Millions of Muslims throughout the years have spent much of their lives memorizing the Quran, yet spend virtually no time to understand the meaning of what it is that they are reciting. Usually when Muslims are questioned about this they claim that God credits those who recite His revelations in Arabic, and so understanding is of much less importance.
Additionally, many make the claim that the Quran is too difficult to understand and should therefore be left to the scholars to interpret it for the masses. Ironically, these same people tend to heavily promote the translation and understanding of the Hadith, which completely contradicts the teachings of the Quran. Thus the people are taught a false understanding of the religion at the expense of having the truth memorized but locked away in a language they do not understand. This is probably one of the greatest tricks that the devil played on the Muslim world; where he devised a way to keep supposed followers of the Quran ignorant of its content, and instead follow sources that completely contradict it.
This dilemma is not only true for non-Arab speakers, but Arab speakers as well. This is because the Quran is written in Classical Arabic with much of the vocabulary and syntax incomprehensible to many modern native Arab speakers without proper study of the language. God informs us that even the Arabs at the time of the prophet often failed to understand the meaning of what was being recited to them of the Quran.
[47:16] Some of them listen to you, then as soon as they leave they ask those who were enlightened, “What did he just say?” GOD thus seals their hearts and, consequently, they follow only their opinions.
وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَسْتَمِعُ إِلَيْكَ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا خَرَجُوا مِنْ عِنْدِكَ قَالُوا لِلَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ مَاذَا قَالَ آنِفًا أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ طَبَعَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ وَاتَّبَعُوا أَهْوَاءَهُمْ
This does not mean that everyone needs to understand Classical Arabic to understand the Quran. The only criteria that is needed in order to understand the Quran is sincerity.
[56:75] I swear by the positions of the stars.
[56:76] This is an oath, if you only knew, that is awesome.
[56:77] This is an honorable Quran.
[56:78] In a protected book.
[56:79] None can grasp it except the sincere.
فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِمَوَاقِعِ النُّجُومِ
إِنَّهُ لَقُرْآنٌ كَرِيمٌ
إِنَّهُ لَقُرْآنٌ كَرِيمٌ
فِي كِتَابٍ مَكْنُونٍ
لَا يَمَسُّهُ إِلَّا الْمُطَهَّرُونَ
We see in the following verse that God is indicating that the Quran could come in Arabic or non-Arabic, and will be accessible only to the believers and inaccessible to the disbelievers irrespective of the language.
[41:44] If we made it a non-Arabic Quran they would have said, “Why did it come down in that language?” Whether it is Arabic or non-Arabic, say, “For those who believe, it is a guide and healing. As for those who disbelieve, they will be deaf and blind to it, as if they are being addressed from faraway.”
وَلَوْ جَعَلْنَاهُ قُرْآنًا أَعْجَمِيًّا لَقَالُوا لَوْلَا فُصِّلَتْ آيَاتُهُ أَأَعْجَمِيٌّ وَعَرَبِيٌّ قُلْ هُوَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا هُدًى وَشِفَاءٌ وَالَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ فِي آذَانِهِمْ وَقْرٌ وَهُوَ عَلَيْهِمْ عَمًى أُولَٰئِكَ يُنَادَوْنَ مِنْ مَكَانٍ بَعِيدٍ
And since God is the Teacher of the Quran (55:2), only He alone can open the hearts of those who are sincere to its understanding, but if someone never takes the initiative to try to understand what it is they are reciting it is showing lack of sincerity. God equates such people who do this as parrots who disbelieve.
[2:171] The example of such disbelievers is that of parrots who repeat what they hear of sounds and calls, without understanding. Deaf, dumb, and blind; they cannot understand.
وَمَثَلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا كَمَثَلِ الَّذِي يَنْعِقُ بِمَا لَا يَسْمَعُ إِلَّا دُعَاءً وَنِدَاءً صُمٌّ بُكْمٌ عُمْيٌ فَهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ
The reason is because it shows that they are following in the religion not because of sincerity but only because they are following their parent’s religion blindly.
[2:170] When they are told, “Follow what GOD has revealed herein,” they say, “We follow only what we found our parents doing.” What if their parents did not understand, and were not guided?
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ اتَّبِعُوا مَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ قَالُوا بَلْ نَتَّبِعُ مَا أَلْفَيْنَا عَلَيْهِ آبَاءَنَا أَوَلَوْ كَانَ آبَاؤُهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَهْتَدُونَ
If someone is just imitating what was instructed to them by their forefathers and not assessing the integrity of the information that was passed down to them, then they are following their parents blindly and setting up their parents as an idol.
God warns us not to follow our parents religion blindly and has warned us of this since the time of Adam.
[7:27] O children of Adam, do not let the devil dupe you as he did when he caused the eviction of your parents from Paradise, and the removal of their garments to expose their bodies. He and his tribe see you, while you do not see them. We appoint the devils as companions of those who do not believe. [7:28] They commit a gross sin, then say, “We found our parents doing this, and GOD has commanded us to do it.” Say, “GOD never advocates sin. Are you saying about GOD what you do not know?” [7:29] Say, “My Lord advocates justice, and to stand devoted to Him alone at every place of worship. You shall devote your worship absolutely to Him alone. Just as He initiated you, you will ultimately go back to Him.” [7:30] Some He guided, while others are committed to straying. They have taken the devils as their masters, instead of GOD, yet they believe that they are guided.
