What was the advice of His Eminence, Grand Ayatullah Sayyid Ali al-Sistani, to a group…
Quran and Ahl al-Bayt
The Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) is reported to have said, “I leave behind among [you two weighty things] which, if you [hold onto] to them, you will never go astray – that is the Book of God and my family (Ahl al-Bayt).” 1
This hadith, known as the hadith of the two weighty things or thaqalayn, is one of the last precious gems of advice left to us by our Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) before his departure from the earthly world. Knowing this, what are some ways we can develop a deeper love for and connection with the Holy Quran and the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut)?
Some of us live with constant dependency on the digital world often with no respite or break. For more on this topic, read ‘Digital Idolatry’. Our time and attention can be stolen throughout the day by texting friends or scrolling through popular social media feeds. Because of this continual diversion of entertainment and leisure, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to want to develop a further connection with the Quran and Ahl al-Bayt (pbut).
Recently, a diverse group of five youth, male and female, who successfully competed in I.M.A.M.’s Self-Enhancement Competition for Quranic recitation, traveled to Iraq. While there, they visited some of the holy sites and attended Quranic recitation classes in the holy city of Karbala. When we asked them how the trip may have strengthened their connection with the Quran and Ahl al-Bayt (pbut) and what advice they might have for other youth, they told us what is collectively summarized below.
Time spent on your phone, tablet, or laptop, can pass quickly before you even realize it. The access to countless sites and the ability to chat with friends can make it very easy to procrastinate and avoid our other responsibilities. We then feel guilty about how much time we wasted and what we did not do. It also prevents us from having quiet time to reflect on what connects us with our Creator and our purpose in this world. So how can we control wasting our time on electronic devices?
If going cold turkey with your electronic device is an unrealistic solution, then an alternate option is to limit screen time to an amount that you designate. Before the day begins assign specific times that you allow yourself to use your device freely, and do not use it beyond that fixed time. This is where you must hold yourself accountable.
The extra time you have can be utilized to read the Quran or a book about the lives of the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut) for example. When you consistently implement this schedule, over time it becomes a routine, and if you are not following it, you will feel uneasy. This uneasiness is an indication of the connection that you have developed with the Quran and matters of religion, because once you establish that connection, you will long for it.
Ziyarah (visitation) as Means of Connection
Aside from the many blessings and rewards associated with visiting the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut), visitation or ziyarah can also help foster a deeper interest in and connection with them. Usually, parents provide our first introduction to the lives of the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut), through storytelling, attending programs at the mosque, or weekend schools. That way knowledge and admiration of the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut) and their lives are cultivated within us. However, if we grow up without knowing who they are, how can we develop a relationship with the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut)? To learn more about the household of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp), click here.
Once we have developed this love for the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut), we are more likely to appreciate them and want to visit them. We will understand their high status, being God’s most perfect creations, and become humbled at the opportunity to stand near their sacred graves in their presence.
The Holy Quran says in Chapter 2, verse 154, “Do not consider those who are slain [in the way] of God to be dead. They are alive but you are unaware of them.”
When standing by the grave of such a holy personality, converse openly with them from your heart, for they are present with you. This further deepens our connection with them and thereby our relationship with God, who chose them to be our guides. You will have an opportunity to reflect on their lives and your place in this world: what you want to change, what you seek forgiveness for, and what you seek in life. For example, if you want a stronger connection with the Quran and the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut), then ask God to help you achieve that.
Recitation of the Quran
The Quran has a strong presence while we are on ziyarah that we might overlook. We hear its verses resonating beautifully; we see its mesmerizing letters inscribed on the ceiling, walls, and entrances of the shrines like artwork.
We are not always inclined to listen to the Quran or to recite it. Perhaps some of us do not comprehend its meaning or significance. Here is some helpful advice in this regard.
Appreciate the importance of the words of your Creator. Read the translation if you do not understand the Arabic, because living in this world without guidance is like being lost.
The Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) is reported to have said, “When matters become difficult [obscure] for you like the darkness of the night, then turn to the Quran [hold on to its principles], since it is an intercessor whose intercession is accepted; [it is] a witness [upon you] whose testimony is accepted and verified [absolutely]. Whoever places the Quran in front of them, it will lead them towards Paradise; whoever abandons the Quran, it will [lead] them [towards] Hellfire.”2
It is hard to find your way in the dark, so find light through the Holy Quran. When you understand the significance of the Book of God, then you will gravitate towards it yourself without outside persuasion or pressure.
Reciting the Quran and reflecting on its words and on the lives of the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut) daily even for a short amount of time, is an important habit to incorporate into our lives. Any new habit you try to develop is difficult to implement initially. So, be mindful for the first few days until it becomes a part of your everyday routine. After weeks of this new schedule, you will hopefully develop a new habit and a deeper connection with that which our Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) told us to never let go of. Also, if there is an opportunity to arrange for the ziyarah of the holy Imams (pbut), then make every effort to go so that your heart always yearns for them. Our relationship and connection with the Quran and the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut) is one that we should not overlook or take for granted, but rather should nurture and treasure.
1. Shaykh Mufid, Kitab al-irshad, p. 121.
2. Shaykh al-Kulayni, Kitab al-kafi, vol. 2, p. 599.