Nouman Khan: The one-man Qur’an movement

Updated 05 April 2013
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Nouman Khan: The one-man Qur’an movement

WHETHER it’s tafseer of Surat Al-Rahman, fundamentals of classical Arabic course, or ‘Story Night,’ it’s always the same — hundreds of men, women and children line up to listen to Nouman Ali Khan. His eloquence and humor as a Qur’an and Arabic teacher motivate and inspire people to learn the Book of Allah.
Khan hopes to bring a basic understanding of the Qur’an to every Muslim household. His lectures and speeches, often witty and wise, have garnered attention from YouTubers across the world. The father of six relates well to youth, discussing important but often under-addressed topics like gender relations, peer pressure, partying and losing interest in religion.
Khan is the CEO and founder of the immensely popular Bayyinah Institute for Arabic and Qur’anic Studies. Spread over 11,000 square feet in Irving Texas, Bayyinah is the first brick-and-mortar Islamic institute that does not rely on ‘fund raisers.’ Khan is confident that his school is good enough to sustain itself. “I want top notch,” he says. He pays his fulltime instructors salaries at par with those in Harvard, NYU or Columbia. Khan believes that if a program is good enough people will pay for it and it will continue to improve. The Bayyinah Institute also offers Bayyinah TV, an online repository of videos and notes for self-study.
Knowing the importance of teaching Islam to children when they’re young, Khan will soon add a carefully crafted children’s curriculum to the website as well. The Bayyinah TV already has over 4,000 subscribers and has been dubbed by some as ‘Netflix for the Mu’mins.’
Talking to Arab News, Khan recalled the time when he would live with his family in Riyadh. His father worked for the Pakistan Embassy, and Khan attended the Pakistan Embassy school from grades 2 to 8.
“I have predominantly good memories. It was a very innocent society for children. A fairly sheltered lifestyle. I don’t think the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is anything like that anymore.
The media and Web explosion has affected every society including Saudi Arabia,” he said. Khan commented on an increasingly common phenomenon: Children of religiously committed parents become sneaky, often taking off their hijabs and dating in secret.
The Bayyinah chief pointed out, “Islam is not a set of rules. It’s a way of seeing life and the world.” He finds that people do not incorporate this concept into their children’s education. Children memorize ‘duaas,’ ‘surahs’ and learn what’s ‘fardh’ and what’s ‘haraam.’ This distant and uninvolved relationship with Allah is not enough. “We must transform their personalities. The way we introduce Islam to our families needs a fundamental change. We must teach them morality, courtesy, responsibility. We are not empowering our children with these principles. Doesn’t matter whether you are living in Saudi Arabia or America; the opportunity to do the wrong thing is there, but so is the opportunity to teach the right thing. We really need to start talking to our children about stuff that was considered taboo. If parents don’t talk to their children about controversial stuff, they will get their education somewhere else. We have to have complete transparent communication between parents and children,” said Khan.
The CEO of Bayyinah Institute understands the struggles of the young because he has been there. At one point in his life, Nouman Khan was an atheist. When his father was transferred from Pakistan Embassy in Riyadh to New York, he was in teens. As a typical teenager living in the Big Apple, he lost all interest in Islam. But Allah is the ultimate planner. He had big plans for this once-an-atheist guy! First came the ‘lift.’ A fellow Muslim student at the college offered Khan a ride in his car, but he stopped to pray. Out of embarrassment and gratitude to the driver, Khan decided to pray too. It was then he felt bad for not having prayed in years.
After that incident came Ramadan, the month in which even Muslims who do not pray regularly line up for taraweeh prayers. Khan decided to do the same. Little did he know that Ramadan would become the turning point in his life. After taraweeh prayer each night, Khan decided to stay at the masjid to attend a Qur’an translation lecture about the verses that had been recited in prayer. The visiting Pakistani speaker, Dr. Abdus Samee, deeply moved Khan. He fell in love with the Qur’an, and wished to learn classical Arabic to understand the words himself. Khan soon achieved his goal, with teachers and self-study.
The more Khan studied, the more he realized the beauty and miracle of the Qur’an. He realized that so much is lost in translation. A person reading a translation could get the message, but not the miracle. Khan wanted every Muslim to undergo the transition that he did. He wanted to scream Qur’an from the rooftops. He left his Information Technology job to pursue his dream of making people understand the Qur’an first hand.
The Bayyinah Institute is helping Khan achieve his goals, and helping every person know his/her ‘Rabb.’
“After diving into the Arabic language, the Qur’an started becoming very clear to me, so I wanted that clarity for as many Muslims as possible,” Khan said.
That’s why he chose the name Bayyinah, since “It is an adjective which means something which in itself is very clear.”

n For more information on Khan, his mission and activities, visit www.bayyinah.com


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.