Use Your Pencil to Read the Qur’an with Reflection


Use Your Pencil to Read the Qur'an with Reflection | ProductiveMuslim
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Are you constantly seeking a better relationship with the Qur’an but feel frustrated with the huge tafsir books and your tight schedule? You’re not alone.

Well, let’s start this off with a confession. I have always found it hard to keep a daily wird of reciting Qur’an (the part of the Qur’an one reads or assigns to him/herself daily). Sometimes I would get my spirits up and commit, but that would last for a couple of weeks only. I used to come up with a whole lot of excuses: You’re a medical student. You have exams. You’ve had a long day today. Tomorrow is a long day, you need to go to sleep.

At the times when I used to commit, what usually made me stop was that the quality of my wird was not satisfying enough to me. Every once in a while I would be touched by a verse, but most of the time I would merely recite – without understanding, or more accurately, without trying to understand.

This has come to an end. Alhamdulillah, now I am committed to reciting a wird and my wird has become more of a daily spiritual ‘experience’ to me; I wouldn’t want to miss that. Here’s what I did and what you can do too, In sha Allah:

  • Focus less on quantity, more on quality: I committed myself to reciting a minimum of one page, but whenever I feel like more I’ll do more. I won’t repeat my mistake of setting a minimum of one juz’ per night from the start.
  • Double up: I read my wird in the morning and then recite the same verses while praying qiyam. Somehow, repeating the same verses twice a day helped me reflect and ponder on them better.
  • Draw stars: Here is where the pencil magic kicks in! I drew asterisks in the margins of my mus’haf to mark the verses that touched me, whether I applied them to my own life or simply enjoyed their meaning or figurative language. The next time I read those verses, their effect on me was much deeper and reflecting on them (or sometimes just being fascinated by them) was much easier! Furthermore, whenever I reached the same page again, I would add more stars. So the page that started with having one star ended up with three or four; the verses that move my heart have now doubled at least, Alhamdulillah!
  • Look for themes and patterns: Sometimes a certain surah mentions a lot of blessings, for example, or one of Allah’s Most Beautiful Names or attributes are repeated many times. I believe this is done to draw our attention to a certain theme so that we will read all the verses in the context of that theme. Sometimes I find themes for the whole surah and sometimes for a page or a group of verses. Whatever it is, I note it down (blessings, Ash-Shakur, etc) in one or two words in the upper margin of the page.
  • Reflect on word usage: Do you know that feeling you get while reading a piece of literature when you just wonder: why did the writer use this word here? And why not that word? Well, when reading literature you could end up over-analysing to no avail. However, with the Holy Qur’an, it’s IMPOSSIBLE. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the first verse of Surat Hud: “Alif, Lam, Ra. [This is] a Book whose verses are perfected and then presented in detail from [one who is] Wise and Acquainted” [Qur’an: Chapter 11, Verse 1]. Perfected! So always take a few moments to think: Why did Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) say “Hakeem” and “Khabeer” here? Why “Wadud” there? Why does this verse say Mu’mineen (believers) and that one say Muttaqeen (those who fear Allah)? The more you think, the more you’ll find answers In sha Allah. Tafsir also helps a lot with this mission. I try to remind myself of what I’ve reached with just a few words in pencil in the lower margin of the page.
  • Read tafsir: For the daily wird I use Al-Tafsir Al-Muyassar which is technically the paraphrasing of the verses into simpler language. When I have time to dig deeper I go for bigger books and online lectures. For my daily dose of tafsir, I use the desktop version of Ayat. It comes in really handy!
  • Make dua: This has become a cliche from overuse, yet we rarely use it correctly! When we make dua, we tend to ask for good grades, more money and ease after hardship. If we pray for guidance and increase in knowledge of the Qur’an just as insistingly, Allah The Most Generous shall never turn us down, In sha Allah.

I sincerely hope these seven simple yet powerful tips will help boost your reflection of the Holy Qur’an In sha Allah, as they did for me.

What other tips and tricks do you use to help you reflect on the Qur’an while reading it or listening to it? Please share them below!


About the Author:

Enas Khaled Aliyuddin is an Egyptian medical student and a big fan of environmental science. She aspires to be a productive Muslim doctor and to have a firm relationship with the Qur’an.

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44 thoughts on “Use Your Pencil to Read the Qur’an with Reflection

  1. I 100% agree with you!!!! I did this too when I started reconnecting to Qu’ran. I literally used pencil, pen, book markers and whatever helped me to emphasize on important verses, tafseer and so forth. IT DOES HELP! MashaAllah. JazakaAllah khairyn for your awesome post!!! Alhomdulliah you mentioned this
    Sister Ola

    1. Assalam Alaykum,
      Personally, the following things help
      1- Being in a quiet room alone
      2- When I feel like I lost focus I go back and repeat the Ayahs again. (Takes a lot of time but works perfectly)
      3- When I read in a high voice, I concentrate on beautifying my voice and lose focus on the meaning. So recite in a low voice, move your lips and try to apply the tajweed too.

  2. Assalam-o-Alaikum

    I want to build my relationship with the Holy Qur’an. Can you please advise if it is okay to hold a phone or a tablet to read the surahs during Tahajjud salat? Is it ok to move my hand or fingers to scroll down the page while I am standing in Qiam? I would really appreciate the answer.

