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17
Apr

Step by Step – Step 2: Some suggestions for reading the translation of the Quran

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum

 In Step 1, I mentioned that one of the problems that we have today is that many Muslims can’t understand the Quran and haven’t read it from cover to cover.

I then proceeded to bore you with my life story.

In this step, I’m going to suggest a practical plan as to how you can ACTUALLY do it.

Important note: I’m assuming that the reader is a native English speaker. If not, it would obviously be better for you to read the translation in your own language.

I haven’t much clue about other languages, just the following:

1) The Quran has been translated into many languages. However, some of these are by non-Muslims who hate Islam, so one needs to be careful.

2) As far as I know, a good authentic site to get the translation in different languages is : http://www.islamhouse.com/

3) Darussalam (the company, not the city in Tanzania – someone already had this misunderstanding today) has translations in many different languages.

4) I heard that there was a very nice translation in Urdu called “Ahsanul Bayan”. It’s published by Darussalam.

5) The abridgment of Tafsir in Kathir is available in French. It’s also published by Darussalam.

[And no, I’m not an Urdu or a French speaker, although I know a bit of both.]

Before I continue, I would like to point out something very, very important. There is a difference between reciting the Quran (i.e. the Arabic text) and reading its translation.

One of the rights of the Quran is to recite it so we have to fulfill this right.

Understanding the Quran is another right, so reading the translation will aid us towards fulfilling this right.

[Here’s a series I wrote on the rights of the Quran (I just realised that I hadn’t completed it!): Parts 1, 2 and 3.]

So, what would I suggest to an English speaker?

Basic Plan:

1) Decide whether you want to start with the Saheeh International translation or the Muhsin Khan one. I would suggest starting with the Muhsin Khan one and getting the one volume abridged version.

I wouldn’t advise starting with the word to word translation just yet.

2) Get yourself a copy of the translation of the Quran along with the Arabic text

3) Decide how many ayaat (verses) you are going to recite every day.

4) Each day, recite at least that many ayaat and then proceed to read the translation of each ayah (verse). [Start from Surah Al-Fatihah.]

If you have difficulty reciting and can’t get hold of a teacher at the moment, you can try to listen to the audio first for each ayah and then repeat after the reciter. This site has recitation as well as translation: http://tanzil.net/

5) Do this each and EVERY day until you finish reciting the Quran (i.e. you finish Surah An-Nas).

If you go to bed and remember that you forgot to recite the Quran, then my advice is to hop out, do wudhu and recite the required portion. This will train you to recite the Quran daily.

If you miss a day, then you might miss another day and so on, so you shouldn’t miss a single day.

6) Choose the other translation (e.g. if you chose Saheeh, move over to Mushin Khan) and then repeat steps 3-5 all over again.

If you wish, you may use both translations at once. It’s up to you. There are quite a few sites with the translations but they don’t have the accompanying notes, which is why it’s better to get the hard copy.

Intermediate Plan:

1) Follow Steps 1-5 of the Basic Plan.

2) In addition to this, decide if you want to finish reading the translation at a faster pace.

If so, choose one translation (preferably the Saheeh one) for using with your recitation. Depending on how easy you find it to recite, this one could take quite some time.

Choose the other one (preferable the Muhsin Khan one) and read the translation. This time you don’t have to recite it because you’re already doing that when you read the other translation so you can read through this one faster and take it with you wherever you go.

In both the above cases, I would advise you to take notes about whatever questions or thoughts you might have. [Read more about keeping a Quran Journal.]

3) If you are not a reader, and prefer to listen (apart from the translation that you are reading whilst reciting), choose a good translation and then listen to it in your car, iPod, etc as often as you can until you finish the whole thing.

This site (scroll to the bottom) contains many Quran recitations along with the translations: http://quranicaudio.com/

[The “fabulous” one that I referred to in Part 1 is the 3rd last one: Shuraim and Sudais with Aslam Athar.]

You can listen to one set and then proceed to listen to another.

Advanced Plan:

[It includes all of the above mentioned things.]

