Islamic Studies Qur'an

The Lost and Found Nation of Qur’an

The Qur’an’s role in developing the right mindset and attitude towards life cannot be underestimated. Unfortunately the Qur’an, for many, has become a book of mere blessings. Let there be no doubt that its blessings cannot be fathomed nor its beauty and aroma captured. However, many have left a real, daily, practical relation with the Book of Allah and, instead, have settled for a mystical relationship whose outcomes are not easily measured nor understood. This is very dangerous and the outcomes of such an attitude have had paralyzing effects:

1. A chronic negligence of the Arabic language
2. Preference is given to other sources prior to the Qur’an
3. Dark depression that one, as a layman, is not able to comprehend nor understand the message of the Creator to Humanity

I would like to address the third point as I feel it is really the cause for 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 cut from it umbilical cord, frustrated, spiritually tired and on the verge of colapse. The further we draw back from our relationship with the Qur’an our reference for life is replaced by other sources. In my eyes this is one of the major reasons for the problems we see in our communities:

1. A brother who spent the majority of his pre-pubescent and early adult life listening to DMX, 50 Cent and Biggie is going to surely have issues when he gets married. When his wife trips his mind will not revert to the statement of Allah, “And live with them (your wives) in an honorable manner.” But instead, “Girl $#$%^*!” Or perhaps he will go back to his “Tommy Vercetti” and try to take manners into his own hands?

2. A sister who makes here seven circuits around the black elevator at her local mall once a week. Who busies herself looking at the Sunday news papers in order to get, “The Best deals” and “The finest clothes” and compounds that with a 62 ounce Big Gulp of films, songs and Internet sources that can only increase the desire to have and be, has to really start to ask some hard questions. What type of wife will she be to a brother involved in the struggle for dawa? I’ve seen many of the sisters involved in seeking knowledge and the dawa sell their fellow brothers out and opt for a high flying Muslim Donald Trump who doesn’t practice. Then after some time she’s gone from the work and we lose an important piece to the puzzle. They leave the brothers, who’ve made sacrifices for the din trying to find Condoleza Right, and settle for the comforts of this life. No doubt we should be taking care of our sisters, but those brothers involved in the Dawa are in need of the best sisters. But, if those sisters, leave those brothers on the front lines empty handed, then the dawa takes a hit (Before any sisters start to burn their Mothers of Believer Cds don’t worry the same applies to brothers who leave the sisters in the dawa 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 these days). If our constructs are based on revelation, strong tarbiyah and a correct understanding of community many of these problems would, not go away but, 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 Creators 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 who’s meanings are only known to Allah (for example alif lam mim)
2. Those verses who’s interpretation must be done by those who are specialized scholars, have finished a sound curriculum of study and are recognized by the fellow contemporaries
3. Those verse 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.” or “And there is nothing lik Him.”

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 identity, role and purpose. If the common Muslim is disconnected from the roots of his identity then it is not fair for religious leaders to blame them, nor chastise them for something those very religious leaders forbade them from. The Prophet’s [may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] companions [May Allah be pleased with them], if they lost the rope that tied their camel, would seek the answer in the Book of Allah. Then what can we say about those who are trying to find the answers to their purpose and identity?

Action Items:

1. Start a weekly halaqa of Qur’an in your home. 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 us to love the Qur’an, read it and act on its profound lessons

Akukum Suhaib

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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  • Really Intresting Article Shaikh, and you know i can totally relate to his “emptiness” inside myself. Your 4th point hit the spot for me but I dont think a Weekly Halaqah is a solution to the problems.

  • Good article, I’m just afraid that the people (including me) who read this article will not act upon it. Knowledge is worth nothing if not acted upon…

  • Assalamu Alaykum,

    Nice article. I think it’s good analysis, masha Allah, of the problem.

    Linked to it, though, is a lack or deficiency in the certainity of Allah’s existence – the whole notion of being “born” a Muslim, and thus just accepting it. Alot of us youth are just Muslim by default, and not really sure what it means entirely. But, like it was mentioned, building a strong connection with the book of Allah is the first step to solving this problem.

    What if people don’t want to read Qur’an due to their lack of certainity, though? This weakness in yaqeen is killing the Muslims, man.

    Also, I found Madudi’s translation (Abridged version of ‘Towards Understanding the Qur’an) to be amazingly easy to read. I’m a simple guy, and I like simple things, so take it from me ;-).

  • May Allah Bless you Imam Webb,

    I think that the Quranic Halaqas are able to be done even with someone who is a student of knowledge not necessary a scholar. As long as he stays within his own capacity of understanding, and beware of going beyond.

    I as a layman can read the Quran and benefit from it greatly, yet most likely I don’t understand every inner and outer meaning, but I do get something out of it.

    I think we all should try to start a Halaqa, I myself fall in the category of the Quranic neglectors.

  • Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah
    I pray that you are in the best of health & imaan.
    This is a short message to notify you that this entry has been selected for publishing on I J T E M A; a venture to highlight the best of the Muslim blogosphere.
    To find out more about I J T E M A, and how you can further contribute, please click here.
    May Allah bless you for your noble efforts.

