Some of my most poignant memories from childhood are reveling in the beauty displayed by different places of worship. As a child I frequented mandirs, as a teen gurudwaras, and as a college-goer churches.

My affinity towards different places didn’t come so much from any innate desire for objective secularism, but more about adapting to what was available.

I derive a sense of comfort knowing that in the end I can’t control all that happens in life good or bad. It would be egotistical to think all the good I have in my life is my own free will, because there’s a higher being with whom’s grace my life is beautiful.

For a lot I have in my life has been dependent on where I was born something completely out of my hands. Many things in life are a lucky draw and through our actions we can give ourselves the best chances but can never fully guarantee anything.

Over the past decade I have read plenty books on different religions, from The Bible and its diverse interpretations, to the Devi Bhagavatam. I don’t think I know much about religion but I’ve been exposed to plenty of perspectives, having taken theology classes and personally known friends who did PhDs in theology in some form.

When I read the Adi Granth, the Bible, the literature on Gautam Buddha’s teachings and life, Jewish Wisdom, and the Ramayana, I’m always brought back to a particular couplet from the Bhagavad Gita, spoken by Lord Krishna.

“Samo ̕haṁ sarva bhūtēṣu na mē dvēṣyo ̕sti na priya. (Bhagavad Gita. 9.29)”, or “I am impartial and home equally in all and I am even with everyone…”

In the end the same divine energy dwells in all. The form God takes in the end is to just appease our sensibilities. 

Over the years I have been to a few Mosques but haven’t read the Quran, and so I was intrigued when I came across Abdur Raheem Kidwai’s brand new release “The Quran Speaks to You”.

Coincidentally, Kidwai is a professor at Aligarh Muslim University my mother’s Alma Mater and chooses 60 lessons from the Quran for his book.

Professor Kidwai writes in a digestible manner, peppering insightful passages from the Quran with commentary and details on how to adapt the teachings in daily life. He chose passages that talk about how to live a good life and be a productive member of society.

I love how “The Quran Speaks to You” portrays how to live a balanced life, from the amount of money we should donate, to whom, with what intention, and how to go about things like visiting someone’s home.

Each chapter is titled as a question one might want answered followed by the aforementioned passages, commentary and analysis, with “How to Spend Money?” standing out as my personal favourite.

As someone who has recently been earning their “own” money, I’m often conflicted on how to spend, save, and give. Some days I’m embarrassed by the amount I have and wish to give it all away, while on other days I feel the need to learn to save for a rainy day. 

“Do not outspread (your hands in giving) totally. Otherwise you will end up as a poor person blamed by everyone (Al-Isra 17:29)”, Kidwai quotes the Quranic directives about spending, and explains them as living in moderation. One should not hoard money for in the end you can’t take it with you, neither should you squander it that others are responsible for looking after you.

Kidwai shares more passages like, “Give to the relatives, the poor, and the traveller their due. Do not waste your wealth. (Al-Isra 17:27)” and my personal favorite, “If you have to excuse yourself (from those asking for help), speak to them kindly while you look forward to bounties from your Lord. (Al -Isra 17:28)”. I think these represent a beautiful reminder that the money we have is not ours, we are entrusted with it by divine Grace and like all gifts we have to learn to use it best to our abilities. 

Kidwai’s “Quran” spoke to me as is it is such an easy read, and if you have any questions about life I’m sure Kidwai just might have all those answers for you. But I would suggest pacing yourself while reading in order to effectively soak in all the teachings while also reminding yourself that irrespective of the religious text you read at the core of it all their goal is to help you live a happier, compassionate life.

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Shivani Kohli

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