No matter if you were born a Muslim or you’ve just converted to Islam; understanding the Quran may be hard for you, because the Holy Quran, unlike any other books, is not classified in chronological or in subject order. You can see that in many cases Quranic stories are repeated in different chapters with slight differences. And when you start reading one chapter, you realize that the topic changes from one point to another. You may think that there are many sudden transitions in the Quran that make understanding it much harder for you, especially if you don’t know Arabic language and you use a translation.
There are also some verses that have been revealed in specific contexts, and you may never understand the meaning or the wisdom behind that verse if you don’t know about the context. As well as translating the Quran into your language, using a dictionary, may not help you understand the whole concept of a verse or a chapter.
Here we are going to share some tips that you may find them useful in the way of understanding the holy Quran and therefore learning more from it.
At the beginning of the Holy Quran, Allah mentions that this book about whose truth is no doubt will be a guide for pious people.  Those “who believe in the Unseen, maintain the prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them; and who believe in what has been sent down to you and what was sent down before you, and are certain of the Hereafter. And who believe in what has been sent down to you and what was sent down before you, and are certain of the Hereafter.” (2: 2-4)
Here, God is enumerating the characteristics of those for whom the Quran will be guidance. It means that if a person does not have the above characteristics, he should not expect to be guided by the Quran. Therefore, one of the steps of understanding the Quran is to discover and obey its basic rules and regulations.
“Indeed this Quran guides to what is most upright, and gives the good news to the faithful who do righteous deeds that there is a great reward for them.” (17: 9)
Before finding solutions on how to understand the Quran, we need to find out the probable reasons for which the Quran is a hard book for us. As mentioned in the Quran, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) complains to Allah “O my Lord! Indeed my people consigned this Quran to oblivion.” (25: 30)
Hence, if one does not read at least a few verses of the Quran every day, he should not expect to comprehend its messages. However, for those who recite the Quran and are eager to grasp its insights, there are some instructions given by Allah.
“When the Quran is recited, listen to it and be silent, so you may receive [Allah’s] mercy.” (7: 204)
When you go to a classroom, and the teacher is describing something, you need to respect and adhere to the rules of the classroom. It is much more important to be polite and pious while we are being spoken to and taught by God. And as mentioned in the above verse, if we abide by the rules and be respectful, the real teacher of this world will start to teach us. Allah (SWT) promises in the Quran “Be wary of Allah and Allah will teach you, and Allah has knowledge of all things.” (2: 282) Allah enjoins his most faithful servants to ask Allah for knowledge. 
It is based on the same reason that Allah gives his pious servants knowledge and wisdom. “When he came of age, We gave him judgment and [sacred] knowledge, and thus do We reward the virtuous.” (12:22).
As you see in this verse, the requirement of gaining knowledge and wisdom from God is to be virtuous. Real knowledge and wisdom is not something that you can learn in any university or school or workshop. Wisdom is something given by God to His chosen people. And as mentioned at the beginning of this article, the chosen people who take the best benefits from the Quran are those who are pious, believe in the unseen, pray and give charity, and believe in all holy books. 
“…So recite as much of the Quran as is feasible...” (73: 20)
More important than listening to the Quran, is reciting it. In the above verse, God recommends us twice in one verse to recite the Quran as much as possible. This shows that even if we do not understand the real meanings behind the verses, the miraculous characteristics of the Quran will influence us. One of these characteristics as mentioned in the Quran is that when a person recites the Quran God will “draw a hidden curtain between you and those who do not believe in the Hereafter…” (17: 45- 46)
“Do they not contemplate the Quran?” (4:82)
Some people are very much concerned about reading a considerable number of verses every day. It is not condemnable as God Himself recommends us to do so. But let’s keep in mind that quality is sometimes more important than quantity.
Since the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) gradually, some faithless people were complaining why the Quran is not revealed to him at once. Allah (SWT) replied the reason: “So it was, that We may strengthen your heart with it, and We have recited it [to you] in a measured tone.” (25: 32)
Therefore, if we want to understand the Quran comprehensively, we should recite it gently, so that we can contemplate its verses.
“… Ask the People of the Reminder if you do not know.” (21: 7)
God tells us to refer to people of wisdom and knowledge and ask them our questions if we cannot reach the answers by ourselves. With regards to Quranic questions, reading or listening to different interpretations of the Quran can be a great help. Different Quran interpreters have discovered different points about the meanings of Quranic verses.
The knowledge in interpretation of the Quran is limitless, and each commentator can find out some points about a verse, and there are still many points that have not been known. And it is one of the miraculous aspects of the Quran; that every individual may understand its points based on his/her conditions of time and place. That is why in Quranic interpretations there is always space for growth in understanding the meanings. Hence, do not stick to one interpretation and try to read and listen to different commentaries. Then you can compare them to each other, and at some points, with the help of Allah, you might find some new points about specific verses.
