Friday, May 16, 2008

Reciting is not Reading

Salamun alaikum dear readers, in my last posting I wrote about us Muslims not reading, but many Muslims will argue that they do read, they do read the Quran on a daily basis. This is a difficult one, what constitute “reading”? Yes it is true that many look in a book and say words that appear on the pages. So from someone looking at that person to any outward appearance the person is “reading”. But truly, is this “reading”?

Many Muslims “read” from Arabic version of the Quran without having any knowledge of the Arabic language, they “read” the words but they don’t know the meaning of them. Many Muslims have even memorized the whole Quran on this basis, a great effort but does it generate knowledge? But, truly this is NOT reading, this is called reciting.

I know many Muslims are under the impression that reciting the Quran in the Arabic language (even without understanding a word) generates many rewards from Allah. But Allah calls us to READ?

So what is “reading”? Wikipedia, the internet encyclopedia says this about reading;

Reading is the cognitive process of deriving meaning from written or printed text. It is a means of language acquisition, of communication, and of sharing information and ideas. Effective readers use decoding skills (to translate printed text into the sounds of language), use morpheme, semantics, syntax and context cues to identify the meaning of unknown words, activate prior knowledge (schemata theory), use comprehension, and demonstrate fluency during reading.

Based on this, does it constitute “reading” what most Muslims do when they read the Quran? I think not.

Again, Allah tells us; READ. So let us do so because wider and greater understanding lead to correct action and I am sure this again leads to a world more in line with Allah’s commandments. The verse below truly encourages us to understand, verify everything and be seeking knowledge. We truly are held responsible by Allah for that.

17:36 “Do not uphold what you have no knowledge of. For the hearing, eyesight, and mind, all these are held responsible for that”.

Wassalam and peace avid readers.

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