Qur'an Spiritual Purification

Returning to the Qur’an

pOriginally posted in August 2010.

After two hours of taraweeh and four hours of tahajjud, the Shaykh was crying to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) in his prostration, pleading with Allah (swt) to forgive him.

This Shaykh would have to stop reciting the Qur’an because he was weeping so much. He would recite verses of the hellfire and you felt that he was witnessing the hellfire; verses of Paradise and it was as if he was in Paradise; he would recite a du`a’(supplication) in the Qur’an and beg with this du`a’ as if he was the only one, amongst thousands of people, making it for his own soul. And then, after losing his voice from hours of recitation and crying, he would go into sujood (prostration), and we could hear him over the microphone weeping, making tawbah (repentance) to Allah (swt).

Why was I not feeling the weight of the Qur’an like he was? Why was I not feeling the weight of my shortcomings like he was? And who could possibly have more shortcomings between the two of us? The most overwhelming feeling that I experienced was that he knew something that I did not. Indeed, Allah `azza wa jal (the Almighty and Majestic) says, “It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah,” (Qur’an, 35:28). And the Shaykh recited this verse over and over.

After Ramadan, I went to his masjid and was blessed to be able to ask him about this.

“Shaykh, I was here in Ramadan— When you recited the Qur’an, I felt that you really understood it. Sometimes you would recite a verse over and over, sometimes you would cry and cry. And even if I understood the meaning of the verse, I would not cry like you would cry. And so I felt you don’t just know the meaning, but you KNOW the meaning. How can I be of those who know?”

He replied, “The means are many:

1. Prepare your heart with the utmost preparation by praying salat al-sunnah (the optional prayer) before the fard salah (the obligatory prayer).

a. Prepare your heart before you enter salah. For example, before Salat al-`Ishaa’ (the night prayer), pray two rak`at (units of prayer) to help your heart feel the Qur’an before the fara`id (obligatory prayer).

2. Recite the Qur’an often.
a. When you recite an ayah (verse), recite it over and over—contemplate the ayaat.
b. Interact with the Qur’an, one juz (part) a day, so that you can finish the Qur’an within one month, reciting it plentifully.

3. Read the tafsir (explanation) of the Qur’an.
a. While reciting the Qur’an, if you realize there is a verse that you do not understand, go to the tafsir. Then go back to the verse and read it with knowledge about how it was revealed, why it was revealed, when it was revealed, the situation it was revealed in, and then think: do I understand it now?

4. Realize Allah `azza wa jal is calling YOU.
a. Imagine how it was when the Qur’an was revealed to the Companions. They witnessed the revelation of Qur’an! They knew the reason for the revelation of different verses; they knew the Qur’an was addressing THEM. Imagine how the Companions radi Allahu `anhum (may Allah be please with them) were then affected, when they knew the Qur’an was revealed to them, that the Qur’an was calling them.
b. Know this: Allah (swt) is calling you! As an example, say you heard a verse from Surat al-Hujurat: “O you who have believed, do not put [yourselves] forward before Allah and His Messenger, but fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing,” (Qur’an, 49:1). You should think, I am from those who believe. What is Allah asking from ME? What does Allah, the Most Loving, request from me?

5. LIVE these ayaat
a. When you read about Jannah, imagine you are SITTING in Jannah, looking at the fruits of Jannah, watching the people of Jannah, smelling the scents of Jannah.
b. When you read about the Naar (Hellfire), think about your kitchen, think about how hot it is when you are by the stove when the fire of the stove is on. Imagine how hot it would be if you were to touch that fire—so hot that you cannot stand the heat of the fire on your face. This is the fire of this life! Imagine the Naar! How hot is the Naar?

6. Very important: du`a’.
a.  Allah ‘aza wa jall is the Only One who will give you this understanding. You will not get it unless Allah (swt) wants you to understand. So when you make sujood, and you are between His Hands subhanah (the Glorious), make a ton of du`a’: “O Allah! You are the Opener! Open this knowledge for me, open the understanding of the Qur’an for me.”

7. Qiyam al-Layl (the night prayer)
a. Read the verse, and think about the verse, and read it many, many times, and ponder over the verse. The Prophet ﷺ would read just one verse, over and over, weeping to Allah (swt).
b. The reading and contemplation of the Qur’an will move the heart.

