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Dawah and Interfaith

The Quran Challenge


By Ali Sameer Mallick.

The Qur’an Challenge is an initiative run by Abu Abdissalam. This post illustrates the importance of the challenge.

In keeping with the current season of sports tournaments or ‘challenges’, I would like to tell you about a challenge far greater than any World Cup, a challenge whose prize is worth more than any piece of silverware. Allow me to introduce you to….The Quran Challenge.

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The challenge is to complete reading the Quran in a language you understand by Ramadan. Now how can that possibly be more challenging than toiling against Germany in the footie or Roger Federer at SW19?! All this challenge entails is opening a book and reading it!

But before you write me off, just ask yourself this – Have YOU ever done this? And if you haven’t, then try to analyse why. Perhaps your life is too busy to fit in any reading time, or perhaps it wasn’t something which you felt to be so important. Maybe you thought it was the ‘convert’ thing to do, and being a born Muslim, you don’t have to read the Quran in your own language?

Whatever the reason may be, let me share with you a true story which happened to me whist at university. I usually try not to talk about my past mistakes so openly, unless of course there is a profound lesson to be learnt….

It was at university when I underwent the process of being exposed to Islam in its true beauty, and hence I consider myself as a ‘born-again Muslim’. To all the brothers and sisters who work tirelessly in ‘Islam Awareness Week’ and other such acts of da’wah, they certainly do work, and whilst guidance is from Allah (swt), I hate to think where I would be today had it not been for the positive effect of these efforts, alhumdulillah.

When I cast my mind back to the time at which I began taking religion seriously, a few things happened which were catalysts for me to develop a zeal for learning more about this beautiful religion. Let me tell you about one such moment.

Whilst in the third year of my studies, I was asked to get involved in the annual ‘Islam Awareness Week’. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this concept, Islam Awareness Week, or IAW, is an event held at most British and American universities aimed at portraying the true message of Islam through da’wah stalls, lectures and exhibitions.

I was allocated to man the da’wah stalls. I remember being very excited and I couldn’t wait to unleash all my da’wah trump cards, such as the scientific miracles of the Quran, the miraculous nature of the Arabic in the Quran and of course the fact that it has never changed. After all those late nights of watching the countless lectures of Dr Zakir Naik, I was ready to get stuck in!

Alhumdulillah, people came to the stalls, and many of them left with something to think about. Perhaps I even had a hint of satisfaction in my heart after defeating them in the ‘battle of words’. But there was one individual, who came to the stalls, that left me speechless and finally brought me down to planet earth.

This individual was a well dressed and softly spoken student. He told me that his father was a member of the clergy, although he didn’t count himself as being particularly religious. He came and asked me about the Quran, and why Muslims believed it to be the word of God. Out I came with my pre-rehearsed ‘spiel’, with a bit of Ahmed Deedat-style Bible-bashing to add some masaala to my arguments. Just before I had the opportunity to experience the feeling of contempt, he dropped a huge bombshell on me:

Paul: So you must be fluent in Arabic, then?

Me: Well, I can read Arabic fluently, but I can’t speak it.

Paul: Errr…so when you read the Quran, do you understand what you are reading?

Me: *pause* I don’t actually, but we do have an interpretation of the meaning of the Qur’an (picks up an English translation of the Quran, and hands it to Paul).

Paul: So have you read the Quran in English?

Me: *long pause* Honestly……I have read bits, but not cover to cover…….

Paul: Dont you think you should do that before telling me how amazing it is? And how can you tell me to read a book that you haven’t read yourself?

And there it was. He walked away, with me having some serious questions of my own to answer. First of all, was I doing the da’wah stall purely for the sake of Allah, or was it because I wanted to get one over my opponent? I was shown the importance of keeping one’s intention pure throughout an act of worship.

Secondly, here I was giving out free English translations of the Quran, and raving on about a book which I had never read with understanding, cover to cover. How could I possibly call myself a true Muslim if I hadn’t even read the ‘manual’ which Muslims claim is so amazing? Why should I expect a non-Muslim to read the Qur’an when I hadn’t done so myself?

I suspect that there are many people who are in a similar situation to this, but perhaps that bombshell hasn’t hit them yet. On consideration, it is amazing how many Muslims can talk about embryology and the Quran, the water-cycle and the Quran, the challenge the Quran places upon mankind, yet these same Muslims have never actually read the verses addressing these issues in a language they understand.

