In the name of Allah, thu Beneficent, the Merciful

We thank and praise Allah SWT, the Oft—forgiving, the Merciful. We bear witness that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah ——Who has revealed the Qur'an as His greatest blessing to humankind.

We bear witness that Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be with him) is the true Messenger of Allah. He encouraged his followers to observe the fast and remember Allah by reading the Qur'an throughout the month of Ramadhan. 0 Allah, shower Your choicest blessings on him, his friends and relatives, all those who sought to move nearer to Allah SWT by reading, understanding and living according to the Qur'an . Allah SWT reminds us in the Holy Qur'an :

"Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down

the Qur'an , as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs)

for guidance and judgement (between right and wrong).

So every one of you who is present (at his home)

during that month should spend it in fasting,

but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period

(should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every

facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties.

(He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify

Him in that He has guided you; and perchance you shall be grateful."

(q. II: 185)

Brothers and Sisters in Islam

Al-hamdulillah, we have entered this blessed month of Ramadhan and have already become so attached to it that we fear it will be over all too soon:

Have we done enough to gain of the limitless rewards and blessings that Allah has promised those of us who do good in this month? Will we get another chance to experience another Ramadhan? Opportunities to indulge in acts of 'ibadah (worship) are within your and my reach: your prayers, your remembrance of Allah, your reading of and listening to the Qur’an, your kindness and helpfulness to your fellowmen are not onerous tasks demanding superhuman effort. They are the ordinary things which young and old alike can do and enjoy doing.

In the opening statement of the verse I have quoted, Allah SWT informs us that the month of Ramadhan is the month in which Allah sent the Qur'an as a guide to humankind. It is a guide to know and uplift ourselves, a guide to attain true fulfillment in life, a guide to know and move nearer to Allah SWT.

In a hadeeth, Ibn Abbas narrated that the Rasalullah (Messenger) sollallahu 'alayhi wa sallam (s.a.w.s.) , may the peace and blessings of Allah be with him, was the most generous of people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadhan when S. Jibreel (Angel Gabriel) visited him. S. Jibreel used to meet him every night of Ramadhan till the end of the month. The Prophet s.a.w.s. used to recite the Holy Qur'an to S.Jibreel, and then, when Jibreel met him, he was even more generous than a fast wind (which brings rain and good crops) — Bukhari.

Hence the Prophet s.a.w.s. became even more generous after he had read the Qur'an

We as the ummah (community) of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.s. are blessed with the prestine pure Word of Allah which has been preserved for us for more than 1400 years -- free from interpolation and liberal revisions…a fate which other holy books suffered. We have the means to know Allah SWT. The Qur'an's wording has remained exactly as it was revealed to our Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.s. It tells us of Allah, of His Attributes, of how He rules over His creation, how He relates to us and how we should relate to Him and our fellowmen. It is Allah’s greatest gift to us. A gift is something that is useful to you, something that makes life easier for you, and more often something that gives you pleasure. The Qur'an is more than an ordinary gift. It is a Divine Gift, tailor—made for my and your special needs. One writer describes it as:

"…..the only nur (or light) as you grope in the darkness. It is our compass with which to find our way to success and salvation. It is the only Shifa (or healing) for your inner sicknesses, as well as the social ills that may surround you. It is the constant reminder (or Dhikr ) of your true nature and destiny, of your station, your duties, your rewards, your perils."

Unlike the reading of a reference book, tilawah or reading and reciting of the Qur'an is an act in which your whole being: your soul, your heart, your tongue, your mind and body participate. When you recite Qur'an in your salah (daily prayers), you try to think of every word that you are reciting. Reading or reciting Qur'an, should never become mechanical. As the tongue recites, the words flow from the lips, the mind ponders, the heart reflects, the soul absorbs, tears well up in your eyes, your heart quakes and trembles. Allah SWT describes what the Qur'an does to us in the following ayah (verse):

"Allah has revealed from time to time the most beautiful Message in the form of the Book, consistent with itself, (yet) repeating (its teaching in various aspects): the skins of those who fear their Lord tremble thereat; then their skins and their hearts do soften to the celebration of Allah 's praises. Such is the Guidance of Allah : He guides therewith whom He pleases, but such as Allah leaves to stray, can have none to guide." (Q. XXXIX: 23)

The Qur'an has a personal appeal to each one of us. Allah SWT, our Creator, knows our strengths and weaknesses: He sees our smiles, but knows our suffering. As the Healer He prescribes the means to cure our weaknesses, and gives us a "tonic" to fortify ourselves and provides us with directions to keep us on the "healthy" path. The value of this wonderful Prescription is lost if it is placed on the highest shelf in the house and taken off and read only when someone dies. On the other hand, it is equally useless (as a prescription) if the only reason for reading it is to vie with someone else for the honours of the most melodious recitation. The prescription needs to be read, to be interpreted, understood and acted upon. Anyone who can read, whether in Arabic or English or any other language, can also read the Qur'an . But to read to uncover the treasures it contains, to read to learn to know Allah through His Word, you need to approach your reading differently to that of reading the newspaper.