8. Lessen the sins and the disobedience to Allah (swt).
a. Raan (the stain of sins and evil deeds) are a barrier from feeling and understanding the Qur’an. They create a covering on the heart: “No! Rather, stain has covered their hearts of that which they were earning,” (Qur’an, 83:14).
b. Thus you can hear a verse, such a strong, powerful verse, but you are not affected by it because you have this covering on your heart. You need to decrease the sins you commit so that your heart can be affected by the Qur’an.

9. Listen to the Qur’an plentifully.
a. When you listen to the Qur’an, think – why does this reciter recite this verse over and over? Why is he crying when he recites this verse? Listen and think about why the reciter is reciting the way he is.

10. Have hope with Allah `aza wa jal.
a. Allah (swt) will NEVER leave me to myself.
b. Realize Allah (swt) will not leave you to yourself when you ask Him! Make du`a’ to Him! Have hope that He (swt) will answer you!
c. Make du`a’: “O Allah! Who am I? Who am I except the companion of sin and disobedience? And You subhanah! You are the Companion of forgiveness! O Allah, open the doors of understanding for me! You are the Only One Who can give me understanding!”
d. KNOW that He will answer you and will never leave you.”

Floored, I asked him – “Shaykh, how do you know all this? You answered me with steps, with a plan of how to return to the Qur’an. Is it all just in a book—that I can read and know exactly what to do?”

He replied, “You know, just like if you are in a certain department in college and you want to get the highest grades, what do you do? You read books, you speak to people who learn the material—just like this, I thought, how do I become successful? So I read books and I listened, and when I heard someone reciting and they were weeping, I thought, why are they weeping in this verse? Why are they weeping here?”

And so he searched, with the goal: “Kayf anjah? How do I succeed?”

Perhaps not all of us can jump into implementing all of the above steps overnight. Instead, let us make sure to take care and guard over doing at least two of them until we get them down, and then move on to do more until insha’Allah (God willing) we too are of those who succeed.

Below, please find the I WANT THE QUR’AN! chart. Print it out, put it somewhere you’ll see every day (like the fridge), and mark your progress with the Qur’an.

The Prophet ﷺ taught us that whoever wants this life, for this person is the Qur’an. And whoever wants the akhira (the next life), for this person is the Qur’an. And whoever wants them both, then for this person is the Qur’an.

From knowledge to dough, whatever you want, cling to the Qur’an! In the end, “…whatever of good (deeds that Allah loves) you send forth for yourselves before you, you shall find it with Allah. Certainly, Allah is All-Seer of what you do.” (Qur’an, 2:110)

Download the Qur’an chart now!

I WANT THE QUR’AN Chart (Microsoft Word document)

I WANT THE QUR’AN Chart (PDF document)

About the author

Maryam Amirebrahimi

Maryam Amirebrahimi received her master’s in Education from UCLA, where her research focused on the effects of mentorship rooted in Critical Race Theory for urban high school students of color. She holds a bachelor’s in Child and Adolescent Development from San Jose State University, where she served as the President of the Muslim Student Association for two consecutive years. Currently, she is pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in Islamic Studies through Al Azhar University’s distance learning program. Maryam spent a year studying the Arabic language and Qur’an in Cairo, Egypt, and has memorized the Qur’an. She has been presented the Student of the Year award by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and holds a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Maryam frequently travels to work with different communities to address a variety of social issues and writes about topics related to social realities, women’s studies and spiritual connections on www.virtualmosque.com.


  • I cannot put into words how much I was moved by this article. May Allah reward the best to Sr. Maryam, the Shaykh, Imam Suhaib, and all the others who maintain this site.

  • السلام عليكم ورحمة الله
    أخى روي عن سيدنا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، أنّه إذا أحببت انسانا أن تقول له: أحبك فى الله
    أخى صهيب إنّي أحبّك في اللّه

    سلام عليكم

  • Assalamulaikum. JazakAllah Khairun for this….I really, really needed to read it. I think I will read it a few more times, this has helped me a great deal and I thank you very, very much for writing it.
    May Allah (saw) give you success in this world and the Hereafter.

  • Jazakum Allahu khayran ukhtee, this was very beneficial. May Allah reward you for taking the steps to seek out the knowledge! The state of the ummah today with regards to the Qur’an is horrifying, we have moved so far from it–becoming a nation who recites their book without even understanding or following it. May Allah ta’ala guide us back to His book. Ameen.

