Value of reciting the Qur’an

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The great scholar ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah once wrote:

فَلَو علم النَّاس مَا فِي قِرَاءَة الْقُرْآن بالتدبر لاشتغلوا بهَا عَن كل مَا سواهَا فَإِذا قَرَأَهُ بتفكر حَتَّى مر بِآيَة وَهُوَ مُحْتَاجا إِلَيْهَا فِي شِفَاء قلبه كررها وَلَو مائَة مرّة وَلَو لَيْلَة فقراءة آيَة بتفكر وتفهم خير من قِرَاءَة ختمة بِغَيْر تدبر وتفهم وأنفع للقلب وأدعى الى حُصُول الايمان وذوق حلاوة الْقُرْآن وَهَذِه كَانَت عَادَة السّلف يردد احدهم الاية الى الصَّباح وَقد ثَبت عَن النَّبِي انه قَامَ بِآيَة يُرَدِّدهَا حَتَّى الصَّباح وَهِي قَوْله {إِن تُعَذبهُمْ فَإِنَّهُم عِبَادك وَإِن تغْفر لَهُم فَإنَّك أَنْت الْعَزِيز الْحَكِيم} فقراءة الْقُرْآن بالتفكر هِيَ اصل صَلَاح الْقلب . ـ

If people only knew the great value of reciting the Qur’an with reflection, then they would devote themselves to it above anything else. For when one recites with contemplation, when he comes across an ayah which contains something needed to rectify his heart, he would repeat that ayah, perhaps as many as one hundred times or even for the entire night! For reciting a single ayah with contemplation and understanding is better, more beneficial for one’s heart, and more likely to bring about an increase in eemaan and tasting the sweetness of the Qur’an than reciting the entire Qur’an without reflection or understanding.

This used to be the practice of the Salaf, that one of them might repeat a single ayah until the morning came. It has also been authentically attributed to the Prophet that he stood in the night prayer until the morning came repeating a single ayah, which was:

إِن تُعَذبهُمْ فَإِنَّهُم عِبَادك وَإِن تغْفر لَهُم فَإنَّك أَنْت الْعَزِيز الْحَكِيم

If You punish them, then they are Your slaves. And if You forgive them, then You are the Mighty, the Wise. [5:118]

For reciting the Qur’an with contemplation is the very basis of the heart’s rectification.

وَلِهَذَا قَالَ ابْن مَسْعُود لاتهذوا الْقُرْآن هَذَا الشّعْر وَلَا تنثروه نثر الدقل وقفُوا عِنْد عجائبه وحركوا بِهِ الْقُلُوب لَا يكن هم احدكم آخر السُّورَة وروى ابو ايوب عَن ابي جَمْرَة قَالَ قلت لِابْنِ عَبَّاس اني سريع الْقِرَاءَة إِنِّي اقرا الْقُرْآن فِي ثَلَاث قَالَ لَان اقْرَأ سُورَة من الْقُرْآن فِي لَيْلَة فأتدبرها وأرتلها احب الي من ان اقْرَأ الْقُرْآن كَمَا تقْرَأ . ـ

In this same vein, ibn Mas’ood said, “Do not recite the Qur’an rapidly without pause like the recitation of poetry, and do not stop and pause (between every single ayah) like someone examining and selecting fruit. (Rather) stop when you come to one of its amazements, and let it move your heart, and do not be bothered if you do not reach the end of the surah.”

Aby Ayyub relayed that Abu Hamzah said, “I said to ibn ‘Abbaas, ‘I am very quick in my reading, I read the entire Qur’an in three days.’ He said to me, ‘For me to read a single surah and to contemplate it and recite it at a slow measured pace is more dear to me than to recite the Qur’an as you do.’”

والتفكر فِي الْقُرْآن نَوْعَانِ تفكر فِيهِ ليَقَع على مُرَاد الرب تَعَالَى مِنْهُ وتفكر فِي مَعَاني مَا دَعَا عباده الى التفكر فِيهِ فالاول تفكر فِي الدَّلِيل القرآني وَالثَّانِي تفكر فِي الدَّلِيل العياني الاول ففكر فِي آيَاته المسموعة وَالثَّانِي تفكر فِي آيَاته المشهودة وَلِهَذَا انْزِلْ الله الْقُرْآن ليتدبر ويتفكر فِيهِ وَيعْمل بِهِ لَا لمُجَرّد تِلَاوَته مَعَ الاعراض عَنهُ قَالَ الْحسن الْبَصْرِيّ انْزِلْ الْقُرْآن ليعْمَل بِهِ فاتخذوا تِلَاوَته عملا . ـ

And there are two types of contemplating the Qur’an.
1) Contemplating its *contents* in order to understand the *meanings* which your Lord intended, and
2) contemplating those meanings which invite the reader to *reflect and ponder* them.
The first is contemplating over what the Qur’an shows and indicates,
while the second is oriented towards what that person needs.
So, the first is *contemplating the ayah itself,*
while the second is contemplating the *effects of the ayah on the person.*

Along these lines, Allah has revealed the Qur’an for it to be contemplated, pondered over and acted upon, not for it to be merely recited while the people turn away from its meanings.
Al-Hasan al-Basri said, “The Qur’an was revealed to be *acted upon,* but these people treat reciting it as the action it requires.”

[Miftah Dar al-Sa’aadah 1/187

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