Without doubt, the gold standard is to embark upon the path of learning Arabic, and something which all of us (including myself) must do. Imagine praying your salah in the Haram, understanding every word which Sheikh Maahir or Sheikh Juhainy recites, such that it brings tears to your eyes….priceless.

In the interim period, however, we MUST read the Quran in our native languages if we haven’t done so already. We need to know our book, not only for the sake of da’wah, but for the sake of our Hereafter.

I hope this has encouraged everyone reading this short piece to blow the dust off their Quran, and start reading it cover to cover. If you are serious about doing this, then I ask you to make a commitment to complete the Qur’an in your native language before Ramadan sets in. This certainly would be the perfect prelude to what, insha’Allah, will be a month full of worship for you. Express your commitment by signing up to the challenge. You will find other brothers and sisters to give you the motivation you need, along with reminders from some students of knowledge about the benefits of reading the Quran in a language you understand.

So…if you have never done this, then take up the challenge now! (Since this challenge ended a while back and many of our readers are interested in one, Muslimmatters created one here. Please join in.)


Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.



  1. Ali Colak

    July 9, 2010 at 1:43 AM

    Subhanallah amazing story.

    • Basharat Hussain

      July 12, 2010 at 11:07 AM

      Quran is the word of God and Allah’s Grace to mankind. it is a great spiritual force. It is a miracle of Prophet Muhammad (saw) and matchless as a means of grace for man. And it is repeated thrice that the Quran was ultimately to prevail over the whole world. Thus, the Quran should not be approached like any other book, but as a word of God and as a channel of God’s grace for every person and for the whole universe. It is the rope of God thrown down from the heaven.If we approach the Quran in this spirit of humility, love and devotion, the Quran will open its spiritual treasures for us. If we will approach it like any other book,it shall not let us in. Its spirit will disappear and we will have nothing but words and fragments. No spiritual guide can be of any avail unless we approach in a spirit of humility, love and dedication. This is a universal logic of spiritual guidance.
      Only Quran claims that it came as a perfect revelation of Divine will. The finality of Quranic revelation is based on its perfection . The Quran is the Divine Guidance for all time to come. Its purpose is guidance and its target is to develop a new consciousness of reality and to generate a new social movement.
      On the above lines every Muslim must complete Quran in the Holy month of Ramadhan.

      • Muslim1

        July 14, 2010 at 1:28 PM


        What rubbish are you speaking.
        “This is a universal logic of spiritual guidance” – what are you talking about?

        “the Quran should not be approached like any other book, but as a word of God and as a channel of God’s grace for every person and for the whole universe” – what do you mean?

        Where are you grabbing your logic and what is shaping your viewpoint?

        The quran is a complete book of guidance for all mankind,,,and it must be studied and implemented in your daily lives. Its a handbook on how to live your life.

        All the sugar coating you have done…..I don’t really understand it!!!
        I understand your love for the quran which is good….but you have really gone off the deep end!!

        Be humble, read the quran cover to cover in your language, implement the teachings in your daily live and then spread the message to others.

        • Muhammad Elijah

          July 19, 2010 at 7:25 AM

          Assalaamu ‘Alaikum brother,
          You could have been more polite with brother Basharat.I partcularly liked this statememt.
          “No spiritual guide can be of any avail unless we approach in a spirit of humility, love and dedication. ”
          I had read a statement of ‘Uthmaan radi Allaahu ‘anhu,the Sahaabi who died while doing Tilaawah of Qur’aanul Hakeem if hearts become pure,men would never be satiated by Tilawah of Qur’aanul Hakeem .

          So, the genuine Tasawwuf dimension of Tilaawah of Qur’aanul Hakeem must be explored.
          Perhaps, this is precisely the reason why many of us aren’t as much emotionally attached to Qur’aanul Hakeem as were the Sahaabah radi Allaahu ‘anhum who used to pass their entire nights in the “vigil” of Qiyaamul Lail, reciting Qur’aanul Hakeem already memorized.

      • Bushra

        July 14, 2010 at 2:27 PM

        I find your viewpoint to be similar to that of an ‘Islamic’ philosopher or a spiritualist. There’s no sort of referencing or evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah to back up your points. It all sounds very Sufi to me…it’s all very airy fairy from where I’m sitting.

        On the above lines every Muslim must complete Quran in the Holy month of Ramadhan.

        Right. So you make a bold statement in relation to worship…but again, there is no evidence to support that EVERY Muslim MUST complete the Qur’an in Ramadan.

