“Hey, no! I mean what do you do? For real that is?” asked Tania with exasperation.
“I just told you Tania, I study and teach Qur’an,” replied Bisma smilingly.
“You have a degree in communications and you have chosen to teach Qur’an? I don’t get it. Why would you waste your education? You were a high achiever throughout academic and professional life.” Tania continued to ask.
“I don’t think I am wasting my education. I am only exploring a new world,” Bisma replied.
“Well, we have been studying Qur’an ever since we started speaking. Almost everyone knows the basic message. You should offer your Salah, give Zakat, be respectful to your elders, and be kind to your neighbors and orphans. These are basic principles of humanity. What’s new in there to learn?” asked Tania again.
“Yes, you are right. Every Muslim child gets affiliated with the Qur’an at a very young age. Yet, as we grow up either some of us abandon the Qur’an study altogether or read it only occasionally and that too like a parrot without understanding the meaning.” Bisma added, “But you know that is not the purpose of the Qur’an; to read it once and keep it on the shelf; to barely read Arabic and never understand a single word of it.”
“Now, Bisma you are being judgmental. Let’s be honest. Not everyone merely reads the Arabic. There are Qur’an copies where the translation is written under each Aayah. Whoever wishes to understand the meaning can read the translation,” argued Tania.
Bisma paused for a moment and gave her friend a wide smile. “Everyone can read the translation,” the words echoed in her head. She kept looking at her friend for a few more minutes and then finally started again.
“Tania, that’s what I thought too, and it had been my practice for several years. While on regular days I would read Arabic from cover to cover, during Ramadhan my special worship was to read the translation along with the Arabic text. I thought I am doing my duty as a Muslim and gaining reward for it. Then things changed for me. My long held beliefs were challenged.
There came a point in my life when I started questioning my faith. Was I really a Muslim? Am I really practicing the correct Islam?
I knew for sure my parents are Muslims, and they have raised me in an Islamic environment; teaching me the rituals and narrating the stories of the prophets ‘alayhi salaam and their companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum. My brothers are named after companions of Rasoolullah ﷺ. And I thought that’s enough for you to be considered a Muslim – some rituals and a Muslim name.”
Tania was now looking at her friend with curiosity. The sternness on her face had mellowed down. She still, however, couldn’t grasp why her intellectual friend would give up her corporate career and pursue Qur’anic study. Knowing Bisma for so long she knew her friend doesn’t take imprudent decisions.
“Bisma, please go on. I want to hear you out,” requested Tania.
“I would be delighted to do so, Tania,” replied Bisma with her usual smile. “So as I was saying for 25 years of my life I thought for you to be considered a Muslim, Salah and Qur’an reading were enough. I would actively take part in Internet discussions because I considered myself a knowledgeable Muslim and I was on a mission to bring people to Islam. With the passage of time, I became well-known. I was getting friend’s request and Shaytan fooled me into believing I know it all. Soon, however, the bubble had to burst. Group members started seeking my opinion on various matters and would invite me to discussions assuming they have a strong member now. Little did they know the member is quoting most of what she knows from her limited knowledge or Sheikh Google.
I was surrounded by people who could quote from Qur’an without looking in it and give proper ahadith references. I felt weak in the knees and embarrassed.
I had everything. A loving family. An A-star academic record. An enviable job. And trust of people around me both at home and at work. But zero knowledge of the Deen.
As my interaction with these people increased so did my discontentment. Each time someone praised my academic or professional accomplishments, I felt something breaking inside me. My time, my energy, my skills – where were they being used? I have been a high achiever for most of my life but what did I do for Allah? Who taught me in the first place? Who opened my heart to knowledge? Who made me respectful in the eyes of people?
Of course, these are all blessings of Allah. He could have chosen to deliver me to parents who could not afford education. He could have made my learning power weak and I would have been an average student. He could have placed hurdles in my career growth or put me in a stressful situation. But He didn’t choose that. He chose to bless me instead. Through my academic and professional achievements He was polishing me for some higher goal – a higher purpose in life.
When Prophet Eesa ‘alayhi salaam faced resistance from his people, he turned to some righteous people and sought their assistance. He said, Who will be my helpers in Allah’s Cause? [Quran, 3:52]. A Prophet of Allah was calling out to common people!
We exert ourselves in business studies and corporate careers but leave Islam and the study of Qur’an for the poor and destitute?”
Tania kept looking at her friend silently as Bisma continued, “When my conscience started troubling me, and I could no more stand in prayer without feeling guilty, I knew I have to do something. I started searching Tafaseer, and planned to follow Qur’an reading with exegesis. When I began reading I was ashamed of myself…I was ashamed because I had wasted 25 years of my life chasing what? My interpretation of the Qur’an has been so wrong and limited. I never even questioned why an injunction was given or the background of an ayah’s revelation. For 25 years, I continued to read my Mus-haf like a parrot; confident in my heart I know it all.
Filled with remorse I knew I could not go back in the past. Every ayah carried so much detail and lessons for us that I became addicted to it. After doing some portion of the Qur’anic study I decided to invite my friends to taste the ‘real’ beauty of the Qur’an. Some made fun of me…” There was a momentary pause, “…while others were enthusiastic to jump on the bandwagon. They ignored my shortcomings and encouraged me at every step.
And now your next question would be what about my career, how do I manage my living. WellTania, it may sound as an overstatement but Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has increased my provision ever since I opted for this journey. I may not have a corporate career but I have peace, contentment, a mission, a purpose and a flexible job that works perfectly for me. Above all the treasures that I have, I feel that I have time for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. I am pursuing the path of my Prophet ﷺ and calling people to Allah’s Deen. I am gaining knowledge that will, in sha Allah, protect me from falling in Shaytan’s treacherous traps. I can now protect my friends as well.
And you know what…” Bisma chuckled, “…some of the people who made fun of me three years back are now approaching me and asking questions. My mentor taught me to make du’a for the people who refuse to listen to us today. Read up the Seerah. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala open up their hearts, Aameen.”
Tania was now standing still, tears trickling down her cheeks. Thoughts were encircling her mind. How many times had she mocked her own religion? How many times had she thought of picking up an exegesis of Qur’an but never got around doing it?
Bisma sensed her friend’s discomfort.
“Tania. You don’t have to be embarrassed because once there was a time I knew nothing. But Alhumdulillah Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala paved the way for me. And now I pray the same for you. Go home and make sincere Du’a that may Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala show you Sirat-e-mustaqeem and help you remain steadfast on this path.
Hey! Don’t you want to meet the Prophet ﷺ at Kauthar and tell him you carried on his legacy? I am sure you would want to.”
That brought a cheer on Tania’s face. Both the friends hugged each other and parted.
On the authorityof ‘Uthman radhiAllahu ‘anhu: The Prophet ﷺ said,
“The best among you (Muslims) are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it.” [Saheeh Bukhari 61:545]
One of our admins’ article published in The Intellect magazine Vol. 5, Issue 3. (Feb-Mar, 2014)