In the spacious courtyard of the masjid, they sat together turning its glorious pages. The rays of sunlight gently bounced from the soft pages of the Qur'an. Humbled by the greatness of its verses and captivated by the beauty of its words, they were often moved to tears but none uttered a word. Tranquility descended over them as individual, melodious recitations began. This was no ordinary study circle and these were no ordinary students, the sight of them alone made eyes turn and hearts were drawn to them. These were young men who had gathered in the courtyard of the masjid – serious students studying the Glorious Qur'an. With a powerful goal in mind and a firm focus, nothing could distract them.
Their soft recitations died down and silence took over as the teacher spoke...
"This Qur'an.... This is the Clear Book of Allah that is not approached by falsehood neither from before it nor from behind it, sent down by the All-Wise, Worthy of all Praise.
It is the never-ending, ever-lasting miracle that is continuous through the course of Time until Allah inherits the earth and what is upon it.
It is the Strong Rope of Allah, the Straight Path and the Light which guides to the truth and the right way.
In it is news of what was before you, what is to come after you and a source of judgment between you.
Whoever abandons it has indeed been destroyed by Allah and whoever seeks guidance in other than it has been led astray.
Whoever speaks by it has been truthful, whoever rules by it has been just and whoever calls to it has indeed called to the straight path."
One of the students lowered his head as a tear strolled down his cheek. A young haafidh from the city, he often made his journey setting off early to join the rest of the students – many of whom like him were deeply moved by these sessions and couldn't afford to miss a single class. He was lost in thought, his mind immersed in recalling the greatness of the Qur'an. As he wept in silence, the rest listened attentively.
"It is our role-model and the leader in our lives...
By it we are guided and to it we surrender.
Its commands and prohibitions we act according to, and at its Hudood (boundaries) we halt with firmness.
It is that which ties the heavens to the earth.
A covenant between Allah and His servants.
The most Noble and honoured from the heavenly Scriptures.
What you have before you is the Way of Allah, the Most Exalted, and the Greatest Revelation sent down to Mankind..."
It's true. What we have before us is the Book that many lay claim to but only a few realise its value.
"Had We sent down this Qur'an. on a mountain, you would surely have seen it humbling itself and rending asunder by the fear of Allah. Such are the parables which We put forward to mankind that they may reflect." [Al-Hashr: 21]
Mountains are often mentioned in the Qur'an. as symbols of great stability, firmness, endurance and integrity. But even with these powerful characteristics, the mountains were unable to bear the Qur'an.... they could not bear the trust.
"Truly, We did offer the trust to the heavens and the earth, and the mountains, but they declined to bear it and were afraid of it. But man bore it. Verily, he was unjust and ignorant." [Al-Ahzaab: 72]
The mountains knew their capacity and they knew the incredible weight of the Qur'an. But man... man didn't know. "Verily, he was unjust and ignorant."
For them to shatter into pieces, break apart and cleft asunder is no easy matter. They have a right to that because of what the Qur'an. contains. It's not a physical weight that humbles the mountains, but it's the Words of Allah – they are indeed heavy.
"Verily, We shall send down to you a heavy Word." [Al-Muzzammil: 5]
One of the most difficult ways that the Qur'an. was revealed to the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi Wa sallam) is when it came like the ringing of a bell – this was the most hardest for him to take. It physically burdened him and weighed down upon him greatly to the extent that if he was riding his camel, the camel would kneel on the ground due to the pressure from the Revelation. The Prophet's companion, Zaid was once seated next to him and his thigh was underneath that of the Prophet's when a Revelation descended. Zaid later reported that his thigh was almost injured because of the weight of the Revelation to the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi Wa sallam).
"Verily, We shall send down to you a heavy Word."
This Qur'an. was revealed to bring a change to a lost people and direct Mankind back to the Path of Salvation and Truth. It was sent down to take people from darkness to light, from disbelief to belief and from this lowly Dunya (world) to the Hereafter.
