A n I m p o r t a n t Q u e s t i o n : Some of the verifiers of reality have said that each of the words of the Qur’an and of supplications and other glorifications of God illuminate man’s spiritual faculties in numerous ways, providing spiritual sustenance. But if the meanings are not known, just to say the words is insufficient. The words are a garment; would it not be more useful if they were changed, and every group clothed the meanings in words of their own language?
T h e A n s w e r : The words of the Qur’an and of the glorifications of the Prophet (UWBP) are not lifeless garments; they are like the living skin of a body; indeed, with the passage of time, they have become the skin. Garments are changed, but the body would be harmed if the skin were to be changed. Blessed words like those of the five daily prayers and the call to prayer have become the mark and sign of their usual meanings. And marks and signs cannot be changed. I have often observed in myself an inner state which I experience. It is a fact, and is this:
On the Day of ‘Arafa, the eve of the Festival of Sacrifices, I used to recite Sura al-Ikhlas hundreds of times.1 I would observe that some of the non-physical senses in me would receive the sustenance several times, then would cease to do so and stop. Others like the faculty of reflective thought would turn towards the meaning for a time, receive their share, then they too would stop. And some like the heart would receive their share in respect of certain concepts that yielded a spiritual pleasure, then they too would fall silent. And so on. Gradually, with repetition only a few of the subtle faculties would remain, becoming wearied long after the others. They would persist, leaving no need for further study and meanings. Heedlessness did not have an adverse effect on them, as it did on the faculty of thought. The usual meanings, of which they were the marks and signs, and abbreviated meanings of the expressive words, were enough for them. To think of the meaning at that point would have caused harmful boredom. Anyway, the subtle faculties that persist do not need to study and comprehend but to recollect, turn towards, and be prompted. And the words that are like skin are sufficient for them and perform the duty of meaning. They are means of constant effulgence especially when it is recalled through those Arabic words that they are the Word of God and divine speech.
This state, which I myself experienced, shows that it is extremely harmful to express in another language truths like the call to prayer and the tes
For Hadiths about the merits of reciting Sura al-Ikhlas (Sura 112) specific numbers of times, see, Tirmidhi, Fada’il al-Qur’an, 11; Musnad, iii, 437; Darimi, Fada’il al-Qur’an, 24; al-Suyuti, al-Fath al-Kabir, iii, 227; Bayhaqi, Shu’ab al-Iman, ii, 506-8.