Your Quran Journal
[Full disclosure: If you google “Quran Journal”, the first link that shows up is an article on how and why to keep a Quran Journal. Did I rip the idea off from that article? No, I did not. I had a Quran journal long before I found that article and I don’t believe in plagiarism.
However, I think I did steal the term “Quran Journal” from that article. I used to call mine a “Quran notebook”. Notebook sounded too school-girlish. Journal sounds very professional so….I stole the name.]
Okay, what is a Quran Journal? Short Answer: Whatever you want it to be.
Okay then, what is my Quran Journal? Well, let me run through the story first (don’t get excited – it’s nothing fancy).
Many years ago, I finally grew a brain, alhamdulillah. I realised that I seriously needed to read the Quran with translation. So, I started to do just that. However, many times I would come across ayaat that just struck me. Other times, I had many questions about certain ayaat. So, I started to write down my thoughts on bits of paper – which was a disaster because I kept putting them all over the place!
My brain grew slightly bigger, alhamdulillah and I realised that I seriously need to get a notebook for this purpose. So, enter my Quran notebook. The book was much better. However, I encountered another problem. At this time, I had started to read the tafsir as well and I also read the word-to-word translation at times. Also, I had finished reading the first translation and had moved onto another one which means I started from the beginning again.
Okay, what’s the problem, you ask? Allow me to explain. For example, assume that I am reading the translation. I have a few thoughts on Surah Al-Israa and Surah Al-Kahf. Then, I read the tafsir of Surah Al-Isra. What happens? My thoughts go from Surah Al-Isra to Surah Al-Kahf to Surah Al-Isra. So, my thoughts on Surah Al-Isra are not in one place, kapish?
My brain grew slightly bigger, alhamdulillah and I realised that as this notebook was going to be a long-term thing and I would keep coming back to the same surahs, I had to find a way to organise it surah-wise.
No worries. I took another notebook and wrote “Surah Al-Fatihah” on the first page and left a few pages blank for my thoughts. Then, I wrote “Surah Al-Baqarah” (after the few blank pages) and left lots of blank pages for that (as it is a really long surah). Then, I did that for each surah. I ran out of place before I could list all the surahs. What did I do? I used another notebook, of course.
So, what kind of stuff did I list in the notebook? Well, I could understand Arabic by that time so I would directly read from the Mushaf. However, I would mention some words that I didn’t understand. I wrote some thoughts that I had and any questions that came to my mind. I also wrote down any words I might have tajweed issues with (if I was stuck on the recitation – which was very rare but it happened).
Of course, you don’t have to follow my pattern. It’s your journal so do it your way.
Why bother taking notes anyway?
Now, you’ll notice I wrote about my journal in the past tense. That’s because my brain grew smaller and I stopped using it. Why? Laziness, what else? Insha-Allah, I’m going to restart it. Why? Because I don’t want to read the Quran like it’s a story, then close it and forget about it. It is a book that we need to act upon and learn lessons from.
When we study from other books, we take notes. Why don’t we ever do this with the Quran? Perhaps we don’t view at that way? Perhaps it’s not that important to us (although we claim it is)?
I heard someone recently asking about fantasy novels and whether it’s permissible to read them (apparently, people are “bored” and have “too much time”). Halal and haram aside, please explain why you would even want to waste your time with novels??? We have the Quran. It’s like a treasure chest. And on top of this, we also have sooooooooooo many other wonderful Islamic books. Why, why, why, WHY would anybody read fantasy when you have reality – and such a beautiful reality at that!
Who cares about Character X who never existed? You want a hero? What about Musa (alaihissalam)?
On the run? Check.
Meets Ms. Right? Check.
Returns to carry out his mission? Check.
Defeats the enemy? Check.
Splits the sea? Check.
Oh, you want a female version? Give me Asiya, wife of the Pharoah (okay, she’s my favourite woman of all time).
A queen? Check.
Has a terrible spouse? Check.
Gives up everything to accept the truth? Check.
Tortured in order to give up the truth? Check.
Has a tragic death? Check.
[Hey wait, you say, what happened to Mr. Right? Isn’t she getting him? Well, I heard that there’s a WEAK hadeeth that she will marry the Prophet (sallahu alaihi wasallam) in Paradise. Either way, the women of Paradise will all get their Mr. Rights!]
You want a villain? Isn’t the Pharoah evil enough for you?
Complete rubbish? Check.
Terrible Husband? Check.
Terrible parent? Check.
Very powerful and rich? Check.
Highly oppressive and extremely cruel? Check.
Tries (unsuccessfully) to get rid of the good guys? Check.
Dies at the end? Check.
You want a great story full of drama? Wasn’t the story of Yusuf (alahissalam) enough for you?
Great story checklist:
The innocent hero? Check.
Hero has a dream that he doesn’t understand? Check.
The loving father and the jealous siblings? Check.
Jealous siblings try to do away with innocent hero? Check.
The painful separation of hero from loving father? Check.