The lives of the very first recipients of this Qur'an. are evident to the powerful influence of this Revelation on Mankind. Within just 23 years, a great empire was established and the Sahaabah were a transformed nation. A few years after the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) passed away, Islam had spread as far as Europe and Central Asia to the extent that it is said the graves of Mujaahideen (possibly Taabi'een) were found located within 100m from Paris itself. The cause of such a change? The source of such strength? Could it have been any other than the Magnificent Qur'an. and the unparalleled guidance of the Messenger?
"And if there had been a Qur'an. with which mountains could be moved or the earth could be cloven asunder or the dead could be made to speak (it would not have been other than this Qur'an.)..." [Ar-Ra'd: 31]
When discussing the miraculous nature of the Qur'an, many tend to restrict their thoughts to scientific miracles alone. Others will highlight the many prophesies and predictions that the Qur'an puts forth, the great challenge to reproduce something like the Qur'an, or the fact that Allah has preserved and protected it unlike any other Scripture. These are no doubt, part of the miraculous nature of the Qur'an, but by far, the greatest miracle which shook the heart of Makkah and consequently, the world, lies in the language of the Qur'an – the eloquence, beauty and literary supremacy of the Tanzeel (Revelation).
The Arabs were known as Ahlul-Shi'r and Ahlul-Lugha (people of poetry and language). They had a right to such a title as they were the masters in the field of eloquence and beauty of speech. In fact, every year in Makkah the annual fair of 'Ukkaadh would take place where each poet would display his skill and recite many lines of poetry. They were unchallenged and nothing threatened their talent... nothing but a miracle could crush their superior position.
The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, "There has not been a single Prophet except that Allah gave him miracles because of which people believed in him. I have been given (as a miracle) the Inspiration which Allah revealed to me (i.e. the Qur'an.)." [Al-Bukhari]
So when the Qur'an came, the people of Makkah were dumbfounded and left in astonishment at its eloquence and beauty. This was a speech which superceded their poetic capacity and since they were the leading masters at that time, they failed to comprehend that Muhammad (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) – a man they did not categorise as a poet, could all of a sudden come with such a masterpiece. As a result, the people split - some believed while others refused to accept it, calling it magic and sorcery.
The Qur'an affected all people that it reached and it continues to do so up until our current time today. Even the staunchest of the pagans in Makkah could not resist it. One fine example is the incident of Al-Waleed ibn Al-Mugheerah, the father of the great warrior Khalid ibn al-Waleed. He was an incredible poet, leading in high position and status among the poets and also in society. One day he passed by the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) who was reciting the Qur'an, which he overheard. This visibly had an affect on him which the people saw including Abu Jahl, who in turn tried to curb this affect. In a response to Abu Jahl's efforts, Al-Waleed replied,
"And what can I say? For I swear by Allah, there is none amongst you who knows poetry as well as I do nor can any compete with me in the composition or rhetoric – not even in the poetry of the jinns! And yet, I swear by Allah, Muhammad's speech (i.e. the Qur'an.) does not bear any similarity to anything I know, and I swear by Allah, the speech that he says is very sweet and is adorned with beauty and charm. Its first part is fruitful and its last part is abundant and it conquers and remains unconquered. It shatters and destroys all that has come before it."
Abu Jahl who was the staunchest of the pagan Makkans and a crude campaigner against the Call of Islaam was not happy. Al-Waleed promised to think things over. He thought and he pondered before finally arriving at a very insincere and dishonest answer saying, "This is nothing but magic from old." Al-Waleed saw the beauty, eloquence and above all the clear truth of the Qur'an, but al-Waleed disbelieved and rejected the truth after it had come to him. As a result, Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) revealed 16 ground-shaking verses condemning him to eternal hell-fire.
"Leave Me Alone (to deal) with whom I created Alone (i.e. al-Waleed)... Nay! Verily, he has been stubborn and opposing Our Ayat." [Al-Muddathir: 11 and 16]
"Verily, he thought and plotted, so let him be cursed! How he plotted!
And once more let him be cursed, how he plotted!
