To understand the Qur’an properly, you should aim to understand Arabic. This could be a life-long process but a start has to be made. This you may do through self-study, through joining a study circle or pursuing a course of study at an institution. It is advisable to have a reliable and experienced teacher in this regard, to take you through the language and the specialised knowledge that is required to understand the Qur’an in some depth. However, you need to remember that the people who understood the Qur’an most and benefitted from it the greatest were its first hearers. They were men and women – merchants, farmers, shepherds, camel riders, nomads and labourers. They did not have at their elbows great libraries of books relating to Qur’anic sciences. Yet they were the most successful in understanding the Qur’an. This is because they took the message of the Qur’an to their heart and lived it. This approach to understanding the Qur’an ought to be and is available to every person. How much you understand depends on your sincerity and the amount of effort you put into it. Side by side with understanding the grammar, structure and vocabulary of the Qur’an, you could benefit a great deal from the many translations that are available. You need to understand that all translations are limited and can never convey the full force, power and great richness of the original. A word like ‘rabb’ might be translated as Lord for example when it means also Owner, Sustainer, and Cherisher. As you read and understand what you read, you need to respond emotionally and in practice to the words of the Qur’an:
– When you hear Allah’s name and His attributes, your heart should be filled with awe, gratitude, love and other appropriate feelings.
– When you read of Allah’s messengers, your heart should have an urge to follow them, and an aversion for those who opposed them.
– When you read of the Day of Judgement, your heart should long for Paradise, and tremble at the very thought of Hell-fire.
– When you read of disobedient persons and nations who went astray and earned Allah’s punishment, you should intensely dislike being as they were.
– When you read of the righteous whom Allah loves and rewards, you should be eager to be like them.
– When you read of the promises of good and honour in this world, of forgiveness and mercy, of His pleasure in the Hereafter, let your heart be filled with a desire to work for them and deserve them.
– When you read of those who are indifferent to the Qur’an, who turn away from it, who do not accept it, who do not live by it – you must fear lest you be one of them, and resolve not to be.
– And when you hear the summons to obey Allah and strive in His way, you should be determined to respond and achieve the peace and happiness that come from responding.
The Qur’an is above all a guide to those who are prepared to keep their naturally pure state intact, who are vigilant and act to save themselves from the harm that comes from living against Allah’s will. Such people are called in Arabic the muttaqin – those who have taqwa or deep consciousness and awareness of Allah. Taqwa has been described as the single most important quality of a person mentioned in the Qur’an. Those who possess it live the natural way, the Qur’anic way.