As we settle into the first week of this most blessed month, let us remember, that in addition to fasting, “Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed” (al-Baqarah, ayah 185).  It is “a guide for humanity with clear proofs of guidance and the standard to distinguish between right and wrong.” (al-Baqarah, ayah 185).  

Many of us will hear the Qur’an during Taraweeh prayers, and read it on our own personal time. This indeed, is the time, to develop a closeness the guidance from Allah.  And one cannot do that without understanding the message of the Qur’an.  

I grew up in a South Asian household, and as a child, I remember the importance of reading the Qur’an from cover to cover, in Arabic, phonetically. Once that was completed, families would often hold a celebration that their child had completed the Qur’an.  While we are rewarded for this effort, it always bothered me that I never understood a word I had read.  Not only that, there was so much reverence for the Qur’an, that It seemed like a distant, holy object – often read on the occasion of someone’s death. And, there was always a warning to stay away from understanding the message of the Qur’an on your own, lest one be led astray. 

But I truly came to love the Qur’an later by reading a number of English translations, in order to understand the meaning and message from Allah (swt).  The Qur’an became my daily companion throughout the year. And as I became more fluent in Arabic, the direct understanding became more profound.   

When I lived in the US as a graduate student, learned from a group of African-American converts who would gather weekly to study the Qur’an. They loved the book of Allah so much – by understanding the meaning and message. They strove to learn Arabic, to get even closer.  For them, the Qur’an was not a distant object to be revered, but rather, a close source of light and guidance. They carried their Qur’an everywhere, made notes, opened it often, and gave it its due respect by revering and following the message.  Their Qur’an was not covered in a special cloth, nor was it in pristine shape. The cover was worn due to constant use. They showed me how a believer lives with the Book of Allah.  

Let us take the time, during this most blessed month, to understand the message, to understand the words that our Creator has revealed for us.  If you do not read or understand Arabic, find a translation that speaks to you.  Read it constantly, and absorb the message.  There will be some ayahs that reverberate in your heart – learn those by heart and recite them often. Let the Qur’an speak to you personally, to your heart – for this is the guidance from none other than Allah.  

Today, there are so many sources on the internet and in bookstores to help understand the Qur’anic message.  Consult those that you like, for additional understanding.  But do not let go the constant companionship between your heart and the words of Allah (swt). Seek refuge in Allah before reading, and seek His Guidance while reading.  If you have children, let them see you reading the book of Allah – it will make a huge impression.  

Let this month be the month of cleansing and illuminating the heart with the Qur’an.