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The Qurn First

The Qurn is the foundation and essence of all Shar sciences, and it is the key to all knowledge. If you read the biographies of the Imams of the Salaf such as al-Shafi or Ab anfah and before them the Companions, you will see the great devotion they had to reading, studying and pondering the Qurn. Sometimes, some students of knowledge neglect the Qurn or fail to give its due for the sake of mastering Hadith, Fiqh, Aqidah or some other subject. This is a mistake as it is pondering the Qurn that will give them the foundation to understand the Sharah, including these sciences. Unfortunately, some students sometimes overlook the Quran because they get the impression that the Qu rn does not have a big role to play in Fiqh (or some other science) as the yt al -Akm are only a few hundred out of a total number surpassing 6,000. However, had they studied the Qurn, they would have found great Fiqh in it. In addition to the many rulings that can be derived from the yt al -Akm, the Qurn lays out the underlying principles, objectives and philosophy of Islms laws. This will give the student deeper insight and understanding into Islams laws and this is the essence of Fiqh. Also, it is important to understand that the notion of Fiqh in the religion is broader than the science of Fiqh as it has become customarily defined by the scholars. The Prophet ( ) said, Whoever Allh wishes good for, He gives him understanding of the religion ( ) . [1]In this adth, Fiqh is not limited to knowing the legal status of a persons action with respect to permissibility, obligation etc. It encompasses that and much more. It includes knowledge of Allh, His Names, His Attributes, His Divine Laws which govern the universe. It includes hope, love, fear and trust in Allh. It includes all the topics of the religion. One of the distinctive features of the Qurn is that it is not a dry, legal text. When it expounds laws, it does not neglect the spiritual aspect to focus wholly on the legal. This is seen very clearly, for example, in Srat al-Baqarah. This srah lay down the cornerstone of the law for the new Muslim community in al-Madinah right after the Hijrah, spanning the various acts of worship and also dealing with family, criminal and financial law. Clearly, from the beginning of the srah the theme of Taqw is everpresent in the verses of the srah. Every time a new law is given, it is linked to the theme of Taqw. Division of the topics of the Sharah into different sciences that are studied on their own has a certain wisdom and benefit, and it is necessary for certain academic purposes, but unfortunately, it sometimes causes the student to focus on some aspects of the Sharah at the neglect of others. Focused study of the Qurn is critical to maintain that balance. Alif Lm R. [This is] a Scripture whose verses are perfectly constructed and then expounded, direct from One who is All Wise, All Aware. [11:1] Because the Qurn is perfectly constructed and laid out in the clearest of manners, it gives every subject its proper due, without any sort of imbalance. No book by any scholar, no matter how great or how learned, can approach it in this regard, nor would any Muslim scholar ever dream to make such a claim for his works. Consequently, the student of the Qurn who is constant in reading it inside and outside of prayer, pondering it and studying it will attain profound understanding of the Sharah. And there are many more benefits in reading the Qurn for ones studies and his personal piety, but listing them all is far beyond the scope of this discussion and the ability of this writer. Furthemore, what has already been mentioned should be sufficient

to encourage every student of knowledge in fact, every Muslim to plunge into study of the Qurn with his full mind and soul that perhaps he may gain a share of its abundant blessings. In light of all this, it should come as no surprise find that the Sharah has highly encouraged every Muslim scholar and layman alike to make a complete reading (khitmah) of the Qurn on a regular basis, a distinction shared by no other book. Based on the adths of the Prophet ( ) touching on this issue, Imm Amad b. anbal concluded that it is recommended to complete a full reading of the Qur n every seven days, or at a minimum, every forty days. And if one leaves it more than forty days without finishing it and he has no excuse, then this is disliked.[2] For this reason, it was the habit of the Salaf that they would not begin attending the circles of the Muaddithn and Fuqah until they had memorized the Qurn, and every scholar and student of knowledge would have a nightly portion that he would recite from the Qurn in prayer, and this is one of the secrets of their success in their studies and the failure of so many others. Therefore, it is imperative for the student of knowledge to focus on memorizing Qurn from the outset of his studies. This is particularly for a university student in an Arabic program. Take advantage of this time to memorize Qurn as once your studies start in earnest, you will probably find it difficult to make time for Qurn memorization. This does not mean that one cannot study other subjects while memorizing the Qurn. However, it would be a cardinal mistake to neglect memorization of the Qurn. When memorizing Qurn, the student should also study the science of Tajwd.[3] It is essential that memorization of Qurn take place under the supervision of a qualified Qri so that he can catch any mistakes in memorization or pronunciation. The transmission of the Qurn from the Prophet and the Companions to subsequent generations was both written and verbal. Both aspects of this transmission are essential and therefore it is not possible to learn the Qurn properly without both of these aspects. It seems and Allh knows best that this is the reason that the primary names the Qurn gives itself are al -Qurn, meaning the recital, and al-Kitb, meaning the Book, indicating that its preservation and transmission shall take place in both written and oral form. And Allh knows best. During this stage, while memorizing the Qurn, the student should try and memorize or learn the definitions of the words of the Qur'an as he goes. An ideal book for this purpose is al-Sirj f Gharb al-Qur'n, by al-Khudayr.[4] It is fairly thorough and also easy. If al-Khuayrs work is unavailable, another suitable work is Tafsr Kalimt alQurn by asnayn Makhlf. In this fashion, by the time he finishes his memorization, there will not be any word left in the Qurn whose meaning he does not know. This is an important first step in building the students understanding of the Qurn yet sadly, many students spend ye ars in alab al-`Ilmwithout completing this simple level of understanding the Qurn. During this stage, depending on how good ones Arabic is, one should also try perusing a short, easy Tafsr to complete his foundational understanding of the meanings of the Qur'an. The preferred Tafsir is al-Tafsr al-Muyassar, published by the King Fahd Complex for printing Masahif. If this is not available, or a person finds it style tedious, choose another short, easy (possibly contemporary) Tafsr in its place such as Aysar alTafsr or Zubdat al-Tafsr. Tafsr al-Jallayn is an excellent, short Tafsr, but it is not necessarily suitable for the beginner.

By studying al-Sirj a person will gain the meanings of the individual words, and by studying an introductory Tafsr, he will gain the overall meaning ( ) of each individual verses (according to the opinion chosen by the author). When reading the Qurn, even from this early stage, always try and ponder each verse and reflect on how the lesson(s) of this verse translate in ones life and how you can reform or improve yourself in light of the Qurnic guidance.

[1] Al-Bukhr [2] Ibn Qudmah, al-Mughn 2/611-612. [3] Ilm al-Tajwd is a science that teaches correct pronunciation of the Qurn. [4]

- justabro on guidance to aspiring students of knowledge