By Hasib Noor
It was the last prayer of Ramadan.
Isha Prayer on the 29th.
The Imam of Makkah did something amazing that struck me. The Imam recited the verses that normally many of us hear in reminders and we reflect over at the beginning of Ramadan.
[alert type=blue ]The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was revealed. A Guidance for mankind and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it…” Quran 2:185.[/alert]
The entire masjid was emotional when he recited those verses. It was a powerful reminder because those verses discussed the central theme of Ramadan, the main reason we stood that month in prayer at night, we fasted, we abstained from food, struggled against our carnal desires and temptations, fought our human instinct to react to those who may have harmed us, tasted hunger, so that we may understand our purpose in receiving, reflecting, implementing, and yearning for guidance from the Divine.
God describes the reason why we commemorate this month. It was the month that the Quran was revealed. A Guidance for all people.
But often times as was the case for me when I was growing up, we question – how does that Guidance manifest itself in my life?
Where is my Guidance?
I struggled with this often. If the Quran was a form of guidance, how was it catered to me specifically?
I found the answer manifest throughout many instances in my life. It was the subtle yet definitive and powerful presence of God in my day-to-day life. It was in understanding that nothing happens by chance. It was in feeling the touch of God in happiness, His Company in loneliness and hardships, His Mercy in sin, His Sustenance in need, and His Effect in life. He would hear my prayers directly. He would answer me as if Guidance was sent to me. He would at times give me as if an answer was delivered to me specifically. All it needed was attention from me, realization that it was there, and the discipline to seek it.
We’ve all perhaps at one point or other in our lives felt it. We may be have gone through a difficult situation, hardships, loneliness, a conflict in relationship, anxiety in work, school, or family, guilt over misdeeds and we may have felt absolutely helpless.
But somehow, at one point in that time, someone may have come to us and told us something. Or we may have been sitting in a sermon or lecture, or listening to an audio. Or read the Quran. Or received advice from an absolute stranger.
And in that particular moment… something amazing happened. In that moment it was as if we were receiving a specific response to our particular situation, as if God sent that specifically for us. As if we were given revelation from Him to solve our problem. As if we were the only ones in the room while the sermon was being given, it was being given only to us. As if the random person or friend or family member giving us advice knew the fine details of our worries and problem and giving us the solution. As if the Quran that we read at that moment, was revealed just now for me. Was answering me. Was responding to me.
We may have had a moment like this.
This in and of itself is a sign of the existence of God Himself. This is what He mentioned after telling us that the month of Ramadan was about the Quran, a guidance for mankind.
He then said, وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ
“…and clear proofs of guidance and criterion.”
Bayyinatin min al huda wal furqan – clear proofs and guidance and criterion – What does this mean?
Imagine if you were to stop to ask directions from a person.
This person tells you, “You know, you’re going in the wrong way it’s in that direction.”
Then you go through the struggle of correcting the direction you were heading in, go through the traffic and hustle of people around you.
You then stop another person and ask for directions, and this person tells you, “Oh! You simply go left, down that street, make a right, then left and you’re there!” This person gives you exact, specific direction. They give guidance fit perfectly for you.
That is what God describes – Bayyinatin min al huda wal furqan – clear proofs and guidance and criterion.
The Quran is a Guidance for mankind, and a specifically tailored guidance for each person and a criterion to discern right and wrong in any situation that we come across.
Many years ago when I questioned myself to what the purpose of the Quran was, what was my need for it? I realized that the question itself was selfish. To ask what good the Quran can do for me. It was my attitude that was the problem. It was about seeking the guidance in it. It was about feeling needy. It was about humbling in the presence of God. It was about wanting direction.
I realized over the years in my studies that I had to read the Quran with an open heart. Seek knowledge to understand its meanings, and reflect over it in times of hardship and ease.
I realized I had to really tune into what God was directing me to in everything that happened in my life.
Nothing happens by coincidence. Every movement. Every situation. Every problem. Every hardship. Every person you meet.
[alert type=blue ] And the command of God is a determined destiny. Quran 33:38[/alert]
I came across the lives of those who preceded us who helped me understand what it meant to tune into God’s role in the effect of day-to-day life and the understanding of universal cause and effect in God’s will in my actions.
Muhammad ibn Sirin, one of the greatest scholars from the successors of the companions and students of Anas ibn Malik , bought some oil for 40,000 dirhams on loan. He found a mouse in it and instead of returning the oil, he thought maybe the seller will sell it to someone else so he dumped it all out. He couldn’t pay the loan and was eventually put in prison for it Even though he was put in prison for a noble reason, he reflected on his situation one day. He said to himself “I called a man one day, ‘O Muflis! (bankrupt)’ so I was punished for it (in imprisonment for not being to pay a loan).” AlDarani when he heard this statement said, “Their sins were few so they knew (the effect) of where they came from, and our sins became many so we don’t know (the effect) of where we will end up.”
They were in tune with what their deeds and sins could lead to because they have an active effect in their life. They were in tune to Divine direction in the subtleties of their own lives.
I found that the primary reason for this was that they were, most of all, in touch with the words and guidance of the Divine, their hearts filled with yearning and love for Him, and therefore they readily accepted its injunctions in their actions when they heard it.
