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)
Let's start our topic with a question. What is the meaning of 'special' in your life? What days have been special to you, your family, or even to your community? The answer may vary from mere personal occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, etc. to more public ones such as New Year's Eve, Easters, or any National Day. The same is true about every religion, culture, or society. Different days of the year have different meanings in every religious community; such as Laylatul Qadr for Muslims.
"(He) Who perfected everything which He created" (Quran 32:7)
"…So whichever way you turn, there is the face of Allah! Allah is indeed all-bounteous, all-knowing." Quran (2:115)
"There is nothing in existence but beauty, for God created the cosmos only in His image, that is, in the image of His infinite beauty." Ibn Arabi [i], & .
This does not, however, mean that all creatures are the same! Can river stones be equal to those of precious pearls in the oceans? The world is the world of differences, and that actually makes it delightful and adventurous. This is also manifested in people's different languages and colors, which is a sign of Allah's balanced and sophisticated creation.
"And of His signs is … the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge" (Quran 30:22)
If every stone were like a pearl would have the pearl had the same value that it has now? How about the days of the year? God is indeed in All Days, but again this is God's plan for us to value specific days or nights more than others. The Islamic Holy scripture refers to a night that has the value as equal to a thousand months, called Laylatul Qadr, the Night of Decree. Likewise, the month of Ramadan or that of Dhul Hijja has special significance in Islam during which distinct rituals and etiquettes are prescribed for Muslims. What is it that really makes them unique? For that, we will have to take a look at Islamic resources.
As indicated earlier, certain nights and days are adored in Islamic culture.
In a week, Friday does not only mark the weekend, but it has a special meaning for Muslims. The Surah "al-Juma" in the Quran declares the importance of the Friday prayer that is a congregational prayer held at Friday noon, and it is also referred to as the "the pilgrimage of the poor" in Islamic traditions. 'Forgiveness of sins,' 'reduction of the difficulties in the Day of Judgment,' and 'great rewards for every step to the place of the Friday prayer' are only a scratch over the surface of the benefits of this ritual for those who attend it .
In a year, the three months of Rajab, Shaban, and Ramadan are highly appreciated. It is narrated that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) has said: "Indeed Rajab is the month of Allah, while Shaban is my month and Ramadan is the month of my community" . Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed to the Prophet (PBUH&HP). It is also the month of fasting for Muslims .
In a grand tradition, the Prophet (PBUH&HP) narrates that Allah (SWT) said: "Fasting is for me, and I am the one who rewards for it" , "The gates of the fire are closed (in this month), so ask your Lord not to open them and Satans are in chains. So ask your Lord not to dominate them over you." This month is the best month in the sight of Allah, its days are the best, its nights are the best nights and its hours are the best hours… your breath in it (the month of Ramadan) is glorification (of God), and your sleep in it is worship" .
Moreover, it is in this month that the Night of Decree (Laylatul Qadr) is celebrated. A night that is regarded as equal to a thousand months, and it is when humankind's destiny is decreed for the coming year. It was on this night that the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet . Indeed, Ramadan is the best month, and the Night of Qadr (Decree) is its heart. Believers stay awake the entire night and pray for blessings and forgiveness. It is the holiest night of the year, and it would be unwise to be heedless of the tremendous benefits of this night. It is a grand opportunity that God has gifted us with; there is a night that our whole year is decreed and if praying that night, we can ask Him to bless us with a year full of the happiness, the spirituality, the health and the success and whatever good we want in our lives. That's how God gives us the chance to rebuild our destiny, and a new beginning of our spiritual calendars, to ask forgiveness for the sins we have committed in the past year while praying for a better fate in the coming year.
The above briefly indicates how some days, months, and nights are special in Islam. The question now remains how we are going to use them and benefit from them. When we are invited to such a special feast undoubtedly, we have to get prepared and plan for it; otherwise, we gain nothing but regret.