        • Muhammad Elijah

          July 19, 2010 at 7:30 AM

          The fact that he is not talking in the Fiqh sense is obvious.
          Anyhow,brother Basharat would be enjoying the prompt Adhering to Qur’aanul Hakeem and Sunnah reminder.

  2. Hena

    July 9, 2010 at 1:59 AM

    InshaAllah its on!!
    Jazakallah Khair for this post- I kept saying true, so true, how true, I know, me too while reading this.

  3. Sayf

    July 9, 2010 at 2:14 AM

    Could I request this also be added as another recommended quest:

    Listen to brother Nouman Ali Khan’s juz-amma English tafsir!

  4. shumaila siddiqui

    July 9, 2010 at 3:05 AM

    SubhanAllah ..yeah it’s sooo true
    Great reminder for us to show where we stand!

    May Allah guide us all (Aameen)

  5. Amatullah

    July 9, 2010 at 3:20 AM

    Great initiative mashaAllah.

  6. ummousama

    July 9, 2010 at 3:37 AM

    Assalamu alaikum,

    When I became Muslim, I went and stayed with some Muslims for a month. There, I saw them reading Quran in Arabic but never in their own language, whether it was English or Urdu. I was puzzled at this and asked “Do you not read the translation too?” I was answered: “We know what is in the Quran.”

    Well, I cannot count how many ayahs there are that tell us that the Qur’an or its ayahs are a “reminder” for those who take heed, for those who think, for those who believe, … So, how can it be a reminder IF you don’t understand it? When you read it in Arabic (as this is where you have a hasana for every letter read), you should read the translation immediately afterwards. Do not ditch reading it in Arabic though as, as I said, it is where the hasanaat for every letter read are. And, one of the benefit of reading in English immediately after the Arabic is that you will learn new words and start to understand it a little better.

    • Muhammad Elijah

      July 19, 2010 at 8:03 AM

      “When you read it in Arabic (as this is where you have a hasana for every letter read), you should read the translation immediately afterwards”
      Very well described!
      Many ditch translation while fewer ditch Arabic.
      That reading trnslation immediately afterwards can be on a Aayah by Aayah basis when we are mature enough in word by word translation. I began word by word translation from a tecaher when I was in 6-7th grade. When we are finished with word by word translation at least once, your Qur’aanul Hakeem proficiency level is remarkably enhanced. Then you really enjoy the Aayah by Aayah translation method mentioned above. This is the stage when you start to emotionally identify with the Arabic of Qur’aanul Hakeem directly, just like most of us now have started to express our feelings and emotions inEnglish as well as understand those of others immediately by reading and listening.

      Our ideal should be this:
      Just like when I listen to an English new channel, I am processing the audio input at run-time,we should achieve the same proficiency level regarding Qur’aanul Hakeem.Likewise, when I am reading an English text, I am processing the graphical input at run-time, the same should be the case with doing Tilawah from Mus-haf as Uthmaan radi Allaahu ‘anhu was holding the Mus-haf/The Manuscript/Codex Originalis while He was martyred.

  7. Jon

    July 9, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    Assalamu alaikum. Jazakum Allahu kharyan for this good reminder. I just want to add that Allah swt makes it really easy for us. If you read just 15 pages a day you can read the entire translation every month. May Allah swt make us know our own book. Also, keep learning more grammar and vocabulary, and keep memorizing.

  8. Countdown2Ramadan

    July 9, 2010 at 10:37 AM


    Does any one know of a simple easy to read short Tafsir to finish in Ramadan?
    Or otherwise other ways to get in touch with the Qur’an this Ramadan, (not just reading the arabic or english, but rather gaining some in depth short study)?
    Please post.

    Jazkamuallah Kher.

    • ibn Malik

      July 9, 2010 at 3:30 PM

      Probably Tafsir al Jalalayn, recently I saw a fully translated copy of it
      If you are looking for a classical tafseer

    • Asiya

      July 9, 2010 at 11:43 PM

      AlHuda Institute has a Ramadhan course where they go over the whole Quran with tafseer during Ramadhan, open to everyone. I BELIEVE there are also replay times of the class if one cannot make the original time. However, it is best to ask by e-mailing them. Also, it’s F-R-E-E, FREE! alhamdulillah, may Allah ‘azzawajal accept their efforts.