Ibn ‘Umar got into an argument with his wife one day to such an extent that he left the house and was close to divorcing her. He left the house in frustration and as he was walking in the streets of Madinah, he heard someone reciting the verse:
[alert type=blue ]“…perhaps you dislike something and Allah puts in it a lot of good.” (alNisa 4:19)[/alert]
When he heard this he was deeply affected that God guided him to not dislike in his wife something when he may be overlooking many other good things in her, so he went back and reconciled with his wife.
They later had a child – named Salim. Salim, eventually become one of the greatest scholars of Madinah. Every time Ibn ‘Umar would look at him, he’d say in amazement over the guidance of God –
!!صدق الله !! , صدق الله – “God was truthful! God was truthful!”
These were People of Quran who sought its specific guidance.
The Spirit of The Quran
This is the spirit of the Quran. The depth of which encompasses Divine direction for even nations over centuries, but also subtleties that gives each one of us specifically tailored delivered guidance.
I have seen it over the years in my own life, through what many friends and family have gone through, and see it constantly even more so when people come visit the sacred sites of Makkah and Madinah in pilgrimage.
One of my friends on Twitter even manifested this in a funny conversation:
So was waiting for friend & decided to go to Islamic shop. I picked a book and it turned out the be a topic of what I was contemplating on
— fernweh (@muslimahzonah) May 9, 2015
Allah talking to me directly saying ‘don’t do anything I am the One who handles injustice well’ lol idk I’m leaving it to Allah. He is Just. — fernweh (@muslimahzonah) May 9, 2015
@BonsaiSky nope books were about general muzzie stuff stop ruining my revelation ?
— fernweh (@muslimahzonah) May 9, 2015
I lead Hajj groups. One year, I was emphasizing to the pilgrims in my group some tips for the journey of their life and their quest to seek Allah’s forgiveness and mercy. I shared that they should spend time in remembrance, reflection, and dua (prayer) after the morning-prayer because this was a beloved time to do so. I told them that they should reflect, read Quran, read the morning and evening dhikr (prophetic supplications of remembrance) until sunrise and pray after sunrise.
Afterwards, one of the pilgrims came to me to tell me a story. He said, “I was sitting with some of my friends on the roof of Al Masjid Al Haram and reciting Quran when my friends said to me ‘hey it’s after sunrise now, let’s pray and go get some breakfast.'”
He said, “I was so sad, I actually wanted to make some personal dua (supplication) after reading Quran, but as I looked down… I looked at the next verse I was about to read… and my eyes filled with tears. God guided me to read one of the most beautiful supplications in the Quran itself! It was the verse,
[alert type=blue ]”… ‘My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to do righteousness of which You approve. And admit me by Your mercy into [the ranks of] Your righteous servants.” Quran 27:19[/alert]
I wanted to make dua and Allah guided me to it!”
He was teary eyed and emotional telling me that story that God could be so kind that He guided him in what he wanted to do.
The reality is, God guides us like that every single day. Every moment. Every breath. Every movement.
It’s just about us tuning in; truly seeking and yearning for that guidance. Reflecting on it actively to find His specific direction for us.
[alert type=blue ]”…There has come to you from God a light and a clear Book. By which Allah guides those who pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace and brings them out from darknesses by His Will unto light, and guides them to a straight path.” Quran 5:15-16[/alert]
This is why that final day last year in Makkah was so powerful. This is why so many were teary eyed at the ending of Ramadan. The verses, which he recited, end with,
[alert type=blue ] “God intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and wants for you to complete the period and to glorify God for that to which He has guided you; and perhaps so that you will be grateful.”[/alert]
[alert type=blue ]And when My servants ask you, concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me and believe in Me that they may be guided” Quran 185-186.[/alert]
These verses powerfully echoed something that in the wisdom of the Imam of Makkah in reciting them at the end of Ramadan that should reverberate in all of us, it was the reason why so many were teary eyed. It was happiness at the guidance and blessing of knowing purpose, grateful to have been given the chance and grateful for this guidance.
It was the realization that Ramadan is not just about a season, it’s about constantly seeking that guidance and individual instruction. It’s discipline. It’s a lifestyle.
Quick Pointers on How to Keep a Relationship with the Quran Through the Year:
1. Make sure to have a daily dose. Read 1 Juz a day. Reflect on even 1 verse. Listen to lectures on explanation and make sure to add it to your podcast. Make Quran a daily part of your life in any way.
2. Seek Quran Study circles or where it’s explanation is taught.
3. Read the Quran when going through any difficulty, you will be amazed at the tranquility, happiness, and peace.
4. Read a translation of the Quran cover to cover. I recommend the M.A.S Abdel Haleem Oxford Press translation.
5. Write down reflections, guidance, and amazing moments you felt God speaking and guiding you. It’s an incredible experience.
Hasib Noor, is in process of completing his final year in Bachelors at the College of Islamic Law in the University of Madinah, following undergraduate study in the US majoring in Pre-Med and minoring in Psychology. He has held positions in several Islamic centers and organizations.