Book Reviews

How To Approach and Understand the Quran

How To Approach and Understand the Quran

Title: How To Approach and Understand the Quran

Author: Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo

Publisher: Al-Basheer

Pages: 291

This book is not solely a collection of virtues of reciting the Quran. This book is not a reference on the sciences of the Quran (‘Ulum al-Quran). Rather, it is a book that strives to build the relationship between the reader and the Quran; it sets a perspective for him and makes him realize what he is about to engage in.

The author discusses the manners (aadab) of reading the Quran and its relationship to benefiting from it, like the proper time, place, posture, and intention. He discusses the change brought by the Quran among the Arabs and then tackles the issue of why doesn’t the Quran have the same effect today? Was the physical presence of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ the key or is it something else?

The book aims to give the reader the major goals of the Quran, it instructs him in what the Quran is trying to achieve so he may not be sidetracked. The author discusses the secondary reasons for which many people generally read the Quran like reciting it merely for blessing, or using it as source of healing for physical ailments, or studying its scientific miracles, or studying it as a source of culture, or reciting it as a protection from evil. He then turns on to explaining the primary reason for its revelation:

  • teaching the creation about Allah
  • His oneness and attributes
  • showing the creation the Path and way of life that is pleasing to Allah
  • creating the complete and balanced Islamic individual
  • bringing about an Islamic society
  • imparting proper concept and application of Tawhid

In the end he turns to one of the most important sections of the book: interpreting the Quran in a proper manner. Explaining its importance he writes,

If the reader does not apply the proper principles and methodology of Quranic exegesis (tafseer) during his reading and study of the Quran, it will be likely that the Quran will be saying one thing and guiding him to one path while the reader gets contrary ideas from it and thereby, follows a way other than the one that Allah is showing him in the Quran.

He then delves into the proper sources and methodology of tafseer.

Three points make this work stand out:

  1. He profusely quotes from various scholars of past and present like Tabari, Razi, Ghazali, Ibn al-Qayyim, Maududi, Qutb, Murad, Israr Ahmad, and others.
  2. He painstakingly references the prophetic hadith in his footnotes.
  3. The Arabic text of the verses of the Quran and hadith are fairly clear and readable.

Overall I will recommend this book to a serious student of the Quran. The book is thought provoking, original, and well written.