يَابَنِي آدَمَ لَا يَفْتِنَنَّكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ كَمَا أَخْرَجَ أَبَوَيْكُمْ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ يَنْزِعُ عَنْهُمَا لِبَاسَهُمَا لِيُرِيَهُمَا سَوْآتِهِمَا إِنَّهُ يَرَاكُمْ هُوَ وَقَبِيلُهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا تَرَوْنَهُمْ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا الشَّيَاطِينَ أَوْلِيَاءَ لِلَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ
وَإِذَا فَعَلُوا فَاحِشَةً قَالُوا وَجَدْنَا عَلَيْهَا آبَاءَنَا وَاللَّهُ أَمَرَنَا بِهَا قُلْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَأْمُرُ بِالْفَحْشَاءِ أَتَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
قُلْ أَمَرَ رَبِّي بِالْقِسْطِ وَأَقِيمُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ عِنْدَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَادْعُوهُ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ كَمَا بَدَأَكُمْ تَعُودُونَ
فَرِيقًا هَدَىٰ وَفَرِيقًا حَقَّ عَلَيْهِمُ الضَّلَالَةُ إِنَّهُمُ اتَّخَذُوا الشَّيَاطِينَ أَوْلِيَاءَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَيَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُمْ مُهْتَدُونَ
It is a commandment in the Quran, that we must examine all information. Ironically if someone recites this verse in a language they don’t understand they will never realize this simple fact.
[17:36] You shall not accept any information, unless you verify it for yourself. I have given you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brain, and you are responsible for using them.
وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَٰئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْئُولًا
One of the words that God uses for the Quran is Al-Zikr, The Reminder, but how can the Quran serve as a reminder if someone is reciting it in a language they do not understand?
[7:2] This scripture has been revealed to you—you shall not harbor doubt about it in your heart—that you may warn with it, and to provide a reminder for the believers.
كِتَابٌ أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكَ فَلَا يَكُنْ فِي صَدْرِكَ حَرَجٌ مِنْهُ لِتُنْذِرَ بِهِ وَذِكْرَىٰ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ
[21:50] This too is a blessed reminder that we sent down. Are you denying it?
وَهَٰذَا ذِكْرٌ مُبَارَكٌ أَنْزَلْنَاهُ أَفَأَنْتُمْ لَهُ مُنْكِرُونَ
[38:87] This is a reminder for the world.
إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرٌ لِلْعَالَمِينَ
God tells us that the purpose of the Quran is to reflect on the verses and the examples set forth, but how can someone do this if they are not able to understand the meanings of the sounds they are making.
[23:68] Why do they not reflect upon this scripture? Do they not realize that they have received something never attained by their ancestors?
أَفَلَمْ يَدَّبَّرُوا الْقَوْلَ أَمْ جَاءَهُمْ مَا لَمْ يَأْتِ آبَاءَهُمُ الْأَوَّلِينَ
[38:29] This is a scripture that we sent down to you, that is sacred—perhaps they reflect on its verses. Those who possess intelligence will take heed.
كِتَابٌ أَنْزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ مُبَارَكٌ لِيَدَّبَّرُوا آيَاتِهِ وَلِيَتَذَكَّرَ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ
God provides us the following example of the individuals who were given the Torah yet failed to uphold it because they chose to go astray.
مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ حُمِّلُوا التَّوْرَاةَ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَحْمِلُوهَا كَمَثَلِ الْحِمَارِ يَحْمِلُ أَسْفَارًا بِئْسَ مَثَلُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ
[62:5] The example of those who were given the Torah then failed to uphold it is like the donkey carrying great works of literature. Miserable indeed is the example of people who rejected GOD’s revelations. GOD does not guide the wicked people.
The error that the Muslim world is making is far greater because they refuse to even attempt to understand what it is they are reciting and instead choose to follow the religion of their parents blindly without any knowledge. And because of this choice, if they don’t change their ways they will not be able to claim plausible deniability on the Day of Judgment.
2 thoughts on “Importance of Understanding”
In the 2:171 I don’t see the word parrot in the translations. What is the exact word in Arabic for the parrot? In Turkish translations it is translated so different compared to that meaning.
Peace, In English the term “to parrot someone” means “to mechanically repeat what they say (typically without understanding).” The Arabic for this phrase in 2:171 is the following:
كَمَثَلِ it is like an example of
الَّذِي the one who
يَنْعِقُ [he] cries out
بِمَا at what
يَسْمَعُ [he] hears
دُعَاءً calls / invocations / prayers
وَنِدَاءً and cries / calls / shouts –
you can find a word by word breakdown of the verses here: https://www.quranstudyapp.com/grid
Or if you have an iPhone you can download the app: https://apple.co/2C1YGXj