What is it that makes Ramadan special?
Allah is clear that the specialty of Ramadan is because it is the month in which was the descent of the Quran.
The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Quran; a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. (Quran 2:185)
It is the month where we revive the recitation of the Quran. It is the month in which the copies of the Quran which were gathering dust are brought down from the top shelf to be read again! And the Quran itself is that which will help water our hearts.
The importance of the Quran in reviving our lives is captured wonderfully in a parable that Allah mentions in Surah Al-Hadid.
Surah Al-Hadid is a Surah that is sent specifically to revive the Muslim hearts which have hardened. It is one where Allah is talking to the Muslim, rather than all of humanity, reminding him or her to return back to the book of Allah.
In the middle of Surah Al-Hadid, there are two verses which initially at least look absolutely out of sync. The verses are as follows:
Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient.
Know that Allah gives life to the earth after its lifelessness. We have made clear to you the signs; perhaps you will understand. (Quran 57:16-7)
The first verse almost feels like it was revealed for us. Allah is questioning that is it not time yet that the hearts of those who claim to believe that their hearts are moved, that their eyes tear, that their mind ponder about the Quran? And He reminds us of the people before us. They too were given a book. But a long time passed over them and their hearts became hard.
How long has it been since we read the book?
How long has it been since we pondered and reflected upon the Majesty of the Words of our Creator?
Chances are that perhaps our hearts have become hardened as well. Allah says in the Quran:
The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children, but only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart. (26:88-9)
How do we find out how to have a sound heart? And how to revive a heart that is hardened anyway?
This is where the second verse is phenomenal.
Know that Allah gives life to the earth after its lifelessness – Allah is giving us a parable here, that He gives life to the dead earth after it was lifeless. How does He give life? In another part of the Quran, Allah mentions:
Allah has sent down from the heavens of rain, giving life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness. (2:164)
Allah wants us to understand this- just like the rain revives the dead land, the Quran can revive dead hearts. The Quran is the water for the growth of a sound heart. And without proper watering, the heart will wilt and die.
No matter how bad things have become, there is no need to be depressed. As dead as one’s heart may be, there is always a chance. The Quran can bring us back to life.
A farmer needs to direct the water in a particular way to deliver it to the crops. The water has been given to us by Allah, and Allah has given us the methods to irrigate the crops.
The Quran likewise is from Him, and we need to irrigate our hearts properly, and deliver it to ourselves and the people around us in the right way.
And once we do it properly, once we direct the “water of our hearts” in the right way, will we change. It requires patience, and it requires perseverance.
The first step to building a relationship with the Quran is understanding what the Quran is telling us. Through that we will improve our relationship with Allah in prayer, and improve our relationship with the Quran as we understand it better.
The Quran coming down from Allah is compared to rain coming down from the sky. Just like it takes time for crops to grow after rain comes down, it takes time for our hearts to grow, and for Islam to spring in our hearts after the Quran has taken a seat in there.
Depending on where you are with the Quran, make an effort this Ramadan to come closer to Allah and His Book. If you do not know how to read, or have forgotten, try to pick up reading it.
If you can read, but never read a translation, try opening up a translation of the Quran for the first time. If you have been reading translations, then perhaps you could try reading or listening to lectures about particular chapters in the Quran.
Wherever you are with your relationship with the Quran, aim to make it better. Allah has honored us with the month of Ramadan because of the Quran. It is time we honor the Book as well.