  • Shanqiti’s statement is similar to a statement by ibn Abbas as mentioned in ibn Katheer’s intro to his tafseer…

  • asalaam warahmatullahi wabarakatu
    jazakallah kahyran brother i like the idea of a weekly halaq so you can you use in the future alhamduililah

  • Assalamualaykum

    I found this article really helpful and practical. Inshallah I will read the Quran everyday, and try to write down some personal notes about what I learnt.
    I can testify what Imam Webb is talking about. I used to have the translation of the Quran for a long time, but it used to sit on the shelf (or tabletop) with only limited reference. At those times if I had doubts or desires, there wasn’t much I could do about it, because I was not really looking into the proper sources. Listening to or reading different things that cause fitna would create serious doubts in my mind, or there would be serious existential crises that would go on inside my heart, but in the end I would be left with darkness, and confusion. Ultimately, Allah saved me from all that, so all thanks to Allah (swt). But what really helped later on was reading the Quran more often. Whenever there would be doubt, or problems or difficulties a reading of the Quran would always provide answers to deal with the situation internally then and there.
    So honestly, brothers and sisters, for believers coming to the Quran with a soft heart and full hope and trust that there would be answers, can indeed work miracles. I once heard someone or read somewhere that the Quran is not a book that should be just read, it should be interacted with.
    I read elsewhere that if one uses the Quran as a mirror it really helps. Mirror in the sense that when I read the Quran I think, is this verse talking about me? or How does this verse apply to me. If we come across a verse that talks about things not to do, or attitudes not to have we look into our heart and see where we stand, we look at that verse and ask am I that person? Then if we find ourselves to be the person the Quran does not want us to be we make a dua and effort to change. While if we find ourselves acting in a way that the Quran recommends, then we give all the credit to Allah and thank him abundantly for giving us guidance.
    I hope Allah forgives me and guides me, May Allah guide us, guide through us and make us the guides of the guided. May Allah preserve Shaikh Sohaib Webb and let us take all the good he has to give to us.

  • my son just started leaning arabic phonics and shapes, and will soon learn to read Insha’Allah. I want to know Brother Suhaib what should be my aim with him . He is 4right now and I want for him to be like Ibn Abbas who at 13yrs knew the Quran inside out and could give some tafsir.
    Should I have my son memorize or not? When do I start teaching him Tafsir? etc
    JazaKa”Allahu Khairan

  • AkramakAllah Imam Suhaib..This issue could not have been explained in a more eloquent manner..
    It is indeed true that we have lost our relationship with the Qur’an.
    May Allah give us the tawfeeq to understand the Quran and implent it in our daily lives..Amen

  • Times are hard and unpredictable, they are short and tasteless. and outside it the universe is unfathomable, dark and full of fury. words, metaphysical, surrealist or plain all hang heavy in the confines of an 8 by 3 waiting at an fixed hour. some go in there shrouded as a child, some not quite so. one waits mercy at the end of this endless. what is to be gotten from the Quran you ask, in simple words. i look upon the stars and cry for the fajrs that go by. thanks for the reminder suhaib.

  • JazakAllahukhayr akhee for the great article. When youth ask me what is the best way to get back on track when they are feeling low in their iman, i always feel like the answer is return to the Quran. Regardless what aya you encounter, you will find in it a meaning that will apply to your life. Keep the insight coming

  • Salaam

    I think this article requires a whole string of related pieces giving use awam some direction and practical steps, perhaps afew ayats showing how one can implement them. I think some of the things are a little exhagerated but one has to do things like that to address a problem. I have no idea how things are overthere in the USA (assuming you are still there) but here in England in many places the da'wah scene is a little “dead” and very little steps are taken to tackel this duty collectively. Could you possible write something abotu how to form a jama'a to focus on da'wah specifically. Also many brothers and sisters are finding problems locating possible husbands or wives, and the materialistic mind set is quite strong here in the UK in both brothers and sisters. Would you be able to write afew pieces or lectures on how to tackle the materialistic focus of people in a practical way.

    Jazakallahu Khayran
    (perhaps ive asked for afew too many articles 🙂 but you can take your time if you wish)


  • AsSalaamu Alaikum,

    JazakAllahu Khairun dear Brother Suhaib Webb for this post. I feel like I am just beginning to grasp
    some of the basic lessons of the Qur’an that I had no idea truly existed until just recently. It’s truly a
    remarkable journey in trying to apply the Qur’an to life. I spent most of my time trying to call family members to
    the book itself ensuring them that the answers are there. The interesting thing Alhamdulillah is that in our discussions,
    we find that the lessons we learn from calamities and obstacles we face just living has been in the Qur’an the entire time.
    I think sometimes because of that we may feel are experience is more or just as beneficial and that Allah will guide whom He please.
    Allahu Allum. I try to argue the point and convince myself as well as my family members that learning from The Reminder inshaAllah
    will prevent us from having to learn from so many calamities. You never know which one of those calamities will be your last, or the one that
    changes something permanently in your life. Allahu Allum. Why not try to learn and prepare before they come?
    I don’t want to say unfortunately,but by the Permission of Allah, I haven’t been able to set aside the time or even find
    proper teachers to help me in journey through the Qur’an. Me, being from the Hood, I guess you could call it a halaqqah,
    my cousins and I,and my parents, when we do have religious discussion,build upon what we’ve come across in our studies and experiences.
    All of which brings us back to worshipping Allah.
    The problem that I believe we face is disorganization. We cannot commit and organize properly in order to learn, even from each other
    no less an sheik or someone that has more knowledge. And then even if we do that, how do it stop ourselves from
    falling into two traps that I see, which are worshipping the Sheik, and or Averting from the Sheik and his knowledge
    because ” who is this Sheik?” and “What make what he says right?” Do you understand what I mean?
    I’m trying to figure out how to combat our own personal and group arrogance as well as not being to gullable. Maybe
    it’s a confidence issue with us(us being my family and I) as African American muslims, who basically had to work our
    way through this religion by seeking knowledge on our own,really by the Grace and Mercy of Allah.
    We have to stay clear from feeling unworthy and stupid when we are corrected and at the same time stay clear from being
    arrogant and foolish as if did it all by ourselves.

    Please forgive me Sheikh, I’m rambling but these are my some of my concerns when it comes to the deen and it’s application.
    JazakAllahu Khairun

    May Allah be pleased with us and guide us all aright inshaAllah

    AsSalaamu Alaikum

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