Qur'an: Special importance of some surahs

Q551 :The Qur'an is the complete code of living and the book of guidance. In order to implement its commandments, we need to read it carefully and understand the meaning of its verses and surahs. Many people, however, do not bother to try to understand it, but read it like parrots, particularly people who do not read or understand Arabic. Many are in the habit of reading surahs or verses at particular times or on particular days. For example, they read the 18th surah "Al Kahf" before Friday prayer, and the 67th Surah, "Al-Mulk", at the death of someone. The surah entitled, "Al-Waqi'ah", is read after Maghrib prayer with the feeling that this would ensure an increase of provisions. People say that every surah of the Qur'an has its own significance. My question is whether such a practice is Islamic or an innovation?

A551 : Your description of the Qur'an as a code of living and a book of guidance for mankind is certainly correct. This is how Allah Himself describes it. As such, it should be implemented in practical life. This is the purpose for which it is revealed. It is unthinkable to suggest that Allah has included in His book all the guidance human beings need in order to conduct their lives and achieve happiness, only for them to neglect it, or approach it in a very casual manner, or read it without understanding, or merely reduce it to some sort of singing material which is used by the media or in social functions and occasions. The proper approach to the Qur'an is that of the companions of the Prophet who used to read only a short passage of the Qur'an and learn it properly, understand its meaning, and implement its instructions, before moving on to study another passage. There need be no argument about that. When you consider how people who join political parties or intellectual and social clubs or groups deal with the constitution of their organization, you are bound to be amazed at the attitude of Muslims toward the Book Allah has made their constitution in this life. In each of these cases, people study the constitution of their organizations or party or club and familiarize themselves with its objectives, methods of action and the ways and means to achieve their goals. But in dealing with the Qur'an, it is often the case that Muslims treat it in a very casual way. Allah wants his Book to be the guide which shows human beings what to do in every aspect of their lives so that they achieve the right balance and lead a happy life, and fulfill their task of building a human civilization in a very happy and relaxed manner. That calls for a clear and proper understanding of the meaning of the Qur'an. You cannot be guided by something you do not understand. Careful reading of the Qur'an which aims at understanding its meaning and implementing its instructions is very richly rewarded by Allah. However, not all people can read Arabic properly or understand it. Although the meaning of Qur'anic verses is translated into other languages, and most Muslims can have a translation in their national language of the surahs and verses of the Qur'an, yet people seldom bother to relate what they read in the Qur'an to the meaning given in such translations. As such, their reading is casual and has only the purpose of reading the words Allah revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), His last messenger to humanity. Is such a purpose encouraged? Is such a reading rewarded? Scholars agree that reading the Qur'an by a person who does not understand it and is only able to read it with difficulty earns a reward from Allah. This is because when a person takes the trouble to read the Qur'an although he does not understand it, he actually expresses his love and reverence of the Qur'an and his acknowledgment that it is Allah's word. Moreover, he is motivated by the Prophet's encouragement to all Muslims to read the Qur'an, promising them that for every letter they read they are credited 10 hasana or 10 good deeds. This applies in all cases. Therefore, we should not try to stop anyone from reading the Qur'an, even though he may not understand it. The Prophet has mentioned that certain surahs have special importance, but the general notion that every surah has a purpose for which it is read is certainly mistaken. It is recommended, for example, to read the 18th surah Al-Kahf, on Friday. But we are not told that the Prophet continued to read particular surahs at particular times in the way described by my reader. What we know is that the Qur'an is a complete book and every part of it is equally important. It is true that the Prophet mentions that the surah entitled, "Al-Akhlas", or "Purity of Faith" is equal to one third of the Qur'an, but this refers to the fact that it states in a very short and precise manner the principle of the Oneness of Allah which is the cornerstone of the Islamic faith. This Hadith does not mean that when you read this surah, which is written in a single line, you are given the reward of reading one third of the Qur'an. For reading it you earn the same reward as you read any surah or passage of the Qur'an which is of equal length. We are encouraged to recite the Qur'an everyday, at all times. Therefore, if one decides to do this reading at a particular time and reads, say, one or two paras every day, he is well advised to continue with this system than concentrate on reading special surahs at special times. The Qur'an remains a book of guidance and blessing. Whenever we read it we are bound to benefit by its blessings.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )