إِنَّ هَٰذِهِ تَذْكِرَةٌ ۖ فَمَنْ شَاءَ اتَّخَذَ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِ سَبِيلًا
Inna hādhihi tadhakiratun faman shā’a-ttakhadha ilā rabbihi sabīla
This is indeed a reminder. So let anyone who wishes take the way toward his Lord.
(Sūratِ al-Muzzammil, No 73, Āyat 19)
One of the strategies that the Quran uses to guide the people is through reminders. Human beings need reminders. Knowing about something is not enough by itself. Reminders offer positive encouragement and can be powerful tools for influencing behavior. They bring to light the path we may have relegated to the back of the mind. Reminders revives knowledge and rekindles the original spirit associated with it. Many people use daily reminders to help them succeed in achieving their goals.
The main role of the Quran is to remind people – It is nothing but a reminder to the nations (Q 38:87). The role of the Prophet (s) is that of a reminder – Therefore do remind, for you are only a reminder (Q 88:21). Verses of the Quran remind us of Allah’s blessings and mercy, of the meaning and purpose of creation, of responsibility and accountability. Repeated reflection over these reminders help us avoid being distracted from what is important in life. It keeps us away from failure.
The word tadhkira in a verse can refer to the verses before it as reminders, or to the entire Quran. ‘Allāmah Tabātabā’ī says in Tafsīr al-Mīzān that the word in the verse above refers to the specific reminder of Salātul Layl at the beginning of the sūra. The demonstrative pronoun hādhihi that comes before the word points is a proof of that. The ‘Allāmah points out that the exact verse is repeated in Sūra al-Dahr (Q 76:29) and there it refers to the verse before it that talks about glorification of God and prostration to Him in a part of the night (verse 26).
Not receiving reminders can be deadly for the human soul. The Quran tells the Prophet (s): and remind them with it lest any soul should perish because of what it has earned (Q 6:70). Many negative outcomes are the result of not paying heed to reminders. These include:
1. Becoming heedless and arrogant – Indeed man becomes rebellious, when he considers himself without need (Q 96:6-7).
2. Being overcome by the whisperings of shaytān – Indeed he does not have any authority over those who have faith and put their trust in their Lord. His authority is only over those who befriend him and those who make him a partner [of Allah] (Q 16:99-100)
3. Losing determination and spiritual energy – And certainly We gave a commandment to Adam before, but he forgot; and We did not find in him any determination (Q 20:115).
The effect of reminders on a receptive heart is so strong that the Quran says: Only those believe in Our signs who, when they are reminded of them, fall down in prostration and celebrate the praise of their Lord, and they are not arrogant. (Q 32:15)
As you recite the Quran during this holy month let the reminders in it revive your heart and awaken the inner spiritual understandings that can get pushed back and buried as we go through life in the world.