Khalid Zaheer
“I am convinced about the veracity of my opinions, but I do consider it likely that they may turn out to be incorrect. Likewise, I am convinced about the incorrectness of the views different from mine, but I do concede the possibility that they may turn out to be correct.” — Imam Shafa’i
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Quran: reading without understanding

Question:
Salam Sir,

I read on your QA page a question about reading the Quran without understanding it’s meaning. Your response seemed very just and credible. Then I pondered, and pondered a lot. I inquired the same question in various places. I am attaching a very reasonable response below:

“The noble Qur'an is that noble and blessed book of Allah Ta'ala which He revealed for the guidance of mankind. The virtues of reciting the Qur'an are numerous, but there is one virtue which supercedes all others.

Sayyidna Abu Sa'eed Khudri, Radi-Allahu anhu narrates that Rasulullah said, 'That person who due to excessive recitation of the Qur'an is not able to make Allah Ta'ala's Dhikr and Du'a, Allah Ta'ala will bestow such a person with more blessings and Ni'mat than even those who make Dhikr and Du'a.' (Tirmidhi). What better virtue can there be, when Allah Ta'ala takes it upon Himself to bless such people who recite the Qur'an excessively?

The question arises that whether a person will attain this virtue, by only reciting it with understanding, or does he also obtain the benefits if he recites without understanding?

Sayyidna Abdullah ibn Ma'sood, Radi-Allahu anhu narrates that Rasulullah said, 'That person who recites one letter from the Kitabullah, he will get one reward, and one is multiplied by ten.' He further went on to say, 'I do not say that Alif, Laam, Meem is one letter, but instead alif is one letter, laam is one letter and meem is one letter.' (Tirmidhi)

If we ponder over this Hadith, we will find that there is no condition that the reciter will only get Thawab (reward) if he recites the Qur'an with understanding.

In the noble Qur'an, there are many Ayahs which we do not know the meaning of, for example, Huroof Muqattaat, which appear at the beginning of some Surahs, e.g. Alif-laam-meem.

We do not know the meaning of such Ayahs, but we still recite them. If we do not get reward for reciting the Qur'an without understanding, then it will imply that we will not get reward for reciting these Ayahs of the Qur'an as we do not know their meanings, but Nabi chose the words Alif-laam-meem knowing well that he had not explained them to the Ummah, yet he still commanded us to recite them, and described the virtues for reciting such three alphabets.

From the above points, it is clear that even though a person recites the Qur'an without understanding, he will still attain the virtues and benefits of reciting it.

However, if after learning how to recite the Qur'an, a person goes on to learn the meaning of the Qur'an so that he understands the orders and commands of Allah Ta'ala, the reward for such a person is certainly more.

hope this answer satisfy you”



I would really appreicate your comments



Regards,

Response:
Assalamo Alaikum,

Thank you very much for sparing time to think about as important a religious question as reciting the Qur’an and writing to me about it. May the Almighty reward your for it.


Please consider the following points in response to what you have written to me.


i)The fact that the Qur’anic text is certain and the text of hadith – even the most authentic of them – is not fully reliable is something accepted by the entire Muslim ummah. The Qur’an mentions in no unclear words that it has been revealed for the purpose that “its verses be pondered over and people of intellect benefit from them.” How would you imagine that a person who is not even bothering to satisfy the purpose of doing a certain act would get the benefit of it?

ii)Hurufe Muqatti’at are very much understandable expressions. For instance the letter Nun in surah Nun means fish (because that is what this word means in Arabic and it has been used in that sense in the Qur’an as well) and in that brief surah there is a mention of Yunus, alaihissalaam, who we know was swallowed by a fish. If that is true, then it is a clear indication that all other surahs begin with letters which have meanings that need to be unearthed and understood. If that is true, then it is all the more important that such verses are read with even more intellectual depth.

iii)Which other text, except for some magical expressions perhaps, do you think is read with a purpose of benefiting from it without understanding it?

iv)The prophet, alaihissalaam, spoke to people who knew Arabic and therefore understood the Qur’an on reading it. There was no need for his companions to be reminded that the Qur’an was to be read with its meanings in mind. When the Qur’an itself is mentioning so repeatedly that the book is meant to be understood for being guided, there should have been a clear mention in the Qur’an itself that although the purpose of its revelation was to understand it, even if someone doesn’t bother to do so, it would still benefit him.



I hope this answer satisfies you. Allah Hafiz.

Khalid Zaheer

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