For a Nation that was commanded “Read!” before anything else, it is disappointing to see a certain reluctance for the Muslim masses not only to read more in the general sense (and even those that do read can’t get past a few paragraphs without a good old whinge), but one also notices a distinct lack of taqarrub (getting close to Allah jalla wa ‘alā) through the classical sacred texts of Islam.
Not only does more reading increase our knowledge – which has proved throughout time to be the real permanent source of power in the world – but it also helps us to get more connected and spiritually aware of what Allah jalla wa ‘āla wants and helps us internalise the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
Lest it be forgotten, the Muslims have been gifted with “That which is Recited” or known to us more commonly by its Arabic name as “The Qur’ān”. The early pious Muslims would never let their tongues dry from reciting and reading and reflecting deeply about the Qur’ān, gaining direction by it, living a fulfilling life by it, seeking barakah by it, earning ajr by it, seeking assistance in their affairs by it and thereby learning and living the Sunnah with it.
The constant perusal, study and reflection upon the Qur’ān was nothing short of obsessive. It is strange for us in our time to see a positive use of the word “obsessive” but this is one of them. It was the first book they read, the next book they read and the last book they read. Any time of the day, every day. Without fail. It was completely unlike today – where the Qur’ān is either rarely touched willingly, or is only brought down every few years to bless a new shop or put over the head of a new bride – back then it was really the irresistible source of every field of knowledge, and sufficient enough for the people who invested time and effort into understanding it.
As a side note: it is bizarre that some people will unwittingly give more importance to one or two specific modern books about the Qur’ān, reading and studying those few books “religiously” (whilst not generally reading widely from other sources) many times and even memorising it and then – incredibly – declaring love and friendship based upon another’s acceptance of such a book or not, more so than the Qur’ān itself about which they remain totally illiterate about.
Muslims in their relationship with the Qur’ān especially when it comes to deep reading and study of its meanings have always been loyally reverent, but few really treat it as completely relevant. We must be careful of falling into a trap of cultish allegiance to that which has been written by erring men, even if it is about the Qur’ān and Sunnah, whilst not poring over and internalising the Qur’ān directly itself. Of course, one cannot understand the detailed meanings of the Qur’ān without the aid of third party books to explain the difficult or important aspects therein, but one must not take those same works and use them as the ultimate criterion for one’s Islam, whilst neglecting the Qur’ān directly.
That was not the way of our early founding fathers. The reports about their focus on the Qur’ān by the best of generations, are numerous and well-known. And once that focus and clear prioritisation was established, it was then and only then that a (halal) obsession would start with the other key books in our religion.
So, what about those other sources of Islam then, such as the various collections of Ḥadīth of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam)? What of the Ummahāt’l-Kutub – basically meaning “the key fundamental texts of our tradition”, or if you prefer literally then “the mothers of all books”? What of the other major texts that have been agreed upon with respect to their acceptance and blessing by the major Imāms of this Ummah?
I would simply like to bring attention to my fellow brothers and sisters the greater need to embrace the collections of sacred Prophetic narrations that can be found in the Ṣaḥīḥayn and the other Sunan. I urge my fellow Muslims to immerse themselves in the continual recital and memorisation of these texts not only to get closer to our religion as Allah ‘azza wa jall desired it for us and as was perfectly practised by our Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), but also to internalise the environment around the Prophet and his illustrious companions (raḍyAllāhu ‘anhum) and to really start to understand how we can make compatible the pure lives they spent in the path of Allah and our current time with all of its problems and challenges.
Also, I’d like to assert the worldly benefits seen and experienced first-hand by those who immerse themselves in the seminal texts of Islam. We’ve all heard from the Salaf on their changes of circumstances when they increased in closeness to the Qur’ān and reciting it, and their reciting of the Ḥadīth of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) but seeing the proof for oneself is even more powerful. Personally speaking I’ve seen brothers and sisters suffering various problems and then we’ve advised them to increase in their reading of the Qur’ān who then later come back to me and confirm that their financial and personal matters have eased and become considerably better in some circumstances!
At such times of financial pressure and stress, isn’t this one of the obvious solutions for our Nation? I have found the reading of Ḥadīth to bring barakah and rizq from places that we never thought possible. Food, financial success and spiritual sakīnah descended from only Allah knows where! In our various Maqra’āt – the intensive reading and study of long pieces of text – of the Sunan, we are desperate for attendees to take an amazing quality and quantity of food home to their families that just turns up at the door from places that by Allah we have no idea where it comes from!
I’m not advocating hocus-pocus formulae and/or specific variations and repetitions of known texts in a way that was not known to our early founding fathers, but rather a complete engagement and internal connection to our authentic sources, and just a wider deeper general approach to reading, in a regular fashion as part of our daily methodology so that we don’t lose track of our sources of genuine blessing during the often cursed and empty lives we are forced to live for much of the time in the 21st Century.
And Allah jalla wa ‘ala knows best.
