Khutbas by Imam Habib
Khutba on Reciting and Pondering Qur'an
الحمد لله، الحمد لله الذي أنزل القرءان، أعجز به أهلَ الفصاحة والبلاغة والبيان، وأمر عباده بالتدبر فيه والإمعان، نحمده تعالى ونستعينه، ونشكره تعالى ونستغفره ونستغيثه، نعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا، من يهد الله فهو المهتد ومن يضلل فلن تجد له وليا مرشدا، ونشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له، له الملك و له الحمد، يحيي ويميت، بيده الخير، وهو على كل شيء قدير، ونشهد أن سيدنا و مولانا محمداً عبده ورسوله، وحبيبه وصفيه، بلغ الرسالة وأدّى الأمانة ونصح الأمة، النبي الأمي الذي أرسله الله بالهدى والدين الحق، بشيرا ونذيرا بين يدي الساعة، صلى الله عليه وسلم وعلى آله وأصحابه ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.
أما بعد! فيا عباد الله اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون. يأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله وقولوا قولا سديدا يصلح لكم أعمالكم ويغفر لكم ذنوبكم. ومن يطع الله ورسوله فقد فاز فوزا عظيما. اتقوا الله فيما أمر وانتهوا عما نها عنه وزجر. قال الله تعالى في كتابه الكريم: شهْرُ رَمَضانَ الذِي أُنزِلَ فيهِ القرْآنُ هُدًى للنَّاسِ وَبيِّنَاتٍ منْ الهُدَى وَالْفُرْقَانِ
Allah says in His Noble Book, the translation of which is, “The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Qur‘an was sent down as guidance for mankind, with Clear Signs containing guidance and furqan (discrimination).”
As we have mentioned before, this month of Ramadan is inextricably linked with the Book of Allah, the Noble Quran. In it it was revealed, and in it it was put into its final form and order, the order in which every one of us recites it today. This month is the month of Quran and the month for the Quran. Throughout it, it never leaves our sides. The Book of Allah, His Timeless Words resonating across the ages, immutable and unchanged and yet changing everything they come in contact with. The key that unlocks hearts that have rusted over and reveals the light within. The highest wird that whenever we recite it forms a powerful bond between us and our Creator, for they are His uncreated Words, and between us and the pinnacle of mankind, His noble Prophet, for it was to him that they were first revealed.
Words cannot describe the sheer miracle that we, created beings, have access to the uncreated Word of Allah. Every letter, every syllable comes to us directly from the Presence of Allah, and yet is accessible to us in every moment, and our hearts are able to bear the weight of it while mountains crumble to dust. As Allah says in surat al-Hashr,
لَوْ أَنزَلْنَا هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ عَلَى جَبَلٍ لَّرَأَيْتَهُ خَاشِعًا مُّتَصَدِّعًا مِّنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ
the translation of which is, “If We Had sent down this Qur'an onto a mountain, you would have seen it humbled, crushed to pieces out of fear of Allah.” Mashallah! May Allah give us an appreciation of its immensity and weight, and keep us humble and put Fear of Him into our hearts.
Words cannot describe the incomparable beauty of its language, its melodies and combinations of sound that move the very hardest of hearts and bring tears to the very driest of eyes. Even Abu Jahl, the avowed enemy of the Messenger of Allah, used to make secret trips in the night to hear the Quran being recited, so drawn to it was he. Indeed you do not even need Arabic to feel their force, for they are the Words of Allah and they transcend language - they are the vehicle of worship and the highest form of dhikr, bringing tranquility to the most troubled of hearts. Allah says,
أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللهِ تَطْمَئِنَّ الْقُلُوبُ
the translation of which is: ‘Only in the dhikr/remembrance of Allah can the heart find peace’.
But do not be content with simply listening, rather let your tongue run moist with the Words of Allah. For there is no better use to which you can put your tongue. As the Prophet said,
أفضل عبادة أمتي تلاوة القرآن
“The best type of worship my community can do is reciting Qur’an” It ranks among those things most pleasing to Allah and brings you an immense reward, especially in this month where good actions are magnified many times over. The Messenger of Allah said,
مَنْ قَرَأ حَرْفاً مِنْ كِتَابِ اللهِ فَلَهُ حَسَنَةٌ، وَالحَسَنَةُ بِعَشْرِ أمْثَالِهَا، لاَ أقول: ألم حَرفٌ، وَلكِنْ ألِفٌ حَرْفٌ وَلاَمٌ حَرْفٌ وَمِيمٌ حَرْفٌ
“Whoever recites a letter from the Book of Allah will be credited with a good deed, and a good deed gets a ten-fold reward. I do not say that Alif-Lam-Mim is one letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter.” So, imagine the reward for reciting the whole thing in the course of this month. And not only will you receive all this reward for it, but it will be your companion and ally on that day when you stand totally alone before your Lord. When no one else will help you, it will step forward and speak out on your behalf. The Prophet said:
اقْرَؤُوا القُرْآنَ؛ فَإنَّهُ يَأتِي يَوْمَ القِيَامَةِ شَفِيعاً لأَصْحَابِهِ
“Recite the Qur’an, for it will come as an intercessor for its reciters on the Day of Rising.” Now I know many of us here struggle to read and pronounce Arabic and find it a struggle to read and recite parts of the Qur’an we have not memorised. But you must not let that stop you. Firstly, it is never too late to learn more Qur’an by heart, no matter how old you are. It is one of the best possible uses to which you can put your time. The Prophet said,
خيركم من تعلم القرآن وعلمه
“The best of you are those engaged in learning the Qur’an and teaching it.” And, indeed, we have made special provisions for that here in the mosque by establishing a Qur’an madrasa that runs every morning from 8.30 until 2.30 and is taught by Hafidh Ismail Perez whom many of you will have heard reciting in the Tarawih. So, I encourage you to take advantage of that.
