From Mindless Recitation to Active Understanding - Becoming Friends With The Quran


All through my childhood, the start of Ramzan meant the start of reciting at least one Juz of the Holy Quran every day. My parents would tell me and my brother that it was the bare minimum of the 'extra' ibaadat we could do
in the Holy Month. Yes, I know, quite shameful that we never opened the Quran the rest of the year. Hence, what should have been a daily practice all through the year became the something special for the month.

I remember feeling lost every time I sat down to recite the Juz for the day. Though I did have the desire to spend more time with the Quran during the month, the purpose of reciting page after page without understanding the meaning of a single word was lost on me. I found the entire act purely robotic where I'd be counting the number of pages left before I could be free from my daily obligation. Sometimes, to make things exciting, I would time myself and then try to beat my own timing every day. Yes, that was a primary school child's idea of a game and it made the otherwise dry and boring task more interesting.

As I grew older, I conveyed my disinterest and concern over mindless recitation to my parents and they encouraged me to start reading the Quran with translation. I tried all the Urdu translations available in the house but even though my Urdu is pretty good, I struggled trying to make sense of all the parenthesis and historical references that I wasn't aware of. My dad brought me English translations and one after the other, I declared them all to be too 'Shakespearean' in their language to make much sense. I was left believing that the translations alone would not be of any use to a beginner like myself and I had to start reading some tafsir if I wanted to embark on the journey to truly understand the Holy Book. One look at the thickness of of the tafsir volumes and I thought to myself: "Some other time, maybe." Many Ramzan came and went and every time the story repeated. The month ended and I went back to being a sorry muslim, hopelessly trying to pray five times a day, feeling accomplished on doing that only.

Fast forward a few years and there came the age of internet, the advent of smartphones and the transfer of all our lives to social media. One fine day I came across a video by someone called Nouman Ali Khan on my facebok newsfeed. It was titled,  "A Deeper Look at Surah Fatiha". I saw the video and felt extremely stupid at the fact that I did not even have a teeny tiny understanding of the surah that I recited in namaz every day. 

From then on, I would see NAK's videos every now and then and felt the desire to educate myself on the Quran. I loved his teaching style, his tone wasn't harsh and his lectures always hit home. What I loved the most was how he always highlighted the Message's relevance to us in today's world. In times when it takes us a minute to brush many Islamic teachings under the carpet by saying: "But that was 1400 years ago", NAK's "What does it mean for us today?" started making me relate to the Quran on personal level.


It was finally at the start of Ramzan last year that I sat down to explore Nouman Ali Khan's Bayyinah Institute and the variety of programs if offers.I learnt about the resources available at Bayyinah TV, convinced myself that I was actually serious about learning this time around and bought a year long subscription that gave me access to thousands of hours of video content. That was my first step on the journey that should have started years ago. 

I started with following the Ramadan 2016 series on Surah Baqarah, the translations of which I had previously gone through multiple times. It was an hour long episode every night and seemed very do-able. A few days in and I was enjoying the lectures so much that I would look forward to listening to them and taking notes each night. I was having too many 'Ahhhh! So that's what it means' moments because all the historical references that were lost on me in the literal translations now started making sense, all the missing pieces were coming together. I could finally feel the connection and the excitement that I craved back in those childhood days and it felt enriching. An hour a day soon started feeling too short and I quickly jumped on to listening to other series available on Bayyinah TV. On days when I felt my concentration dwindling for a tafsir lecture, I'd opt for a Story Night and listen to stories like: "Young & Courageous", "Fallen", "The Father of Two Nations", "Forging a Hero". There was so much history and so much action that I was unaware of. I felt thrilled, as if I had discovered jewels in a treasure box that I possessed all along but had only now unlocked. 

The habit of reciting the Quran ONLY had been so ingrained in me that sometimes it felt wrong to be listening to a simple English explanation of the four stories narrated in Surah Kahf instead of doing the Arabic recitation. I had to constantly remind myself that I'm learning more about the Message that Allah sent for me by listening to these stories than I did in all those years of mindless recitation put together.

For the first time in many years, I did not recite one Juz each day. I did not finish reading the Quran cover to cover by the end of the month. But I felt closer to the Book than I ever had. It did not feel strange anymore. Understanding  it did not feel like a daunting task anymore. I felt more familiar with its language, more friendly with its content and most importantly, more in love with its Writer.

P.S: Not undermining the importance and the reward of reciting the Quran in any way. The purpose of the post is to encourage active learning of the Quranic Message over mindless recitation only.
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For anyone who isn't aware about Nouman Ali Khan and/or Bayyinah, below are some relevant links:

Bayyinah Institute: To understand the Bayyinah Institute's vision, mission and the variety of programs it offers.

Bayyinah TV: To subscribe to endless video content including Tafsir Lectures, Arabic Language Courses, Lectures on Islamic Parenting, Stories from the Quran, History Lessons and Webinars from around the world.

Monthly Subscription: $11
Yearly Subscription: $112 (full refund upto 30 days after purchase)

If you cannot afford a paid subscription, you can apply for a FREE Gift Subscription for One Year here
I know someone who simple wrote that he cannot afford to pay the amount but wants to learn Arabic. He got free subscription the next day, no questions asked. Be decent enough to not misuse the option though. If you have the money, there's an option to do sadaqah by giving free subscription to those who can't afford.

Once you have the subscription, you will also have full access to all resources on your phone on the Bayyinah App (iOS & Android).

For updates on new videos and series: Nouman Ali Khan Facebook Page

For short animated videos based on snippets from NAK's lectures: Nouman Ali Khan Collection 

Youtube Channel: Bayyinah Institute

Ramzan Mubarak!



10 comments

  1. JazakAllah khair for this! I was in the phase of 'thinking' about starting this journey for too long. This was a much needed reminder!

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  2. I've thought about taking the subscription so many times, I love his videos and always think about using more of his resources. I think you just convinced me to do it. Thanks!

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  3. Your writing has the power to convince. And you used it to write on this much needed topic. May Allah bless you for this :)

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  4. Ustadh Nouman is epic Ma sha Allah. And I'm glad more people get to benefit through his videos.

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  5. May Allah help us all in developing understanding of this most important book The Quran aameen
    Nouman Ali Khan is amazing

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