Etiquette of Reciting and Listening to the Qur’an: ibn ‘Uthaymeen

On the radio program, Fataawaa Noor ‘alaa al-Darb, sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen was asked the following question:

السؤال: بارك الله فيكم فضيلة الشيخ ونحن نتحدث عن عظم هذا القرآن العظيم لا شك أن لتلاوة القرآن الكريم آداب يجب أن يتحلى بها القارئ والمستمع حدثونا عن هذا مأجورين؟ ـ

Question: May Allah bless you, respected sheikh. We wanted to talk about the greatness of the marvelous Qur’an. There is no doubt that the the recitation of the noble Qur’an has certain etiquettes which must be observed by both the reciter and listener. Please, can you speak to us about this topic?

الجواب الشيخ: نعم من آداب قراءة القرآن أن يخلص الإنسان نيته لله تعالى بتلاوته، فينوي بذلك التقرب إلى الله سبحانه وتعالى، حتى لو أراد مع ذلك أن يثبت حفظه إذا كان حافظاً، فإن هذه نيةٌ صالحة لا سيما في الإخلاص لله عز وجل . ـ

Response: Yes, one of the etiquettes for reciting the Qur’an is for a person to make their intention purely for the sake of Allah in reciting, and to intend to become closer to Allah through that act. This applies even if, alongside that intention, he also desires to review what he has memorized if he has memorized the Qur’an, for this is a good intention, especially if it is done out of sincere devotion to Allah.

ومن الآداب أن يستحضر الثواب الذي رتب على تلاوة القرآن؛ ليكون محتسباً بذلك على ربه عز وجل، راجياً ثوابه، مؤملاً مرضاته . ـ

○ Another etiquette is to think of the reward which comes from reciting the Qur’an, so that one can expect that reward from his Lord, hoping for it and aiming for His pleasure.

ومن الآداب أيضاً أن يكون متطهراً؛ وذلك لأن القرآن من أشرف الذكر، وقد قال النبي عليه الصلاة والسلام في رجلٍ سلم عليه فلم يرد عليه السلام حتى توضأ قال: إني لست على وضوء أحببت ألا أذكر الله إلا على طهارة؛ ولكن إن كان الإنسان جنباً، فإنه لا يجوز أن يقرأ القرآن إلا إذا قرأ شيئاً يريد به الذكر، وهو من القرآن؛ فلا بأس أو يريد به الدعاء، وهو من القرآن؛ فلا بأس؛ فإذا قال: بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم يريد بذلك البسملة والتبرك بذكر اسم الله لا يريد التلاوة؛ فلا بأس بهذا، ولو قال: ربنا لا تزغ قلوبنا بعد إذ هديتنا، وهب لنا من لدنك رحمةً إنك أنت الوهاب؛ يريد بذلك الدعاء لا القراءة؛ فلا بأس أما إذا كان يريد القراءة، فإن القرآن لا يحل أو لا تحل قراءته للجنب، وأما من بحدثٍ أصغر فيجوز أن يقرأ القرآن؛ لكن لا يمس المصحف؛ لأن المصحف لا يمسه إلا طاهر؛ لقوله صلى الله عليه وسلم في الكتاب الذي كتبه إلى عمرو بن حزم ألا يمس القرآن إلا طاهر، والمراد بالطاهر الطاهر من الحدثين الأصغر والأكبر، ولقول الله تعالى حين ذكر الوضوء والغسل والتيمم قال: ﴿ما يريد الله ليجعل عليكم من حرج ولكن يريد ليطهركم﴾ فدل هذا على أن الإنسان قبل الوضوء والغسل والتيمم غير طاهر . ـ

○ Another etiquette is to be in a state of ritual purity. That is because the Qur’an is one of the most honorable forms of al-dhikr (remembrance). The Prophet (ﷺ) said about a man who greeted him with the salaam but then he did not respond to him until he had made wudhoo’, “I was not in a state of wudhoo’ and I don’t like to mention Allah unless I am in a state of ritual purity.” However, if a person is in a state of major ritual impurity, he is not allowed to recite the Qur’an. That is, unless he recites something which he intends as dhikr which in fact comes from the Qur’an – that is not problem if he is using it as a du’aa which happens to come from the Qur’an. That is not a problem So if he says:

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

“bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem

In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Especially Merciful

using it to begin something and seeking blessing by mentioning Allah’s name, not intending it as recitation, then there is no problem with this. And if he were to say:

رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْوَهَّابُ

Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower. [3:8]

and he is intended that to be a du’aa, not recitation, then there is not problem. However, if he was intending it to be recitation, then the Qur’an [i.e. touching it] and its recitation is not permissible for a person in a state of major ritual impurity.

But as for someone in a state of minor ritual impurity, then it is allowed for him to recite the Qur’an, however he should not touch the mushaf (physical, written Qur’an), because the mushaf should only be touched by a taahir. This comes from the Prophet’s statement in the letter which he sent to ‘Amr ibn Hazm, “None should touch the Qur’an except a taahir“, and the intended meaning of taahir is one who is purified from both major and minor impurities. This follows from Allah’s statement where He mentions wudhoo’, ghusl, and tayammum, and says:

مَا يُرِيدُ اللَّـهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍ وَلَـٰكِن يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

… Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful. [5:6]

so this indicates that prior to performing wudhoo’, ghusl, or tayammum, a person is not taahir.

وأما من قال: إنه لا يجوز مس المصحف إلا لطاهر واستدل بقوله تعالى: ﴿لا يمسه إلا المطهرون﴾ فاستدلاله بهذه الآية ضعيف؛ لأن المراد بـ المطهرون في الآية الكريمة الملائكة، ولو أراد المطهرون؛ يعني الذين على طهارة؛ لقال: إلا المتطهرون أو إلا المتطهرون كما قال تعالى: ﴿إن الله يحب التوابين ويحب المتطهرين﴾ . ـ

As for those who say, “it is not allowed for anyone other than a taahir person to touch the mushaf” and try to prove this with Allah’s statement:

لَّا يَمَسُّهُ إِلَّا الْمُطَهَّرُونَ

None touch it except the purified. [56:79]

then using this ayah as a proof for that is weak, since the intended meaning of “the purified” in that ayah is the angels. And if Allah had meant for it to indicate those in a state of ritual purity, He would have said, “… except those who purified themselves”, with the same type of language as He used in His statement:

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ

Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves. [2:222]

أما من قال: إنه يجوز أن يمس المصحف دون طهارة مستدلاً بالبراءة الأصلية، وأنه لا دليل على ذلك، وحمل قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم في حديث عام لابن حزم ألا يمس القرآن إلا طاهر، على أن المراد بالطاهر المؤمن؛ لقوله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إن المسلم لا ينجس فاستدلاله أو فجوابه عن ذلك ضعيف؛ لأنه ليس من عادة النبي عليه الصلاة والسلام أن يعبر عن المؤمن بالطاهر، وإنما يعبر عن المؤمن بالإيمان، والواجب حمل خطاب المتكلم على المعهود في كلامه الغالب فيه لا على أمرٍ لا يقع في كلامه إلا نادراً على كل حال من آداب الطهارة من آداب قراءة القرآن أن يكون الإنسان متطهراً . ـ

As for those who say that it is permissible to touch the mushaf without being in a state of ritual purity, supporting this by saying that without a proof for something there is no obligation and that there is no proof for this, and taking a general interpretation of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) statement in the hadeeth of ibn Hazm, “None should touch the Qur’an except a taahir” such that taahir means mu’min (believer), based on the Prophet’s (ﷺ) statement, “A Muslim is not made impure”, then their use of this as evidence is weak. This is because it was not the norm for the Prophet (ﷺ) to use the word taahir to refer to the believers; he would only use eemaan to refer to the believers. It is obligatory upon us to interpret a speaker’s words according to their typical usage in his speech, not according to something which only occurred rarely.

