The Lost and Found Nation of Qur’an

1404698817_723a91803dThe Qur’an’s role in developing the right mindset and attitude towards life cannot be underestimated. Unfortunately, for many Muslims the Qur’an has become a book of mere blessings. Let there be no doubt that its blessings can neither be fathomed nor its beauty and aura captured. Many have left a daily, practical relationship with the Book of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He) and instead have settled for a mystical relationship with it whose outcomes are not easily measured or understood. This is very dangerous. The outcomes of such attitudes can have paralyzing effects such as:

1. A chronic neglect of the Arabic language.
2. Preferring to give other sources priority over the Qur’an.
3. A dark depression that one is neither able to comprehend nor understand.

I would like to address the third point as I feel it is the cause of points one and two. Many feel that they are unable to approach the Qur’an, draw conclusions from its lessons and articulate its beautiful message in their daily lives. Thus we have an Ummah who is cut from its umbilical cord, frustrated, spiritually tired, and on the verge of collapse. The further we withdraw from our relationship with the Qur’an, the more our reference for life is replaced by other sources. This is one of the major reasons for the problems we see in our communities. Here are two examples:

1. A brother who spent the majority of his pre-pubescent and early adult life listening to DMX, 50 Cent, and Biggie will undoubtedly have issues when he gets married. When his wife trips, his mind will not revert to the statement of Allah (swt), “And live with them (your wives) in an honorable manner.” (Qur’an 4:19) Instead, his reaction will be “Girl $#$%^*!” Perhaps he will go back to his “Tommy Vercetti” and try to take matters into his own hands.

2. A sister who makes her seven circuits around the black elevator at her local mall once a week. She busies herself looking at the Sunday newspapers in order to get “the best deals” and “the finest clothes.” She compounds this with a 62 oz. Big Gulp of films, songs, and Internet sources which can only increase her desire to want more. She has to start asking herself some hard questions. What type of wife will she be to a brother involved in the struggle for da`wah (the call to Islam)? I’ve seen many of the sisters involved in seeking knowledge and performing da`wah sell their fellow brothers out and opt for a high flying Muslim Donald Trump who doesn’t practice. Then after some time, she leaves the work and we lose an important piece to the puzzle. They leave the brothers who have made sacrifices for the din (religion), and settle for the comforts of this life. No doubt we should be taking care of our sisters, but those brothers involved in performing da`wah are in need of the best sisters. If those sisters leave those brothers on the front lines empty handed, then the da`wah takes a hit. (Before any sisters start to burn their “Mothers of the Believer” CDs, don’t worry. The same applies to brothers who leave the sisters in the da`wah and run after the latest Aishwarya Rai).

These are the outcomes – perhaps a bit over the top – of materialism and selfishness (look at the crazy cost of mahrs [dowries] these days). If our constructs are based on revelation, strong tarbiyah (discipline) and a correct understanding of community, many of these problems would be addressed with the medication of revelation and communal support. However, we are constantly hounded with the fact that we are mere ‘awam (Qur’anic illiterates) lacking the basic skills to interpret the Creator’s message. In turn, this has led to another phenomenon—Hijrah from the Qur’an.

Sh. Muhammad al-Hassan Walid al-Dido al-Shanqiti (may Allah preserve him) stated that the Qur’an’s verses were divided by the scholars into the following:

1. Those verses whose meanings are only known to Allah (swt). An example would be alif lam mim (Qur’an, 2:1).
2. Those verses whose interpretation must be done by specialized scholars who finished a sound curriculum of study and are recognized by fellow contemporaries.
3. Those verses that can be explained by the serious students of knowledge who have access to scholars and resources.
4. Those verses that are understood by the common person. For example, “Say: He is Allah the unique” (Qur’an, 112:1) or “And there is nothing like Him.”(Qur’an, 16:74)

Verses found under the fourth category are understood by all. They are clear and offer a treasure of lessons for those who sit and ponder on them. We must bring back this understanding to Western Muslims who are struggling to uncover the true essence of their identities, roles, and purposes. If the common Muslim is disconnected from the roots of his or her identity, then it is not fair for religious leaders to blame or chastise them for something those very leaders forbade them from. If the Prophet’s ﷺ companions lost the ropes that tied their camels, they would seek the answer in the Book of Allah (swt). Then what can we say about those who are trying to find the answers to their purposes and identities?

Action Items:

  1. Start a weekly halaqa (study circle) of Qur’an in your home.
  2. Read a few verses and discuss them as a family or by yourself (if by yourself, keep a diary of what you’ve read and your thoughts. Then when you have a family, you can use what you’ve written.)

May Allah bless upon us the love of the Qur’an and help us read it and act on its profound lessons.

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.

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  • Greatly appreciated the article Imam Suhaib, as a struggling student of knowledge this is a needed breath in constricted lungs.

  • AoA
    Mashallah great practical article, Inshallah will implement it .

    I am suprised that Imam Suhaib knows who Aishwariya is 🙂


  • jazak’Allahu khayrn ya shaikh

    ameen to your dua’a

    you caught me red-handed– i admit , i dont know who ashwariya rai is–LOL

    yeah, MR T….that was funny 😀

    but seriously…we as an ummah do need to get attached to the quraan….i am hoping we can get top quality mufassiroon in our city to teach us in english and bring things down to our level here and now…. reading the abridged ibn katheer’s tafseer doesn’t really do it…

    i find your’s and brother nouman’s the most practical tafaseer going at the mo

    may Allah reward you both with the best in dunya and aakhirah

  • Excellent article Imam Webb, though, I have to admit, I had to refer to Wikipedia for information about Aishwarya Rai. Prior to reading your article, I had no clue who she was (perhaps a good thing?) and, even after reading the entry, I still don’t know (better still?).