    May Allah ta’ala reward the shaykh! SubhanAllah everything he said is amazing–a gold mine. I couldn’t help but think of the hadeeth when reading his advice: Allah raises some people by this Book, and He debases others by it. [Muslim]

  • Alhamdulillah may Allah bless you for this interesting and educating work. May He accept it from you as an act of ibadat

  • […] was struck by his killer in Sujood, The first thing he did when he got up, was to give the drink …The Return to the Qur'an: Sr. Maryam Suhaib Webb – audio …After two hours of taraweeh, and up to four hours of tahajud, the Shaykh was bawling to Allah in his […]

  • thank you for this very beneficial means to make Quran our life-guide.
    may Allah spur us with strong will-power. amin~

  • It would be an honour to be a makmum of such imaam. Because they moves the makmum to think as what Sr. Maryam thought.

    This is a very nice and helpful indeed Sr. Maryam. Jazakallahu khayr for this 🙁

    May Allaah bless Sr. Maryam, the syakh, and all of us believers with knowledge, for we ” do not encompass a thing from His knowledge, except for what He wills (2 :255) ” 🙁 Ameen.

  • “The Prophet ﷺ taught us that whoever wants this life, for this person is the Qur’an. And whoever wants the akhira (the next life), for this person is the Qur’an. And whoever wants them both, then for this person is the Qur’an.”

    I was moved to tears… may Allah reward you for this article. InshAllah we all are able to benefit from the knowledge you’ve shared.

  • Salam alaykum Sheikh,

    I was wondering if you knew anything about Tarif Khalidi’s new English
    edition of the Qur’an: The Qur’an: A New Translation.

    I was thinking of buying it, but before doing so, wanted to know your
    opinion of it.

    Jazakalah khair, was-As-Salamu Alaykum wa Rahmatulah

  • Jazak Allahu Khairan for this beautiful advice. I’ve printed out the chart and can’t wait to get started. May Allah reward you all for your efforts. Ameen!

  • Lovely article mashallah. My only problem for me is that I don’t speak Arabic. To be able to reach an arabic level where I can understand is many years ahead unfortunately.

    Is there any other way to be able to reach the level without understanding arabìc? Are there some steps for non-arabic speaking brothers and sisters which can be as helpful as this fantastic article?

    • jazakum Allahu khayran

      Subhan Allah, I know exactly what you’re going through. One of the things which impacted my life THE MOST and helped me realize my immense need for Allah and the sweetness of coming back to Him ‘azza wa jall was reading the Qur’an…IN TRANSLATION.

      I’m not Arab, could never speak Arabic, and when I was in high school I realized that I can watch hours of tv but have no time for the Qur’an. So Alhamdulilah Allah blessed me with making the decision to start reading the Qur’an. I could read Arabic but was VERY slow. So I started and it would take me a very long time to finish the fixed amount I wanted to cover [5 pages] in a day.

      My mom one day stopped by my room and was like, “Why don’t you read the translation? So that you can understand!”

      So Alhamduilah from that day I started reading the Quran which had translation in English on one side and Arabic on the other. Subhan Allah, I have never in my life been effected by something so amazing than the translation of the Quran [until Alhamdulilah finally being able to start understanding the meanings Qur’an itself after learning Arabic], esp its impact on my life on a consistent basis.

      In addition to this, my parents, barak Allahu fihima, bought me an mp3 player which I could put Quran on and listen to it while I read the translation, while I walked through my school hallways, while I was in the car….soon, AlhamdulilLahi Rabil`alameen, I couldn’t get enough of it. And I slowly began to understand it, so much so that when I came to Egypt after 7 years of reading the Qur’an with translation, my teacher was shocked at how much vocab I had and how much I could understand, AlhamdulilLah, when I had only studied the very basics previously. It’s not that I’m amazing. By Allah, it’s the Qur’an.