In any case, one of the etiquettes is being in a state of ritual purity, one of the etiquettes of reciting the Qur’an is that a person be purified.

قال بعض أهل العلم: ومن آدابها؛ أي من آداب قراءة القرآن أن يتسوك عند قراءة القرآن؛ لتنظيف فمه وتطهيره بالسواك؛ حيث تمر الحروف من هذا الفم، فيحصل ألا تمر إلا من طريقٍ مطهر . ـ

○ Some of the scholars say that one of the etiquettes of reciting the Qur’an is to use a miswak in order to cleanse and purify one’s mouth before reciting the Qur’an, since its letter are going to come out of that mouth, so it is befitting that they would only come out through a purified route..

ومن آداب قراءة القرآن أن يقرأ بتدبر وتمهل وخشوع بقدر ما يستطيع، فأما حفظ القرآن والسرعة فيه، فإن كان يؤدي إلى إسقاط حروف، فإن ذلك حرام؛ لأنه يخرج الكلمات عن صورتها والحروف عن صورتها وإن كان لا يؤدي إلى إسقاط الحروف، فإن ذلك لا بأس به سواءٌ قرأه بالتجويد أو بغير تجويد؛ لأن قراءته بالتجويد من باب تحسين الصوت وليس من باب الأمر الواجب، فإن حسن صوته بالقرآن بالتجويد، فهذا خير وإن لم يفعل؛ فلا إثم عليه . ـ

○ Another etiquette of reciting the Qur’an is to recite it with contemplation, pacing, and attentiveness to the extent of one’s ability. As for attempting to memorizing the Qur’an and therefore reciting it very quickly, this is forbidden if it leads to omitting or skipping some of the letters, because this takes words and letters out of their proper forms. But if reciting quickly for the sake of memorization does not result in skipping any of the letters, then there is no problem with that regardless of whether one is reciting with or without tajweed. For reciting with tajweed falls under beautifying one’s voice, not into the category of a requirement. So if one beautifies his voice by reciting the Qur’an with tajweed, then this is good. But if he does not, then there is no sin on him.

أما بالنسبة إلى استماع القرآن، فإن من الآداب أن يكون المستمع منصتاً متابعاً لقول الله تعالى: ﴿فإذا قرئ القرآن فاستمعوا له وأنصتوا لعلكم ترحمون﴾ ولا ينبغي للإنسان أن يقرأ القرآن عنده، وهو غافلٌ لاهٍ أو متحدثٌ مع غيره، بل الأفضل والأولى أن يستمع وينصت؛ لتناله الرحمة ــ

○ Moving on to listening to the Qur’an, one of the etiquettes is to listen attentively and follow along. This comes from Allah’s statement:

وَإِذَا قُرِئَ الْقُرْآنُ فَاسْتَمِعُوا لَهُ وَأَنصِتُوا لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

So when the Qur’an is recited, then listen to it and pay attention that you may receive mercy. [7:204]

and it is not appropriate for a person to recite the Qur’an along with him, be oblivious to it, or to talk with others. Rather, what is best and most virtuous it to listen and pay attention to it, so that one may receive mercy.

وكذلك لا ينبغي للإنسان أن يقرأ القرآن عند قومٍ يرى أنه لا تعجبهم القراءة في ذلك الوقت؛ لأنه بهذا يشق عليهم ويحملهم ما لا يستطيعون؛ لكن إن رأى منهم محبةً لقراءته أو طلبوا منه ذلك، فهذا طيب أن يقرأ فيعمر المكان بقراءة القرآن، أما أن يحيطهم بالقراءة، وهم لا يريدونها في هذا المكان، وفي هذا الوقت، فهذا ليس بجيد، ولا ينبغي للإنسان أن يفعل، ـ

On a similar note, it is not appropriate for a person to recite the Qur’an while with people whom he doesn’t think would like to listen to recitation at that time, for this would be something hard on them and tasking them with something they cannot bear. However, if he sees that they would like to hear him recite or if they ask him to do so then it would be good for him to recite and fill the place with the recitation of the Qur’an. But if he causes his recitation to pervade their space while they did not want that it that particular place or at that time, then this is not a good thing and it is not an appropriate thing to do.

