Notes from IIE Talk
Notes from Institute of Islamic Education Alumni Reunion 2014
(for more information about IIE, please visit: http://iieonline.org/)
kr’s note: I was very fortunate to have attended the annual IIE Alumni Reunion earlier today. It was great to see old friends; it was even better for this wayward student to meet his old teachers. What follows are some notes I took from the talk. May God allow us to benefit from this. Any mistakes in translation and transcription are undoubtedly mine.
Topic: Concerning Ramadan and the Qur’an
–The relationship between the Qur’an and Ramadan is an inseparable one, Allah establishes this in 2:185 by showing how this month is defined by the sending down of the Qur’an. The greatness of both these entities is linked to one another. Whenever we read the Qur’an, we should be reminded of Ramadan, and whenever we think of Ramadan, we should be reminded of the Qur’an. Both honor one another. The month is like a vessel that contains a precious commodity (the Qur’an).
–Previous nations were also given fasting, and this was also given to them in Ramadan. Previous nations were also given Books, and these were also always revealed in Ramadan.
–So fasting is prescribed in Ramadan because it is a “preparation” in order to receive the Words of Allah. Hence, when Allah called Musa (A) (7:142) to Him, he spent 30 days fasting (which was the month of Ramadan) as preparation to receive Wahy. So when the 30 days were complete, he cleaned and groomed himself, including washing his mouth. Allah asked Prophet Musa (A) why he did this, and he (A) replied that he did this as preparation to recite the coming Revelation. Allah told him that He wanted him to be in this state, “bad breath” and all, to receive the revelation, so He told him to fast 10 more days to “re-prepare” (hence making the 40 days on Mt. Sinai) to receive revelation. So from this, we understand that fasting is basically a preparation to receive and recite the Words of Allah.
–This is also why the Prophet (S) would go for long periods of time, 10-20 days, in the Cave of Hira when he was in Makkah. His wife, Khadijah (R), would pack for him a small amount of food because he was fasting. He was in a state of fasting, in Ramadan, when Wahy came to him as well. Allah wanted to prepare His Messenger (S) for the task of reciting the Qur’an.
–The Qur’an was the first speech of the Lawhe-Mahfuz (Well-Preserved Tablet). When there was nothingness, Allah created the Pen and told it to write the Lawhe-Mahfuz. The Qur’an was the first part of it. It came down to Bayt al-Ma’mur initially. Bayt al-Ma’mur is the House of Allah in the Highest Heaven. The Prophet (S) saw Ibrahim (A) during the Mi’raj seated with his back rested on this House with hordes of children playing around him. Abdullah b. `Abbas (R) said that if a bucket were lowered from Bayt al-Ma’mur, it would fall directly onto the roof of the Ka’bah. And then on Laylat al-Qadr when the Prophet (S) first received revelation, it came to the Lowest Heaven, and then was revealed over a period of 23 years.
–Allah sent down this Qur’an, starting in Ramadan, to be a guidance for people. The Qur’an is meant for us down in this world. It is not meant for us to raise it back up by wrapping it in cloth and putting it in a high place. Allah sent it down and we “send it back up”. We should be weary because Allah said that He will raise the Qur’an before the mass destruction of the Day of Judgment, so when we raise the Qur’an like this (ie, not use it and simply keep it for display), we are asking for destruction. Allah will remove the Qur’an before this destruction, just as a nation protects its assets before a war and resulting destruction.
–We should be weary because Allah can do away with us (4:133) and bring another people who will value this Qur’an.
–The analogy of reading the whole Qur’an is like praying all the rak’ahs of a prayer. When we read only one part, it’s like praying only the obligatory portion of the prayer. So reading one part of the Qur’an is like only praying 4 rak’ahs of fard for Zuhr. Yes, your obligation is fulfilled, but you should feel incomplete that you’ve missed out on the perks of the Sunnah and Nafl of Zuhr; this is how we should feel when we miss out on parts of the Qur’an in recitation, especially if we miss parts during Taraweeh.