Hero is captured and sold as a slave? Check.
Hero grows up into an incredibly handsome man? Check.
Attempted seduction of hero by a beautiful, powerful, married woman? Check.
Refusal of hero to get seduced? Check.
Gossip mongering females with no life cause problems? Check.
Hero chooses jail in order to avoid doing the wrong thing? Check.
King has a question that nobody but the hero can answer? Check.
Beautiful, powerful, married woman confesses to her misdeeds? Check.
Hero gets out of jail and gets a high position? Check.
Hero rules with honesty? Check.
Jealous siblings make reappearance? Check.
Hero recognizes them but they do not realize that it’s him? Check.
Hero harbours no grudges and is good to them? Check.
Meanwhile, hero’s father is crying his eyes out because he still feels the pain? Check.
Hero’s father has also never treated jealous siblings with anything other than love? Check.
Hero wants to meet his younger sibling and manages to get him to come? Check.
Jealous siblings in dilemma because they’re suddenly in the position of the boy who cried wolf? Check.
Father is upset with jealous siblings? Check.
Jealous siblings return to hero and tell him of their predicament? Check.
Hero discloses his true identity? Check.
Siblings admit that he is better than them and ask him for forgiveness? Check.
Hero forgives them immediately? Check.
Father finds out that his boy is alive? Check.
Happy family reunion at the end? Check.
Oh and the hero’s dream comes true? Check.
You want more happy endings? Hello, the Quran talks about the real world. In the real world, everyone who worships Allah alone gets a happy ending. Therefore, all the good guys mentioned in the Quran get happy endings. It’s as simple as that.
Now, I know that you may be thinking: My God, this girl has no life.
Actually, I do have a life now. Many years ago, when my life revolved around soap operas and novels – that was when I had no life. Islam and the Quran is what gave life to my dead heart.
For those who want to spend time with other than the words of Allah, I think the statement of Musa (alaihissalam) will suffice when Banu Israil complained that they were sick of the Manna and Salwa (which was sent down for them!) and were pining for their Egyptian vegetables:
“He said, “Would you exchange that which is better for that which is lower? Go you down to any town and you shall find what you want!”” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) :61]
The Sheer Awesomeness of the Quran
Why do we not pay attention to the Quran today? Well, the sad fact of the matter is that many people do not feel any attachment to the Quran because they don’t understand its beauty nor do they see its depth.
When I first read it all the way through, I was concerned about what would happen when I read it again. I had a very good memory and I could remember all the storylines of all the books that I had read. I had to leave a long gap between re-reading books because I found it boring reading the same thing again. I thought I would get bored when I started to re-read the Quran.
Yes, I know. You can’t believe that I would be that dumb. Trust me, I can’t believe it either. I thought of the Quran as a “book”. It was only when I re-read it that I realised it was like a whole new universe just waiting to be explored. Bored? Please.
I took a course many years ago on the idioms in the Quran. Subhan Allah, it was a wonderful course. My classmates and I couldn’t stop oohing and aahing throughout the lessons. That was the time when I realized just how awesome the Quran was. Awesome, you say? Okay, how about “supercalafragalisticexpialadoshus”? As long as you get my point.
Recently, I took an Arabic grammar class (it was in Arabic not English). The Shaikh was very knowledgeable, masha-Allah. One day, he was trying to explain to us how we needed to spend more time with the Quran. He did an explosive 10-15 minute tafsir of Surah Al-Infitaar. My classmates (all Arabs) and I just sat there dumbstruck. We all knew Surah Al-Infitaar but that day, we all felt like we had never really understood it. The sheikh asked us if we thought we had given the Quran its rights. We all said no.
[At the end of class, one of my classmates was still in shock (due to the awesome tafsir). All she managed was “Ash-Shaikh…” along with a shake of the head.]
These two courses didn’t make me feel like I had studied the Quran. On the contrary, they made me feel like I really knew next to nothing about the Quran. The more you learn about this magnificent book and this amazing religion, the more you will feel that you don’t know anything and the more you will want to learn about them. Believe me, it’s an addiction and a good one at that.
What is the point of this long story?
Well, I’m desperately hoping to convince you to spend more time with the Quran. If you haven’t read it all the way through, then please make that your goal by the end of Ramadan.
If you don’t know Arabic, then please start immediately. And please don’t tell me that you don’t have time. If you don’t have time, that means you’ve been spending it in disobeying Allah. That’s what I realized recently. When I did good things, I always had time, not matter how much I did. When I did bad things, I never had time, no matter how little I did. The blessing of time is something that Allah only gives to those that are obedient to Him.
Also, please see the following video. If it doesn’t shame you into learning Arabic, then I don’t know what will.
The End (finally!)
So, to summarise, please get a few notebooks, get a translation of the Quran (assuming that you don’t know Arabic) and start! Don’t say tomorrow because you don’t know if it will come. If you do it today and die after that, at least you’ll be able to face Allah with your book of deeds showing that you tried. And that counts for a lot.