WHAT IS THE Quran? What is this Book that has shaken to its core, not only the world, but also the whole of the universe?
Muslim men of learning unanimously define the Quran as “the Speech of Allah.” They, however, differ over the features and dimensions of this definition. We will content ourselves, in our attitude toward these scholarly differences, with the position of the partisans of truth from the righteous generations.
The most important thing that concerns us here is to elucidate the aṣl (the origin) upon which the hearts and minds of the entire Ummah converge: The Quran is the Speech of Allah. This is a paramount truth.
But is it not good for us to reflect on this a little more?
Allah is the Creator of the entire universe. Can anyone fire up his or her fancy to grasp the massive expanse of this universe? Surely none, save its Creator, has the mind to do this.
The limited human intellect can in no way fully apprehend the colossal dimensions of the universe—what with this Earth and its hidden secrets! What with the storied stages of space! What with these stars, planets, and their orbits! What with this heaven above us and its constellations! What with these seven heavens stacked one above the other! It is a wonder amid an unfathomable unknown that defies all measure, not even by millions of light years!
Where are you located now? Ask yourself. You are but a teeny-tiny speck even in the space of this “limited” worldly heaven.
Yet your Lord –your Creator, the Creator of every thing, the One who encompasses all things in His knowledge and power, this Glorious and Majestic Lord– has decided, in His mercy, to talk to you.
He talked to you through the Quran, the speech of the Lord of the Worlds.
Do you realize what you are hearing? Allah, the Exalted, the Lord of the Universe, speaks to you!
Listen, then, to the inspiration sent to you. [Sûrat Ṭâ Hâ, 20:13]
What is this conscience, this heart that reflects on this great reality and does not bow itself down to the ground before Allah, the One, the Irresistible—this heart swinging between fear and hope? Only a heart hewn of rock could fail to bow itself down.
What! Astaghfirullah! I seek Allah’s forgiveness for this, for rocks do fear Allah.
Yet still your hearts hardened after all this, and they became like stones—or even harder; for assuredly there are some stones from which rivers burst forth! And, indeed, some of them split asunder, so that water issues from them! And some of them fall down in fear of Allah! And never is Allah at all heedless of what you do. [Sûrat Al-Baqarah, 2:74]
Had We sent this Quran down upon a mountain, you would have most surely seen it utterly humbled, breaking apart from fear of Allah. And such are the parables We set forth for all people, so that they may reflect. [Sûrat Al-Ḥashr, 59:21]
The parables that Allah sets forth are real, not metaphorical. Have you not read what Allah said about Prophet David?
Indeed, We subjugated the very mountains to give due exaltation to Allah with him—in the evenings and at sunrise—and the birds in assembly. Each would resort to Him in penitence. [Sûrat Ṣâd, 38:18-19]
And what of Allah’s statement?
And when [Moses’] Lord manifested Himself to the mountain, He made it crumble. And Moses fell down in a swoon. Then when he recovered his senses, he said: “Glory be to You! I repent to you, and I am the foremost to believe [in You].” [Sûrat Al-Aʿrâf, 7:143].
Doubting the Doubtless
The Speech of Allah is the Speech of the Lord of the Universe. And when Allah speaks, He speaks from on high, for He is the Most High, the Supreme! He is above all things, comprehending all things in knowledge and power. Reflect then on His words:
Most surely, they are, indeed, mired in doubt about the promised Meeting of their Lord. Most surely, He is, indeed, all-encompassing of all things! [Sûrat Fuṣṣilat, 41:54]
Thus the Quran encompasses the entire universe and talks about many of its marvels. In reference to the majesty of the Quran, Allah says:
But no, indeed! I do swear by the positions of the stars! And it is, most surely, a great oath, if only you were to know [its magnitude]. Indeed, this is, most surely, a gracious Quran in a Book, well preserved [in Heaven]. No one touches it, but the purified. It is [a Revelation] sent down from the Lord of All the Worlds. Then is this the [Heavenly] discourse that you would slight? And do you render [due thanks to Allah for] your provision by belying [His promise of Resurrection]? [Sûrat Al-Wâqiʿah, 56:75-82]
Glory be to You our Lord! None of Your signs we Belie!
Such is the Quran! The Speech of the One who encompasses the positions of the stars, which He creates, commands, and overmasters. He sent down a Book reflecting all these immense realities. He sent it down to Muhammad ﷺ, after He had prepared him for the massive message:
For We shall most surely cast upon you a weighty word. [Sûrat Al-Muzzammil, 73:5]
Thus when the disbelievers belied the Quran, Allah dismissed the shallowness of their thought, the deficiency of their perception, and the feebleness of their foresight, which rendered them incapable of comprehending the cosmic dimension of the Quran deeply immersed in the oceans of the Unseen:
And they say [about the Quran]: “Tales of the ancients, which he has sought to write down. Thus are they dictated to him early morning and late afternoon.” Say [O Prophet]: “The One who alone knows every secret in the heavens and the earth has most surely sent it down. Indeed, ever is He all-forgiving, mercy-giving.” [Sûrat Al-Furqân, 25:5-6]
What a singularly profound response! And truly the Quran speaks to so much of the mystery in the heavens and the earth:
Now truly, indeed, We have varied in this Quran something of every kind of illustration for the good of all people. Yet of all things man is most argumentative. [Sûrat Al-Kahf, 18:54]
We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in themselves—until it becomes utterly clear to them that this Quran is indeed, the divine truth. Is it not sufficient that your Lord Himself is witness over all things? [Sûrat Fuṣṣilat, 41:53]
No wonder, then, that the reciter of the Quran is linked to the world of the Unseen—and rewarded with a Criterion (a Furqân) from the Unseen. Each letter earns its reciter aḥasana, a good deed, and each aḥasana is multiplied tenfold.