“We did not send any apostle except with the language of his people so that he might make [Our messages] clear to them.” (14:4)
This verse shows that there should be many different reasons for which the Quran was revealed in the Arabic language; the most important reason is that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was sent in a specific place and time and to people of a specific language. Perhaps it’s better for you to get familiar with Quranic Arabic which is not as hard as you think. Many of the words used in the Quran are repeated many times. This way you can start to memorize Quranic words that are most common, and gradually increase your knowledge of Quranic Arabic.
There is no problem in reading the translation of the Quran, as well as it is not a required condition for being a Muslim. But believe it or not, the joy of understanding the Quran in its real language is so different from reading the translation. It is like watching movies, with subtitles. We may understand the main points, but the real feeling is not conveyed to us.
In this article, we tried not to use any other sources other than the Quran itself to guide us in the way of understanding it.
"We send down in the Quran that which is a cure and mercy for the faithful, and it increases the wrongdoers only in loss.” (17: 82)
Therefore, as you try and read and obey the orders of Allah as mentioned above, make sure that He will reward your eagerness in understanding it by teaching it to you in a miraculous way.
- The Quran (2:1)
- The Quran (20: 114)
- The Quran (2:1)
The Holy Quran is replete with examples of men who stood for the truth and those who opposed it. The former sacrificed everything they had to defend the truth and the latter was ready to destroy everything around them to satiate their greed and selfishness.
The Book of Allah invites us to reflect upon personalities, nations, and events of the past. Whether it is pure men like Prophet Ibrahim (AS), Prophet Musa (AS) and Prophet Isa (AS) or evil men who opposed them and their mission like Nimrood, Firon (Pharoah), or Bani Israil, all of them have a lesson for us. These are not just stories to read and move on, they contain messages for our lives. And rightly so, we read in the Holy Quran:
"There is certainly a moral in their accounts for those who possess intellect. This [Quran] is not a fabricated discourse; rather, it is a confirmation of what was [revealed] before it, and an elaboration of all things, and a guidance and mercy for a people who have faith. (12:111)
Similarly, Imam Ali (AS) says: Learn lessons from past events for future events, because they are similar to one another. (Nahjul Balagha Letter 69)
One such incident of the past that changed the history of Islam forever, is the event of Karbala. No mention of Karbala is complete without Hurr ibn Yazid Ar-Riyahi. He is an example for those who reflect upon his journey, his actions and his martyrdom. He encourages, inspires and motivates the believers through his actions in Karbala.
Hurr literally means a freeman in Arabic, and truly so he lived up to his name.
Hurr Ibn Yazid Ar-Riyahi was the general of the Ummayad army dispatched from Kufa, (Iraq) to intercept Imam Al-Hussain (AS), the third infallible Imam. Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, the newly appointed governor of Kufa issued the command to guard all entrances and exits to Kufa in order to intercept al-Hussain for an oath of allegiance to Yazid. Hurr was ordered along with his 1,000 soldiers to intercept Imam Hussain(AS) and his followers before they reached Kufa.
When he intercepted Imam Hussain (AS) at Dhu Hussam, Hurr and his men had ran out of water. The Imam(AS) ordered his companions to satiate Hurr and his army, including the cavalry. Hurr and his men offered their prayers with the Imam and listened to his sermons. However, on subsequent orders from the tyrant governor of Kufa, Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad, Imam Hussain and his family were forced to encamp in Karbala. Hurr was of the notion that the Imam (AS) will not be killed in Karbala, he would somehow persuade him to go elsewhere. But he was perturbed when he realized that Umar Ibn Sa'ad who was sent by Ubaidullah had come with orders to kill Imam Hussain. On one hand was his position, family and wealth and on the other hand was the grandson of the Holy Prophet(PBUH&HP) and the son of Imam Ali (AS) and Lady Fatima (SA), supporting whom meant a certain death. These were the two options left for Hurr, just as the Holy Quran says:
"Indeed We have guided him to the way, be he grateful or ungrateful." (76:3).
Despite all odds, Hurr left the Army of Yazid, joined Imam Hussain (AS) and won the honor of being the first martyr of Karbala. All the glitter of the world, his power, rank, wealth and children did not stop him from joining his master Hussain(AS).
Ashura and Karbala were not be bound by time or geographical location. Almost 14 centuries have passes by but human beings from different parts of the world, belonging to different races and religions continue to mourn for Imam Hussain(AS) and take inspiration from him and his mission.
Just as Karbala continues to inspire us, the magnanimous personality of Hurr continues to inspire and guide us. Hurr chose good over bad, truth over falsehood, hereafter over the transient world. If we claim to be followers and lovers of Imam Hussain(AS) we need to turn towards the Hussain of our time and follow the teachings of Imam Hussain(AS). Imam Hussain(AS) gave everything he had to protect and preserve the teachings of Islam and by helping Hussain(AS) in his cause, Hurr achieved this lofty position of being Imam Hussain's(AS) helper. Thus, if Hurr truly motivates us, we need to mend our ways and make ourselves capable of helping Imam Mahdi (AJ) the true inheritor of Imam Hussain's (AS) legacy.
