Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Transformed By the Qur'an

I usually insist, when people ask me why I embraced Islam, on the importance for me of reading the Qur'an myself. While there are less relevant details I try to omit--why I felt compelled to read it in the first place, for instance--I focus on this point because it is truly what changed my heart.

Obviously, I read a translation. And even then, there's much I read which I still didn't understand. But from the first page, I read voraciously, daily, whenever I had the time. I didn't read a passage here or there, or hear random quotations fired like bullets by a preacher, but I had a personal, intimate dialogue with the Qur'an myself.

I don't think it's possible to have a similar dialogue with any other book--the miraculous nature of the Qur'an and its compelling inimitable rhetoric capture the mind and the heart of the reader. And so it's not surprising that those who hear the revelation and disbelieve in it are so scorned. At the same time, can I ever be grateful enough to have been guided by means of the Qur'an? That my heart was opened to its call?


taiyyaba said...

what translation speaks most powerfully to you? i've come to think of yusuf ali language as a bit archane but i still like most of it. i love maududi's translation and tafsir. i'd love to hear your thoughts having once read it from a fresh perspective.

Amy said...

In general, I take the opinion of my teacher that it's always better to just read it in Arabic. And I do think it's worthwhile to learn Arabic in order to do so. And definitely now it's the Arabic that speaks the most powerfully.

As for translations, the best of them are the easiest to read, I think. I'm not a fan of the Yusuf Ali translation, since it is a bit archaic and sometimes is difficult to understand.

Personally for translations I generally rely on both the Sahih International one for clarity and simplicity, and then Muhsin Khan which sometimes elaborates a little more.

I've heard good things about the Oxford translation by M.A.S. AbdulHaleem but I haven't really read it myself.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think there are other people who read the translation of the quran and remain unmoved by it?

Do you have to be receptive to its message, whatever that message may be?

Amy said...


و إذا تُتلى عليهم ءاياتنا بيّنات

This line appears many times in the Qur'an. "And when Our ayaat are recited to them as clear evidence..." talking about people who hear the ayaat of Allah and still don't believe. They say that the Messenger (saws) is a liar, that the Qur'an could be brought by anyone, that they want to attack the reciters, they call it magic, ask for the dead to be brought back to life as proof, and claim that the Qur'an is just ancient stories.

These responses (all mentioned in the Qur'an) illustrate what Allah says about the disbelievers--that it doesn't matter whether they are warned or not, they still don't believe. And early in the Qur'an, Allah tells us that He has sealed their hearts, and their hearing, and placed a cover over their eyes. (2:7.)

So yeah, you could say that a person needs to be receptive to the message, another way of saying that they need to be guided by Allah. Whomever He guides, none can misguide, and whomever He leads astray, none can guide.

Anonymous said...

"And so it's not surprising that those who hear the revelation and disbelieve in it are so scorned."

Islam is a mercy to mankind. If there are those that cannot be guided, as you say there are, (I happen to interpret the verse differently), is it for us to scorn them?

Is it perhaps the ego that is hurt, the nufs that doth protest much?

The nufs that cannot comprehend how someone cannot see what we see, and therefore that person merits scorn?

Allah(swt) knows best.

Amy said...

It's not for us to scorn them--we cannot see into their hearts to see who truly will not ever believe--but they are scorned in the Qur'an.

The people who came before and denied the ayaat of Allah who were destroyed, the Quraysh of Makkah who denied the Messenger until he was given victory over them, are just a few examples, but it's a recurring theme in the Qur'an. The people were sent a Messenger and if they disbelieved when the ayaat came, they were destroyed. Recall the stories of Nuh, Hud, Salih, and Shu'ayb.

It's not for us to meet out punishment to those who don't seem to believe. But Allah promises punishment in the Qur'an to those who refuse.

Mezba (RWM) said...


Which Surah did you start with? And who gave you the Quran?

Amy said...

Wasalaam Mezba

I started reading from the beginning, Al-Fatihah, then Al-Baqarah and so on.

And I read it online--not from a hard copy. There were several translations available online, even a few years ago. And I actually didn't stick to just one translation--I read one for a while, then switched to another.

Kadaveri said...

Salam Amy. I've been reading Tarif Khalidi's translation this Ramadhan and I think it's my favourite now. The most notable thing is how he changes the mode and layout of the text as the Qur'an changes literary style which I haven't seen any other translation do and this really gives it a rhythm/structure which reminds you of the original a lot more.

Shamsuddin Waheed said...

Salaam, a wonderful post. I wish you had composed more details though of what you read and how it was a personal transformation for you.

Ayman said...

Nice Post. See also

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Anonymous said...

Given that there is no evidence of creation. Matter cannot be created or destroyed. Its amazing that people talk about a creator at all.

Its like talking about how much gold is in the pot at the end of a rainbow, when there is no evidence for a pot in the first place.

If islam requires the use of the intellect, then every muslim should reject the notion of a creator to start with.

Islam said...

Pls comments post related

yousuf said...