Let me end by quoting some marvellous facts about some of our scholars through Islamic history and their relationship with the major sacred texts. These were people who would read the Qur’ān thousands and thousands of times during their lives. It is through that barakah that they were allowed to engage with other key sources of our Deen. Shaykh ‘Ali al-‘Imran in his beneficial book “al-Mushawwaq ilā’l-Qirā‘ah wa Talab’l-‘Ilm” narrates that:
- Ibn ‘Aṭiyyah (d. 518h) read Ṣaḥīḥ’l-Bukhāri seven hundred times.
- Sulaymān b. Ibraḥīm al-Yamanī (d. 825h) read Ṣaḥīḥ’l-Bukhāri one hundred and fifty times.
- Ibn Kulūtātī (d. 835h) read Ṣaḥīḥ’l-Bukhāri over forty times.
- Abu Bakr al-Tājir (d. 805h) read Ṣaḥīḥ’l-Bukhāri over one hundred times.
- Al-Shīrāzi (d. 803h) read Ṣaḥīḥ’l-Bukhāri upon his Shaykh over twenty times.
- Al-Tawazrai (d. 713h) read Ṣaḥīḥ’l-Bukhāri upon thirty different scholars.
- Al-Burhān al-Ḥalabī (d. 840h) read Ṣaḥīḥ’l-Bukhāri over sixty times and Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim approximately twenty times.
- Al-Fayrūzābādī (d. 817h) read Ṣaḥīḥ’l-Bukhāri over fifty times.
- Al-‘Imrānī (d. 558h) read al-Muhadhdhab over forty times.
- It was said that Ibn al-Tabbān (d. 371h) read al-Mudawwanah one thousand times
- Al-Sijilmāsī al-Jazā’irī (d. 1057h) read Ṣaḥīḥ’l-Bukhāri seventeen times in his lessons, detailing and researching during the entire recital.
- It was also said that al-Walīd al-Fārisī (d. 218h) would study a book a thousand times.
If that doesn’t inspire in you the need to read more, then nothing will.
JazakAllahukhairun for sharing sheikh!
Shaykh, given our general apathy in the recital & memorization of the Quran (as you state yourself) is this (the recital of the books of Hadith) something you recommend after one gets in the habit of reciting the Qur’an frequently / makes significant inroads towards memorization?
Salaam Sheikh, great start for a new legacy iA. Jzk, may Allah reward you.
1. People know the importance of reading yet they still don’t read for whatever reason. The question is what are the solutions we can offer to get people to read. Social media contributed to ADHD. This “Ilmsource” will be a site for readers, I suggest on your FB page you provide solutions for the non-readers lol.
2. “One cannot understand the detailed meanings of the Qur’ān without the aid of third party books to explain” – and teachers I must add? My extremely well-read “Quranist” friends will enjoy this article 😉
3. In Malaysia we have “Islamic Studies” subject in public school (primary and secondary). Problem is we don’t study the original matn or at least sharh by scholars. School text books contents provided by the government. I think for ease and simplicity reason but we missed a lot because of that. So I kinda studied Islamic for 11 years in school and knew nothing, but studied with you in LP for 3 years and know something. Recently I studied Imam al-Nawawi’s Al-Tibyan & Matn Abu Shuja with Sh Musa Furber, and I realised the importance of studying the original text (reminded me of the “nutfah” in LP). Now question is, do you think studying these original books in school is too difficult for 7-17yo? It’s embarrassing we are like hard-core Shafi’i followers but as you know we don’t know his name, title of his books let alone the contents. I think it’s due to not studying the original kitab. I don’t know, maybe?
Salam Ustadh Abu Eesa,
your advice to engage more with the Quran is of paramount importance. And although u did state that scholars of the past read the Quran thousands of times before moving on to hadiths, I think you could stand to mention it more, because i’ve seen so many young brothers (not that i’m old) who start to get into the deen on the wrong footing i.e. they start by reading sahih bukhari on their own when their knowledge of the Quran is so poor. And because of that, they start practicing a very strict and nonsensical style of Islam, often getting into debates because a hadith in Bukhari froe example says the prophet prayed like abc, and we’re doing xyz, having no inkling about the role of fiqh in the whole issue. This is just one example. I personally feel reading hadith texts should be done with a teacher, because there is so much potential for people to go to misunderstand or go to extremes especially those who have poor knowledge of the Quran to begin with. With regards to your point about the benefit gained from reading the sunan i.e. being able to internalize the environment the sahabah lived in with the prophet, and how we can learn to live like them with relevance to our times, i think such a benefit can be gained from the seerah as well. I believe this is a better option for those not strong in their knowledge of the Quran and have very little or no knowledge at all about fiqh, so as to avoid them quoting hadith in isolation from its context (both the context it was spoken, and of other texts primarily the Quran) and making the lives of themselves and others difficult in the process. I’d rather read hadith as part of a study of another science say tafseer for example, or with a teacher like yourself when we did the 40 hadith of an-nawawi, than just from a hadith book like bukhari. At least this is what i think after meeting people who as i mentinoed above have very poor knowlege of the Quran (which is most people) but have the whole of sahih bukhari in their phones from where they read leisurely, often minsunderstanding much of what they read.
I have to agree. But it is not easy for you to study the book without having someone scholar that is capable to teach. That is why the government make it much easier to understand for the people. I would suggest you to go to higher level of institution for you to increase your understanding of islam. Studying the original book requires years of study, although it is good, it may not garner much interest for most of the people who are keen to learn more maths and science.
Jazakallaaahu Khair. Fantastic start. 🙂
Jazakallaaah u Khair. Fantastic start. 🙂
It was a good read, jazak’Allahu khairan! Pun intended.
What I love about reading the Quran – and hadith – is the enlightment, the discovery, the eye-openers, the heartmelt, the inspiration and the empowerment that come over me EVERY TIME.
But then I close the Book, put it on the shelf, and there it stays. And everything is turned off again. The idea alone of picking the Quran up again (or even opening one of the app on my phone) is draining so much energy that it’s such a big hurdle to make any effort. So I often choose NOT to read then. The times I DO go through it and I start reading, I’m all high again, I don’t want to stop reading and I wonder why it was so difficult in the first place. It’s stupid and I’m done with it, but somehow there pop up 1001 excuses preventing me from doing what I had planned to do: read some Quran.
The same happens when I’m learning Arabic, which I’m trying to do for over a decade now. And I’m still at ‘ thalaathu taalibaatin’.
So, I totally understand why I have to impress the need to read, but please tell me HOW I can impress that need. Am I missing something, or am I just being lazy? Thank you..
ps. the ‘home’ button doesn’t work.
Subhan Allah , me and my friend where encouraging each other to start committing ourselves to learning the meaning of the Quran. May Allah ease it for us and accept it from us. I used to always make this DUA ” allahuma hafithni AlQuran “, but then I heard that the sahaba would pray to be hamileen AlQuran. Mashallah ! Honestly what is the point of me knowing it by heart if I don’t understand it?!?!?
I must confess I find hadeeth , sooo much more harder to understand 🙁 I wish there was compete tafseer hadeeth. I benefitted so much from your Adab Mufrad tafseer , Mashallah barakAllah . I so hope you will continue it.
it did definitely inspire me jazaakAllah khairan.plzzz post more of these every now and than!
Wonderfully enlightening read.
How do we find inspiration from reading about people we don’t know reading a book 100 times, its like saying fulaan read a book 100 times,now that should inspire you to read more.
Assalamu aleykum. Alhamdulilah for the new site. I use to save your long post to my own blog for myself, but now no need, alhamdulilah. I would like to ask kindly if the web designer can increase the font size maybe 18px; this will make it easier for readability. I increased the font size to 18px with firebug and it made the reading very smooth and comfertable.
What would be inspiring is if you Ustadh Abu Eesa or any other modern Scholar made a post of what they read, your favourite books, your book recommendations rather than posting about people who majority of us have never heard of or even know about.
I agree with the brother…
Its always interesting to know what sort of books (Islāmic and Secular) different Mashāykh and Tūlāb al-ʿIlm read.
(PS… please don’t say Karl Pilkington’s autobiography..)
Any one know who the other authors are?
Assalaamu alaikum, Jazaakallahu khayran. What would you say about these narrations:
On the authority of Jundub رضي الله عنه that he said: ❝We were youths around the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم. He صلى الله عليه وسلم would teach us Imaan before the Qur’aan; and then (later) he صلى الله عليه وسلم would teach us the Qur’aan. And it (the Qur’aan) increased our Imaan. But as for you today, you are taught the Qur’aan before Imaan.❞
`Abdullaah ibn `Umar رضي الله عنه said, ❝We lived during an instant of time in which one of us would receive Imaan (faith) first before receiving the Qur’aan. And when the Surahs were revealed to (Prophet) Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم, we would learn what they permitted and what they prohibited and what they commanded and what they forbade and what should be the stance towards them. But I have seen many men, from whom one is given the Qur’aan before Imaan, and he reads it from the opening of the Book to its closing and he does not know what it orders and what it forbids and what should be his stance towards it. He is like someone who is just throwing out dates [i.e., he does not get any benefit from his recital].❞
Fantastic idea and have bookmarked this!
I’d really like to echo what others have said and believe it would be of great benefit to us all if you can suggest or inform us of your “read lists”. By that, I mean anything whether it be religious/secular texts or sources. What inspires me most about certain teachers like yourselves, is your ability to express yourself so clearly.
Would also be great to receive tips on how to read (if that makes sense, I’m sure you’ll understand).
PS – AE get some colour on this site please 😐
Unfortunately our younger generation isn’t in reading much. But the older ones have an equal responsibility to bring them closer to the habit of Reading, because the more you read the more maturity you bring in yourself, it opens your mind and create vastness in observing things. Good article it is shaykh. JazakAllahu Khayr