And secondly, to continue to recite even though it is a great struggle is a source of even greater reward. Do you not know that the Prophet said,
الَّذِي يَقْرَأُ القُرْآنَ وَهُوَ مَاهِرٌ بِهِ مَعَ السَّفَرَةِ الكِرَامِ البَرَرَةِ، وَالَّذِي يَقْرَأُ الْقُرْآنَ وَيَتَتَعْتَعُ فِيهِ وَهُوَ عَلَيْهِ شَاقٌّ لَهُ أجْرَانِ
“The one who is proficient in the recitation of the Qur’an will be with the honourable and obedient scribes (angels), but the one who recites the Qur’an and finds it difficult to recite, trying his hardest to recite it as best as he can, will have a double reward.” He will have the reward of one who recites along with the reward of one who struggles in the way of Allah. This is the tremendous of reciting the Qur’an, so take advantage of the baraka in the time of Ramadan, use whatever moments Allah grants you, and recite His Words. You will not be disappointed.
أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله العظيم لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين من كل ذنب فاستغفروه إنه هو التوّابُ الرَّحيم
الحمد لله الحمد لله رب العالمين، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمداً عبده ورسوله، صلى الله وسلم وبارك عليه وعلى آله وصحبه، والتابعين وتابعي التابعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين. أما بعد! فيأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله ما استطعتم واسمعوا وأطيعوا وأنفقوا خيرا لأنفسكم. يا عباد الله أوصيكم وإياي بتقوى الله وطاعته وأحذركم وإياي عن معصيته ومخالفته. قال الله تعالى في كتابه العزيز: كِتَابٌ أَنْزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ مُبَارَكٌ لِيَدَّبَّرُوا آَيَاتِهِ وَلِيَتَذَكَّرَ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ’
the translation of which is, “It is a Book We have sent down to you, full of blessing, so that people ponder its Signs and those who possess intelligence take heed.” The Qur’an is much much more than a collection of beautiful sounds, it is a Book of teaching and guidance. It contains the keys to everything that is knowable to the human being. No zone of knowledge has been omitted, it is all there for those who look and those who reflect. Allah says in surat al-An’am:
مَا فَرَّطْنَا فِي الْكِتَابِ مِنْ شَيْءٍ
In order to see this, in order to access its blessing, we must take heed, we must ponder its meanings and reflect upon its Signs. Tadabbur/ Reflection does not simply mean reading the translation of an aya or understanding what the words contained within it mean, it means ruminating on those ayats and bringing them to life, tasting them and applying them when and where they need to be applied. It starts with the realisation that what we are reading are the Words of Allah and His Words have no limits. The only limits that are to be found are within us, So the goal of our reflection is to expand our own limits to encompass as much as Allah wills us to encompass of their meanings. As a man in the zawiya of Shaykh Muhammad Ibn al-Habib in Meknes once told my father, “If you were truly to understand even a single letter of the Qur’an, you would not eat or sleep for forty days because of the light that is in it. I know this,” he continued, “because it happened to me.”
This is the fruit of sincere reflection. And all reflection starts with understanding. To achieve this understanding does not necessitate you knowing Arabic, although of course that helps and it is recommended that every Muslim study Arabic at least to a basic level. No, this understanding is obtainable to all Muslims, regardless of their knowledge and regardless of their grasp of Arabic, so long as they sincerely seek it and remain aware of what it is they are reading. The Book of Allah, a book of guidance and teaching, a comprehensive set of instructions on how to be and how to live and how to extract the best of everything in life, not just a beautiful series of sounds that pass our lips. So strong was their realisation of the profound meaning of Allah’s Words and their respect for the level of guidance to be extracted from each and every one of them that the Prophet, the early Muslims and many of the men of Allah used to not go from one ayat to the next until their reflections on it had born fruit and they had understood as many of its meanings as Allah opened up to them.
