Has the Qur’ān ever caused a shiver down your spine? Has it ever brought out tears from your eyes? Has it ever caused you to smile out of joy?
Such is the beauty of the Qur’ān, its mere recitation evokes our emotions and causes us to pause in reverence for the messages contained within,
لِمَن كَانَ لَهُ قَلْبٌ أَوْ أَلْقَى السَّمْعَ وَهُوَ شَهِيدٌ
For the one who has a heart or lends an ear whilst he is present of mind.Qur’an: 50:37
Now ask yourself, what does it mean to be present of mind, to be a Shahīd?
The Qur’ān has three overarching rights over us as Muslims, we must recite it regularly, we must seek to understand it and we must act upon its guidance. These rights are all intertwined with each other. It is clear that the one who does not understand it cannot act upon its guidance and the one who does not read it cannot ever hope to understand it!
Why is this important? We need to understand that the Qur’ān is not just a book that is read or recited, nor is it just a book of rules and regulations. It is more than that, it is the complete manual on all things to do with living life; minor or major, public or private, physical or intellectual. Allāh ﷻ chose to reveal it to Muhammad ﷺ as he describes within:
وَإِنَّهُ لَتَنزيلُ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ نَزَلَ بِهِ الرُّوحُ الأمِينُ عَلَى قَلْبِكَ لِتَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُنْذِرِينَ بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِيٍّ مُبِينٍ
And indeed it is a revelation of the Lord of the worlds • The trustworthy spirit brought it down • Upon your heart, in order that you be amongst the warners • In a clear Arabic tongue.Qur’an: 26:192-195
Part of ‘understanding’ the Qur’ān is to understand its linguistic meanings, the contexts within which different verses were revealed, what different legal injunctions scholars derived from it and the list goes on. One may look at this and feel it to be daunting. They may even be put off by it, sadly limiting themselves to just reciting the Qur’ān and perhaps reading its translation from time to time.
However, a major part of understanding the Qur’ān is also to regularly contemplate over its themes and messages. Allāh ﷻ says in the Qur’ān:
كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ مُبَارَكٌ لِّيَدَّبَّرُوا آيَاتِهِ وَلِيَتَذَكَّرَ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ
It is a blessed book that we revealed to you (Oh Muhammad), in order for them to contemplate its verses and for those with intellect to take heed.Qur’an: 38:29
This does not require expertise, it does not require scholarly training, and it does not require anything but the presence of mind. It brings about true appreciation over the experiences we have in this world and in turn, brings us closer to Allāh ﷻ. It is with this same contemplation, that scholars were prompted to complete revolutionary works such as ‘Al-Qanun Fi At-Tibb’ by Ibn Sina and ‘Kitab al-Hayawaan’ by Al-Jahiz.
But what does contemplation actually mean?
Ibn Al-Qayyim (May Allāh ﷻ have mercy on him) said: “As for ponderance over the Qur’ān, it is to fixate the gaze of the heart to its meanings, and to combine between its reflection and understanding and that is the intended purpose of its revelation, not just to recite it without anything of the above.”
The most important thing in order to fulfill the purpose of the revelation then, is to receive guidance and closeness to Allāh ﷻ through his revelation. We must think of ourselves in the wilderness of this world having been provided a guide to safety and shelter. The one who reads this guide, yet he reads it absent-mindedly without focus and thought, will not benefit. Rather, he may be harmed by it, without any fault of the guide! However, the individual who reads this guide, ponders over it and gives it the due attention it truly deserves, he will find his way to safety quickly and in the best manner possible.
Adopting this mindset will encourage us to reflect on the Qur’ān, to intellectually satiate our minds and to bring contentment to our hearts because we will be fulfilling the purpose of the Qur’ān rather than just paying lip-service. As al-Hasan al-Basri said: ‘The Qur’ān was sent down for it to be reflected and acted upon, but the people took its recital as acting upon it’.
But how do we contemplate the Qur’ān?
Contemplation can be done in many ways, and the advent of technology has only made this easier. Due to the fact that we cannot directly comprehend Allāh ﷻ ﷻ, one of the things he directly calls us to contemplate over his creation:
أَفَلَا يَنظُرُونَ إِلَى الْإِبِلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ وَإِلَى السَّمَاءِ كَيْفَ رُفِعَتْ وَإِلَى الْجِبَالِ كَيْفَ نُصِبَتْ وَإِلَى الْأَرْضِ كَيْفَ سُطِحَتْ
Do they not consider the camels, how they have been created? • To the heavens, how they have been raised? • To the mountains, how they have been erected? • To the earth, how has it been spread out?Qur’an: 88:18
The verses here call us to consider the animals that we see, the world above us, and the landscapes crafted into the earth that we observe. We should use the scientific research that has been conducted regarding the natural world and the wider universe to further our appreciation of the creation of Allāh ﷻ. Science is not antithetical to Islam, rather it is a tool to be used to further increase our connection to Allāh ﷻ ﷻ and Islam. As Ibn al-Wardi writes in his Laamiyyah:
حَـارتِ الأَفْكارُ فـي حِكمةِ مَنْ * * * قَـدْ هَـدانـا سبْلنـا عـزَّ وجَـلْ The intellects are left in wonder at the wisdom of - the one who has guided us to our paths, May glory and honour be to him!
