For Muslims Quran is a Holy Book which contains the word of Allah and they read and recite it with reverence and respect more than anything else. Although there is inevitable reward for the recitation of Quran, however, majority of Muslims also read and recite Quran for the purpose of seeking guidance as well. Therefore, understanding of Quran is a major part of Quran learning for a Muslim.
In Quran, Allah Almighty has put great emphasis on developing an understanding of Quran and then spreading the knowledge of Quran. The lines below discuss the same emphasis in the light of ayah of Quran along with some hadith of Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam).
The guidance that a Muslim gets from Quran is no less than a blessing. It is only Allah who can provide guidance to a person reading Quran, if He does not wish so, then despite every effort a person cannot learn Quran or understand its true meaning. In Quran, Allah says:
“And We place upon their hearts veils lest they should understand it, and in their ears a deafness.” (17:46)
From the ayah it is evident that the understanding of Quran is a blessing from Allah Almighty, however, one should never forget the fact that this blessing only falls upon those who intend to understand Quran. Therefore, in addition to reading Quran for the purpose of gaining reward, a Muslim must also undertake its reading for the sake of increasing knowledge and increasing understanding about the things. Such type of understanding is what helps gain the maximum from Quran, but if a person does not pay heed to it and seldom opens it then he or she is being ungrateful of a great blessing of Allah Almighty. For such people, Allah says in Quran:
“Lo! The worst of beasts in Allah’s sight are the deaf, the dumb who have no sense.” (8:22)
From this ayah it is clear that people who have no sense and do not pay attention to Quran nor ponder over it are the worst of the beasts. Ergo, it is imperative that a Muslim pays heed to when he or she listens to Quran and then tries to develop an understanding of Quran.
Pertaining to inducing the spirit of increasing the knowledge of things and pondering over them, Allah Almighty says in Quran:
“Verily in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day – there are indeed signs for men of understanding; Men who remember Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the creation of the heavens and the earth (with the thought) “Our Lord! Not for nothing have You created (all) this. Glory to You! Give us salvation from the suffering of the Fire.” (3:190-191)
From the ayah it is clear that a Muslim ought to ponder over things and think over all the marvels of this universe so that he or she is able to identify and realize the truth behind the things, which is that Allah is the Only Lord and it is He Who has created all that is in this universe. Therefore, a Muslim must have the same spirit of pondering when it comes to reading and reciting Quran as well.
The question that a Muslim might ask is that Quran is a religious book, so what is the need of pondering over it other than finding the religious instructions? This notion is wrong, as Quran is not merely a book with religious instructions, rather Quran has all sorts of guidelines that a Muslim can require in order to live life in the best and most appropriate manner.
In Quran there are all sorts of instructions for an economic system. It speaks about abhorrence of usury, it talks about giving charity, it gives the concept of Zakat, it tells us about the importance of being truthful and right in measuring goods and honoring the commitment and so on. Ergo, when a Muslim ponders over the meanings of the words read, he or she finds economic guidelines on the basis of which a whole new economic system could be developed for the well being of people.
In Quran, there are instructions about social system. Quran tells us the way a Muslim society should be like, how should the members of the society behave with each other, what are the rights of the neighbors, why should a Muslim show kindness to the members of society and how they should exhibit and ensure unity among themselves to stand strong in the face of adversity.
In Quran, there are also indications and instructions about the political system as well and how a government should adopt and develop a political system, which works for the well being of the members of the society. Quran tells us what a ruler should be like, how the people with authority are responsible and accountable for those who are under them and how they should establish a system of justice and equality that ensures that masses are equal and justice and facilities are available to all. Thus, when a Muslim reads Quran with understanding, he or she can find out guidelines on the basis of which a proper political system could be developed.
In a nutshell, Quran is not merely a book containing religious instructions, rather it is a sea of all sorts of knowledge and whatever a person seeks, he or she can find according guidelines from Quran and then implement them in life for understanding the truth and reality of things. All a person has to do is to read Quran with the intention of understanding and seeking knowledge.