      I’d recommend:
      1- Picking an amount of Qur’an you will read on a daily basis WITH translation. It could be two pages, five pages, 10 pages, but don’t leave it. Try to do it every single day.
      2- Read the translation and also try to ponder on the meaning when you have extra time in your day.
      3- Listen to the Qur’an while you’re reading the translation. This will help you get accustomed to recognizing different words and how they come over and over in certain ayaat and you’ll start to recognize them when you hear them in Taraweeh and in other places inshaAllah.
      4- There are some Qur’anic recitations that also have English intertwined. Listen to these as well when you’re driving or other places where you can’t read from the translation.
      5- Try to memorize whatever you can and know the translation. This greatly helps with understanding.
      6- MOST IMPORTANTLY- Make duaa to be the Qur’an’s Best Friend. And Allah will never, ever EVER EVER NEVER EVER not answer the dua of one who is sincerely seeking to come close to Him ‘azza wa jall and His Book.

      And when you can, study Arabic inshaAllah.

      wa Allahu `alam. May Allah give you MASSIVE SUCCESS in this life and the Next and make the Qur’an a witness for you on the Day of Judgment and your family and for all of us, Allahuma bless us with sincerity with Your Book. Ameen.

  • subhan’Allah al Adheem…insha’Allah may you all get the reward for encouraging such good–to reconnect with the Quraan…such a BEAUTIFUL reminder masha’Allah!!!!!

  • Al-Salam Alikom.
    actually , I like it so much and it touches me as well. I wanna say some thing , few years ago I did not think people ,who are crying when they read Qura’n , are touched or their tears are real ones ,from their hearts . This year every thing in my life is changed because I start reading Qura’n and I am so happy . Some times I can not read ayaat correctly , so I spend much time spelling the words and trying to get their meanings .
    Thank you ..

  • Assalamu Alaikum,

    Jazakallah Khairan for such a beautiful article. Very well written and laid out. Very motivating. I feel like a kid on an assignment now.

  • Jazakallah Khair Katsira for this article. This really meaningful and helps me a lot in gaining back the spirit of al Quran during shalaat.

    Anyway, I’ve translated a portion of this articles into Bahasa Melayu (Malay) to be shared in my blog. Hopefully you don’t mind. May Allah grants you with His rewards.

  • Salaam Alaikum and JazakumAllahu khair! Beautiful story with a very clear and doable action plan. InshaAllah I will use this and the chart as guidlines to reboost my eman…I can’t thank you enough for helping me realize what needs to be done.

    Also.. as a side note, after seeing the attached picture I found there were no credits so I went to tag-search on flickr. Alhamdulillah, I found it, but in case anybody else liked it too:
    (( http://flickr.com/photos/khedmati/4880496644 ))

  • […] Returning to the Qur’an After two hours of taraweeh and four hours of tahajjud, the Shaykh was crying to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) in his prostration, pleading with Allah (swt) to forgive him. This Shaykh would have to stop reciting the Qur’an because he was weeping so much. He would recite verses of the hellfire and you felt that […] […]

  • Assalam alaikum,

    another article on here that’s moved me to tears, and also inspired me – made me feel that this is something I can actually do. I often feel overwhelmed at the idea of where on earth to start with reading the Qur’an – this (and other advice from Zaufishan Muslimness) makes me feel that it is manageable after all.

    Jazakh’Allah – and Ramadan kareem.

  • Alhumdulillah! Jazak Allahu Khair Sr. Maryam for such a motivating and inspirational article, especially the dua that Shaikh has recommended to read while in sujood: “O Allah! You are the Opener! Open this knowledge for me, open the understanding of the Qur’an for me.” SubhanAllah! I pray that Allah SWT bless Shaikh, you, Br. Suhaib, me, my family and all Muslim Ummah and make us to read, understand and to act upon the teachings of Qur’an completely, Allahumma Ameen Thumma Ameen.

  • Assalum alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa baraka. Thank you so much for inspiring me to tears of gratitude to Allah swt. Beautifully written. May Allah swt reward you Sr. Maryam a million times for sharing you blessed experience with the readers.
    …… PS. I have a question for you Sr. Maryam and that is when should I make my du’a during sujood? I am not clear on that. Is it the sujood DURING our regular salat or should I make additional sujood AFTER COMPLETING the regular salat. May Allah SWT bless you for this clarification. Thank You.

  • Being a Muslim it is our duty to read and learn Quran. we should seek knowledge from him. Quran is our religious Book every matter of life is discussed in this book. The solution of problems that face in our daily life is discussed in this book. This book tells the way to heaven. The success in this world and in next world is possible with this book which is Quran.

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