Veiled from sight, a young woman walked down the streets of Cairo, reciting Qur’an to herself and thinking about her goals. She loved the Qur’an and was passionate about studying and teaching it. She wanted to move to Saudi Arabia where she knew of Qur’anic scholars from whom she dreamt of learning. She was mesmerized by Makkah and Madinah; she’d find herself spending hours making du`a’ (supplication) to visit the House of her Lord in Ramadan, to make the journey of Hajj, to walk through the land of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him). Working on a Master’s degree and traveling for hours in traffic to come to her students’ homes and teach them Qur’an never caused her to complain; she was constantly working on reviewing her Qur’an; she had memorized it completely from years past and she continued to review it to ensure it never left her heart.
Suddenly, she was stopped by a random lady on the road. “Excuse me,” the lady inquired, peering into the eyes of the girl whose heart burned with the inscription of the Words of Allah, whose face was veiled by her niqaab (face covering), whose hands were covered by gloves and whose body was cloaked by a long, flowing outer garment. “Are you married or engaged?” the lady asked. Staring at the lady, the young woman replied in the negative, hesitant, yet curious at such a loaded question from a random passerby. Especially considering her outer dress, the lady certainly wasn’t asking because she found the young woman to be ridiculously beautiful. She could have no idea of what the young woman looked like. “I have a brother,” the lady explained, “He’s Egyptian, but he lives in Saudi Arabia. He has memorized the entire Qur’an. He has qualifications to teach it. He’s looking to get married. Might you be interested?”
After more conversation, the young woman exchanged information with the random woman on the street. Soon, their families initiated contact and within weeks, the brother of the lady had come to visit the young woman and her family. With time, prayers and lots of consultation, the young woman finally agreed; she would marry the young man with whom she would live in Saudi Arabia, the young man who helped her plan to make Hajj that very year, the young man who had already memorized the Qur’an and who dedicated his heart to Allah’s Book, the young man—now her husband—to whom she was introduced by a random lady on the road.
This story may seem strange, dangerous, even, and implausible. If I was reading it or if someone else had shared it with me, I would be skeptical and even concerned for the woman being approached by a random stranger on the street. But this is the hook-up story of my Qur’an teacher. I knew her before she got married and from the very first day we met for class she told me, “Please pray for me! I want to move to Saudi Arabia so I can study with the scholars of Qur’an there!” This was after she already had an ijaza (certification) in memorization and was working on another one. The incident of her walking on the street happened a few years after we had first met, after many years of her praying to God to open the doors for her. She shared the story with me herself and she’s now been happily married for years, blessed with two children (may God love both of them!) and is living in her dream location.
She devoted her life to the Qur’an and to her studies. She focused on her objectives in being a servant of God and of His Book and maintained that focus in every aspect of her life. I would have never imagined that she’d get married to someone who was the missing piece to everything she was looking for and even more, yet I should have realized that my puny imagination is nothing in comparison to God’s Power and Decree. God hooked my Qur’an teacher up big time and it could easily be argued that it was because she hooked up with the Book of God.
Connecting with the Book of God can mean being hooked up in the best of ways in every realm of life. Marriage, graduate school, studying overseas, relationship with one’s parents, getting a job, passing the SATs with high scores… you dream of it, say it, yearn for it, want it…Who’s going to really give it to you? Your Facebook friends? Or the Lord and Ruler of All the Worlds?
Allah, the Exalted, has told us in a Holy Hadith, “…the most beloved thing with which My slave comes nearer to Me, is what I have enjoined upon him/her; and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing nawafil (voluntary prayers or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) until I love him/her, (so much so that) I become his/her hearing with which he/she hears, and his/her sight with which he/she sees, and his/her hand with which he/she strikes, and his/her leg with which he/she walks; and if he/she asks Me something, I will surely give him/her, and if he/she seeks My Protection (refuge), I will surely protect him/her.”
And get this—God might not give you exactly what you want when you beg of Him in supplication- but because He loves you, He’ll always give you something better. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has taught us, “Any Muslim who supplicates to God in a du`a’ which contains no sin breaking of kinship, God will give him one of three things: either his du`a’ will be immediately answered or, it will be saved for him in the hereafter, or it will turn away an equivalent amount of evil (from him).” The companions said, “So we will ask for more.” He replied, “Allah is more [generous].”[Ahmad]
Maybe marriage isn’t actually great for you, maybe that specific job won’t actually be everything you’ve dreamed, but when we connect with Allah, regardless of the outcome of our affairs, we can be certain that He will always give us whatever will ultimately bring us eternal happiness, if we’re sincere and determined to work for it as well.