There are many books that have been written discussing the natural world and as many documentaries available to watch. There is nothing quite like seeing a pack of lions hunting on the plains of the Serengeti, who taught the lions to work as a team, systematically cornering the herd of wildebeest whilst other lions seek to pick off stragglers in the chaos and take them down? Who gave the lion the strength in its jaws to suffocate its prey as it crushes its neck? Who gave the lion its coloured fur to blend in with the land? سبحان الله, it could have only been Allāh ﷻ! As He ﷻ says:
وَمَا مِن دَابَّةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ إِلَّا عَلَى اللَّهِ رِزْقُهَا وَيَعْلَمُ مُسْتَقَرَّهَا وَمُسْتَوْدَعَهَا ۚ كُلٌّ فِي كِتَابٍ مُّبِينٍ
And there is no creature on Earth except upon Allāh ﷻ is its provision, and he knows its dwelling place and its place of storage, all of which is in a clear record.Qur’an: 11:6
Whilst in another place, Allāh ﷻ calls us to reflect on our own selves:
وَفِي الْأَرْضِ آيَاتٌ لِّلْمُوقِنِينَ وَفِي أَنفُسِكُمْ ۚ أَفَلَا تُبْصِرُونَ
And in the Earth are signs for those who have certainty • and amongst yourselves, will you not then consider?Qur’an: 51:20
The anatomy of the human body is also another wonderous creation to ponder over. How each bodily system works perfectly in perfect conjunction with each other, nothing obstructing the other.
We should even contemplate the smallest minutia like the function of the white blood cells, the spinal fluid, the lips, the fovea in the eyes and so much more. Allāh ﷻ ﷻ says in the Qur’ān:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَسْتَحْيِي أَن يَضْرِبَ مَثَلًا مَّا بَعُوضَةً فَمَا فَوْقَهَا ۚ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ ۖ وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَيَقُولُونَ مَاذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِهَٰذَا مَثَلًا
Indeed, Allāh ﷻ is not embarrassed to present any example, whether it be a mosquito and anything more insignificant than that. As for those who believe, they will know this is the truth from their Lord, and as for those who disbelieve, they’ll say what does Allāh ﷻ intend with this example?Qur’an: 2:26
You are also able to ponder over human behaviors. Look at babies, how do they know to cry when they feel discomfort or hunger? How do they know that milk comes from their mothers breast, how do they know that to extract it they must suckle? How do they naturally hold their breath underwater? All of this comes from Allāh ﷻ, natural behaviors and reflexes he instilled in us to allow us to survive and thrive even when we are helpless newborns!
All of this contemplation results in us being better believers, certain in the power and greatness of Allāh ﷻ, therefore being included amongst those whom Allāh ﷻ describes:
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآيَاتٍ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَى جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَذَا بَاطِلًا سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ مَنْ تُدْخِلِ النَّارَ فَقَدْ أَخْزَيْتَهُ وَمَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ مِنْ أَنْصَارٍ رَبَّنَا إِنَّنَا سَمِعْنَا مُنَادِيًا يُنَادِي لِلْإِيمَانِ أَنْ آمِنُوا بِرَبِّكُمْ فَآمَنَّا رَبَّنَا فَاغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَكَفِّرْ عَنَّا سَيِّئَاتِنَا وَتَوَفَّنَا مَعَ الْأَبْرَارِ رَبَّنَا وَآتِنَا مَا وَعَدْتَنَا عَلَى رُسُلِكَ وَلَا تُخْزِنَا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّكَ لَا تُخْلِفُ الْمِيعَادَ
Indeed in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of the night and day are signs for those who have intelligence • Those who remember Allāh ﷻ whilst standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and who contemplate in the creation of the heavens and the earth (saying) ‘Oh our Lord! You did not create this all without purpose! Glory be to you, save us from the punishment of the fire • Oh our Lord! Indeed whomever you enter into the fire, then you have disgraced him, and the wrongdoers will have no helpers • Oh our Lord! Indeed we have heard a caller calling to faith, (saying) “Believe in you Lord” so we believed! So forgive us for our sins and remove from us our wrongdoings and cause to die amongst the righteous • Oh Our Lord! Grant us what you have promised upon your messengers and do not disgrace us on the day of judgement, indeed you do not go against your promise •Qur’an: 3:190-194
 Translated as ‘The Canon of Medicine’, a medical text which was the standard textbook for centuries in Europe.
 Translated as ‘The book of Animals’, a compendium in which the author writes about around 350 species of Animals.
 Madarij as-Salikeen (440/1)
 Madarij as-Salikeen (440/1)
 Known as the bradycardic response