i. The Method of Tilawa
Tilawa or recitation is an act in which your whole person -soul, heart, mind, tongue and body -should participate. Thus, to recite the Qur’an, as it deserves to be recited, is not a light task; but neither is it impossible nor difficult. Otherwise, the Qur’an could not have been meant for everyone; nor could it be the mercy and the guidance that it surely is. There are a few obligations regarding recitation of the Qur’an which you should keep in mind.
-Read the Qur’an every day; in fact do not consider a day complete without it. It is better to read regularly, even if it be a small portion, than to read large sections, but only occasionally.
♦ Every day you must also find time to memorise as much of the Qur’an as you can. You can start with small Surahs and short passages and then move on to longer portions.
♦ Read as much of the Qur’an in Prayer as you can, especially during the night, after the Isha, before the Fajr and in the Fajr, as nothing is more effective in making you attuned to the Qur’an and ensuring you absorb it than reading it in the night or in the morning. Indeed, the early hours of the morning is a particularly blessed time to recite the Qur’an: “Indeed, the recitation of the Qur’an at dawn is ever witnessed.” [Surah al-Isra, 17:78]
♦ Read the Qur’an in a good voice, as we have been told: “Beautify the Qur’an with your voices” (Reported by Abu Dawud); but also remember that the real beauty is the beauty that comes with the fear of Allah in the heart: “His recitation and voice are the most beautiful so that when you hear him, you think he fears Allah.” (Reported by Darimi.)
♦ Read the Qur’an with concentration and understanding. The Prophet told Ibn Umar not to finish reading the Qur’an in less than a week He also said that one who finishes it in less than three days does not understand any of it. One companion said that he preferred to read a short Surah like al-Qaria with proper understanding than to hastily finish long ones like al-Baqara and Al-‘Imran.
ii. Your Constant Companion
The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, has said, “I am leaving you with two murshids.” The term murshid refers to the one who guides to the right path. The first is the talking murshid, the Qur’an, and the second is the silent murshid, mawt or death. As much as you keep in touch with the Qur’an and as long as you keep in touch with the idea that you are going to return to Allah and give an account of your actions, so you will stay on the right path. You don't need any other training programme or another `person' to guide you. These two murshids are enough and everyone has them at his disposal.
Du’a, supplicating to Allah, is `the spirit of ibada.' (Reported by Tirmidhi.)
Indeed, it is a demand of Islam. The Prophet has exhorted us: “Allah is angry with him who does not ask [anything] from Him.” (Reported by Tirmidhi)
Each of your du’as must capture the spirit of your goals and ambitions. You must offer them with humility and sincerity. The Prophet Muhammad has taught us some of the most beautiful supplications said in beautiful words, encapsulating beautiful ideas, through beautiful ways of asking. Reflect upon the following du’a as an example:
“I am Your servant, I am at Your door. I am a poor man, I am at Your door. I am a helpless man, I am at Your door. I am a sinner, I am at Your door. l am Your guest, You invited me to come, I am at Your door. So have mercy on me.”
There are many similar du’as that move the heart and make tears flow from one's eyes. Additionally, there are du’as that were part of the Prophet's daily routine: Prayers said while eating, drinking, sleeping, entering and leaving home. All of these du’as must be memorised and utilised, for they remind us of Allah and His Omniscience.
But how exactly can these du’as be used by us to remember Allah? Allow me to share with you one method, which can be utilised on a daily basis. The Prophet Muhammad taught us in one hadith:
“After performing the dawn [Subh] Prayer, before you utter another word, say: “O Allah, save me from Hell-fire [Allahumma ajirni min an-nar], seven times. If you die that day, Allah will decree that you be saved from Hell-fire. After performing the sunset [Maghrib] Prayer, before you utter another word, say: O Allah, save me from Hell-fire,” seven times. If you die that night, Allah will decree that you be saved from Hell-fire.” (Reported by Abu Dawud.)
Whenever I recite this du’a, I use a method of recitation and reflection which helps me remember the final meeting with my Lord. For each of the seven times I recite this du’a, I reflect on one of the stages from the Qur’an of the Akhira: the time of death; the sojourn and questioning by the angel in the grave; the time of rising and standing before Allah; the time of giving an account of all that has been done and seeing our actions displayed before us; and the passage over the Sirat or Bridge, then entering either Paradise or Hell. All of these are stages of the journey. Each time that I bring to my mind one of those stages, even for the briefest moment, I supplicate to Him: `O Allah save me from the fire'.
This exercise in supplication takes me about five minutes after both Salat al-Fajr and Salat al-Maghrib. There is, however, no prescribed format to follow. You can select and form your own short course of du’as based on the Prophetic traditions and use this as part of the regular way in which you remember Allah.
Finally, it is important for us to observe the etiquette of du’a so that we may derive maximum benefit from them. These have been beautifully summarised by Imam al-Nawawi, where he lists ten prime conditions and dispositions that we should observe:
♦ Seek out the blessed times of Prayer: The Day of the Standing on the plain of Arafat [during Hajj]; the month of fasting [Ramadan]; Fridays [days of congregational prayers]; and during the night [especially the last third of it].