ولذلك لم يكن النبي عليه الصلاة والسلام يرهق أصحابه بقراءة القرآن، كلما جلس معهم، بل كان عليه الصلاة والسلام يراعي أحوالهم ويفعل ما يرى أنه أصلح لهم في دينهم ودنياهم وأنت إذا قرأت على قومٍ لا يحبون قراءة القرآن في هذا المكان، أو في هذا الزمن فربما تحملهم على كراهة القرآن فيأثمون وتأثم أنت؛ لأنك أنت السبب؛ ولكن يقرأ القرآن ما ائتلفت عليه القلوب وأحبته . ـ

Along these same lines is that the Prophet (ﷺ) did not used to overburden his companions with reciting the Qur’an every time he sat with them. Rather, he (ﷺ) took account of their condition and did what he saw to be most beneficial for them in terms of their religious and worldly affairs. But if you recite to some people who didn’t ask for the Qur’an to be recited in that place or at that time, then perhaps that would result in them disliking the Qur’an, and thus they would be sinful and you would be sinful as well because you were the cause of that. But one can recite the Qur’an if people’s hearts are inclined to it and eager for it.

    ومن آداب القرآن للقارئ والمستمع إذا مر بآية سجدة أن يسجد، فإن السجود عند آية السجود من السنن المؤكدة حتى قال بعض أهل العلم: إن السجدة واجبة؛ ولكن القول الراجح أن سجدة التلاوة ليست بواجبة إن سجد فقد فعل خيراً وإن ترك فلا شيء عليه؛ لأنه ثبت في الصحيح عن عمر رضي الله عنه أنه قرأ على المنبر آية السجدة في سورة النحل، فنزل، وسجد، ثم قرأها في الجمعة الأخرى، فلم يسجد، وقال: إن الله لم يفرض علينا السجود إلا أن نشاء؛ يعني لكن إن شئنا سجدنا، وإن شئنا لم نسجد، قال هذا بمحضرٍ من الصحابة رضي الله عنهم، فالسجود سنة وليس بواجب. ـ

○ Another etiquette of the Qur’an for both the reciter and the listener is that when one comes to an ayah of sujood (prostration) he should make sujood, because making sujood at an ayah of sujood is a stressed sunnah, so much so that some of the scholars say that making sujood there is an obligation. However, the soundest position is that making sujood while reciting is not an obligation; if one does prostrate then he had done a good deed but if he does not then there is no sin on him. For it is authentically reported in the Saheeh that ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) recited the ayah of sujood from surah al-Nahl while on the minbar and so he descended from it and made sujood. Then on another Jumu’ah he recited it again but he did not make sujood, and he said, “Allah did not make sujood something mandated for us, it is only if we wish”, meaning: but if we wish we can make sujood, or if we don’t then we don’t have to make sujood. And he said this in the presence of the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them), so making sujood is a sunnah, not something obligatory.

[Noor ‘alaa al-Darb tape #197, see here.]

See also: Advice for Memorizing the Qur’an: Sheikh ibn ‘Uthaymeen

See also: Which is more virtuous: reading a small amount of the Qur’an with tarteel and contemplation, or a large amount quickly? – Ibn al-Qayyim

See also: Naseehah to the Qur’an: Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan

See also: The Virtue of Memorizing the Qur’an: Sheikh Muqbil

See also: “The best of you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it”: ibn Kathir

See also: What to Recite in the Prayers: Sheikh bin Baaz

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3 thoughts on “Etiquette of Reciting and Listening to the Qur’an: ibn ‘Uthaymeen

  1. Pingback: Advice for Memorizing the Qur’an: Sheikh ibn ‘Uthaymeen | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: What to Recite in the Prayers: Sheikh bin Baaz | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Contemplating the Qur’an: Sheikh bin Baaz | Tulayhah

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