ISLAM propagates "reading in the name of thy lord." Muslims around the world have respected and believed that the first blessed verses revealed to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) began with "IQRA" – Read.
This is the very reason why we Muslims value reading the Qur’an. Many observers have seen believers reading the Holy Qur’an every after prayer, during the month of Ramadhan and even when one is nearing death. Muslims believed in the miracles it can give to one’s life during and after reading.
Reading the Holy Scripture of any religious sect is similar to any reading activity. Benefits are all the same. If we are to look at the basic reasons why one should read, we can have the same benefits as we read our Holy books. The only difference is the content and the level of learning it gives.
However, what makes reading very important to Muslims is when the verse "Read in the name of thy Lord…" was given to the Prophet Muhammad (saw), this became the first command for the whole of mankind. Hence, the Glorious Qur’an came as wisdom and a teaching for each and every person, living in every nation through every generation, right until "The Day of Judgment."
As followers of Islam, we see the significance of reading like the way scholars value the importance of reading in general. In fact, we believe that there is an ocean of knowledge and guidance that is so great that many scholars who have devoted their lives to obtaining this pure knowledge have only touched the surface. This is the basic reason why Muslims are enjoined to read in order to gain wisdom and enhance one’s interest in seeking knowledge from cradle to grave.
While it is true that in leisure reading, like reading any book, researchers would claim that it can improve focus and concentration, this can also be argued that by reading the verses in the Qur’an, one will be improving the same.
Similarly, researches show that by reading, one discovers himself and create himself into a more valuable person. This is true when they say that by reading books, it can give us an opportunity to have experiences that we haven’t had the opportunity to, and still allow us to learn the life skills they entail.
As Muslims, when we read the Qur’an and its commandments, we discover much of our relationship to the world and all that surrounds us. It was even required for us Muslims to read the Hadiths -- stories of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) so we can have the opportunity to appreciate the experience he went through for the sake of propagating Islam. It can even open the minds of today’s readers to see the value of compassion and humility as it was practiced by the Prophet himself.
Indeed, by reading, many miracles can be experienced and appreciated. It ranges from developing one’s verbal abilities, improving memory and imagination and even making one’s brain smarter.
Being a Muslim in this part of the world, advocating the value of reading is inherent to us. What we may not know today will be known to us tomorrow by just reading.
The great power of knowledge may just be in the corner of our houses, let those books especially the Holy Qur’an be read and appreciated so that we can always see the missing links and answer the pondering questions in our minds.
Surah 96. Al Alaq (Verses 1-5)
'Read! In the name of your Lord Who has created,
He has created man from a clot,
Read! and your Lord is Most Generous,
Who has taught by the pen,
He has taught man which he knew not.
(Professor Sorhaila Latip-Yusoph is currently the chairperson of the Communication and Media Department, Mindanao State University, Marawi City.)