That's the beauty of having faith. Your days and nights are not equal. Each and every one of them has their own distinct meanings. It makes the spiritual journey of a servant sweeter and more enjoyable. He/she has always something to do to get closer to His Lord.
[i] An Arab Andalusian Muslim scholar, mystic, poet, and philosopher, whose works have grown to be very influential.
- Claude Addas, The Experience and Doctrine of Love in Ibn Arab, http://www.ibnarabisociety.org/addas1.html
- William C. Chittick, The Divine Roots of Human Love,
- divine roots
- Al-'Allama al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 86, p. 197, Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Man la yahduruh al-faqih, vol. 1, p. 427, Nuri,
- Al-'Allama al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 104, p. 123.
- The Quran 2:183&5
- Shaykh al-Hurr al-Amili, Wasā'il al-Shi'ah, vol. 10, p.400.
- Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Al-Amāli, p.95.
- The Quran, Chapter 97th.
Perhaps one of the most important questions for each of us about life is what a good and flourishing life is and most generally if it is worth living.
Many people, including great philosophers and scholars of ethics and mysticism throughout history, have tried to find an answer to this question regarding life worth. Albert Camus, one of the famous authors and philosophers of the 20th century, tried hard to fulfill his lifelong quest to shed light on the meaning of our lives, such that he believed: “Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest […] comes afterward. Those are games; one must first answer this” .
Now let’s see how different people have answered this important question about life worth. We can divide these viewpoints into three categories:
1. They believe life costs a lot and has very few benefits for us. As Woody Allan, the pessimist American director, puts: “Most of life is tragic. You're born, you don't know why. You're here, you don't know why. You go, you die. Your family dies. Your friends die. People suffer. People live in constant terror. The world is full of poverty and corruption and war and Nazis and tsunamis. The net result, the final count is, you lose - you don't beat the house” . Or as Samuel Butler says: “life is one long process of getting tired” . So some of these people think why not we commit suicide to get rid of this miserable life?!
2. These people believe life is so valuable no matter how it seems and we have to live it at any price. Lots of people choose to think this way. Henry James has said: “Be not afraid of life believe that life is worth living and your belief will create the fact” . Or there is another quote from Ellen DeGeneres that says: “My life is perfect even when it's not” . Also, one of the most popular contemporary writers, Paulo Coelho seems to have a kind of optimistic view about life when he says: “Never give up. When your heart becomes tired, just walk with your legs – but move on” 
Some other people seem to have found the golden mean between the two previous extremes:
3. So, sometimes it is worth living and sometimes not. This is what Islam and Islamic leaders teach their followers about life worth. There are examples in the lives of the infallible Imams in which they indicate that we are not created only to live this worldly life and that this life is merely a path for us to reach a higher status. As the Holy Quran says: “while the Hereafter is better and more lasting” (87:17). So, we should always think if this earthly life will be to our benefit in the hereafter or not. If yes, then it is worth living; if not fight for those benefits even if you die.
One of the most significant role models for us in this regard is Imam Hussain (AS), the third infallible Imam, whose act of sacrifice has left a profound impact on humankind throughout history. Imam Hussain (AS) believed accepting humiliation and obedience to mean people is like living in hell. So, when all he did to guide his enemies to the right path failed, he said: “To me, death is nothing but happiness, and living under tyrants nothing but living in a hell” .
At this state, death to him is more desirable than living under the oppression of the tyrants and surrendering to their wishes. Therefore, when he was placed in a dilemma by the oppressors to be humiliated by swearing allegiance to the tyrant of the time, Yazid, or to fight and probably die, he decided to fight even if he died. He sacrificed all he had in this way and departed this earthly life with glory.
Now, after about 1400 years, every year in Muharram, lots of ceremonies are held around the world to commemorate the anniversary of his martyrdom. Lots of people from different religions get influenced by him and his ideology and sometimes it makes them embrace Islam.
Which point of view do you agree about life worth? Will you ever give up your benefits for the good of others to make them have a flourishing and more valuable life?