The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said in a hadith recorded in Al-Bukhari, related by `Uthman ibn `Affan: “Khayrukum (the best of you) is the one who ta`allam(learns) the Qur’an and teaches it.”
The word ta`allam is in a form that means takalluf (effort/exertion), meaning that the person struggled to learn the Qur’an, that their learning the Qur’an required effort and difficulty.
khayrukum means the best of the Muslims. This shows that the success, honor, respect, and glory of this ummah is with the book of Allah Almighty. That’s why I encourage our brothers and sisters who become Muslim, after learning prayer and other basics of Islam, they should focus on the Qur’an.
Find someone who can teach you the Qur’an. I meet Muslim brothers who tell me all the bad things about a particular scholar. I ask the brother if he can read Surat Al-Fatihah. I find that he cannot even read the Qur’an properly, but he was able to speak about a scholar of Islam.
What kind of Islam is this? When the Companions of the Prophet became Muslims, the first thing they concentrated on was Qur’an and how to pray..
Alhamdullilah (praise be to Allah), I thank my teacher in Oklahoma. He was a large man from Senegal. When I became Muslim he grabbed me and said, “Listen, learn the Qur’an and learn Arabic. Don’t waste your time with groups.” I remember he told me some stories about Senegal that I want to share with you.
First, he said: “In my town in Senegal (St. Louis, which is next to Mauritania) if someone amongst the people of knowledge wants to get married he must first memorize the Qur’an, pray Taraweeh with the Qur’an and also memorize the theMu’wattah of Imam Malik.” Of course, this is difficult for us today – we have difficulty memorizing the 40 Hadith of Imam Nawawi, but this criterion shows us the level of their study.
Then, my teacher told me that he finished learning the 10 major qira’h (recitations) of the Qur’an and he learned that from his sister. He said, “My father considered the Qur’an to be a simple pre-requisite that had to be done, and so he didn’t teach it to me. My father was busy teaching Usul Al-fiqh (philosophy of Islamic Law), Lughah (language), Hadith (traditions of the Prophet ), etc.
My father told me that for the examination to get the real ijaazah (certification) we would be given empty notebooks. Then we had to write from Surat Al-Fatihah to Surat An-Nas in two weeks. Every day you had to write a certain amount of Qur’an, which would then be given to the Sheikh. They read what you write and if you make even one mistake, you don’t get an Ijaazah. Just one mistake. I asked my teacher, “Where is the book in which you wrote the Qur’an?” He said, “No, we don’t keep it. It is a gift for our Sheikh.”
The third story he told me is about his grandfather who was the Mufti of Senegal. He said one day a group of youth came to his grandfather and told him they wanted to study the philosophy of Islamic Law. He said, “No.” They asked, “Why?” He asked them, “How much Qur’an have you memorized?” They replied, “We’ve memorized twelve Ajzaa’ (parts).” He said, “Start with Qur’an. Forget Usul Al-fiqh.”
The Qur’an is very important, and we should not neglect it. If you have the time and the resources of people available to teach you, then you will be asked by Allah Almighty why you didn’t study and make an effort to learn. One of my teachers, Sheikh Muhammed Al-Mahdi in Egypt, started to teach five subjects every day after Fajr. I stopped going to this class of his, and one day he came to me and said, “I’m going to bear witness against you on the Day of Judgment that you didn’t come to class.” Then, I started to come to class!
How many of us want to be the chosen people of Allah Almighty? The Prophet said,
“The people of the Qur’an are the people of Allah Almighty and His chosen people.”
By Suhaib Webb