–The Prophet (S) loved the Qur’an so much; oftentimes, he would recite from Surah al-Baqarah to Surah al-Ma’idah in one rak’ah(!), and this was outside of Ramadan, so imagine how much more he loved to recite during Ramadan, especially his recitation to Jibril (A) during this month.
–The Companions (R) therefore also loved the Qur’an. It was for this reason that `Umar(R) established the Taraweeh, putting forth Ubay b. Ka’b (R) as the first Imam of Taraweeh.
–Those who claim knowledge of hadith and say that Taraweeh was not done during the time of the Prophet and Companions should not even use the term hadith, they have no right to even use it! They should know that the Prophet (S) led this prayer for two nights in congregation, each night there were more Companions (R) than the previous night. On the third night, the entire masjid was filled with Companions (R) who were eagerly awaiting him (S) to come out and lead them. But he did not lead them because he feared Taraweeh might become fard upon the Ummah. So appreciate the Adab (respect) of the Companions that they patiently waited until sahur time for him to come out. No one left or began asking where he was. Today, we get nervous and upset if the Khateeb is even 2 minutes late. None of them left, and then when he came out and told them why, they understood. But those who claim to know hadith, they should know that our Mother, Aisha (R), said that the Prophet (S) never started a prayer and then stopped it. So he would not have stopped the Taraweeh on that third night, he merely prayed it in his home.
–How can they say Taraweeh is not Sunnah when the Prophet (S) said, “Hold fast to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of Rightly-Guided and Rightly-Guiding Caliphs”. So when `Umar established this, none of the Companions (R) objected. If this was against the Sunnah, wouldn’t they have raised an objection?
–We should appreciate that Taraweeh is a vessel that is inside another vessel (Ramadan) for the honoring of the Qur’an. All of this is to make it easier for us to build and strengthen a relationship with Qur’an.
–Mawlana Qasim Nanotwi (RA) commented on the verse, “Indeed, the Qur’an of Fajr is witnessed.” Usually, we read longer portions in Fajr, and if this longer portion is so honored, imagine how honored the longer portions that we recite in Taraweeh must be?
–Memorizing the Qur’an is mustahabb (recommended and praiseworthy), but forgetting what one has memorized is haram.
–Revise what you have memorized in preparation for Ramadan, not in preparation for Taraweeh
–All the great scholars of the past would leave all other subjects (Fiqh, etc) in Ramadan and immerse themselves with the Qur’an, especially with recitation, but also with anything to do with the Qur’an. The great Tafseer al-Jalalayn was written by two authors; Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti started his half on the 1st of Ramadan and finished it on the 10th of Shawwal, so it took him 40 days to write a tafseer on 15 juz, imagine the barakah that was in his time. This was because of his love for the Qur’an and also because of the month of Ramadan.
–The reward for reciting the Qur’an is tremendous. We know the famous hadith that says for every letter one recites, one will receive 10 rewards, and that alif is a letter, laam is a letter and meem is a letter. The scholars of the past were so enamored with this that they counted the verses, words, letters, dots, vowel marks, diacritical marks, etc., to catalog how many rewards the reciter will receive. One can find these exact numbers in books such as Itqan of al-Suyuti and Mawlana Na’eem’s (RA) Tafseer al-Kamalayn
–Advice to huffaz: you must recite the entire Qur’an in Taraweeh, you cannot lead with 4-5 people and think you have led Taraweeh. Ramadan is a time for you to make up for any deficiency in revision you may have had in the other 11 months. Even if you have to take time off from school/work to do this, you must do your revision. You don’t have to lead in a large masjid, just get 2-3 people and read in your home.
–The month of Ramadan is a time for being involved with the Qur’an. Recitation of the Qur’an is a priority, but you may wish to supplement it, if you have time, with reading any Qur’an-related materials, such as Tafseer, etc. But most of us need to prioritize recitation this month over all else.