By Jinan Yousef
It can be easy to be taken in by the need to do so much this month – to focus on the quantity. Of course, that takes effort, and our efforts are rewarded by God.
Yet we can get caught up in the number of times we recite the Qur’an, and how many units of taraweeh we prayed. But perhaps this Ramadan should be equally – or more – about the state of our hearts during the acts of worship, and focusing on the connection with Allah as we commit to acts of submission.
Once, the companions were traveling and one of them would lead the prayers. In every prayer, this companion would recite Surat al-Ikhlas. The companions were bothered by this and complained to the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) told the companions to ask the man why he did so. He responded that, “It is because this surah describes the Most Merciful, and therefore I love to recite it.” Upon hearing the man’s reply, the Prophet said: “Tell that man that Allah loves him.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
This man was reflecting and feeling something as he was reciting. He was not fazed by the need to recite the longest surah. One of the righteous, Muhammad bin Ka’b Al-Qardhi would say: “To read Surat al-Zalzala from night until morning and Surat al-Qari`ah and contemplating over them and repeating them is more beloved to me than just reading the entire Qur’an [i.e. without contemplation].”
This is not to say that we should “not* strive to complete the Qur’an. Allah loves whatever effort we put in. But the purpose of this post is to say that quantity is not the most important thing – we should strive for quality even if it takes a away a little from the numbers.
Indeed, Allah and His Prophet (pbuh) focus on the quality of the action. The essence of prayer is not in how many units you have prayed, but the quality of those units. The soul of du’a is not the time that you spent, but where you heart was as you called out to God. An important aspect of fasting is not simply the abstaining from food and drink, but how we treated others as we abstained. What makes the zakat complete is not solely paying it on time, but ensuring that we do not follow up the giving with harm.
The khushoo (devotion) in prayer cannot be quantified, but it is one of the most beloved things to Allah. Those minutes before the fajr prayer spent in supplication from the heart may not seem like much, but are key to your answered du’a. Reflecting and taking lessons from the Qur’an may seem to get in the way of reciting as many times as possible, but you are achieving the true purpose of the Quran: transformation.
Thus, maybe an additional goal this Ramadan is to take a step back and focus on having our hearts present, regardless of the quantity of our actions. Either way, whatever effort we put in is loved by God, as He says to the people of Paradise:
“This is your reward. Your endeavours are appreciated.” [Qur’an, 76:22]
This article was originally posted on Jinan’s official Facebook page (Jinan Y). JazakiAllah khair to Jinan for allowing us to share it here 🙂