The first blessed verses (ayat) revealed to our beloved Prophet Muhammad(saw) began with ‘IQRA’
– Read. They were the first words brought by Angel Gabriel(as), which startled Rasool-Allah(saw) in Mount Hira.
We know that our blessed Prophet (saw) in fact was unlettered. He did not know how to read or write.
Please take note that I have not used the word ‘illiterate’, which is a term used by even some Muslims who lack
the respect and knowledge of terms and expressions when discussing our beloved Prophet (saw). This is a dis-respectful term
to use because the greatest of all creation had the knowledge and wisdom revealed into his heart, therefore as the Qur’an
is the greatest literature than the Seal of all Prophets (saw) is the greatest literate. The only term that should be used
is Ummi - Unlettered. This term emphasises that he was not taught the use of words and grammar.
‘So believe in Allah and his Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read or write’. (7,158)
The first verses of Surah Alaq (96) are of great importance, and on reflection there is great significance
of this first revelation. ‘Read in the name of your Lord…..’, this is the first command for the whole of
mankind. The Glorious Qur’an came as wisdom and a teaching for each and every person, living in every nation through
every generation, right until ‘Qayamat’ - The Day of Judgement.
The first verses did not order us to pray, or fast or to pay Zakat, which are among the pillars of Islam but
in fact the first commandment was to ‘Read’. The first duty in Islam to be revealed was to ‘Read‘,
thus to acquire Knowledge.
We read to ultimately gain knowledge, to acquire an understanding of the text in front of us. If we were not
to read how would we learn and how then would we teach?
This is why the Qur’an, the glorious ayats of Allah(swt) and the wisdom which is the Sunnah of Prophet
Muhammad(saw) has been preserved by divine power for centuries. The miracle remains amongst us, in our houses, mosques and
‘We, even We, reveal the Reminder and We verily are its Guardian’. (15,9)
The Prophet(saw) and his faithful companions(ra) understood the importance of preserving the Qur’an
in one account, in order to protect the divine revelations from being lost or mistakes from occurring. The effort began to
collect the Quran in the form of writing – musuf from the memories of all that had memorised the revelations
as they came. The Companions like Uthman(ra), Umar(ra) and Abu Bakr Siddiq(ra) collected and compiled one account of the Qur’an,
under the supervision of the Prophet (saw). After the complete revelation had come, any other personal compilations or versions
of the Qur’an were destroyed to ensure that no contradictory text remains to the authentic text as recorded. After the
passing of Rasool-Allah(saw), the close companions (ra) and wife of our beloved Prophet (saw); Hasrat Aisha(ra) began recording
the traditions of our Prophet(saw). His life, his sayings and his teachings were passed down from generation to generation
as the ‘ahadith’(plural to single Hadith)’. The efforts to bring us the divine guidance in the form
of Quran and Sunnah were only successful by the will of the Almighty.
Allah(swt) has perfected and protected his guidance for us while all the previous religious texts; The
Jewish Torah, Zabur (Book of Psalms), Ingil (The Old Testament) have all detiorated.
The authentic publications of the Qur’an are identical throughout the world and the Arabic text of the
Qur’an, in which Allah (swt) revealed His words is the language in which it remains.
‘Thus we have revealed it as a Lecture in Arabic’. (20,113)
A miracle in itself is that the Arabic in the Qur’an is still spoken today and is the first language
of the people in the Middle East. This is the will of Allah (swt) and how He preserves his kalaam - words. The languages
in which previous books were revealed have long since faded just as those books have. Another point for reflection is that
Al-Qur’an is the only religious text that can be memorised, just as the Sahabah (Ra) - Companions memorised the
Qur’an thus preserving it, people today centuries later are still Hafiz - Memorisers of Allah’s (swt) Words.
They are all examples of how the Qur’an is preserved. Al hamda lillah - All Praise to Allah (swt).
Since the time of the Caliphate of Hasrat Usman Ghani (Ra) there has been work carried out to interpret the
Qur’an into other languages to benefit non-speaking Arabs. The practice of the great Companions (Ra) who sent the Qur’an
to different lands also sent teachers of the Qur’an to ensure that each ayat is recited and understood correctly in
local languages. There may be differing versions of the interpretation done in numerous languages by the scholars, but the
nature of the message remains the same without contradiction. The Qur’an was revealed in the Arabic language and is
meant to be recited in this language for great reward but it is essential we understand the meaning of the message given to
us. We need to read the interpretation as extensively as possible to extract the jewels of guidance. I always say ‘Interpretation’
rather than translation because English and Arabic are two completely different languages with a different structure and different
expression of vocabulary. All scholars who have taken the text and attempted to translate do clearly emphasise that exact
translation is not possible therefore they use the English language that is most appropriate in expressing what the Arabic
text means. Similarly the ‘Ahadith’ is traced back to the sources that are authentic and links are confirmed to
verify the people who heard and saw our Prophet (saw). The strength of the hadith is based on the strength of these sources.
The Ahadith – authentic traditions of the perfect Prophet(saw) is the wisdom with which the Qur’an
is understood and followed correctly. Therefore the Ahadith of the Prophet (saw) remains guarded by the will of Allah (swt).
The work on Ahadith are available extensively from Islamic bookstores and the Internet.
We are the followers of Islam, the believers of the divine faith who have been given the Qur’an and
Sunnah but neglect to read the Quran with its translation and interpretation and to research the Ahadith in order to follow
the Sunnah. There is an ocean of knowledge and guidance that is so great that many scholars who have devoted their lives to
obtaining this pure knowledge have only touched the surface. The true Emaan – Faith can only increase by reading
and learning, then we will increase our belief in the Ghaib -Unseen. Inshallah
The great power of knowledge is in our houses, we may even have several copies placed on top of a shelf but
are depriving ourselves from the guidance within. A book lying un-opened is just a book, it is only the Qur’an when
it is read.
Every morning we should recite the Qur‘an and extract the Sakina - tranquillity of recitation.
The same peace and tranquillity that converted the blessed companion Hazhrat Umar Farooq (ra). The recitation of the Qur’an
can only be done in the Arabic language, similarly when we pray Salaat - Prayers they are read in Arabic as the ayats
were revealed. However take time out to read the meanings and the commentary so that you derive the understanding as well
as experiencing the beauty of the Ayat. We need to be familiar with the Word of Allah(swt) so that our remembrance
and fear increases. This will increase our Ibaadat - worship, as our spiritual awareness increases.
Learn how the temptations and distractions of our lives are a test for us and the glamour of this world is