in dunya for Him (SWT) and dunya is a means for eternal reward in the Akhirah (the Hereafter).

Allah (SWT) commanded Ramadan as a month of fasting every year because of His (SWT) utmost concern for each individual’s success in dunya and, more importantly, the Akhirah. Without Ramadan every year, the human being would become lost and drown in the quagmire of dunya. By abstaining from food and drink during fasting hours, the human being realizes his or her determination and capability to resist and handle anything. Allah (SWT) increasingly adds more benefits with the reward of wiping out His (SWT) servant’s previous sins, specifically minor sins; though He (SWT) can forgive anything and everything that He (SWT) decides.

Allah (SWT) knows the human being’s capability and provides the strength, particularly during Ramadan, to handle not only the day but also the dunya. The dunya is not difficult, but the vast majority of its human inhabitants create difficulty and inflict suffering.  People experience trials whether it’s in their physical or mental health, finances, education, career, or family life. Even worse, they may be experiencing oppression or violence. Despite anything one is going through, the nature and blessings infused in Ramadan will reward even minimal effort with increased resilience.

Ramadan is established to learn to control and discipline the nafs (self) with Allah’s (SWT) incalculable advantage of shackling the shayateen (devils). This environment is conducive to practicing what one knows, controlling negative qualities such as anger or being argumentative, improving weaknesses, enhancing positive attributes such as patience and generosity, and controlling reactions. By externally controlling the physical needs of the body, particularly food and drink, one internally reigns in the intractability of the nafs. In reality, the best person to help one is one’s own self and Allah (SWT) knows the capability of each individual who will be rewarded accordingly. During Ramadan, one solidifies the habits to fine-tune one’s character for the rest of the year. This directly impacts one’s physical and mental health. Just controlling one’s negative reactions decreases the impact of stress on the mind and body which when left unchecked, has deleterious effects. Reaction is important because one can control his or her reactions, but not outcomes.

No one exemplifies the perfect implementation of the highest qualities elaborated in the Noble Quran, other than Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam (SAW), peace and blessings be upon him). His (SAW) submission, obedience, and devotion to Allah (SWT) are the perfect standard for the absolute purpose of life. Furthermore, if anyone has complete justification to be solely involved in personal ibadah and dawah (calling people to Islam), particularly during Ramadan, it would be him (SAW) as both Prophet and Messenger. Yet, simultaneously, he (SAW) was also the ultimate head of state and more involved in dunya and its intricacies than the most well-known rulers in the history of mankind. He (SAW) implemented the principles in the Quran in all aspects of life. Since the time he (SAW) blessed the entire earth with his (SAW) presence until today, not a single country and its government exist that doesn’t benefit from the basic principles of structure, organization, and administration that he (SAW) originally established.

Furthermore, let us not forget the plots that were swimming around him (SAW) and the perpetual threat of assassination that was lurking about him (SAW). Despite this, the weight of his (SAW) individual ibadah far outweighs that of the ibadah of the entire humanity. Rasul Allah (SAW) could have lived a life of luxury, but he (SAW) sacrificed everything for Allah (SWT).

Thinking about the ultimate closeness that he (SAW) has with Allah (SWT) is enough to soften the hardest heart. As Ramadan is the month that the Noble Quran was revealed, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) emphasized spending more time with the Quran. The Quran is the ultimate book of guidance from Allah (SWT). One cannot live and survive successfully in this dunya, particularly with the oppression in all its forms and brutality without this guidance.

During Ramadan, a fasting person when alone knows that only Allah (SWT) is watching and still doesn’t allow a single grain of food to enter the mouth. Our collective action exemplifies the potential of obedience when extended to all Allah’s (SWT) commands, and the resulting justice and peace that would prevail for all of humanity in all matters of life. Since the time of Prophet Adam (Alaihi Wasallam (AS), Peace be upon him), the world’s inhabitants are figuratively and literally dying for lack of justice in every aspect of life. They deserve the opposite because that, too, is what Allah (SWT) commands.

With the passing of time, society, particularly the scientific community has hailed the benefits of fasting, meditation, and employing logic in one’s thinking. Logic is most important when applied to one’s religion or way of life. Would anyone listen to a person other than an inventor regarding his or her product? Would anyone read an instruction manual other than the one intended for a specific product? Why spend precious time in denial or disobedience regarding what is most important, which is the purpose of life?  Resist the pull of dunya solely for its sake.  After all, we only entered this world to leave it.

Dr. Sarah Syed is an Internal Medicine Physician in Tampa, Florida.


  Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured, Highlights
  Topics: Ramadan  Values: Knowledge, Spirituality
Views: 1504

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