Why do we have to understand Quran when we pray?
Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,
As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)
One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:
Why do we have to understand quran when we pray
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Why one should understand the Holy Quran?
In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol, no person, no grave, no prophet, no imam, no dai, nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad(saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.
Your Question: Why do we have to understand quran when we pray?
Your question could be read in two ways:
Why do we have to understand Quran when we pray salaat?
Why do we have to understand Quran when we pray (or recite) it?
The Glorious Quran is not a Book of mantras, or religious incantations, or basic chants and spells, whereby one just repeats its words, or phrases, or verses without understanding a word of it; and expect some benefit! The Glorious Quran are the very words of the Merciful Lord, who revealed it for the Guidance of all mankind.
Allah says in Chapter 2, Surah Baqarah aayat 185:"Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was sent down: this Book is a perfect guidance for mankind and consists of CLEAR teachings which show the right way and are a Criterion of the Truth and falsehood."
Even if one uses simple logic and basic common-sense, he would realize that it would be absolutely worthless to just chant some words, which one does not understand, again and again; and expect some good to come out of it! Even in the world, if we want something from someone, we would have to speak in a language or tone that we understand, or the person understands; then, and only then, would the person be able to fulfill our requirement. But if we stand in front of a person, and start chanting some words and phrases which we dont even understand, how is possible for us to ask for something we require!
The Glorious Quran is a Book of Guidance, a Syllabus, and a Manual revealed by our Merciful Creator for our guidance. We cannot be guided aright without it! Thus it becomes our responsibility to understand this Message from our Creator, whom we have accepted as our Lord and Master, so that we may fulfill our duties and responsibilities according to His Commands and Teachings.
Today we are left with four choices regarding the Quran, if Arabic is not our first language:
Leave the guidance of the Quran, and make our own laws, or follow our own whims and conjecture.
To recite the Quran in Arabic, without understanding a word of it.
To learn the Arabic language, so that we can understand the Message of our Creator.
To read the available translations, and get an understanding of the Message.
Choice 1: Leave the guidance of the Quran, and make our own laws or follow our own whims and conjecture.
This is precisely what has happened to the Ummah of Islam. Because they do not speak or understand Arabic, they have left the Quran high on their book-shelves, and started making their own laws and follow the current wave of un-Godly regulations. And without the guidance of the Holy Quran, this person just roams in deep darkness, rather than follow the light and guidance of the Quran.
Choice 2: To recite the Quran in Arabic, without understanding a word of it.
This person believes in the Quran as the Book of Allah, and recites it day and night in Arabic. He will, Insha Allah, get his reward from Allah, but obviously, he will not receive any guidance to lead his life in this world. These kind of people then follow blindly anyone who wears the Islamic garb and claims to be a scholar or a holy man, believing that that person is guiding from the Quran. But he does not have the means to double check and satisfy himself, that indeed this scholar is guiding from the Quran or not. If the scholar or holy man is indeed a true believer and fears Allah, then this person will receive some guidance. But, Allah forbid, if the scholar or holy man is one who is more interested in this worldly life rather than the hereafter, he will be mis-guided in Islam, and will have no excuse in the Court of Allah. And Allah is our witness, there are enough of these unscrupulous holy men around today, who take advantage of these poor souls.
These unscrupulous self-proclaimed holy men, then create an environment, whereby they look and act very religious, but their actions and teachings are far away from the true guidance of the Quran. But because, the poor follower does not understand a word from the Quran, he blindly follows them, thinking this is his road to salvation. The first advice and commandment of these holy men is to proclaim, that if they want to understand Islam, they must follow their created sect alone. They must not try to understand the Quran on their own or from any other source, as they will, then, be mis-guided. They make fancy promises of intercession to their followers on the Day of Judgment in the Court of Allah! Once they are successful in doing that, they invariably take you towards the invocation, and sometimes worship of themselves and their dead ancestors in the graves. They create fancy and miraculous stories regarding their ancestors and relate them again and again in their sermons, and in time, rather than giving sermons from the Quran, their sermons are nothing but stories and miracles of their own self-made leaders! They then invent and create several rites, rituals and customs in the name of Islam, so that the follower is deeply engrossed, and feels he is living an Islamic life through these rituals; whereas most of these rituals have absolutely no basis from the Quran or Sunnah.
Allah has promised in the Quran to throw both, the unscrupulous holy men, who invent these sects, and their followers, into the fire of Hell! (We would really like to have given you evidence from the Quran for what Allah says, but in compliance with your instructions, we will abstain from doing so in this answer).
Choice 3: To learn the Arabic language, so that we can understand the Message of our Creator.
Yes, this would absolutely be the best option, but how many of us have the conviction to take this step. May Allah bless those people who took this step, and May Allah increase them in their knowledge of the Truth.
Choice 4: To read the available translations, and get an understanding of the Message.
Many scholars, who Allah blessed to learn Arabic and another language/s fluently, and blessed them to understand the Quran, have taken the effort to document a translation of the Holy Quran for the people who do not understand Arabic. The translation of any literature from one language to another might loose its fluency and its rhythm, but the meaning remains the same. This literature and scripture of the Al Quran, are the very words of Allah Subhanah, which is a guidance to the whole of mankind until the end of time.
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 44 Surah Dukhan verse 58:We have made this Book easy in your own tongue so that they may ponder and take good counsel.
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 12 Surah Yusuf verse 1-2:These are the verses of the Book that makes its object perfectly clear. We have sent it down as a Quran in Arabic, so that you may understand it well.
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 16 Surah Nahl verse 89:We have sent down to you this Book, which makes everything plain, and is a guidance, blessing and good news to those who have surrendered themselves entirely.
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 19 Surah Maryam verse 97:O Mohamed, We have made this Quran easy, and sent it down in your tongue so that you should give good news to the pious and warn the stubborn people.
Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allahs Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.
Your Brother in Islam,