CERTAIN basic states and attitudes of the heart and mind are necessary prerequisites to any fruitful relationship with the Qur’an. Develop them as much as you can. Make them part of your consciousness, keep them ever-alive and active. Integrate them in your actions. Let them penetrate the depth of your being. Without the help of these inner resources you will not receive your full measure of the Qur’an’s blessings. They will be your indispensable companions too, throughout your journey.
1. Faith: The Word Of God
Come to the Qur’an with a strong and deep faith that it is the word of Allah, your Creator and Lord.
Why should such a faith be a necessary prerequisite? No doubt such is the power and charm of the Qur’an that even if a man takes it up and starts reading it as he would an ordinary book, he will still benefit from it, should he read it with an open mind. But this book is no ordinary book, it opens with the emphatic statement : (This is the Book (the Qur’an), whereof there is no doubt . . . ) (Al-Baqarah, 2:2). Your purpose in reading and studying it is no ordinary purpose. You seek from it the guidance that will transform your whole being, bring you and keep you on the Straight Path: (Guide us to the Straight Way) (Al-Fatihah, 1:5) is the cry of your heart to which the Qur’an is the response.
You may admire the Qur’an, even be informed by it, but you cannot be transformed by it unless its words soak in to awaken you, to grip you, to heal, and to change you. This cannot happen unless you take them for what they truly are, the words of God.
That is why the Qur’an reminds you of this important truth again and again: in the very beginning, in the opening verses of many surahs, and frequently in between.
That is why even the Messenger (peace and blessings be on him) is instructed to proclaim his own faith, and all believers must join him: (The Messenger (Muhammad, peace be upon him) believes in what has been sent down to him from His Lord, and (so do) the believers.) (Al-Baqarah, 2:285).
You must, therefore, always remain conscious that each word that you are reading, reciting, hearing, or trying to understand has been sent for you by Allah.
2. Purity Of Intention
Read the Qur’an with no purpose other than to receive guidance from your Lord, to come nearer to Him, and to seek His good pleasure.
What you get from the Qur’an depends on what you come to it for. Your niyyah (intention and purpose) is crucial. Certainly the Qur’an has come to guide you, but you may also go astray by reading it should you approach it for impure purposes and wrong motives. (Al-Baqarah 2:26).
The Qur’an is the word of Allah, it therefore requires as much exclusiveness of intention and purity of purpose as does worshiping (in prayer) and serving Him.
Do not read it merely for intellectual pursuit and pleasure, even though you must apply your intellect to its fullest for the task of understanding the Qur’an. So many people spend a lifetime in studying the language, style, history, geography, law, and ethics of the Qur’an, and yet their lives remain untouched by its message. The Qur’an frequently refers to people who have knowledge but do not derive benefit from it.
You may also derive other lesser benefits from the words of the Qur’an, such as the healing of bodily afflictions, psychological peace, and deliverance from poverty. There is no bar to having these, but again, they should not become the be-all and end-all that you seek from the Qur’an nor the goal of your niyyah. For in achieving these you may lose a whole ocean that could have been yours.
Finally, your niyyah should be directed to seeking only your Lord‚s pleasure, by devoting your heart, mind, and time to the guidance that He has sent to you. That is what you barter when you surrender yourself to Allah : (And of mankind is he who would sell himself, seeking the Pleasure of Allah . . .) (Al-Baqarah 2:207).
Purpose and intentions are like the soul of a body, the inner capability of a seed. Many seeds look alike, but as they begin to grow and bear fruits, their differences become manifest. The purer and higher the motive, the greater the value and yield of your efforts.
So always ask yourself: Why am I reading the Qur’an? Tell yourself constantly why you should. This may be the best way to ensure the purity and exclusiveness of purpose and intention.