When you read Quran, how can you be sure you are actually listening to the right voice? Ideally, you should be listening to the voice of the Author – Allah. What this means is, you are reaching the correct meaning intended by Allah. Let us call this perfect meaning ‘X’. One of the obstructions in achieving X is the interjecting voice we experience when reading. To demonstrate this, let’s use a rather common translation of Quran 2/62:
Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (2/62 Translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali)
In this essay, the first thing that is quite obviously not Allah’s voice is the information in brackets. The first phrase reads ‘those who believe (in the Qur’an’. Clearly Yusuf Ali thought that the people who believe in this case refers to the people of Muhammad and thus they believe in Quran. At this point we must ask, why was it necessary to interject the phrase ‘in the Qur’an’ there? Does Quran itself not have a phrase to a similar effect? I believe it does – ‘hadha al-quran’ (This al-quran) which first appears in 6/19. Since this phrase is nowhere to be found in the immediate context (the first time the word ‘al-quran’ appears in 2/185, more than 120 verses ahead), we must therefore conclude that ‘belief’ in this case cannot refer to the Quran.
What should we do in order to minimise the voice of the translator and maximise the voice of Allah and thus achieve X? If we removed the bracketed words, this would certainly be a start. However, this would still beg the question – what does the ‘believed’ (amanoo) verb refer to? Our first port of call would be context. We would need to read the context for immediate clues about the personalities being talked about. This is where , for some chapters of Quran, the concept of the nida (calls) come in. This is certainly true for the case of 2/62 – it is within the passage 2/47-103 which is a call to *bani israil* (the people in a movement towards a higher state). If we followed the passage from 2/47 up till 2/61, it still talks about *bani israil* but under the leadership of *musa*. Therefore, it would not be outlandish to state that ‘those who believed’ in this case refers to *bani israil* who are under the leadership of the *musa* personality.
Why do we say this method ‘maximises the voice of Allah’? The voice of Allah which is the perfect meaning of X is beyond language. It will resonate with your own internal language. However, the more we interject into this voice, the weaker it will be as we saw with the bracketed words in 2/62. The key to avoiding this problem is to read whole chapters at a time. When we do so, we will thus see how Allah himself speaks in a chosen order. Each verses will have links to the previous going back to the first verse and then to Verse Zero (the basmalah). The meticulous arrangement of these verses effectively act as rails for the Reader. The Reader should move on these rails until he/she reaches a jumping off point (at the end of the chapter) which will then transmit the message into the code of his being. This is a strong first step in achieving X or the true meaning of Quran.