Understanding the Quraan
All the other Divine Books – the Torah and the Gospel – were revealed in the written form. The Holy Quraan, however, was revealed by speech according to the circumstances that the Prophet ﷺ and the people faced. Some verses would be revealed before an event took place while others were revealed after an incident took place. For example, the first few verses of Surah An-Nur were revealed to testify to the chastity of ‘A’ishah RA after the incident of slander. Similarly, the first few verses of Surah Aal-Imran were revealed after a Christian delegation from Najran visited the Prophet ﷺ. They argued about the divinity of Jesus, so Allah revealed the verses of Surah Aal-Imran and said: “Allah! La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshiped but He), the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists,” (3: 2).
The Qur’an does not say anything about these incidences, in order to get the details we have to look at the Seerah and the sayings of the Prophet ﷺ.
When one of the Companions heard the ayah, “…and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread [of night]…” [Al-Baqarah 2: 187] he placed a black thread under his pillow and would eat and drink, then take out that thread to see if it had turned white. The thread, of course, would not change its colour. Confused, he went to the Prophet ﷺ and narrated the incident. The Prophet ﷺ smiled and explained that the white thread means the emergence of light in the horizon and not a literal thread turning white. That is how the Prophet ﷺ explained the verses of the Quraan, and that is why it is essential for us to consult his Seerah while studying the Quraan.
Studying the Seerah is An Ibaadah
Studying the Seerah is neither a pastime nor an entertainment. We are doing this for the pleasure of Allah, for learning more about our Prophet ﷺ than the very basics, and for self-improvement. Therefore, when you study the Seerah know that you are being rewarded – what a beautiful way to earn the hasanaat [good].
Allah says, “Say [O Muhammad]: If you should love Allah, then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is All-Forgiving and the most Merciful.” [Aal Imran 3: 31]
Following the Sunnah is a means for loving Allah. When the slave loves Allah, not only does Allah love him back but also forgives his sins. SubhanAllah! Then which of your Lord’s favours would you deny?
Developing a Muslim Identity
Aleksandr Solzhen, a Russian writer, said, “To destroy a people you must first sever their roots.”
Why Muslims are so far from the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah? Because we have adopted a foreign culture and forgotten our own history. In our schools, more emphasis is laid on the western customs and civilization than the Islamic traditions hence compelling us to separate religion from daily life. Only the destitute and incapable are sent to the Masjids and Madressahs so that they might earn a living for themselves.
As globalization overtakes our lives, the Muslim youth today stands confused; they have lost their identity. They bear close semblance to rock stars and soccer players than the Companions RA. Ask them the names of the ten promised Paradise and they would not know. Ask them the name of the players and they will tell you.
We do our daily prayers, fast in Ramadaan, go for Hajj but we have lost the “essence” of the teachings. Our practices have become mere rituals with no effect on our hearts. This is a serious crisis – and in order to return to our roots, we need to pick up the teachings that made Islam the greatest religion in the world.
Once again, before beginning the Seerah let us re-check our intentions and correct our goal: We are studying the Seerah to learn about the Prophet ﷺ and become dear to Allah as he was.