    The only thing I might add is that we have a large influx of converts, myself included, who suffer from “a chronic neglect of the Arabic language,” not as a result of any negligence, but because we’ve never had the Arabic language in the first place. Some Muslim communities simply aren’t equipped or aren’t willing to teach us. Some of us are in dire straits and can’t take afford to take sabbaticals to learn Arabic abroad. English and Spanish translations, while it’s the best some of us can do, can only go so far for so long.

  • Assalam wa alaikum,
    I was wondering whether or not it’s ok to use a iPod Touch to follow along the Imam as he recites Quran during taraweeh? I’ve been using a Quran app, Al Mus’haf, and as the Imam recites, I follow along. I used to just follow along using a normal Quran; I recently got an iPod Touch and I find it easier to use during taraweeh because of it’s small size. I have seen other people do it but other people have asked me if it’s ok to do and I also wanted to know so that if it’s wrong then i can correct myself.

  • AA,

    Jzk– for the this!

    There’s a really nice book that’s called Majaalis al-Quran by the late Sh. Fareed al-Ansari (may Allah have mercy on his soul) that talks about how the family can derive daily lessons from the Quran.

    One of the advices to start off with is to read a half page together daily at a specific time (set aside 1 hour), and then each person reflect on how to apply the verses to themselves, and for their iman– and to share that with the family.

    May Allah help us to maintain consistency in small good acts always.


  • i feel like one of the best pieces of advice I ever got was to engage with the quran regularly every day – even if it’s just with one ayah .

  • Ma sha Allah, I am happy to see this writing from this particular man. Inshallah we all go further and recongnize the Quran as the ONLY source of law from Allah for the Muslims. All of them. All the sects argue about what is in the side books, we all agree on the Quran. If we drop all the other noise from sources other than Allah, we wouldn’t have sectarian warfare in countries with Islamic populations. Notice I did not say Muslim populations.

  • Well said; beautiful. MashAllah. What do you recommend about brothers and sisters who cannot attend weekly halaqas due to their professional studies or their profession? Any suggestions? I have to admit, the photos made me laugh…..but made the article more true and applicable, jazakAllah khair!

  • As salaamu Alaikum,

    I’m so glad you wrote this article Imam Suhaib, I’ve had this question on my mind for a while- probably even my whole life. I’ve been told from so many people, elders in the community, even my own parents at times not to read the Qur’an with meanings because we either won’t understand or will take away the wrong meaning. They said just read the Arabic instead, because of it’s has many blessings. So this definately hits home with me, and makes so much sense; especially the 4 divisions.

    Is it allowed to hold the Qur’an while praying taraweeh or does it depend on the school of thought you belong to? I’ve been told that it breaks your Salah because you’re not in a state of proper Qiyam (By folding your hands and following the Imam).

    Lastly I do agree with the Brother and want to add that there should be welcoming classes for newly reverted Ummati, i’m finding myself in a place similar to that with a sister that reverted to Islam Masha’Allah a few weeks ago and is starting from square one (literally). I don’t know where to start and because she is an adult and not a child I don’t want to push her too much or overwhelm her in our excitement of teaching and learning. She wants to learn the basics but I dont have a good idea of where to start. Any Suggestions?

    JazakAllah Khair!

    • To Amina AG, the sister who has a reverted friend– MCA, in Santa Clara has a “new Muslim class” where many new reverts to Islam come and learn some basics and get to know other people starting on their life. If you are from the area, that is a nice place to start!
      Ws, Ramadan Mubarak/Kareem!

  • assalamualaikum wmhwbrkth. thank you for this beneficial expose. for instance,insya’ALLAH we strive hard to follow the good. jazekallah hukhoira.

  • Assalam wa alaikum,
    Regarding my question about the iPod touch and using it to follow along the Imam reciting Quran on it during taraweeh prayer, I posted it on Imam Suhaib Webb’s facebook page and he replied on it saying, “Its fine, inshallah.”
    So if anyone else was wondering.

  • Can Imam Suhaib Webb ,tell me the Islamic injunctions about the issue of APOSTACY in Islam. The Quran, Ahadees& Fiqqah rulings on it & what is his personal interpretation of it ???????

  • Salam Ailkum,
    It is a great article , Imam Suhaib .
    I wanna add some thing which is this problem is not found only in west , but also in east or at least in my community . I slam = appearance although when I was young , I was taught that Islam = how you treat others , how merciful you are , ….etc.
    I admit that this is my first time to read Quran in Ramdan although I can speak Arabic . The reason is I have spent years asking myself ” what does Islam mean?” is it about appearance or civilization?
    I remember when I joined Cairo University , a group of muslim girls came to my class and took four or five of students as a group and they started speaking about Islam and prophet Muhammad (pbuh) , but u know , I did not believe their words . I was not touched at all because I saw an actress in front of me . I know that she wanted to educate me , but I was not touched . Therefore I left the group and I thought the whole issue was about appearance and words !!
    now , El-Hamdullah , I am changed because I read Quran and I learn some thing new every day . This has a positive effect on my life as I become more patient , treat others in a good way , analyze verses and pray .

  • AsSalaamu Alaikum Br Suhaib,

    Mashaa Allah your article certainly rings a bell and I can honestly say that I have experienced both sides. The difference is immense. I feel so lost and insecure if several days pass by without reading whatever I can from the Quran.

    May Allah SWT reward you for pertinently addressing such a fundamental issue for us.

    Ramadhaan Kareem, WS.

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