November 09, 2005

The Beauty of the Qur'an

Question: How do you explain the beauty of the Qur'an?

Answer: Saidina Ali k.w. pointed out that:

"Al-Qur'an presents to you in the way that you approach it."

If one approaches the Qur'an with evil and ugly intentions, closed paradigms and limited understanding, he will understand the Qur'an with his limited, ugly understandings. If one approaches the Qur'an with love and mercy, the Qur'an will build upon them castles of mercy and compassion.
--Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl, Interview with the Editors of "Inabah" magazine, p. 5

Comment: After reading this answer, the image I got was of the Qur'an as a mirror. The Qur'an is certainly more than just a book; likewise, our relationship with the Qur'an is not one-way, but two-way. The Qur'an not only provides us guidance generally, in the form of various rules and legislation, but also seems to provide individual guidance, in part through its ability to "read the reader." ("There comes a moment in the reading of the Qur'an, as for example in personal study focused on understanding the meaning, whether reciting out loud or reading it silently, when readers start feeling an uncanny, sometimes frightening presence. Instead of reading the Qur'an, the reader begins feeling the Qur'an is 'reading' the reader! This is a wonderfully disturbing experience, by no means requiring a person to be a Muslim before it can be felt." -- Fredrick Denny, Islam, p. 88)

But everyone is not able to partake of the Qur'an's wisdom. I have come across many people online who have demonstrated their inability to grasp all or a part of the Qur'an due to their mindset. And this metaphor, of the Qur'an as a mirror to one's soul, strikes me as particularly apt. The mind that is clouded and opaque has no ability to see the Qur'an's beauty. That soul, as Dr. Khaled pointed out, will have nothing more than "limited, ugly understandings." However, if one's mind is the least bit transparent, then the Qur'an will reflect back its beauty upon that person's soul. Insha'allah, the soul will continue to grow and become more beautiful the more it reads the Qur'an.


b. said...


I can quite relate to the feeling of the Qur'an being a mirror of the soul; it seems that each time I pick mine up to read it, or even go to an online site to search for a particular verse, I am struck by something that has personal resonance with whatever I'm thinking about or going through at that moment.

I'd never describe it as frightening, but awe-inspiring, certainly.

JD said...

I've only occasionally felt the Qur'an's "reading the reader"-type power. However, my (frequent) experience is that, when I am thinking about some particular problem (theological or secular), if I open up the Qur'an randomly I will frequently find the answer to that problem without looking for it. This happens to me too often to be mere coincidence.

DA said...

Masha'allah. truly a beautiful explanation.