As a Muslim millennial, I haven’t been the best at keeping track with the spiritual side of my life. I make silly excuses such as having distractions that would make themselves eventually transition into a priority. Yet, in addition to that, there would always be a nagging at the back of my mind, “Be a better Muslim.”
Time management has always been the biggest hurdle of most millennials. They try to squeeze in so much in 24 hours, striving to live in the moment and eventually, they would crumble and burn out.
It’s a vicious cycle, which trying to be a better Muslim, is inclusive.
My father was the one who taught me how to read the Qur’an when I was about ten years old. He taught me the basics of the sounds each Arabic letter made. I learned how to join the sounds to make a word, and ultimately into a complete sentence.
Eventually, I was put in a religious school for a few years and I was educated about the history of Islam, the social studies of Islam, the jurisprudence of Islam. Despite the fact that I was sent to be educated, I spent my years there… not paying attention.
I survived the school only because I was reasonably good at reading the Qur’an. It was fortunate for me that what my father taught me when I was ten made me better than the other kids at school. The only thing that I needed to brush up on was the tajweed.
Part of getting a good, survivable grade was to be able to read the Qur’an fairly well.
The problem here is that you don’t essentially have to understand what the Qur’an means to pass. I had thought that was great for me, that it was one less burden for me.
As I grew older, I realized that this way of thinking only bore a dismal hole through my faith. I felt that I was missing a big piece of the puzzle. I rarely checked back on the holy book.
After struggling through hardships for a handful of years, I was contemplating about where I should direct my life towards. In an idle state of mind one evening, my eyes landed on my bookshelf. Covered in a layer of dust, was the Noble Qur’an. I cleaned myself and dusted off the book and I decided to read a page of it. Feeling slightly better, I continued reading an additional page. However, I was still unable to comprehend a word it was saying to me. I could only believe that they were significant.
Still feeling unsatisfied with myself, I went out of my way the very next day to go to a variety of bookstores in search of a translated version of the Qur’an. It wasn’t the easiest task, as the translations I had mostly found, were in languages I wasn’t comfortable in understanding. Especially if I wanted to fully understand the profound depth of the Qur’an.
Once I had finally found the book that I needed (it was a side-by-side translation), I immediately went home and cracked open the book. But I hadn’t started from the beginning.
Instead, the chapter I landed on was coincidentally and appropriately called Al-Furqan, which can be translated to the criterion. The very first verse of said chapter was:
“Blessed be He Who sent down the Criterion (of right and wrong, i.e. this Qur’an) to His slave (Prophet Muhammad) that he may be a warner to the ‘Alamiin (mankind and jinn).”
It was as though I was hit by a sledgehammer as I read the sentence. I finally knew what I was reading. What were the odds of landing on a verse where it had mentioned one of the purposes of the Qur’an?
I had later found out that the whole chapter refers to the Qur’an as the decisive factor between good and evil.
It was relieving to finally understand even the slightest bit of what the book presents. I say this loosely, because even when translated, it doesn’t entirely capture the core implication of the Qur’an, unless you are really proficient in the Arabic language.
It’s safe to say that I am more than reassured now that I am able to comprehend the holy text, along with being able to read it in its original language. Not only is it enlightening, but it’s always a different experience every time I read the Qur’an. I find that there is always something new to find. An angle or an approach to read the text in such a way that I had never thought of before. As cliché as it sounds, it has taught me to become a better Muslim and a better person.
As the Qur’an is recited, few would wisely listen to it, fewer still would be able to understand it. Then there are those who would reflect its meanings and dedicate their time to its study. There are things in this physical world which can simply nourish ourselves to maintain on a daily basis; eating, drinking, sleeping, socializing. However, what else can you turn to if you want to take care of your heart and mind?