How the Prophet Would Recite the Qur’an

Sheikh Muhammad Moosaa Aal Nasr, one of the salafi scholars of recent times who specialized in the qiraa’aat and Qur’anic sciences, compiled this beneficial discussion of how the Prophet would recite the Qur’an. Sheikh Muhammad Moosaa was also a long-term student of sheikh al-Albani and limited himself to only using authentic hadith narrations throughout this chapter:

صفة قراءة النبي للقرآن الكريم
How the Prophet Would Recite the Qur’an

قال ابن القيم في [ زاد المعاد (١/٣٣٧) ] : وكان صلى الله عليه وسلم يقطع قراءته ، ويقف عند كل آية فيقول : ( الحمد لله رب العالمين ، ويقف ، الرحمن الرحيم ، ويقف : مالك يوم الدين ) وذكر الزهري أن قراءة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم كانت آية آية ، وهذا هو الأفضل ، الوقوف على رءوس الآيات وإن تعلقت بما بعدها .  ـ

وذهب بعض القراء إلى تتبع الأغراض والمقاصد ، والوقوف عند انتهائها ، واتباع هدي النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وسنته أولى . وممن ذكر ذلك البيهقي في “شعب الإيمان” وغيره ، ورجح الوقوف على رءوس الآي وإن تعلقت بما بعدها . أ.هـــ.

Ibn al-Qayyim wrote in Zaad al-Ma’aad (1/338):

The Prophet used to pause while reciting, stopping at every ayah. So he would say

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

and then pause

الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

and pause

مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ

al-Zuhri mentioned that the recitation of Allah’s Messenger went one ayah at a time, and this is what is best – pausing before the beginning of each new ayah, even if the meaning of the preceding ayah is linked to it.

Some reciters have taken to connecting their recitation until a break comes in the message or meaning and only then pausing, but the guidance and example of the Prophet is more entitled to be followed. Among those who mention this is al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al-Eemaan, as can be found elsewhere, and he held pausing before the beginning of each new ayah to be the best practice, even if the meaning of preceding ayah is linked to it.

[end of quote from ibn al-Qayyim]

وكان صلى الله عليه وسلم يرتل السورة حتى تكون أطول من أطول منها ، وقام بآية يرددها حتى الصباح . وفي الصحيح البخاري عن قتادة ، قال : سألت أنساً عن قراءة النبي فقال : كان يمد مداً ، وكان رسول الله يُسر بالقراءة في الصلاة الليل تارة ، ويجهر بها تارة ، ويطيل القيام تارة ، ويخففه تارة . ـ

The Prophet used to recite in a slow and measured way, such that the surah would end up lasting longer than another surah of greater length. And he could repeat a single ayah during the night prayer until morning. It is mentioned in Saheeh al-Bukhari that Qatadah said: I asked Anas about the Prophet’s recitation, and he said:

He used to elongate the long vowels [mudood]. For the night prayers, sometimes Allah’s Messenger would recite quietly while other times he would recite aloud, and sometimes he would lengthen the prayer while other times he would shorten it.

قلت : واستمع يوما لقراءة ابن أم عبد (عبد الله بن مسعود)، فبكى وذرفت عيناه ، والحديث في البخاري . وأمر أمته أن تتلو القرآن على نحو قراءة ابن مسعود ؛ لمطابقتها لصفة قراءته – عليه السلام – ، وقراءة حبريل الذي أخذها عن الرب العزة والجلال ، فكانت قراءة ابن مسعود أنموذجا للقراءة الصحيحة ، والمتلقاة عن النبي ، عن جبريل ، عن رب العالمين . ـ

I say: One day the Prophet listened to the recitation of ibn Umm ‘Abd (i.e. ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood) which caused him to weep and his eyes to shed tears. This incident is mentioned in al-Bukhari. The Prophet commanded his ummah to recite the Qur’an in a manner like that of the recitation of ibn Mas’ood because of its likeness to the way in which the Prophet recited and to the recitation of Jibril who took that recitation from the Lord of power and majesty. So the recitation of ibn Mas’ood was a model for the proper recitation, which itself was received from the Prophet, from Jibril, from the Lord of all creation.

وقرأ على أبي بن كعب : (لم يكن الذين كفروا) فبكى أبي من شدة الفرج ؛ لأن الله ذكر إسمه ، وكان أبي – رضي الله عنه – بعد النبي إماماً عظيماً في القراءات : بل هو أقرأ أمة النبي بشهادة النبي وأسانيد تسعة قراءة تتصل به – رضي الله عنه – ، وأمر تحسين الصوت بالقرآن ، فقال : (زينوا القرآن بأصواتكم) وقال : رداً على سؤال (من أحسن الناس صوتا بالقرآن؟ فأجاب – عليه السلام – : من إذا سمعته يقرأ أريت أنه يخشى الله . ـ

The Prophet also recited surah al-Bayyinah to Ubay ibn Ka’b. Ubay to wept out of great joy for Allah had mentioned him by name. And after the Prophet, Ubay was a great leader and model in the qiraa’aat; in fact, the Prophet himself affirmed that Ubay was the most skilled reciter of this ummah, and the chains of transmission for nine of the well-known qiraa’aat go back to Ubay.