♦ Seek out the blessed moments for Prayer when the heart is receptive and tender: immediately after the five daily prescribed Prayers; between the call to Prayer (adhan) and the final call to Prayer (iqama); when breaking fast; while on the field of battle; when rainfall occurs; and when bowing down [sujud] in Prayer, for the Prophet said, “The worshipper is closest to his Lord while bowing down. So pray much then.” (Reported by Muslim.)
♦ Face the direction of Makka and raise the hands [with palms spread upward] to the level of the shoulders.
♦ Voice supplications in a moderate tone that is neither too loud nor too soft.
♦ Prayers need not be said in a forced rhymed prose [an often natural form in Arabic].
♦ Implore God with humility and reverence.
♦ Be fervent in Prayer and optimistic of the answer. Sufyan ibn Uyayna stated: What a person knows of himself should never stop him from supplicating to God for He answered the most evil creatures, Iblis [Shaytan], when he said, `Give me respite until the Day they are resurrected. God said, You are of the respired ones.' [Surah al-A’raf, 7: 14.]
♦ Repeat requests, preferably three times, and don't be impatient or despondent in waiting for an answer.
♦ Begin supplication with the mention of God [His Names, praises and attributes] before asking of Him, and entreat God to send His blessings and peace upon the Prophet.
♦ Strive for inner purity with repentance and sincere devotion.
E. Istighfar and tawba
The process of dhikr must involve the recognition and confession of our faults, mistakes and aberrations and turning to Allah in asking for forgiveness with the expectation of his rahma or mercy. Istighfar is seeking forgiveness while tawba is taming away from our faults and returning to Allah, to His Path. When Allah desires good for a Believer, He gives him awareness of his faults. The Messenger of Allah when questioned about the nature of virtue and sin replied:
“Virtue is to have good morals, sin is what pricks your heart and you dislike what people come to know about it.” (Reported by Muslim.) Likewise, whenever we are faced with a dilemma or uncertainty in our daily life we have been exhorted by the Prophet to observe the following guidelines:
“Seek a verdict from your heart Virtue is that which your soul and heart feel satisfied with. Sin is that which troubles the soul and about which the heart is uneasy and confused, even though people may give their legal opinions in its favour.” (Reported by Muslim.)
But what exactly does the process of istighfar and tawba entail? Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, once saw a Bedouin repeating words of repentance in a great hurry. `This is fake repentance', remarked Ali ibn Abi Talib. The Bedouin asked, `What is true repentance?' Ali ibn Abi Talib explained that there are six elements in an act of true repentance:
♦ You should regret what has happened.
♦ You should discharge the duty which you have neglected.
♦ You should restore the right that you have misappropriated.
♦ You should apologise to the one whom you have caused injury.
♦ You should resolve not to repeat the act.
♦ You should dedicate yourself entirely to the service of Allah so that you may experience the rigours of obedience as you may have relished the pleasure of transgression.
We may now ask the question -when is the best time during the course of the day to perform istighfar? There is of course no special time to seek the forgiveness of Allah. But perhaps one of the best occasions is the early hours of each day which the Qur’an declares is the time utilised by true Believers to draw closer to their Lord: “they forsake their beds to cry unto their Lord in fear and hope.” [Surah as-Sajda, 32: 16.] The significance of this early part of each day has also been explained by the Prophet as follows:
“Our Lord descends every night to the nearest Heaven when only the last third of the night remains, and says: `Is anyone praying that I may answer him? Is anyone seeking forgiveness that I may forgive him? Is anyone asking that I may give to him?' And this continues until dawn.” (Reported by Tirmidhi.)
You should therefore start each day by taking an account of yourself: seek forgiveness for the wrongs you have done and make the intention not to repeat these mistakes. In this way you shall become free from these sins. Every day you may commit a sin, but if every day you come sincerely to Allah, then every day He will forgive you. Such is His love and blessings for us. Allah reminds us:
“When My servants ask you concerning Me, I am indeed close [to them]. I listen to the prayer of every supplicant when he calls on Me. Let them also, with a will, listen to My call, and believe in Me so that they may walk in the right way.” [Surah al-Baqara, 2: 186.]
While seeking the forgiveness of Allah, you must place your full trust and confidence in Allah for He always listens and answers the Prayers of His servants. In one hadith qudsi, Allah has reassured us:
“Son of Adam, so long as you keep calling upon Me and hoping for good from Me, I shall forgive you whatever you have done, and I do not mind. Son of Adam, were your sins to rise as high as the sky, and were you to ask Me for forgiveness, I would forgive you. Son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins as large as would fill the earth, and meet Me having ascribed no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness as great as your sins.” (Reported by Tirmidhi.)
Please write: COMMENT in this box to verify that you are human