It is logical that one wanting to learn about a faith would start by reading its most holy text. For some, however, the Quran can be difficult to sit down and read from cover to cover. The revelation was given over a period of decades, and each verse has a particular scriptural and historical context. The themes of the Quran are interwoven among the chapters, and the book is not in chronological order. So how does one begin to understand its message?
Gain basic knowledge of the faith
Before embarking on a study of the Quran, it is necessary to have some basic background in the faith of Islam. This will give you a foundation from which to start, and some understanding of the vocabulary and message of the Quran.
Choose a Quran translation
The Quran was revealed in the Arabic language, and the original text has remained unchanged in that language since the time of its revelation. If you do not read Arabic, it is necessary to obtain a translation, which is at best an interpretation of the Arabic meaning. Translations vary in their style and their faithfulness to the Arabic original.
Choose a Quran commentary or companion book
As an accompaniment to the Quran, it is helpful to have an exegesis or commentary to refer to as you read along. While many English translations contain footnotes, certain passages may need extra explanation, or need to be placed in more complete context.
The Quran challenges the reader to think about its message, ponder its meaning, and accept it with understanding rather than blind faith. As you read, feel free to ask for clarification from knowledgeable Muslims.
Continue to learn
In Islam, the learning process is never complete. As you grow in understanding of the Muslim faith, you may come across more questions, or more topics you want to study. The Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) told his followers to “seek knowledge, even unto China” — i.e. pursue your study to the farthest reaches of the earth.
A letter to the youth of the West
In January, Iran’s Supreme Leader sent a highly important message to the European youth to stress and demand the younger generation in the West to do research to get firsthand information about Islam by themselves before accepting media propaganda. The Leader’s letter to the young people in Europe and North America has encouraged an extensive debate across the globe on the importance of free thinking and intellectual discourse about the true origins of Islam.