So, how can begin this connection? How can we be of those who do our best to do obligatory actions and then run to our Lord through extra acts of worship, as He tells us in the aforementioned hadith (narration)?
Let’s take my Qur’an teacher’s example- let’s hook up with the Qur’an! Let’s make the intention to become the people of the Qur’an! Let’s begin just by believing with certainty that we want to make a connection with Allah’s Words and that we want it to play a pivotal role in our lives. Once we’ve made that commitment, here’s a suggested plan of action:
If we’re in school, working or have family or obligations and are already squeezed for time, let’s make a commitment to begin by reading the Qur’an on a daily basis and in a language we understand because the point is to understand it and make that crazy strong connection with it.
If we already know how to read Arabic but don’t understand what we’re reading: begin by making a set amount of Qur’an that we’ll read everyday in both the Arabic and translation. For example, if I know I’m intensely busy or intensely lazy, let me make a commitment to start with just five verses a day, both in English and in Arabic (if possible) and let me make sure I don’t sleep without reading my Qur’an for that day.
Suggestion: for those of us who just can’t get off our laptops and always lament wasting more time than we were hoping, make a sticky note to put somewhere on your laptop which reads something like, “Have you connected with God’s Book today?”
If you can make a commitment from now to memorize the Qur’an, start looking for a teacher who can help you with tajweed (proper recitation) and once you’re ready, memorization. If you can’t find anyone in your area, then find a Qur’an buddy near you who can help you read and learn the basics until you find someone who can fully teach you. If you live in the middle of Kentucky and there’s really no one near you at all, search online for programs which teach tajweed which you can do via Skype or other means from your own home (such as Studio Arabiya). For readers: please write in online programs you recommend in the comments section. Set a goal for yourself, write it down and work on moving forward weekly. Thus, within a month, instead of having never opened the Qur’an, inshaAllah (God willing) you’ll have perhaps even an entire new chapter memorized!
If you are not yet able to read Arabic, keep up with reading the translation and when you can, try to begin learning the language of the Qur’an. There are a ton of online programs for this now. However, never let language stop you from connecting with the Qur’an. Read the translation in any language with which you find easiest to connect, and with time, you’ll inshaAllah be pleasantly shocked at how much you’re finding your personal perspective to be one of the Qur’anic narrative.
Finally, if sometimes you’re feeling apathetic; finding yourself slipping, realizing your heart feeling bored with trying to make a connection with the Qur’an- change your mindset. Stand up, say bismillah (in the name of God) and seek refuge with God from the accursed Devil, jump up and call in a loud and exciting voice with an enormous grin on your face, “THE QUR’AN IS MY BEST FRIEND!!!” Maybe it’s not completely true yet, but inshaAllah with enough convincing your brain and moving your body in an excitable way, your total physical response to the Qur’an, combined with your newfound daily relationship with the Book of Allah, will help your neurons make positive connections which they will soon need more than your lungs need air.
Let’s make the Qur’an our best friend. When we’re sad, lonely, depressed and frustrated, let’s say, “I needa vent with the Book of Allah,” and just recite it all out, connecting with Allah’s Words, finding ourselves in awe of the relevance of His Book to the exact tribulation we’re experiencing. When we’re elated, let’s say, “I can’t wait to tell all of this to my best friend!!!” and run to the Qur’an, excited (or fake excitement- fake it till you convince yourself to make it, inshaAllah!) about reading what words God will make apparent to us next; shocked at the fact that even though we’ve read the same surah a hundred times over, we don’t remember ever reading the very same dynamic words ever before.
And when we’re too busy, let’s realize how eager we’d be if some public figure we thought was amazing just called us up on our cells; wouldn’t we make time, wouldn’t our adrenaline suddenly rush when we see who’s actually calling us?
So then, let’s rush with that same vigor to drop everything to make time for the most important One –Rabb al `alameen, the Lord of the Worlds, and have a strong relationship with the Words which He has revealed to take us from the darkenesses of this life to the one light and to help us be a means of reformation in society.
The Prophet ﷺ taught us, “The Companions of the Quran are the People of Allah, and His Favored People,” [an Nasaaie]. Let us be of Allah’s Favored People- those who work to recite the Qur’an by day and night, work to memorize, understand and live by it and take it as our best friend.
Whatever we’re seeking, in this life or the next, let’s connect with the Book of Allah and have certainty that because of the sincerity of our investment, God will hook us up in whatever ways are best.