عن أبي ذر قال: قام رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بنا ليلة فقام بآية يرددها وهي: إن تعذبهم فإنهم عبادك وإن تغفر لهم فإنك أنت العزيز الحكيم، وإنما رددها صلى الله عليه وسلم لتدبره في معانيها
Abu Dharr narrated that the Messenger led them in prayer, one night, and stood (the night) repeating a single ayat of the Qur’an again and again. That ayat was,
“إن تعذبهم فإنهم عبادك وإن تغفر لهم فإنك أنت العزيز الحكيم”, the translation of which is, ‘If You punish them, they are Your slaves. If You forgive them, You are the Almighty, the All-Wise.’ And it was only the fact that he was reflecting upon its meanings that made him repeat it.”
And it is narrated that the great man of Allah, Abu Sulayman ad-Darani used to say, “I will continue to recite just one single ayat for four or five nights at a time not pass on the next until I have finished reflecting on it.”
Reflection on the Qur’an is a constant and ever-evolving process for one never exhausts the meanings that any one ayat has to offer. Every time you read an ayat afresh, some new aspect of its meaning opens up to you. So recite the Qur’an often and set aside time for reflection. And do not neglect to study and read how others have interpreted it. Set aside time to look at the great works of tafsir, such as those by Jalalayn, Qurtubi or Ibn Kathir and translations. Their insights will help you to have your own.
But, a word of warning. In the Qur’an, there are ayats of judgement upon which our Deen is based. It is not for us to interpret such ayats according to our personal whim. By tadabbur, we are not talking about interpretation of that sort, for that is something that you must avoid until you have the necessary tools and the necessary knowledge to do it. Interpretation without knowledge is dangerous even if you keep it to yourself and do not tell others, for you may be ascribing meanings to the Words of Allah that he did not intend, thereby telling lies against Him. For as Allah tells us:
إن الذين يفترون على الله الكذب لا يفلحون
the translation of which is, “People who invent lies against Allah will not be successful.”
So take time in the course of this month and throughout the rest of the year to sit with the Quran and study it, either alone or with others. Then choose times when your heart is tranquil and at ease, unoccupied by matters of the dunya, such as in the small hours of the night or after Fajr, recite the ayats that you studied, reflect upon them and prepare yourself to receive the meanings that Allah will open to you. That short time spent in the quiet contemplation of the meanings of the Book of Allah will be more beneficial to you than a lifetime of worship, for the Prophet said:
فكرة ساعة خير من عبادة ستين سنة
“An hour’s reflection is better than sixty years of worship.”
We ask Allah to fill our times with recitation of His Book, open our hearts to its meanings and deepen our love for it so that it truly becomes a constant companion for us in everything we do. We ask Him to give us the success to absorb its meanings into ourselves so that it turns into the very texture of our lives, and by that increase us in love for Him and His Messenger, he whose character was the Qur’an. We ask Allah to make us all, in the truest and deepest sense, people of the Qur’an.
إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ، يَا أَيُهَا الذِينَ آمَنُواْ صَلُّواْ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً. اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ وَبَارِكْ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ أَجْمَعِينَ. وَارْضَ اللَّهُمَّ عَنِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ وَعُثْمَانَ وَعَلِيٍّ، وَعن عائشةَ وسائر أزواج النبي، وَعَنْ سَائِرِ الصَّحَابَةِ أَجْمَعِينَ، خُصُوصاً اِلأَنْصَارَ مِنْهُمْ وَالمُهَاجِرِينَ، وَعَنِ التَّابِعِينَ وَتَابِعِي التَّابِعِينَ وَمَنْ تَبِعَهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّينِ.
اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِ وُلَاةَ أُمُورِ المُسْلِمِينَ لِمَا يُرْضِيكَ وَلِاتِّبَاعِ سُنَّةِ نَبِيِّكَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَهُمْ عَلَى الصِّرَاطِ المُسْتَقِيمِ، وَأَصْلِحْهُمْ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى شَيْخِنَا، وَعَلَى أَمِيرِنَا، وَعَلَى جَمِيعِ أُمَرَاءِ وَزُعَمَاءِ المُسْلِمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى المُسْلِمِينَ فِي هَذِهِ المَدِينَةِ، وَوَفِّقْهُمْ لِمَا تُحِبُّهُ وَتَرْضَاهُ يَا أَكْرَمَ الأَكْرَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ أَعِزَّ الإِسْلَامَ وَالمُسِْلمِينَ (3) وَاخْذُلِ الْكُفْرَ وَالْكَافِرِينَ، وَانْصُرِ المُجَاهِدِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ. وَاجْعَلْ كَلِمََتَكَ هِيَ العُلْيَا وَكَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ هِيَ السُّفْلَى.
رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقَِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ.
إِنَّ اللهَ يَامُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى، وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ، يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَّكَّرُونَ، وَلَذِكْرُ اللهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ. وَقُومُواْ إِلَى صَلاتِكُمْ يَرْحَمُكُمُ اللهُ.