“I swear by the places where the stars set. Indeed it is a great oath, should you know. This is indeed a noble Qur`an, in a guarded Book—no one touches it except the pure—gradually sent down from the Lord of the Worlds.” (Surat al-Waqi’ah, Verses 75-80)
The Holy Quran is the eternal miracle of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf). It is a book that illuminates all things. Though it is composed of simple words and phrases, it is stated in a high literary style and conveys ideas that soar far beyond the comprehension of a normal human being. To perceive its essence and accurately derive laws from it, is immensely difficult. Thus, despite the fact that the Quran is “clear,” to properly understand it and act upon it takes great effort. If you like to understand the Holy Quran better, the following points are its prerequisites:
- You should attain a purity of soul and a desire to seek the truth so that you can approach the “pure ones.” As the Holy Quran says, “Only the humble can be reminded.”
- You should eliminate arrogance and prejudice and approach the Qur`an with fear and humility. Arrogance distances one from Allah’s (swt) proximity, so does it blind the heart, thereby preventing it from comprehending the Qur`an.
- You should have a thorough knowledge of the ‘Arabic language: both its vocabulary and grammar. These can be attained through the disciplines of morphology, syntax, rhetoric, style and vocabulary.
- You should have an in-depth knowledge of Islamic history and the circumstances surrounding the revelation of the verses. You should know the Quranic sciences; For example, you should know the general verses and the specific ones; the unqualified verses and the qualified; the verses that abrogate and those that are abrogated.
- You should seek protection from Allah (swt) from the cunning of Satan and from the trickery of his own lower soul. Saying: “I seek refuge from Satan, the cursed one”
- You should start by saying the bismillah.
- You should know all the verses that are in any way related to the verse in question as well as all the narrations that speak to the verse. The latter is especially important because the verses of the Quran have deeper, hidden meanings that no one other than the Infallibles can access.
- You should put aside all personal bias so that you can effectively comprehend what the Quran has to say. If you find that the Quran contradicts your previous understanding, you must accept the Quran’s teaching and abandon your prejudice. Otherwise, you will end up imposing your own view on the Quran (al-tafsir bi al-ra’y).
- You should look at the Quran from a metaphysical viewpoint so that you do not attribute physical traits to Allah (swt) nor liken him to his creation. To do this, you should interpret equivocal verses (al-mutashabihat) in light of unequivocal ones (al-muhkamat) and authentic traditions.
- You should also be aware of the needs of the day. You should be aware of scientific advancements and should keep a look out for the fulfillment of certain divine promises that are found in the Quran. In this way you will better be able to satisfy the needs of the younger generation. As Imam Ja’far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq says: “Allah has not sent this Quran for one age or another, not for one people or another. Rather, it is perpetually fresh and attractive to all people.”
- Your intention in reading and studying the Quran should not be limited to attaining the reward for reading it, nor to using the verses in speaking and writing. Instead of making the Quran an investment for this world, you should make it an investment for the afterlife. You should seek insight and understanding, and should seek to act according to its precepts.
- When you read verses concerning Allah’s (swt) mercy and his promises of Paradise, you should feel hopeful and should enjoin yourself to obey Allah (swt) and to abandon sin. And when you read verses containing threats of hellfire and descriptions of its punishment, you should frighten yourself of sinning against Allah (swt). All this is to purify your heart and prepare the way to eternal felicity.
- When you read verses that describe the believers and those who fear Allah (awj) and do righteous deeds, and when you read verses describing the disbelievers, the pagans, the beliers and the hypocrites, you should weigh yourself against the scale of the Quran. You should take account of yourself, and purify yourself of all bad attributes and adorn yourself with righteousness. As Allah (swt) has said, “I have only created Mankind and the Jinn to worship me.”