    Jazak Allah Khairan
    Sister in Islam

    1. I usually use a translation copy, so I make my notes in it! A journal is fantastic too, but I think with a journal u need to write down the verse too, its for a much more detailed study :-)

  3. Alhamdulilah! I’m really moved by this piece. May Allah reward you immensely. I have always been given my self excuses for not reading the Quran daily and revising what I’ve memorised of it. Now, Insha Allah, I’m going to go by this piece of advice.

  4. Alhamdulillah this came at the best time! Jazakallah khair sister for sharing your experience because honestly, I was at wit’s end trying to figure out how to do my quran study in the limited time that we have. And all the best for med school too, keep writing please!

    1. Thank you dear sister :-) Just keep trying. One of my teachers once told me that people usually put goals when it comes to the Qur’an (memorizing the whole Qur’an, learning Tafsir, etc.) but once they achieve them they realise it was all about the journey. So keep trying and enjoy the journey. May Allah Reward you :-)

  5. MashAllah what a wonderful idea! I really was in awe of how youngsters of today are serious into studying Quran, May Allah Rahman Give barakah to your time and efforts, ameen….but you are so lucky that arabic is your mother tongue, for us we have to learn the language so i had the same question whether we could read from a book or tablet or phone while doing qiyam …also we were taught to not write on the mushaff, but many things we learnt when young were wrong, so i was wondering whether it is okay to write on a mushaff, would be more convenient if it is permissible rather than keeping a separate journal.

    1. Alhamdulillah.. Indeed being an Arabic speaker is a blessing (one Arabs often take for granted) but I would like to remind all who are struggling with the language: You will be rewarded for all the extra effort you’re making InSha’Allah :-)
      Regarding using the tablet/phone while praying Qiyam, I do not have enough knowledge to answer that. Sorry.
      Regarding holding the Musshaff while praying Qiyam or writing in it, I have asked scholars and they told me it was ok.

  6. i usually note verses dwn too,but most times i still forget to check d meanings,if i dnt check d meaning like almost immediately and wld only remember wen i come across it again.i think for those of us that that really doesnt understand arabic,reciting Quran with both arabic and translation wld make u see d meanings immediately and encourage checking out d tafsir of d verses that caught the attention and interest of the reciter.
    As salamu alaykum

  7. ASSALAAMU ALYKUM,May this be an inspiration for we common Muslims to develop requisite aptitude for reading,understanding and following Qur’an.Aameen JAZAAKUMULLAAH

  8. I read this article and comments of sisters and brothers with much interest. I am in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since long so i will wite my experiences of Saudi Arabia. In most of Masajid (Mosques) the Imam recite Quran reading from Musahaf while praying Tarawaih so in Nawafal a person can read direct from the Quran or Tablet or Mobile. In this way a person can concentrate more on prayer and read more Quran during Qiam.

  9. Djazakallah keiran. Allah. Swt alone could reward you for the wonderful job you,for many muslims aroud the world. By the way, I was for a suitable application with Quran audio,translation,English,French, repetition of ayah, tafsir and other options Alhamdoulillah all in one, through the website ayat you have recommended Which sends you to that gave me a site that I can use to my great admiration chromecast it on my television to read and listen to quran with translation lying on my bed , to read quran InchaAllah ,to understand,to act and share with others ,as you do ,and advice us to do, A must for EVERY muslim.

  10. JazakAllahu Khayran, Amazing tips, may Allah reward you immensely!! One quick question, if you could help in’sha’Allah, I wana develop the kind of attitude with Quran, where it would be my BEST FRIEND, like i won’t be feeling the need to share my problems and issues with anybody else but Quran, but i don’t know, i try reciting as much Quran i can, but can’t get to that level, could you give me some tips bi’idhnAllah ta’ala… JazakAllah khayr akhi :-)

    1. I wouldn’t be the right person to answer this because I haven’t achieved that beautiful degree yet. May Allah Help us all. :-)
      However, I would like to shed some light on a certain matter. I’ve been taught that looking at the Quraan ONLY as a source of comfort during hard times builds a fragile relationship between the Muslim and the Quraan. (He/she feels like reading the Quraan only when life knocks them down but as long as life is rosy the Quraan is on the shelf). Of course Quraan gives us comfort but this is not the only reason that Allah Sent it for. Allah (SWT) Sent it so that we could be stong and productive during both ups and downs. [ I hope I won’t be misunderstood regarding this point :-) ]
      Your words have actually reminded me of a quote: “Quraan is like a friend, the more you spend time with it, the more secrets you’ll be give” .. So keep on spending time with Quraan. Don’t stop. And focus on quality more than quantity.
      And maybe spend less time with people and hold your tongue whenever you feel like complaining.

      I am sorry I can’t be really helpful about your question. Pray for me :-)

      1. No No, Alhamdulillah akhi, honestly i found my answer in those few sentences of yours!! JazakAllah Khayr so much for your advice, means a lot to me, May Allah continues to guide you and make you a source of guidance for us all…Allahumaa Ameen!!!
        Seriously, Thanku So Very Much!!! May Allah reward you immensely!!

  11. JazaakiALLAHU bi khairan. Also take everyday lessons from The Majestic Qur’aan eg how messengers supplicate, how one verse (s) in a surah is/are explained in other surah(self explanatory nature of The Glorious Qur’aan) etc it is a lifetime job.

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