This article is from Reading Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.
The only time Allah mentions the month of Ramadan by name in the Quran (calling it “shahru Ramadan”), He describes it as:
The one in which the Quran was revealed.
This shows the strong connection between Ramadan and the Quran, which is corroborated by the Sunnah of the Prophet, who used to review the Quran that he had hitherto received from Archangel Gabriel during this month.
In the last year of his life, the Prophet reviewed it twice during Ramadan. He reviewed the Quran this way, i.e. orally, for two reasons; one, because he could not read, and two, because the Quran was not present in written form (as a book/mushaf) during his lifetime. Rather, it was heard, memorized, and recited in prayers by Muslims until the Prophet’s death.
In order to be able to improve our ability and experience of pondering upon the Quran on a long-term basis, throughout our lives (i.e. during the whole year, not just during Ramadan), we need to follow some steps:
Believe that the Quran Has the Answers
The first step towards establishing a deeply insightful and reflective relationship with the Quran, as a constant part of our daily life is to first believe with all our heart that the Quran has the solutions to every problem and the answers to every question, no matter how big or seemingly small they might be.
When we pick up the Quran to recite it, our intention must not be to just obtain rewards and blessings from it, in the form of obtainment of provision and/or dispelling of sorrows, even though these are undoubtedly among the sweet fruits of reciting it that we taste in this life.
We must make a sincere intention in our hearts to glean guidance and insight from its meanings by pondering upon it.
When we will approach the Quran with this intention in our hearts, only then will Allah open up the innate wonders of the Quran for us as a source of guidance and deep insight, allowing us to extract from it valuable gems of enlightenment that will benefit us throughout life.
Analogize: Relate the Quran to Current Events
One of the ‘miracles’ of reflecting upon the Quran is that the reciter feels as if Allah provides them with the solutions to their current problems in life, by making them chance upon the exact verses that provide the answers that they are seeking.
For example, a woman might be growing impatient with the irritating behavior of one of her relatives, almost at the verge of snapping at them and answering back.
At this point, she might turn to Allah and make du’a for patience and guidance. If she regularly recites the Quran with reflection, she will notice that, almost miraculously, when she opens up the Quran next for her daily dose of recitation, the verses that she recites that day will be those exhorting patience and returning the evil meted out by people with actions that are good.
At this point, she will literally feel as if Allah is “talking directly to her” and answering her du’as for guidance regarding her affairs. She will then be reinvigorated with freshly upped faith, and guided to return her relative’s bad behavior with good, Insha’Allah, her heart completely rid of the rancor, vengefulness and malice that was marring it earlier.
This is just one example of how pondering upon the meanings of the Quran whilst reciting it provides answers and solutions to the seeker’s current problems and issues in life, appearing to them as if Allah is wonderfully addressing them directly through the Divine verses of His Holy Book.
Truly, such epiphanies are the norm for any sincere believer who deeply reflects upon the Quran as a constant in life, especially while they are in seclusion, with no one else around to see them (thus facilitating sincerity of intention by doing away with riya’ – showing off).
The Quran also provides answers for the mysteries behind the cause-and-effect relationship between the collective actions of mankind and natural calamities; disastrous occurrences, communal living, and social systems based on equity and justice.
The scores of past historic incidents that have been narrated in the Quran are also eye-openers and ‘guiding lights’ that provide answers to question-marks and dispel all doubts for the believer who possesses an articulate tongue, reflective heart, humbled soul and attentive mind when they recite the Quran with full, reflective attention.
Use Supplementary Tools to Aid Reflection
For many Muslims of the world, the greatest ‘barrier’ between soulful, contemplative, and insightful reflection upon the Quran is their ignorance of the Arabic language.
Because they cannot understand the Quran directly, they need translations to understand it, and even though the blessed Arabic words of the Quran have a soothing effect on their souls when they recite it, they are unable to reach a higher level of pondering upon it because of the language barrier.
In order to resolve this challenge, Muslims who wish to ponder more deeply upon the Quran, should avail the use of supplementary resources, such as authentic books of exegesis (tafsir), Arabic dictionaries and lexicons to look up meanings of difficult words, books on seerah to relate the incidents narrated in the Quran to the timeline of the life of the Prophet, and grammar tools to aid translation.
They should also make an intention to study the Arabic language in a way that will allow them to eventually be able to understand the text of the Quran directly, even if they won’t be able to speak Arabic fluently.
All praises to Allah, nowadays there are many online courses, programs, apps and websites that provide knowledge of the Arabic language, at zero or minimal cost.
Joining such a course or program at a pace that suits you is the first step in the quest of being able to comprehend the Arabic of the Quran directly, without needing a translation, Insha’Allah.
The Fruit of Reflection
One might ask: “why do I even need to ponder upon the Quran? Is it not enough that I am acting upon the obligations of Islam?”
Pondering upon the Quran increases one’s faith, brings one very close to Allah, and allows a believer to develop an inner “eye” with which they are able to see the reality of things, clearly and truly, as they are.
They are able to identify and understand the inner realities of life, and the actual causes of events that occur around the world, in a much clearer way than those Muslims who do not recite and ponder upon the Quran.
One of the sweetest fruits of pondering deeply upon the Quran, especially when one recites it in nafl prayers late at night, is the trembling and softening of the heart accompanied by hot tears that gush forth from the eyes, making the reciter feel incredibly close to Allah via a deeply moving emotional sensation and an enormously gratifying spiritual experience that cannot be adequately described in words!
Conclusion: Resolve to Reflect upon the Quran Throughout Life
Pondering successfully upon the Quran enables some of its verses to “come alive” in a way as if you can “see” them right before your eyes, especially the graphically described scenes of the torments of hell, or the descriptions of the blessings of Paradise.
The poetic Arabic words of the Quran fall like beneficial rain upon the soil of your heart, causing it to stir and grow forth strong, sturdy plants of faith that invigorate and inhabit it, chasing away any remnants of ignorance (jahl), sorrow (huzn), or worries (hamm) that cluttered it.
Who wouldn’t want to repeatedly enjoy such a beautiful spiritual experience, constantly, in life?