Then he thought. Then he frowned and he looked in a bad tempered way. Then he turned back and was proud. Then he said: "This is nothing but magic from that of old; This is nothing but the word of a human being!" I will cast him into Hell-fire." [Al-Muddathir: 18-26]
Another incident is that of 'Utbah ibn Rabee' another pagan Makkan who was seen as the 'negotiator' of his time. He asked the chiefs of Makkah to leave him to Muhammad (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and that he will convince him that his Cause was not worth all this effort. Eloquently, he spoke and spoke employing all arguments to dissuade the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam). A while later, the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) asked "Have you finished?" to which 'Utbah replied in the affirmative. "Then listen to me," said the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam),
"In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
Ha Meem. A Revelation from Allah, the Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
A Book whose verses are explained in detail – A Qur'an in Arabic for a people who reflect.
Giving glad tidings and warnings.
But most of them turn away so they listen not..." [Al-Fussilat: 1-5]
'Utbah stood there totally captivated and entranced by the verses of the Qur'an. The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) continued to complete the entire chapter – and with 54 verses, this was no short Surah. During the whole recitation, 'Utbah did not once turn away. Amazed and in total awe, he remained immersed in listening until the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said at the end, "You have heard what you have heard, so do as you please."
'Utbah returned to his people, a changed man, shaken to the heart, clearly moved yet silenced. He reported back to his people saying, "O people, I have heard a speech the like of which I have never heard before. I swear by Allah, it is not magic, nor is it poetry, nor is it sorcery. O gathering of Quraysh! Listen to me. Leave this man alone; for I swear by Allah, the speech that I have heard from him will soon be news..."
'Utbah was right. It not only became news, but it became the greatest news which shone the face of this earth and lighted up the hearts of a lost people.
However, it is with great sadness that I say in our communities today this particular aspect of the miraculous nature of the Qur'an, in language, style, usage of words and structure is the least spoken about. Much of the time, this is due to the language barrier and the inability to understand Arabic in general. Our lack of understanding this language has lead us to miss out on the biggest miracle of the Qur'an – what a loss indeed. We fail to experience the powerful choice of words by Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala), the abundant meanings of each verse as it is filled with concise yet overwhelming news – understood by all from kings to servants, from the masters of language to the lame and illiterate. A lofty, unparalleled and magnificent masterpiece, the Qur'an. indeed conquers and remains unconquered.
Becoming Companions of the Qur'an
It is important for us to revive our relationship with the Qur'an. and restructure our lives around it. As the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said,
"Read the Qur'an., for indeed it will come on the Day of Judgment as an intercessor for its companions." [Sahih Muslim]
To be a companion of someone (or something) entails being in their presence most of the time and being with them wheresoever they are. To be a companion of the Qur'an. therefore means that we not only read it, but we accompany it throughout our lives – studying it, pondering over it, consulting it, memorising it, acting upon it, teaching it and defending it from the plots of its enemies. Indeed, to be from the people of Qur'an. amounts to being from the people of Allaah as Anas ibn Maalik narrates that the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said,
"The people of Qur'an, they are the people of Allah and His specialties." [Ahmad, Nisaa'ee, Ibn Maajah]
It's important for us to strive to become companions of the Qur'an, and much of the destiny of this Ummah depends on this crucial factor – have we grasped it firmly, or have we abandoned it?
"And the Messenger will say: "O my Lord! Verily, my people deserted this Qur'an." [Al-Furqaan: 30]
One of the ways that we can pull this Ummah out of its current suffering, oppression and disunity is to return to the Revelation as Imam Maalik (rahimahullaah) once stated,
"Nothing will rectify the latter part of this Ummah except that which rectified the first part of it."
We need to return to it as a source of judgment between us and make it the light which penetrates our hearts and illuminates it such that we become a people of strength who walk with light. We need to return to it as serious students, understanding what our Lord is telling us and thereby appreciating the ultimate I'jaaz of the Furqaan. Indeed, had there been a Qur'an with which mountains could be moved or the earth could be cloven asunder or the dead could be made to speak, it would not have been other than this Qur'an.
Waffaqanallaahu wa iyyaakum