Mohamed Elmasry, Ph. D.
Language: English | Format: PDF | Pages: 479 | Size: 1 MB
The need for relevant and accessible daily readings directed toward achieving spiritual fitness TM motivated me to write this book.
I began by selecting 365 passages from the Qur’an, using similar parameters of length and topical value so that each daily excerpt takes only about 15 minutes to both read and contemplate. These daily readings also stand alone in terms of the topics or issues they address.
I have no wish to preface these passages with exhaustive commentary. Rather, I prefer to stand back and allow them to work their miracles in helping the reader to achieve spiritual fitness: they have been potent in the past and I believe they are so again.
In choosing the topic for each day, I followed traditional Islamic guidelines for attaining True Success, True Happiness and True Peace of Mind.
These three steps are:
1. To Know
2. To Love
3. To Serve
The first step is about coming to know God – through divine creations, one’s own being, the purpose of our life on earth, our life after physical death, and our final destination to be with God.
The second step is coming to love God — again through the wonder of divine creations, one’s own being, in the sacred gift of life, and in meeting God through our daily activities and awareness.
Finally, the third step is to learn to serve God — in preserving and respecting all of creation, in caring for others and oneself, in giving God our daily praise and prayer.
The order in which we learn these steps is very important, for one cannot love someone who is unknown, nor can anyone genuinely serve someone they do not love.
Ideally, however, the steps of knowing, loving and serving should be pursued in parallel, so that even as imperfect human beings, we can always be in the blessed state of knowing a little, loving a little, and serving a little. From there, we can increase our spiritual fitness toward knowing more, loving more and serving more.
In the Qur’an, God speaks and the Prophet Muhammad is the mouthpiece for God’s Divine Word. That is, the Qur’an contains none of the Prophet Muhammad’s own words, nor his own interpretations. The Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet through the Angel Gabriel, in order to answer questions, to explain, and above all, to guide humans into the way of Truth.
When God speaks in the Qur’an using the pronouns I, Me, or My, in the first-person singular — e.g., “If you remember Me, I will remember you” (2:152) — or We, Us, and Our(s) in the first-person plural — e.g., “We spread out the earth” (15:19) – these figures of speech always indicate that there is only One God. In addition, God also speaks in the Qur’an using the third-person masculine singular, as with He, Him, and His — e.g., “God. There is no god but He; there is no other,” (64:13).
Here again, these are God’s words, and do not indicate gender in human terms, for God states in the Qur’an that “no one else is like God” (42:11). Thus, God is unique, despite the limitations of human language and grammar.
Daily meditation has long been upheld as the high road to spiritual fitness. But a daily reading of Quranic passages additionally offers a special type of meditation in which God is the speaker, where every word is God’s own. As God explains the Divine Natural Law, these passages offer a means of in-depth meditation. When God teaches us how and why we should pray for Divine Mercy, this is also an attribute of fruitful meditation.
In offering my English-trained reader these particular groups of daily Quranic verses, I have consulted several renowned English paraphrases of the Qur’an, as well as a number of scholarly works of Quranic interpretation in their original Arabic language (see Appendix). But the actual translations (or rather, interpretations) in these pages remain my own.
The original classical Arabic of the Qur’an flows in a rhythmic style of prose-poetry (sometimes called blank verse) whose powerful and beautiful effects cannot be fully duplicated in English or any other language.
Nevertheless, I have tried my best to keep this interpretive translation/paraphrase as faithful to its given text and context as possible. My aim and purpose throughout has been to make each daily devotion able to stand alone without any need for disruptive footnotes or explanations.
To derive the greatest benefit from these daily devotions, I recommend that each be approached in a receptive meditational and reflective mood, preferably during the early hours of the day, or just before retiring at night. In this way, each daily passage will, Insha’allah (God willing), guide the reader through the enriching experience of what it means To Know, To Love, and To Serve.
For most of us, living in today’s world means living in a stressful, fast-paced society where it is increasingly difficult to find the time, the inclination, the mood, and the desire to slow down a bit to reflect, contemplate, think, pray, and communicate with God.
Thus, my dear reader, I sincerely hope and pray that this modest book becomes your faithful companion on the road to ever-greater knowledge, love, and service. I trust that each passage —one for every day of the year — will suffice for regular contemplation, meditation, and communication. Your success in this spiritual quest will be mine as well.
Above all, in everything, I ask the blessings and guidance of God — the Most Merciful, Most Loving One.
Mohamed Elmasry, Ph.D.
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada May, 2003
First and foremost, I acknowledge the blessings of God Almighty in my life. I hope He accepts every humble deed I have done and forgives all my sins, faults and shortcomings.
As with many other projects, my wife Elizabeth, my daughters Carmen and Nadia, my sons Samir and Hassan, my daughter-in-law Amal, and son-in-law Peter have been generous in their unfailing support, for which I am deeply grateful.
My late mother, a woman of amazing faith and perseverance, continues to be my lifelong inspiration.
My teacher and spiritual guide, while we never met in this life, has been Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad al- Ghazali (1058-1111 AD). I admire his writings greatly, for he is one of the best Muslim scholars to introduce Islam to Westerners. His book, Jawaher al-Qur’an (or, The Jewels of the Qur’an), in which he chose significant verses from throughout the Qur’an as a means of guiding readers toward God’s blessings, was my motivation to write this book.
I would like also to express great appreciation to my University of Waterloo colleague, Professor Judith Miller, for her valuable comments and excellent suggestions. Many thanks are due to my copy editor, Pauline Finch, who did an excellent job with great interest, and to Debbie Loney, who patiently typed many drafts of this book. Hesham Sabry’s comments are most appreciated. As well, I found the supportive staff at Pandora Press most helpful.