      It’s not in depth but it is a good way to get in touch with the Quran if one hasn’t been doing so lately, and as you said some in depth short study. Their general website is and the direct link for the Ramadhan course is this:

      I REALLY REALLY recommend it if you can take it because alhamdulillah this institute has been the tool for letting me and many others finally *understand* the Quran without translation with their Taleemul Quran courses. May Allah ‘azzawajal bless you in your endeavors.

      • Muhammad Elijah

        July 19, 2010 at 7:33 AM

        Is it Dr. Farhat’s Al Huda?
        I am proud of those sisters. They have revolutionised the sisters,mothers,daughters,mothers of the Ummah.
        May Allaah reward her. She reminds us of the saint Rabia rahimahallaah of Basra which is in blood today.

  9. firoz

    July 9, 2010 at 11:12 AM


    Might i recommend the Complete Quran channel on you tube to make this task easier inshllah

    Its got recitations along with its transliterations.

  10. abez

    July 9, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    JazakAllahuKheiran for posting this with such honesty- I didn’t finish the Qurán in English (or Arabic) until I was in my twenties, though I was born Muslim. No one else I knew read the Qurán in their native language, or except at cultural ‘Quran Khwanis’ where a whole group of women sped through the Qurán, reading one juz each in record time before wandering off for samosas and small talk.

    It’s embarrassing that it took me so long to realize that I was a Muslim who had never read the Qurán. I was vaguely aware of the translations of the few verses I had memorized (three Quls, anyone?) but otherwise downright oblivious. May Allah save us from ignorance of our own faith, and make us among those who believe those who understand, and those who reflect on the words of Allah.

    Ameen :)

    • Muhammad Elijah

      July 19, 2010 at 8:14 AM

      There is nothing wrong with the positive aspect of our culture that is Qur’aan Khwaanis per se, because they at least convey the significance we,as Muslims , accord to the Book of Allaah.
      Our posts show a common theme, our shared reverence for the Book of Allaah.
      As regards translations, I would suggest you to study the translations availible in Urdu(Is my guess about your native language correct?)I like that of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanwi rahmatullaah ‘alaih. It may contain some words which you may find difficult, But I think that the subtlety of translation requires the translator to use a rich vocabulary. This particular translation has unveiled many beautiful facets of the meanings of the Aayaat to me.

  11. Mari

    July 9, 2010 at 1:37 PM

    Excellent post Ma Sha Allah.

    Here’s another good read related to the topic:

  12. Saifullah

    July 9, 2010 at 11:47 PM


    SubhanAllah! Thanks for sharing this.

    May Allah SWT guide us all to the straight path. Ameen.


  14. sister

    July 10, 2010 at 2:24 PM

    A Great Challenge Indeed! Please check out Ali Unal’s translation of the Qur’an. I just love the way he translated and he includes many scholar’s thoughts in commentary. I started to read from the last verse of the Qur’an and I enjoyed so much. I feel really connected with Word of Allah in English. I feel that Arabic recitation reaches the heart and our own language reaches our Akal or intellect. The best way to go is to learn Arabic but for those of us who cannot do that yet, we should listen in Arabic and read in English at the same time to fully engage our heart and our intellect. This is truly a great approach and I hope that we can keep our word and participate. Lets pray for each other and lets get started :-)

    Check out Ali Unal’s English translation from Google books, you can search for Ali Unal English Quran. Or if you can please buy it, i think Barnes and Noble sells it.

  15. Petronella

    July 12, 2010 at 7:39 AM

    I can unfortunately not read Arabic but have hamdulillah read the Quran several times in my own language. I have met others who know many ayahs and dua’s by heart in Arabic but never knew what they meant, only that this one is good to recite at Maghrib and this one at Fajr and so on. This is because when they were children they were only supposed to learn it in Arabic and no one thought it important to teach them the meaning in their own language – something I unfortunately find is quite common. Did the first Muslims not pay attention to learning and practicing each ayah before moving on to the next one? Why would we then rush ahead and just learn as much as possible by heart as fast as possible, or just read through it very quickly with the goal of getting to the “finish line”?

  16. Faiez

    July 13, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    Dang you got treated dude

    • Bushra

      July 13, 2010 at 4:18 PM

      I’m sorry. I don’t understand what you mean by this post.

  17. Charles

    August 19, 2010 at 5:02 AM

    Muhammad Elijah mentioned learning through word by word translation through a teacher. Can anyone recommend online sources or books that have word by word translation of the Quran?

    • Arfeen

      June 30, 2015 at 6:08 AM

      Assalamu Alaikkum, word by word Quran is available for free download in pdf format in . Hard copy is available in

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