The Quran describes itself as a book (kitab), a word that appears 230 times in various contexts.
Even though there are narrations in many books that suggest that the Quran in the form that we have it today was compiled during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr at the insistence of Second Caliph Umar bin al-Khattab and later finalized at the time of third Caliph, Usman bin Affan, the verdict of the Quran about its finalization, preservation, authenticity and compilation is overriding.
"We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption)." (15:17) "And (moreover) We have guarded them from every evil spirit accursed." (15:17).
It is obvious that the efforts of the Caliphs were to make copies of the Quran from the original for wider distribution in the Muslim world. It is evident from the writings of Ibn Hazm in his book Kitab ul Fisl that over 100,000 copies of the Quran were present in the entire world at the time of Umar bin Al-Khattab.
The Quran describes itself as a book that proves the commonality of the divine messages previously revealed to earlier prophets that were not preserved in the original form by their followers. It also asserts that the divine m essage has essentially been the same revolving around three main principles;
1) monotheism in the sense that the source of all divine messages is Allah, the initiator and the creator of the universe,
2) the guidance from a higher and neutral source is needed by human beings to lead a simple and disciplined life. It is only through following the divine guidance human beings can discipline their lives the same way as every thing else in the universe runs in a perfect order.
3) the life is in constant evolution and the death would not end the life but move in a difference stage of existence where individuals and groups would be held accountable for every thing that they do and say in their limited life in this world.
The greatest miracle of the Quran is the consistency of this message evident in all its suras (chapters) and ayas (sentences). The linguistic beauty and style are apparent to only those who understand the language but the clarity and consistency of the message is for everyone regardless of their linguistic skills and they relevant for all times. In other words every sura of the Quran is connected with its overall message with variations in emphasis and every ayat is related with a particular aspect of the message within the context of the total guidance.
Thus the month of Ramadan offers the believers a unique opportunity to refresh their understanding of the guidance and live it for an entire month so that the life in coming months could be disciplined around that. Thus, the first task for every believer is to get connected with the divine guidance in a disciplined, consistent, and regular basis.
The fasting enables a person to live the principle of self control and self discipline, which is essential to realize the strength and relevance of the divine message.
Seemingly, a large number of Muslims do not know the Arabic language and hence find it hard to understand when the Quran is recited to them. Moreover, we have the traditions informing us that the reading of the Quran gives us the reward of reading one letter to the equivalent to the 30 letter reward. The mercy and the divine measurement for good deeds are limitless and this narration should be read in that context.
Besides earning reward for reading the Quran without understanding, we can also make efforts in the month of Ramadan to read it with understanding. This may even double or triple the reward. It is no harm to read the Quran with translation. Non-Arabic speaking believers can recite the Quran in Arabic and listen to its pronunciation during the taraweeh prayers, besides reading the translation in their own languages to understand the essence of the divine message. This understanding will enable us to get closer to the guidance of Allah.
Often it is argued that it is difficult to understand the Quran in any other language. The Quran, on the other hand repeats the following verse four times: "And We have indeed made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember: then is there any that will receive admonition? (54:17) Besides, the Quran also says: "And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors: verily in that are Signs for those who know." (30:22)
The reading of the Quran with meaning would give us an opportunity to understand the divine message as is and inspire us to appreciate its relevance for us in our times. Thus in addition to reading the Quran, we can also make efforts to live it.
We spend much of our efforts in correcting our pronunciation of the Quran. This is good and the proper sound of every letter and word must be perfected authentically. However, the main purpose of perfecting the pronunciation must never be ignored: i.e. to understand so that we could live the Quran, the way our Prophet lived it.
During the month of Ramadan we arrange lavish functions for the breaking of fast, a good practice to bring people together. However, if in these functions, we make it a habit to focus on understanding one of the passages of the Quran, probably we can make better use of these gatherings. It would not take us more than 5 to 10 minutes to reflect on the message of the Quran in these functions, but it would help us understand the divine guidance, the main reason for decreeing fasting in this month.
This Ramadan, I am reading the Quran with the meaning and strive to live the Quran, the way Prophet lived it. Make doa for me in order to finish it by 1 Syawal.