"Everything corrodes, even the heart; and its polishing is the remembrance of God" - The Prophet Mohammed
Ramadan is the month of the Quran. Dhikr, or the remembrance of God, is the second-most important facet of Ramadan after fasting. Muslims are encouraged to practise it by reading the Quran during the Holy Month. The Quran, to Muslims, is the ultimate miracle. And it has always played a significant role in my life.
I remember vividly the moment I read the Quran for the first time. As I laid my 11-year-old eyes on the Holy Book, I felt deeply connected to it. I took it, sat on a prayer rug and began reading. For two weeks, I read through the verses for hours each day, hardly aware of anything else happening around me.
I even paused when I reached the last chapter, fearful of not having another page to read. Since then, I have regularly read the Quran, and I do this more intensively during Ramadan.
The father of the Indian scholar Mohammed Iqbal told him: "Read the Quran as if it were revealed to you". Scholars have turned the Quran's illuminating signals and metaphors into inert information through scriptural interpretation. But by reading the Quran as if it were revealed to me, I can receive the message directly from God without being conditioned by any cultural or religious upbringing.
Through my understanding of the Quran from God himself, I have learned to honour my intellect and avoid self-delusion.
One of the most recurrent Quranic themes is the celebration of al aqel - intellect or reason - as opposed to miracles. In Islamic tradition, intellect is a manifestation of God's perfection. God created intellect before he created the universe.
God, according to a hadith, addressed intellect after he created it: "Verily, I have not created anything more beloved to me than you are; it is by you that I punish, by you that I forgive and by you that I reward".
In the Quran, religious discourse has changed from impressing people through short-lived miracles to speaking to them as fully mature creatures. For this reason, it rejects the idea, for instance, that the Prophet needed miracles to spread the message.
"And if their turning away is distressful for thee, why, if you can seek out a hole in the earth, or a ladder in heaven, to bring them some sign; but had God willed, He would have gathered them to the guidance; so be not thou one of the ignorant," the Quran reads.
Another theme I appreciate is that of delusion. The Quran postulates that people reject faith because they are deluded by what is around them, what they possess, what others tell them and so on.
"And do not be deluded by that which deludes," the verse says.
Religion is a piece of advice, the Prophet said, and as such I choose to apply the words of the Quran outside religion. The Quran elevates me. In Ramadan, I read the Quran to cleanse my heart and my soul from excessive indulgence in the details of life. The devil is in the details and the Quran gets me out of them.