1) Recite whilst reading the translation (I recommend the Saheeh translation for this) .

2) Read the second translation (I recommend the Muhsin Khan one for this).

3) Listen to a third (I recommend the Pickthall “fabulous” one mentioned above for this.)

You’ll be doing all of the above in the same time period. This way, you’ll be really surrounded with the Quran.

4) If you want to be very brave, you can also read the word to word translation but I really don’t advise it until you’ve read the translation at least once. [I’ve mentioned many word to word translations in this post.]

Remember, don’t stop until you’ve finished reciting the translation until the end.

Insha-Allah, I hope that the post was clear.

What do you think? Is the plan helpful?

Perhaps you have another technique? If so, please share, baarakallahu feekum.

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15
Apr

Step by Step – Step 1: You need to understand it…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum

So,  23 people filled out the survey (which is still open), may Allah reward them and one promised to do so soon, which obviously means that I have only 24 readers, alhamdulillah.

I’ve started a series to deal with some of the common problems that I came across in the survey. [It won’t just deal with this though.]

The main problem that I saw was that most of the respondents did not understand much of the Quran.

And this is a problem that is widespread across the Muslim world: people read the Quran without understanding it.

[In fact, this has been mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah with regards to the Jews and Christians i.e. the two nations before us. They read their religious books without understanding it.]

What does this lead to? Lots of problems.

People complain about finding Islam difficult to practice and how they have so many problems. You will find that with many of them, you can narrow the issue down to three things:

1) Not knowing tawheed (worshipping Allah alone)

2) Keeping away from the Quran and not reciting it, or not understanding it if one recites it (this is one of the things that leads to Point No. 1)

3) Not preserving the five daily prayers*

[*Note: This phrase just refers to the obligatory prayers not all the voluntary prayers associated with each prayer.]

If people just worked on these three things, they would see a HUGE difference in their lives.

The first thing that I’m going to focus on is how to go about understanding the Quran. The advice is directed to complete beginners as well as those who are slightly better than that.

Yes, obviously we have to learn Arabic. However, this is a long step and there is another step that one can and should take in the beginning.

What’s that? Well, it’s reading the translation of the Quran.

A question for you, the reader (assuming that you cannot understand Arabic): Have you read the entire translation of the Quran from one cover to the next?

If the answer is no, then don’t you think that this is not befitting for a Muslim?

That may sound harsh, but you know that it’s the truth.

So, where do we start? Well, let me start by telling you how I started.

When I first started practicing Islam, I realised that I hadn’t a clue about the meaning of the Quran. So I took a translation, which had lots of explanatory notes and started to read it.

I would recite the Quran and then read the translation. As I read through it, I started to take notes about points that confused me.

It was a nice translation. However, I later learnt that this translation had many errors.

Somewhere around this time, I also started to listen to a translation of the Quran whilst driving. It had the recitation of Sudais and Shuraim and the translation of Pickthall (rahimahullah). [This one has a few mistakes but overall it is quite good.]

I loved this translation for two reasons:

1) Pickthall uses old English which is richer than the current English, so it of sort helps one to understand the beauty of the Quran much better.

2) The one who read out the translation was absolutely fabulous. [Sorry, I couldn’t think of a better way to put it.]

He had a very clear, commanding voice and he was really into the whole thing. [You’ll understand if you listen to it and then compare it to the other readers. HUGE DIFFERENCE.]

I can’t recall if I finished this one or not, but I did listen to quite a bit of it.

After I had finished reading the first translation (it took me quite a few months), I took another translation. This time, I took the nine volume work of Muhsin Khan and Taqiuddin Hilali (rahimahullah). This is not the one volume work, but rather an extended version of that with more notes, so it’s basically a tafsir (commentary). [It’s available in Darussalam.]

Again, I recited and then read the translation. It took me a year to finish it but it was great. I took notes for this one as well.

After this, I moved on to the Saheeh Internation translation. It was very nice. I can’t remember if I finished it. I think I went through a large portion.

