Quran: Knowledge, Worship, or Action?

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Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

Islam is a balanced religion. Allah (swt) said in the Quran:

وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا

And thus We have made you a middle nation . . . [2:143]

Every aspect of a Muslim’s life is to be balanced, be it worship, or work, or studies. But often it is difficult to know what the balance is, what “being in the middle” really means. That’s why we tend to end up in extremes. Some of us recite a lot of Quran without knowing what it means; others indulge so much in tafsir that we don’t get time to recite the Quran, and still others know everything about the Quran and even preach it to others, but when it comes to acting on the teachings of the Quran, they are way behind. How do we balance between these three aspects of internalizing Quran in our lives? The first step is to know the importance of each.

Knowledge

The Quran is called Huda, guidance. It is the manual on how to live life and achieve ultimate success in the Hereafter. Therefore it is essential for every Muslim to know what it says. Without this knowledge, no one can have a clue on how to worship Allah, what Allah wants from us and how to succeed in the Hereafter. This is where the Christians went astray. They did things without any knowledge. They attributed godship to a human being without knowledge. That’s why we ask Allah seventeen times everyday not to make us among these people:

صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ

The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray. [1:7]

The people who went astray did so because they didn’t have knowledge on how to act. That is why it is so important for us to not be among those who worship Allah without correct knowledge, and Allah promises rewards for those who seek knowledge for His sake.

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, ‘He who follows a path in quest of knowledge, Allah will make the path of Jannah easy to him. The angels lower their wings over the seeker of knowledge, being pleased with what he does. The inhabitants of the heavens and the earth and even the fish in the depth of the oceans seek forgiveness for him. The superiority of the learned man over the devout worshipper is like that of the full moon to the rest of the stars (i.e., in brightness). The learned are the heirs of the Prophets who bequeath neither dinar nor dirham but only that of knowledge; and he who acquires it, has in fact acquired an abundant portion.’ [Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi]

Worship

Reciting and memorizing the Quran in Arabic are special acts of worship. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘[Whoever recites a letter] from Allah’s Book, then he receives the reward from it, and the reward of ten the like of it. I do not say that Alif Lam Mim is a letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter. [Tirmidhi]

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, ‘Such a person as recites the Qur’an and masters it by heart, will be with the noble righteous scribes (in Heaven). And such a person exerts himself to learn the Qur’an by heart, and recites it with great difficulty, will have a double reward.’ [Sahih Al Bukhari]

Also, The one who memorized the Qur’an shall come on the Day of Judgement and (the reward for reciting the Qur’an) says: ‘O Lord! Decorate him.’ So he is donned with a crown of nobility. Then it says: ‘O Lord! Give him more!’ So he is donned with a suit of nobility. Then it says: ‘O Lord! Be pleased with him.’ So He is pleased with him and says: ‘Recite and rise up, and be increased in reward with every Ayah.’ [Tirmidhi]

It is important to maintain a connection with Allah’s words by reciting them directly instead of depending on explanations and translations. Studying about the Quran is not the same as experiencing the recitation of the Quran itself, just as studying about the sunset doesn’t give you the satisfaction of watching a sunset with your own eyes.

Action

Having knowledge and not acting upon them is the characteristic of the other group of people mentioned in Surat al Fatihah: ghayril maghdoobi alaihim. These are the people who earned Allah’s wrath because despite having the knowledge on how to worship Allah correctly, they don’t act on it.

The Prophet said, A man will be brought on the Day of Resurrection and thrown into the Fire. His intestines will be hanging out, spilling onto the ground, and he will go around like a donkey goes around a millstone. The inhabitants of the Fire will gather around him and say: ‘O so and so! What is your affair? Didn’t you used to order us to do good deeds and forbid us from doing bad deeds?’ He will reply, ‘Yes I used to order you to do good deeds, but I did not do them myself, and I used to forbid you from doing bad deeds, yet I used to do them myself’. [Bukhari]

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