Using the Qur’an to Mentor You Through Life [Interview with Sumayah Hassan]
The month of the Qur’an is upon us, Alhamdulillah.
Ramadan is the month in which the Qur’an was revealed as stated in the verse:
”The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion…” (Al Baqarah 2, 185)
This great and noble Book is the best guidance for mankind.
It also serves as a manual and mentor that guides to a more purposeful life. No doubt, you are seeking ways to renew your relationship with the Qur’an – to bring it closer to your heart and soul – in the special month and beyond.
It is for this reason that I’m very excited to bring this interview to you – with Sumayah Hassan of Recite & Reflect.
As the founder of Recite & Reflect, Sumayah aims to redefine the way the Quran is experienced. The mother of three knows first hand the struggle of trying to understand the Quran and connect with it in a personal way. Since discovering the power of reflection, she has dedicated herself to teaching Quranic reflection, and making it simple and accessible to everyone.
Interview ~ Using the Qur’an to Mentor You Through Life
As Muslims what should our relationship with the Qur’an be like?
Ever-growing, continuous and one of love.
The reason I chose these three descriptions is because over the course of my own journey and seeing the sisters around me I’ve come to a different understanding of what our relationship with the Quran should be like.
By ever-growing, I mean in a state of increase.
As a rule of thumb, if you aren’t improving you’re probably falling back. We’re never just standing still. So wherever you are in your individual journey, make the effort to gradually grow from there.
It’s personal and everyone’s process is unique, so work to steadily increase over time.
Continuous, because the best deeds are those done consistently.
Diligent, on-going, persistent effort to improve your recitation, learn, understand, memorize and study. It’s easy to look back and say, “I used to go to classes, and I learned the rules of recitation years ago…” however, actual results come from keeping it up.
Even a small act done consistently beats a great act done only once in a while.
Finally, I chose love, because while we can agree that we hold the Quran, the Word of Allah (SWT), in the Highest regard – unfortunately the relationship many have with the Quran today, has turned into one steeped in guilt, inadequacy and for some, even negativity.
Primarily because we aren’t being taught about the Quran in the correct way, and partially because developing a relationship with the Quran has gone from being a means to an end in and of itself.
For someone seeing the Quran as a series of laws and rules that make their life difficult, it’s clear that they’re starting on the wrong foot. By the same token, when the Quran is seen solely as something to be recited and read with perfect tajweed and articulation – and studied academically, those who fail to do so feel distanced and left out.
So approaching the Quran with love, seeing it as the gift that it is, from the Most Merciful, (SWT) and knowing that we’re all entitled to accessing the beauty and guidance in it, is the first step in the right direction insha Allah.
What simple and practicable steps can one take to make the Qur’an a part of daily life?
Reading it daily, ideally with understanding what you’re reading through translations or the commentary of Tafseer. Even if it’s a few ayat.
Regular recitation or reading helps you become a better reader with practice and you’ll be constantly learning more about the Quran.
For busy students and those juggling many roles in life, what special tips can you give?
- Make a set time for the Quran, and don’t give it up. Probably before or after your day begins, like before or after Fajr. Once they day starts, it has a way of rolling out of your control, and the night comes before you’ve had a chance to read. So commit, and stick to it. When you miss it, make it up.
- Decide on what you’re looking to gain from your time with the Quran. Your objective will determine what you need to do. For example memorization is essentially repetition. Where revision is reciting from memory.
- Listen to the Quran and discussions of the Tafseer as much as possible. It helps build familiarity, and develop your background on the themes and topics, and that comes in handy when you study in depth insha Allah.
Life can be very challenging. How can Qur’an aid us through to a more purposeful life?
Alhamdulillah, it’s clear that while we may have been in a relationship with the Quran for some time, we’ve yet to get to a point where we can access the wisdom that’s so readily available.
Beyond just learning the meaning, we need to take the next step and look at how that meaning applies to our daily lives and how divine wisdom translates into action.
How can we live its teachings and become models for others?
Whenever you learn something, make the intention, and try your best to apply it. Even if it’s just once. We want knowledge to be a witness for us, not against us.
How can we imbibe its love into the heart of others, especially the young ones?
By seeing the parents, adults and role models in their lives expressing this love through action and example.
Exposure to confident and capable reciters, teachers, mentors and observing their own parents reading after fajr, reciting in the evening or listening throughout the day really helps.
How can the youth use its teachings to build an Islamic identity?
The beauty of learning about and understanding the Quran is that is changes the way you see and think entirely.
So while there’s a push to conform with the external matters of identity and affiliate yourself with a culture of sorts, the Qur’an teaches us to shed these ideas and redefine ourselves through the lens of its teachings.
We take on the definitions that Allah (SWT) gives us in the Quran for success, beauty, goodness, nobility and the Quran becomes the standard we want to try to measure up to, and the Prophet (SAW) our model for the practical dimensions of this guidance.
So learning and understanding is key, in addition to recitation and memorization of course.
How can one develop mindfulness of the Words of Allah (SWT), especially for those who are non Arabic speaking?
It’s obvious, but get started on trying to learn Arabic. It takes time, so start now.
While you’re going through that process, learn all you can from the English resources around you. Read, watch and listen to commentary and courses to help you understand and connect with the Quran.
Don’t drop out of your Arabic classes because you aren’t moving as fast as you’d like. Stick them out, don’t rush the results.
Be fair to yourself.
If you’re too lazy to learn from the English resources and local courses and classes around you, then don’t think you’ll suddenly find the motivation and focus to study abroad or at some residential program.
Work with what you have, and make Dua, Allah (SWT) will open doors for you.
What apps and tools can you recommend to ease this process?
Check out tools here.
Any books and courses that can help further?
Recite & Recite resources here
Any last word (especially for Ramadan)?
For Ramadan I want to echo what many have been sharing as we approach the blessed month. May Allah (SWT) bless it and accept it from all of us and allow us to witness Laylatul Qadr and forgive us.
~ Don’t make this month about to-do lists.
~ Quality over quantity, and be thankful for all that you manage to do, it’s a gift from Allah (SWT).
~ Avoid comparison and getting discouraged when you fall short from trying to reach unreasonable ideals.
~ Think practical, be realistic and make the most of your intentions.
You can find Sumayah Hassan via:
Over to you – In what ways will you use the Qur’an to mentor you through Ramadan and beyond?