The Hurr of Karbala teaches us that true love is incomplete without sacrifice.
But, is the Hurr inside us ready to listen?
- A Probe into the History of Ashura, Ibrahim Ayati
While we are waiting for Christmas to come, it seems impossible to ignore Halloween in the meantime. It is full of fun and excitement which is why it is so popular among many people around the world. But, have you ever thought about why you are celebrating this day? Or, as a Muslim is it compatible with your Islamic values? Let’s find out.
Halloween which is held on 31st of October annually marked “the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter”  for the pagan Celts of Samhain. They also believed that on this day “spirits from other worlds (such as the souls of the dead) were able to visit earth…and roam about” .
Therefore, they would wear some costumes and light bonfires to keep the ghosts away. They would also worship their idols and pagan Gods on this celebration.
Just the same as Celtics who worshipped their pagan Gods on this day, the Christians who entered the British Isles, tried to adopt this celebration with their tradition and replaced the pagan Gods with their Saints. So, Halloween turned into the day on which the Christian saints were commemorated, and became the All Saints Day. However, “the customs of Samhain survived anyway, and eventually became intertwined with the Christian holiday” .
In 1966, Anton LaVey who founded the false cult of “Satanism” declared Halloween to be one of its official holidays. Besides, the inappropriate and sometimes horrifying costumes that are used on this celebration include signs or symbols that are identified with Satanism.
However, since Halloween has been practiced long before this association was made, we cannot accuse anyone who is celebrating Halloween of being a Satanic. But, it is necessary to be aware of the ones who are taking advantage of this celebration for their ends.
Islam Respects Traditions, not Superstitions
As we have seen above, Halloween roots back to the rites and rituals of ancient pagans of Celtic origin and then continued to be celebrated by Christians along with some adaptations. While nowadays no one thinks about the reason for this celebration or the rituals practiced on it anymore (such as trick-or-treat, wearing scary costumes, etc.), they still represent the superstitions in which Celtic pagans believed.
As Muslims, if we want to find out about Islam’s attitude toward Halloween, we should look at Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUHHP) way of reacting to such traditional celebrations. At the time of the emergence of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (PBUHHP) respected most of the traditions and all monotheistic religions that existed at that time. However, he tried to reject the superstitions that had no rationale behind them and were based on false beliefs. So, he decided to wipe away the superstitious traditions that were practiced by pre-Islamic Arabs through informing them of their falsehood.
Of course not. However, there are three points that we should observe when we are having fun:
Many reports reveal the dangers that threaten people, especially children, on the Halloween’s eve; these include car accidents which have a high rate on this night . As Dr. Rebecca Parker, chairwoman of the American College of Emergency Physicians' board of directors, puts, “ This is a time when we see an increase of kids being hit and killed by cars” .
Also, according to the tradition of this day, people would wear scary costumes to send the ghosts coming from the other world away. But, as a person who lives in the twentieth century, we know that such a belief is entirely superstitious and irrational. So, what is the use of scaring other people and our children with a weird and sometimes disgusting look? Doesn't it result in a psychologically adverse effect?
As Muslims, we should always be observant of our actions, even if we are having fun. It is essential to keep in mind that our activities, whatever they are, do not prevent us from what Allah has commanded (prayer (Salat), fasting (Sawm), etc.). Nor do they invite us toward committing what He has forbidden (e.g., drinking alcohol, dancing, participating in inappropriate parties, observing modesty, etc.)
Islam always recommends us to be aware of what we are doing and think about our intention before any action. Even when we are having fun, there should be something behind it that makes it worthwhile. When enumerating the characteristics of a faithful person in Quran, Allah also mentions those who avoid vain actions (23:3); i.e., those activities that have no use for us and would only waste our time.
As mentioned above, Halloween roots back to Celtic pagan’s worship of their idols and many Gods. It can be argued that today we don’t celebrate Halloween with the intention of worshiping idols or performing a Satanic holiday. The rituals are still the same and still represent the Celtic culture and tradition – as we said Christians had a very limited influence upon Halloween and the way it is celebrated- which was polytheistic.
A Muslim’s life should mirror his beliefs in every aspect. So, if an action even in appearance, represents what is against Islam or far from its teachings, then it should be avoided by Muslims.
So, if you are a Muslim and wonder what to do on Halloween’s eve, make sure that you know enough about the reasons behind this celebration. And make sure it has no danger toward yourself or others, you do not commit any action against Islamic laws (e.g., drinking alcohol, wearing immodest clothes, etc.), you don’t waste your time in doing them, and you won’t contradict your belief in Islam through looking like an atheist.