Five simple tips on studying the Quran Feb 2006

By: Saif Manzoor

THE QURAN is a guidance from the God to those who submit -- the Muslims. We recite its verses in our prayers, we study it to seek its wisdom, we find comfort and hope in its glad tidings, and find motivation in its teachings to do good works.

The Quran gives us a deep insight into the human life; our origin, our motivations, the laws which govern our success and failures, it provides explanation for all the aspects of our life. It covers a large number of subjects dealing with humankind and this sometimes makes it difficult for the reader to relate them to each other.

Below we list five simple tips which can help you studying Quran in a more systematic and interesting way:

1) Pick a theme

Theme gives us a context. Without a theme, we can easily get lost in the vastness of the subjects or become theoretical or speculative, without a practical purpose or intention. We can choose any theme based e.g. Rituals, Goodness, hereafter, God, faith etc..

2) Refer to as many translations as you can

This removes the doubt about interpretations or translations. We understand that everyone is not an expert on Arabic or linguistics and cannot dig into the meanings of words by himself or herself. So a simpler option is to refer to as many translations as possible. A good site for this purpose is

Here you will find about 15 widely read translations.

In addition to that if you like to do further research, refer to some good dictionaries and lexicons. Names of some good and affordable ones are found here.

3) Look at the big picture

There is a saying in English language "Don’t miss the forest for the trees". It means don’t get caught up in the details, thereby missing the more important message in the big picture. Therefore, never lose the big picture i.e. Your theme. While doing your research on a subject try to look at all the verses or passages of the Quran. This will help you get the big picture. Referring to one or two verses can lead to incorrect understandings.

A good example is As-Salat. If this is your subject then refer to all the contexts in which Salat is mentioned. If you look at only those passages of Quran which discuss the spiritual aspects of Salat you may mistakingly conclude that Salat is only an spiritual exercise. On the other hand if you refer to only those passages of Quran which mention the physical aspects of Salat you may conclude that Salat is only a ritual. And lastly if you refer to only those passages which has the group aspects of Salat you may conclude that Salat is only a System and not a ritual. In fact, if you look at the big picture you will realize that Salat is a ritual which is part of a system followed by the Muslim community and has its spiritual aspects also. In this manner you can better appreciate the richness of the concept of As-Salat.

4) Do not try to find hidden meanings

God says in the Quran:

And indeed, We have made the Quran easy to understand and remember, then is there any that will remember(or receive admonition)? (54/40) Also refer (44/58, 54/17, 54/22, 54/32)


In it (the Quran) are verses that are entirely clear, they are the foundations of the Book; and others not entirely clear. So as for those in whose hearts there is a deviation, they follow that which is entirely not clear thereof, seeking discord and seeking for its hidden meanings, but none knows its hidden meanings save God. (3/7)

We believe that it is pointless to spend any effort to discover any esoteric[1] meanings of the verses of the Quran; when God has categorically stated that no one, except God, knows their meaning. Those who still pursue such a goal, often comeup with misleading interpretations, which only create discord among the Muslims.

5) Make Friends

Last but not the least important is friendship. Make friends who are doing the same thing. Share knowledge. Share the love of studying this beautiful book from God. Create a culture of giving and sharing.

Notes & References ________________________________________________________

[1] Esoteric means hidden or deeper knowledge or teachings that are possessed or understood only by a few.




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