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The Qur’an & the Soul’s Alchemy

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The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) remarked: ‘The best of you is the one who learns the Qur’an and teaches it to others.’1

For Muslims, notwithstanding the sheer beauty of its composition and its cadences, the Qur’an is a repository of revealed teachings, a roadmap for the journey through life, and a fountain of timeless truths to meditate upon; deepening endlessly one’s sense of the divine glory. Moreover, the Qur’an is of God: His Word, Wisdom and Divine Will. God subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

17:82

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We send down in the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy for the believers, but it does not increase the wrongdoers except in loss. [Al-‘Isrā’:82]

10:57

O mankind! There has come to you a counsel from your Lord, and a healing for what is in the breasts and guidance and mercy for the believers. [Yūnus: 57]

Its name is indeed telling, for the word Qur’an, in Arabic, literally means a ‘recital’ or ‘that which is recited’. To this end the Qur’an is possibly the most read or recited book in the world. It is certainly the world’s most memorised book, and is probably the one that exerts the most influence over its readers. It is a book that has caused countless people throughout history to accept its message upon reading it, or hearing its recital. It has moved hearts to tears, healed spiritual wounds, incapacitated opponents, and astounded academics and artisans alike. The essence of its message is that there is only one God: Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), who created and sustains the material universe and the world of human experience, and that only He is to be deified and worshiped.

The alchemical effect of the Qur’an, the deep transformative impact it has upon the human soul, is such that even its most ardent of opponents have been profoundly affected by it. One such example is of ‘Utbah bin Rabi‘ah who, on hearing the Prophet recite the Qur’an, was compelled by its sheer and utter sublimity to confess: ‘I have heard an utterance the like of which I have never heard. By God! It is neither poetry, sorcery nor soothsaying. O men of Quraysh, listen to me and do as I bid. Do not come between this man and what he is about, but leave him be. For by God, the words I have heard from him will soon cause a great stir.2

This sublimity was felt too by Goethe – the nineteenth century German poet, novelist, statesman and scholar – who wrote in his West-Oestlicher Divan how, after inspiring initial astonishment and fear, the Qur’an ‘soon attracts, astounds, and, in the end, enforces our reverence. Its style, in accordance with its content and its aim, is stern, grand, terrible, ever and anon truly sublime. Thus, this book will go on exercising, through the ages, a most potent influence.3

Thus it is a case of pouring the Qur’an’s healing over our spiritual wounds, and allowing it to work its miracle: Is there any, then, to take heed? [Al Qamar: 17]

1. Al-Bukhari, no.5027.

2. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, 1:185, its chain is sound (hasan). Cf. Muhammad al-Ghazali, Fiqh al-Sirah, ed. al-Albani (Cairo: Dar al-Kutub al-Hadithah, 1976), 113.

3. Cited in Shalabi, Islam: Religion of Life (USA: Starlatch Press, 2001), 25-6.

This article was originally posted here.

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Abu Aaliyah is the founder of The Jawziyyah Institute, a leading institute for Islamic moderation and contemporary thought in the United Kingdom. Sidi Abu Aaliyah has been in involved in Dawah and Islamic teachings since 1986. He has translated a number of books from the Arabic language into English such as "The Exquisite Pearls". Abu Aaliyah's written works and audio lectures can be found online.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Said Hasan

    November 29, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    Alhamdulillah for Qur’an.
    Ya Allah guide me to drink from the fountain of the Qur’an and the life fulfilment of the Sunnah that I be a Muhsin in my entire life. Ameen.

  2. tarannum

    November 30, 2013 at 7:45 AM

    short and concise, Masha’Allah. We definitely need more writers like him!

  3. J.T. Aslim

    December 2, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    As Abdel Haleem, who made one of the best English translations of the Qur’an said: “I have read the Qur’an for such a long time and I know it by heart but still, every day when I read the Qur’an, I discover new meanings in certain verses which I hadn’t seen before. That’s a special quality of the language of the Qur’an – even apart from the faith.” (see: http://www.halalmonk.com/mas-abdel-haleem-the-language-of-the-quran)

    • Student129

      December 10, 2013 at 8:09 PM

      Yes very true! My mother always taught me that whenever you read the Quran, no matter how many times, you will always learn something new, something relevant to your situation. SubhanAllah it is true. The Quran and it’s Messenger Prophet Muhammad salAllahuallaihiwasalam are our greatest gifts. Alhumdullilah. It is truly Majestic words, the words of Al Rahman Al Raheem Al Malik Al Qudus.

  4. silent_observer

    December 10, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    Short and Good..truly the more we read,the more we are in awe of it..and also I really wonder what a great experience it must have been for the companions and people alive at that time to get live and latest updates of the verses!

  5. aslam

    December 15, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    its is for shore that the Quran is the only source and true source of knowledge and we should follow the teaching of the holy quran

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