I’m a highlighter. Like many, highlighting and making notes as I read books is a habit that helps me to remember and understand what I’m reading, as I am reading. A common practice when studying. Its usually done to recall something of importance or because we would like to remind ourself what was written, later.
Recently, at snail pace, I have taken up the English translation of the Quran by Abdel Haleem. I am ashamed to say that for years it has sat in my bookshelf but I have never been able to read it cover to cover. And so I thought, why prolong this deed, and got started. And of course I have a pen and highlighter in hand as I am slowly going through it. It’s a good translation. Obviously nothing does justice to the Quran besides reading and understanding it in its original language, Arabic. But I digress.
So I’m highlighting and making notes in the margin as I read. Making notes of the themes, attempting to make small summaries of what I’m reading so I can refer back later. It is my humble attempt to understand, ponder and reflect on Allah’s words (the translation of). I highlight whatever is important. Later I will go back and makes notes of those things that I highlighted during the first read. Again, you get it, its a common practice when studying, nothing fancy.
That being said, I would like to bring light to what I just stated:
I highlight whatever is important
I’m sure you will see the silliness in my statement. Right?
Because what in the Quran is not important enough to highlight? This is quite obvious when you see that even though I’ve only reached the 21st Surah it seems as if I have highlighted about 80-90% of the Translation. And if I didn’t stop myself, I would probably be highlighting everything. Every single line, every single word. One might even question, is it worth even highlighting this much? Does it not defeat the whole point of a highlighter? Perhaps.
But what this whole act of highlighting actually highlighted to me, is that every Surah, every group of Ayat, every ayah, every word is so very important. Highlighted or not. It stands out and needs to be remembered. All of it. Heavy and full of wisdom. Each and every letter is important. Highlighting just once to refer back to it later, does not do justice to Allah’s words. It cannot. And while highlighting some words or sentences here and there to recall later will work with any other book, it does not work like that with the Quran. Because every word and sentence is that valuable.
This also highlighted to me one of the most obvious differences between the Quran and EVERY SINGLE OTHER BOOK ever written in the history of books and mankind. That while all other books are filled with words that are not all always important, not all worth highlighting, perhaps contain even what may be considered your basic fluff. The Quran is the total and complete opposite. Everything in the Quran is important, key and priceless. There is NO such thing as fluff in it. The Quran is a true treasure trove, an ocean of knowledge in which each every single letter of Allah’s words to us is worth so much more than just some measly highlighting.
So sure, I will continue to highlight as I make my way through the Translation of the Quran, but this just tells me that when I go back to re-read my highlighted portions, I will be re-reading pretty much the entire translation all over again. And again, and again, and again. InshaAllah. انشاالله
Note to self: Order more highlighters.