In language, the letter is but a phonetic unit that, by itself, confers no linguistic meaning. Yes, in language. But in the Quran, even the letter has meaning—and I do not mean a deviant esoteric meaning, but an upright, divine meaning. For is it not Allah who has uttered it? This is how it becomes meaningful. Ibn Masʿûd narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said:
He who recites a single letter from the Quran receives a aḥasana, and each aḥasana is multiplied to tenfold. I do not say Alif Lâm Mîm is one letter. Rather Alif is a letter. Lâm is a letter. And Mîm is a letter. (Tirmidhi)
It is for this reason that the diligent reciter of the Quran attains such lofty stations in the Garden of Delight. The Prophet ﷺ said:
It will be said to the reciter of the Quran [on the Day of Judgment]: ‘Recite and ascend! Just as you used to recite in worldly life! For most surely your [Heavenly] station is at the last verse of the Quran you recited before death. (Ahmed)
Another version of this ḥadîth reads:
The Quran comes on the Day of Judgment and says: ‘O Allah! Adorn the Quran reciter.’ So Allah places the crown of dignity on the reciter’s head. Then the Quran says: ‘O Allah! “Dignify him more,’ whereupon Allah bedecks him with the mantle of distinction. Then the Quran says: ‘O Allah. Be pleased with him.’ So Allah declares His pleasure with him and says: ‘Recite and rise!’ (Tirmidhi)
Such is the Bounty of Allah,. He bestows it upon whomever He so wills. For Allah alone is the Possessor of the Magnificent Bounty. [Sûrat Al-Jumuʿah, 62:4]
Rejoicing for the Rope of Allah
Allah has spoken. Allah still speaks. He is the One that hears and sees. Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted with all things. To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names, the Loftiest Attributes. We believe in all these Attributes and affirm them as did the pious early Muslims, neither divesting them of their meaning, interpreting them, nor anthropomorphizing by way of them.
Allah has spoken. The Quran is part of His speech. And He sent it exclusively to this honorable Ummah: The Ummah of Muhammad ﷺ. The Quran serves as a conjoining link between the slaves and their Lord, a sturdy bond, extending rope-like between Heaven and Earth. Its upper end is in Hand of Allah. Its lower end is in the hands of whomever chooses to hold it from His righteous slaves.
The Prophet ﷺ said in this regard:
The Book of Allah is the rope of Allah that conjoins Heaven and Earth. (Ṭabarâni)
The Prophet ﷺ also said addressing his Companions:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Bear you not witness that none save Allah is worthy of worship, and that I am the Messenger of Allah?” “Yes, indeed!” they answered. He said to them: “This Quran is a cord. Its upper end is in the Hand of Allah. The lower end is in your hands. So hold fast to it! For if you do this, never shall you stray or perish!”
The Message from the Lord of the Worlds has reached you, O human being! So do not think it is not intended for you exclusively. Do not say: “I am but a single, insignificant individual amid billions of human beings.” No! No!
The Quran is a communication from the Lord of the Worlds. It comprises all the properties of the speech of the Divine. It is majestic and perfect. I mean to say that this divine communication is addressed—at one and the same time—to the group and to the individual person. You. Allah monitors and gauges the feelings of communities and individuals:
Say [to them O Prophet]: Whether you conceal what is in your breast or you disclose it, Allah knows it. And He knows what is in the heavens and what is in the earth. For Allah is powerful over all things. [Sûrat Âl ʿImrân, 3:29]
Glory be to Allah! The part does not distract Him from the whole, and the reverse is true, as well. Otherwise, what is the meaning and perfection of rubûbîyya, Lordship? Just as He is able to answer the supplications of each and every single caller, every seeker of relief, of every sort of creature, those of them living on the earth, or those of them living beneath its soil, or in the depths of seas, or in the heavenly orbits—to both these and those, He responds –concurrently– while He is above and beyond time and space! Not a thing distracts Him from any other thing. The dominion is His completely, as is the praise. And He is over all things powerful.
Thus by this same logic, read the Quran. You will find that the Quran addresses you –personally. Beware! Lest you miss this meaning. Remember that the Quran is the speech of Allah. Then reflect. Then open your eyes and see!
Will they not then earnestly seek to understand the Quran? Or is it rather that on some hearts there are their own [self-imposed]locks? [Sûrat Muḥammad, 47:24]
He says, as well:
Will they not, then, reflect on [the meaning of] the Quran? Had it been from other than Allah, they would most surely have found in it much discrepancy. [Sûrat Al-Nisâ’, 4:82]
Such is the Quran: The Great Cosmic Book. Read it and Reflect.
For behind each and every one of its words lies a spectacular wisdom, a heavenly or earthly secret, a truth about life or destiny, a key to your own soul in its obligatory march toward its end.
So reflect, reflect.
In the Quran, there is all that you want, all that you need.
Do you not ardently desire to be of the People of Allah? Then befriend the Quran. Apply yourself assiduously to it. And if you do, you will most surely be of His people. The Prophet ﷺ said:
Allah has His own people from among His creations: The People of the Quran are the People of Allah, His intimate company. [Aḥmad, Ibn Mâjah, Al-Hâkim, rated ṣaḥîḥ in Al-JâmiʿAl-Ṣaghîr of Al-Albâni]