I vaguely remember stopping it for two reasons:

1) There were some printing errors in the Arabic text (in my copy).

2) I found that having the Arabic translation was harming me because I could now understand most of the Quran. I had been studying Arabic and doing hifdh (Quran memorisation) for the last few years and it had all started to come together, alhamdulillah.

For a short time, I also read from a word-to-word translation. It was very nice and my vocabulary increased. I can’t remember how far I progressed.

After this, I started to use a mushaf (i.e. the Quran) which had Tafsir Al-Jalalyn in Arabic, along with some corrections (due to some creedal errors that it contains).

The reason I got this one was because it explains the difficult words in the Quran in simpler Arabic. So, I would recite and if I didn’t understand the meaning of an ayah (verse), I would check its tafsir.

For example, I came across the word “maqaaleed”. I hadn’t a clue what that meant. I checked the tafsir and it said “mafaateeh”. I knew what that meant – keys.

I absolutely loved this tafsir. It was absolutely beautiful. I’ve been meaning to recite it from cover to cover but I haven’t done so yet.

I now use my hifdh mushaf for my recitation as well (easier to carry around), although I think I might switch to another one with tafsir.

So, what benefits did I gain from all this? Well, three very important ones:

1) I got an overview of the whole Quran

2) I came across so many ayaat (verses) that I was amazed to read (“Wow, the Quran has all these stories?” or ‘Wow, the Quran tells us how to behave?”).

[I mentioned some of this in my Quran Journal post.]

3) My Arabic improved.

The more I read of the Quran, the more I became enamoured with it and the more that I wanted to read.

I also finally understood why two of my religious friends, may Allah reward them, kept advising me to read the whole translation.

The Quran really does have a powerful effect on one’s soul and this is exactly why Shaytan (the devil) keeps us away from it.

So, what can you do?

Well, you could do exactly what I did. It worked for me, didn’t it?

“Isn’t there an easier way?”

Well, I came across the statement of an agnostic Jew, in a lecture I attended, where she stated that she wanted to know what was in the Quran (not a truth seeker, just for “knowledge”.) She had already written a book about the sunni-shia divide so she was familiar with Islamic history so she could understand the setting in which the Quran was revealed.

She then took four translations of the Quran along with an English – Arabic dictionary (this is what I recall) and then read the whole translation!

So, no there is no “easier” way. Subhan Allah, if a disbeliever can do all this, we can and should do even more.

The reason that I shared my story was so that 1) you would realise that you’re not the first one to go through this and 2) you know that I am not suggesting something that I read in an article but rather something that I went through personally.

The reason that I shared the Jew’s story was to totally shame you into taking action.

So, insha-Allah, in the next part, I’ll try to give you a few (detailed) suggestions along with the required resources (if available).

[Why wait until Part 2? Because I’m too sleepy right now. Sorry. Please excuse all the editing and spelling errors in this post.]

Any comments, suggestions, doubts, etc? If so, please feel free to share, baarakallahu feekum.

26
Mar

Seriously Short Reminder No. 26: Don’t let the wolves eat you up…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

“What wolves?”

These two:

ما ذئبان جائعان أرسلا في غنم ، بأفسد لها من حرص المرء على المال والشرف ، لدينه

Ibn Kab ibn Malik Al-Ansari narrated from his father (radiallahu anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam): “Two hungry wolves let loose among sheep are not more harmful than a person craving after wealth and status, is to his Deen (Religion).” [Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Hadeeth No. 2376. Graded “sahih” by Al-Albani in Sahih Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Hadeeth No. 2376]

Read more »

22
Jul

The Rights of the Quran and some tips on how to fulfill them – Part 3

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Here are Parts 1 and 2.]

[Note: I forgot to mention one thing with regards to reciting the Quran: we are supposed to MOVE OUR LIPS.

It seems that some people think that one can recite “mentally”. They do this in the silent prayers too!

No, we need to MOVE OUR LIPS.]

In the last part, I had promised some resources for understanding the Quran so here goes:

1) Word to word translations:

If you want to buy a nice, authentic translation, then you could try out the Darussalam set. Here’s a sample page.

