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Applied Reflection Skills
Muhammad ibn Abd al-Azeez al-Awaji
Professor, Department of Tafseer and Qur’anic Studies, Islamic University, Madinah
Reflection is an interactive process of study that has well defined steps and stages. It aims to produce an intellectual and practical effect of the Qur’anic verse you wish to study and reflect upon. There are several approaches, means and skills that may be found helpful in a positive process of reflection on the Qur’an.
This paper, ‘Applied Reflection Skills’, describes a number of practical ways of reflecting on the Qur’an together with illustrative examples. It is hoped that these will constitute a starting point that helps in developing one’s skills in reflecting on the Qur’an. A gradual application of these skills should, with God’s help, be sufficient to make a person ready to reflect on the Qur’an.
My search failed to find anything written on the subject. Faced with the difficulty of giving an academic description of practical skills and the need for careful accuracy in such a study so as to ensure that identified skills remain free of deviation and outlandish elements, I have tried to deduce such skills from theoretical studies. I then trained myself and others to implement them and discovered that they were very effective on all those who participated in such training. Hence, I have written this paper to present to my teachers and colleagues, praying that it will be of benefit. I praise and thank God for enabling me to write and explain these skills. I have identified seven main skills that Muslims need to apply in their reflection on the Qur’an.
One: Self preparation. This means taking suitable steps in order to be mentally ready to reflect on a particular verse.
Two: Identifying the question. This requires a careful look at what a particular verse says and its effect.
Three: The means that help to find the answer, or answers, to the question.
Four: Finding interlinks between the meanings included in the verse. The means used in skill number three should help in this.
Five: Widening the area of reflection. This means that students should not focus all the time on a particular point. They should look on the Qur’an in total, and on life and its need for divine legislation that combine comprehensiveness and perfection.
Six: Revision. In one’s reflection on the Qur’an, the process must remain within certain controls. One must always consider whether one’s reflection is on the right course or not.
Seven: Dissemination and education. One should look at what one has gathered from reflection on a particular verse and consider how to retain it and how to teach it to others.
All these skills are arrived at through personal study. Neither their number nor the name given to each was intended in advance. It is hoped that they will be further studied and consolidated so that they may be better implemented and prove to be more effective, God willing.
It is hoped that these skills will be the nucleus of some practical programmes and applied courses, enabling Muslim individuals and communities, everywhere, to better reflect on the Qur’an, as their own educational standards, time and circumstances permit.
This paper reflects personal endeavour in this very important subject. What is right and correct in it is achieved by God’s grace, and whatever is faulty or wrong is due to my own shortcomings and I seek God’s forgiveness.
Key words: reflection, applied, skills, preparation, question, means, interlinks, widen, revision, dissemination.