Alhamdulillah, one of the things I got from last Ramadan is an understanding of my own, unique, relationship with the Quran. This might not apply to you; I am only an expert in my own experiences as my friend Sahar always says, but I am sharing this in hopes that you might relate or unshackle your own relationship with the Quran, sometimes bound by what it’s “supposed” to look like.
(قُل لَّوْ كَانَ الْبَحْرُ مِدَادًا لِّكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّي لَنَفِدَ الْبَحْرُ قَبْلَ أَن تَنفَدَ كَلِمَاتُ رَبِّي وَلَوْ جِئْنَا بِمِثْلِهِ مَدَدًا( 109
Say, “If the sea were ink for [writing] the words of my Lord, the sea would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even if We brought the like of it as a supplement.” – Al Kahf, Verse 109
The Quran is an infinite book that has an infinite number of things that can draw you to it. On a day when you need a reminder of His mercy you may find comfort in Surat Al Rahman. In a time when you are struggling to survive and need a reminder of His sustenance to calm your spirits you can find it in verses 22 and 23 of Surat Adh Dhariyat:
(23)فَوَرَبِّ السَّمَاء وَالْأَرْضِ إِنَّهُ لَحَقٌّ مِّثْلَ مَا أَنَّكُمْ تَنطِقُونَ (22) وَفِي السَّمَاء رِزْقُكُمْ وَمَا تُوعَدُونَ
“And in the heaven is your provision and whatever you are promised (22) Then by the Lord of the heaven and earth, indeed, it is truth – just as [sure as] it is that you are speaking (23)” – Adh Dhariyat, Verses 22-23
One evening, post Ramadan, I had the house to myself and I was about to pray Isha. So, I cleared my throat and gave myself a nice, flavourful iqama – loud enough to fill the living room but intimate enough to only share with myself. Then I prayed out loud. It felt nostalgic. Some context: this year I prayed most of my taraweeh at home, by myself. It felt fulfilling because I had just finished (and started) memorizing a few Surahs that I really like so I had a chance to revise them. I also change the way I recite every few years and I had just got the hang of the latest rhythms. They were a serene few weeks. My place stayed clean and tidy (mostly), I had an airtight laundry schedule, I cooked a lot and I was always with people I loved for iftar. I am reminded of all of that every time I pray or recite Quran in the evening, out loud, alone and at home.
I’m sure anyone who has any knowledge of psychology knows that one’s environment can trigger behavioural or emotional responses. What I realized is that part of why I am attached to music is my external environment. One of my favourite things to do is to drive late at night while I listen to music. It was an escape for me during hard times when I was too stressed and anxious to be in my own head so I would leave my head and hit the road. I knew that while I drove I could only focus on that one thing. I knew I could relax without feeling guilty, or that I could just stop thinking altogether be it for a little while. That relief from the guilt and that single mind were so sweet and so powerful that my mind associated them with whatever my external environment was so to this day cruising late at night is one of my favourite things to do. And sometimes when I’m not in that environment music can bring that relief back to life and calm the thoughts in my mind.
That’s what happened that one post Ramadan evening. My mind had associated a state of peace and order with something I was doing – taraweeh – and that meant there are things I can physically do that will help me love the Quran more. If I can associate it with good things I can associate it with good feelings. I had discovered a way to get myself emotionally hooked on the Quran.
That sounded a little sinister, like I want to manipulate myself. But, really, what is changing your behaviours, habits, emotions if it isn’t manipulating yourself into changing your perspective? And convincing yourself that that is now how you think and how you behave? I’ve always believed that being Muslim takes a lot of effort. If you do not actively seek and develop a relationship with the Quran then you won’t have one. If you do not actively seek and develop a relationship with prayer then you won’t have one. I recently discovered, alhamdulillah, a cheat code for my own relationship with the Quran. It could work for you, it could not. It is up to every one of us to actively seek to understand the building blocks of our own personal growth because if we know what makes us grow we can transform whatever we experience into growth.