This one by Brother Muhammad Mohar Ali is supposed to be quite good as well, and it also gives the root words apparently (this is good for those studying grammar).

It’s available in Darussalam (in Sharjah).

Oh and here’s a nice software for mobile phones.

Some (free) online websites which provide the word to word translation are:

[Note: I haven’t checked all of them thoroughly. It’s always better to use more than one resource so as to be able to catch any errors. You can always pray Salatul Istikhara (prayer for guidance) before trying any of these out.]

http://www.allahsquran.com/learn/

http://www.emuslim.com/Quran/Translation_English.asp

http://www.quraninenglish.com/cgi-local/pages.pl?/contents

The following three sites seem to come from the same source. The last one is still new (and is still being worked on).

http://www.studyquran.co.uk/Quran_ArabicEnglish_WordforWord_Translation.htm

http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp

http://beta.quran.com

I would advice caution with the above sites, especially the last three ones as some of the founders seem to believe in “self-studying” the Quran.

If you’re looking to learn Quranic vocabulary, you might want to use a Quranic dictionary which introduces the NEW words in a juz.

Here are two good ones:

The Easy Dictionary of the Quran

The Concise Dictionary of the Quran

Here’s a short pamphlet which goes through 80% of the words in the Quran in many languages. And here’s a nice website based on the pamphlet.

2) Various tafsirs of the Quran:

Well, I suppose this is a good time as any to advertise one of my other blogs:

http://attafsir.wordpress.com/

The aim of this blog is to gather all the authentic articles and lectures of tafsir out there, insha-Allah.

What books of tafsir are out there?

Well, there’s an abridged version of Tafsir ibn Kathir available online.

The print version is available at Darussalam.

Question:

One of my friends (who reads a LOT of Islamic literature) found Tafsir Ibn Kathir a bit “difficult” to understand. I was shocked to hear this from her (of all people).

So, my question to all of you is: How many of you feel the same way? And why?

[And no, I’m not asking just for the sake of asking. I have an idea, you see.]

Another tafsir (sort of) that you can read is the 9 volume version of Muhsin Khan’s translation. It has lots more notes than the 1 volume one. It’s also available at Darussalam.

[Question: Why is it that most people don’t know that this set exists?]

 Another tafsir that is available only for the last four juz so far (27-30) is Tafsir Minhaji. I don’t have it but I’ve heard good things about it from someone who has read it. Here’s a sample page.

Another basic tafsir that is available in English is Tafsir Ahsanul Bayan. It’s originally an Urdu work, and is quite good according to a friend of mine. The Urdu book is supposed to be just one volume but the translation is 3 volumes (and counting as they still haven’t finished the whole set)!

Why? “The font is bigger”, said the Darussalam guy.

What about other tafsirs?

Well, there are some tafsir sets which go through the whole Quran. However, they have mistakes in them. I don’t think that they are beneficial for laymen at all which is why I’m not going to mention them here.

Apart from these, there are various books which focus on just one surah like Dr. Bilal’s Tafsir Surah Al-Hujuraat. These are an excellent source of tafsir as well.

To be continued…

22
May

Book Recommendation: Explanation of Al-Aqeedah Al-Wasitiyyah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

Subhan Allah, it’s amazing. I’ve noticed that when topics like “dawah” or “hijab” or “Hajj” or “Ramadan” or “the biography of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam)”, are discussed, many people flock to listen.

However, when the topic is aqeedah (creed) then………most of the people vanish.

And why is that, I wonder? The most important thing that a Muslim needs to have is the correct aqeedah. Everything else (ibaadah, good manners, etc) follows after that.

I’ve mentioned the importance of tawheed and aqeedah before and I’ll do so again.

[Note: Tawheed means “worshipping Allah alone” whereas Aqeedah is something that one firmly believes in and follows. So, our aqeedah is the aqeedah of tawheed.

Aqeedah is more general than tawheed. You can read a short explanation of this issue here.]