Firstly, anyone who wishes to read the Qur'an , must approach the Qur'an with a strong and deep faith that it is the Word of Allah. This fact Allah emphasises in the Qur'an:

"This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah." (Q.II: 2)

Only with this deep faith and conviction, will we open our hearts to let the words soak in, awaken us, heal and transform us. When we listen to the words of the Qur'an, it is not the voice but the words that enchant us — it is Allah speaking! When the Qur'an enters our hearts, we are filled with a tenderness , with such qualities as humility, sincerity, love and compassion, truthfulness and gratitude, and an eagerness to accept and respond to Allah’s Message. Yes, how do we get this faith and how can we keep it alive ? The easiest and most effective way is to read or recite the Qur'an. The more we recite it, the more will we recognise it is the Word of Allah and the more will our faith increase in intensity and depth.

Secondly, if you and I are convinced and have faith that the Qur'an is the Word of Allah, then we must consider carefully our Niyyah or your intention of purpose: Why do we want to read the Qur'an? It is not enough to read it to improve our knowledge or for pleasure: how many people do not spend a lifetime studying the language, the style and history or the law of the Qur'an and yet remain untouched by its Message!

On the other hand, you may go astray if you read it for the wrong purposes and motives. Our beloved Prophet s.a.w.s. warned us strongly against approaching the Qur'an for the wrong motives. He said: "Whoever interprets the Qur'an using only his personal opinion, shall take his place in the Fire." (Tirmithi)

Nothing brings us nearer to Allah than during the moments we spend with His Words. Our niyyah is to receive guidance from Allah … to come nearer to Him….and to seek Allah 's good pleasure. Let us always ask ourselves: "Why am I reading the Qur'an ?" And let us constantly reassert ourselves with the answer.

Thirdly, with the strong faith that the Qur'an is the Word of Allah and the niyyah firmly embedded in our hearts, we become so thankful that Allah has blessed us and guided us to read and study the Qur'an. Al-Hamdulillah, praise be to Allah , and in the words of the Qur'an (translated):

"….And they shall say: "Praise be to Allah ,

Who has guided us to this (felicity):

never could we have found guidance, had it

not been for the guidance of Allah :

indeed, it was the Truth." (Q. VII:43)

When we are so thankful, we feel the urges growing stronger and stronger in us to read and discover new truths, discover new secrets, discover new riches that the Qur'an has to offer. This upsurge in creativity can only be attained if we have indeed moved closer to the Creator. Yes, Brothers and Sisters, you can only attain true success, contentment, wisdom and power through Allah. You have this Guidance in your homes; you have the potential to become truly successful in life! Go home, take it up and READ. Allah is right there with you and understands your problems and knows your needs.

To repeat, when we read or recite the Qur'an, we involve our whole being — not only our tongues or our eyes or our intellect. This inner self of ours which the Qur'an calls the qalb or the heart, is not the physical heart, but the centre of our prayers, our hopes and our drives. It is Prophet Muhammad's s.a.w.s. heart that received the First Message from Allah, as Allah SWT informs us in the Qur'an in Surah: Al—Shuaraa (XXVI: 192— 194):

"Verily this is a Revelation from the Lord

of the worlds: with it came down the Spirit

of Faith and Truth -- to your heart and mind

that you may admonish…"

When the heart is involved then, and only then, can we feel and appreciate the joys and the blessings of reading and reciting the Qur'an .

Brothers and Sisters,

We have a beautiful tradition of opening all our functions with a recital of the Holy Qur'an, be it a wedding ceremony or a lecture, or even the naming of a newborn baby. In some communities, the 27th Night of Ramadhan (Laylutul-Qadr) is commemorated with Qur'anic recitals and dhikrullah throughout the night. Such functions are commendable and help our younger generation become emotionally attached to the Qur'an , which is an excellent starting point for launching more intensive study and reading. It may also be useful, particularly in non-Arabic speaking communities to have similar sessions to read and discuss translations of the Qur'an, which may, insha-Allah, lead to learning Arabic to understand and interpret the original Word of Allah.

O Allah , increase our Eeman in intensity and depth;

Strengthen our niyyah (our resolve) to read the Qur'an ;

Grant us, through the barakah of the Qur'an , true guidance and pleasure;

Help us, o Allah, become thankful and increase our eagerness to uncover the riches of the Qur'an;

Help us, to transform our gratitude into deeds for the benefit of the entire ummah;

Keep the Qur'an alive in the minds and hearts of our ghufaz, those who bear the Qur'an in their memory and in their hearts, and help our children to perceive it as a beacon of light in their lives.

Aqeemus salaah!