I hosted a well-known scholar not so long ago.
On the very last day, as our time together was coming to an end, I asked him one final question.
"Sheikh, I've learned a whole lot from spending time with you these past few days. But if there's only one thing you could leave me with, what would it be?"
Without hesitating, he said "That's an easy one." (I will paraphrase a little, of course).
"We often busy ourselves with the learning of different things. Everything has its due place of course. But nothing, absolutely nothing matters more than the Quran.
In fact, I would go as far as saying that if you're not reading the Quran cover to cover every single month as the bare minimum - then don't do anything else UNTIL you get that habit covered. That is the key to all things, the bedrock, the foundation.
Once you've mastered that routine - and ONLY when you've mastered that, the next stage is to understand the methodology for understanding the Quran, and how to use it to connect the dots.
These two core fundamentals will provide the framework to truly understanding your purpose, the world we live in and the path to God. Everything else will fall in to place."
I found it quite profound in its sheer simplicity. Here was a world-renowned orator, respected scholar and prolific author who had a deep knowledge of many diverse areas. But he acknowledged that without the depth of understanding the Quran properly, no other philosophy, ideology or perspective will ever be able to give you the same outlook, the same insights, the same wisdom.
It does make sense, when you look at it. The power of Quran is such that the benefits compound over time, making your mind sharper, your heart softer and instilling more and more light within you.
The first is the discipline it cultivates. Reading it is not easy. But how can you consider yourself a serious student of knowledge, without constantly exercising this muscle? Like any athlete needs to have a certain level of fitness before competing, your ability to read the Quran must be nurtured with extensive daily practice.
The second is the immense barakah contained within it. After all, if the Quran is a shifa for mankind, what effect do you think the reciting of it will have on our hearts, our bodies and especially our time?
Most importantly, is that within it, contains the answers to all things. If you want to understand anything - whether it is physics, geopolitics, economics, language, law - the understanding you have when it comes from the lens of the Quran, as opposed to the secular perspective we may ordinarily learn simply cannot be compared.
The Quran says:
If all the trees on earth were pens, and the ocean were ink, replenished by seven more oceans, the writing of Allah's Words would not be exhausted; surely Allah is Mighty Wise. Quran; 31:27
This shows us how much the Quran has got to tell us. It means that contained within this concise Book is the constant flow of knowledge, it will continue to give and give - even if the world tried to rival it with all its might, it would get nowhere near.
We have revealed to you the Book (i.e. the Quran) as an explanation of ALL things, a guide, a mercy, and good news for those who ˹fully˺ submit. Quran; 16:89
This means it is timeless, flawless and will always be a book that is relevant to understand the world and times we live in.
What I don't understand, is why the Qu’ran or this ayah is not used in such a manner, today?
When the Book was in the hands of a few, they conquered the masses.
But today, it’s in the hands of the masses, but they’ve been conquered by the few.
The reason for this is simply that we have separated it from everyday life. We turned away from what made us strong.
Once upon a time, the Qur’an was central to Muslim life, and it inspired new discoveries in science, led to world exploration and set out the ethical rules for trade between merchants - amongst others - all at a time where the Muslims prospered. They held on to the Book above all else.
Today, sadly, we look everywhere except within Islam. The Quran is merely used as a book of spirituality - but by doing so, we dilute or even negate the power and purpose of why this Book was sent down to us - and consequently dilute our own power and potential.
Can we go back to the Quran and learn what it can tell us about our own world - across subjects as diverse as law, economy, education, science and history?
The final aspect is the trustworthiness of information out there. We learn from Edward Said's Orientalism much of what we read is soaked in a heavily Western-biased world view, which misrepresents and whitewashes history.
How much of what we learn in schools or online is actually impartial or 100% true?
The first ayat of Surah al Kahf, translates as:
“Praise belongs to Allah who has sent down the Book to His servant, and allowed no crookedness in it”
No crookedness — i.e. nothing false at all. It's completely straight down the line.
After all, this is a Book which Allah has vowed to protect until the end of time. If there is something you know is guaranteed to be accurate and correct — then we must use this as our measure! Therefore if we see or read something that is not consistent (or contradicts) with the Qur’an — it is a sure fire sign that it is invalid and inaccurate and incorrect. This will help us battle the splurge of fake news and deception that surrounds us today.
Have you ever felt travel sick? The cause of car or sea sickness is when the ears send a message to the brain, saying something isn’t right (and balanced), but the message the eyes send to the brain tells it that everything is fine. So these conflicting messages causes the brain to be confused and subsequently vomit. What cures sea sickness is being on a completely flat, straight surface (where you can see the horizon, for example) again where the confusion can be eradicated.
The Qu’ran is that very thing which provides utmost clarity and keeps away confusion.
In the West, we champion stoicism, zen buddhism and other things that help people tap into a more spiritual paradigm. These are simply ancient philosophies repackaged into a way which aids modern problems. At KNOW we believe Quranic education is universal, more powerful than any of these philosophies and is what we must turn to to solve all the problems of the world.
A lifelong learner, avid reader and passionate writer, I am the founder of KNOW and a serial entrepreneur.
I am a huge believer in personal development and am also the co-founder of Muslim CEO.