This is what Imam As-Saadi (rahimahullah) had to say about tawheed:

“There is nothing that produces such good results nor holds such a variety of virtues like tawheed”. [For more virtues of tawheed, you may refer to the article where this quote was taken from.]

Tawheed has different branches. One of those is the tawheed of Allah’s Names and Attributes.

As the scholars pointed out, the greatness of a subject depends on the greatness of its subject matter.

What does the tawheed of Allah’s Names and Attributes discuss? Well, it talks about Allah’s Beautiful Names and His Attributes which means that it is talking about Allah Himself.

Is there a subject matter greater than this? No.

Therefore, this is the greatest subject.

Also, one should realise that they cannot get close to Allah without knowing anything about Him! The more one knows about Allah’s Names and His Attributes, the more that they will love and obey Him.

So, if someone is interested in studying this subject, what should he/she do?

Well, the first thing to do is to make sure that you learn it from a person with proper aqeedah, because if you don’t, you’re finished. Your aqeedah will be in tatters if you ever study this great subject with any of the people of innovation.

Also, one should know that this field talks about two matters: 1) Allah’s Names and 2) His Attributes so one should study both matters.

A point of caution: This is not an easy subject although it is a very important one. So be patient, strive hard, and ask Allah to make it easy for you.

For those who might want to learn more about Allah’s Attributes, I would encourage them to read Shaikh Ibn Uthaimeen’s (rahimahullah) explanation of Al-Aqeedah Al-Wasitiyyah.

Al-Aqeedah Al-Wasitiyyah is a book written by the amazing scholar Ibn Taimiyyah (rahimahullah) (he was the teacher of Imams Ibn Kathir and Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahumullah)) and it basically focus on the Attributes of Allah and what the Quran and the Sunnah say about them.

Shaikh Ibn Uthaimeen was an awesome scholar, maasahaa Allah, who died about 10 years ago. He had a really wonderful way of explaining things so all the hard stuff looks easy.

I read Volume 1 of the translation of his book (the explanation of Al-Aqeedah Al-Wasitiyyah) and I loved it. Why?

– Well, it’s about my favourite subject (tawheed)

– He makes it so easy and tries to give many examples so that a person can understand the concept.

– His tafsir.

I know, you might be like “Tafsir? Isn’t that an explanation of the Quran? What does that have to do with a book on Aqeedah?”

Well, because a vast majority of the book are ayaat (verses) from the Quran and because he explains each of them, this book really ends up doubling as a book of tafsir.

[And Shaikh Ibn Uthaimeen’s tafsir is another story. I need to write another post just to tell you how much I love reading his tafsir.]

– The heart softeners.

You know, there is nothing as heart softening as tawheed.

In this explanation, Shaikh Ibn Uthaimeen keeps talking about “behavioural aspects” meaning how the knowledge of such and such attribute must make us behave. So, rather than being a technical book on tawheed, his explanation is very practical and useful for daily life.

So, am I going to link to this explanation? No, because it’s not online (not that I know of).

There is a summarised translation of this explanation online but it seems to be a quarter of the original size.

How can you get your hands on the two volume copy? Well, Darussalam is the one that published this book so you may it buy from them.

This is what the book looks like: http://store.dar-us-salam.com/nw/242.html

Just a few points:

1) Darussalam has another explanation of Al-Aqeedah Al-Wasitiyyah as well. That is a small book but the one that I’m talking about is much more detailed.

2) For those of you who might want to buy the Arabic copy and live in Dubai, I’d advise you to buy it from Al-Furqan bookstore. That’s where I bought my Arabic copy from and it’s a wonderful edition.

3) Would I recommend this book to complete beginners? Well, no. I think one should have some background of tawheed otherwise they might get a bit confused.

4) The book doesn’t just talk about Allah’s Attributes. There’s loads of other stuff mentioned there as well.

5) I’m not too good with book reviews but I hope that the post encourages you to read this book!

6)Yes, yes, yes. Anyone who knows me personally can borrow my Arabic or English copies, insha-Allah.