The Prophet commanded us to beautify our voices with the Qur’an, for he said, “Beautify the Qur’an with your voices.” And in response to the the question, “Whose voice is best for the Qur’an?” he responded, “The one who, when you listen to him recite, one sees that he fears Allah.”

وكان إذا مر بآية خوف تعوذ ، و إذا مر بآية رحمة سأل ، وإذا مر بآية تنزيه سبح . ـ

Whenever the Prophet would come to an ayah of fear, he would seek refuge. Whenever he would come to an ayah of mercy, he would ask for it. And whenever he would come to an ayah extolling Allah’s freedom from any deficiency, he would make tasbeeh.

وأمر بتدبر القرآن عند تلاوته ؛ مصداقا لقوله – تعالى – (أفلا يتدبرون القرآن أم على قلوبهم أقفالها) [محمد 24] ، وقوله : (أفلا يتدبرون القرآن ، ولو كان من عند غير الله لوجدوا فيه اختلافا كثيرا) [النساء 82] . ـ

The Prophet commanded us to ponder and reflect on the Qur’an while reciting it as a way of actualizing Allah’s statement:

فَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ أَمْ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَا

Do they not ponder the Qur’an? Or are there locks on their hearts? [47:24]

and also His statement:

أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ ۚ وَلَوْ كَانَ مِنْ عِندِ غَيْرِ اللَّـهِ لَوَجَدُوا فِيهِ اخْتِلَافًا كَثِيرًا

Do they not reflect on the Qur’an? Had it been from other than Allah, they would have found much contradiction within it. [4:82]

فذم الله المشركين لعدم تدبرهم كتاب الله -تعالى – وذم النبي الخوارج لعدم تدبرهم كتاب ربهم وعدم انتفاع قلوبهم به حيث يقرؤونه ولا يجاوز حناجرهم ؛ قال – عليه الصلاة والسلام – : (يخرج فيكم قوم تحقرون صلاتكم مع صلاتهم وصيامكم مع صيامهم وعملكم مع عملهم يقرؤون القرآن لا يجاوز حناجرهم، يمرقون من الدين كما يمرق السهم من الرمية .) وكان إذا قرأ (سرح اسم ربك الأعلى) قال : (سبحان ربي الأعلى) . ـ

Allah censured the mushrikoon for their lack of consideration of Allah’s Book, and the Prophet criticized the Khawaarij for their lack of contemplation of their Lord’s Book and their hearts’ failure to benefit from it when they would read it but it would no go beyond their throats. He said:

There will be a people who will emerge from you – you will think little of your pray compared to theirs, of your fasting relative to theirs, or of your deeds next to theirs. They recite the Qur’an but it does not pass beyond their throats. They shoot through the religion just as an arrow shoots through game.

And when the Prophet would recite:

سَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ الْأَعْلَى

Extol the name of your Lord, the most high [87:1]

he would say:

سبحان ربي الأعلى

subhaana rabbi al-a’laa

Exalted is my Lord, the Most High

واستمع لقراءة عبد الله بن قيس ؛ أبي موسى الأشعري ، فأعجببته قراءته ، وأثنى عليه بقوله : (لقد أوتيت مزمارا من مزامير آل داود) ، وقرأ ليلة في صلاة العشاء بالتين والزيتون فما سمع صوت أجمل من صوته . ـ

The Prophet listened to the recitation of ‘Abdullah ibn Qays (i.e. Abu Moosaa al-Ash’ari) and was amazed by it, so he commended him by saying, “You have been given one of the flutes of the family of Dawud!” One night Abu Moosaa al-Ash’ari recited surah al-Teen for the Isha’ prayer and the Prophet had never heard a voice more beautiful than his.

وحكى عبد الله بن مغفل صفة ترجيعه عند دخوله مكة فاتحا فقال : وأيت رسول الله يوم فتح مكة على ناقته يقرأ بسورة الفتح وهو يرجّع . والترجيع : ترديد الصوت في الحلق ، وقد حكى عبد الله بن مغفل ترجيعه – عليه السلام – بعد الصوت في القراءة نحو آآآ، قال ابن أثير : وهذا إنما حصل منه – والله أعلم – يوم الفتح لأنه كان راكبا فحدث الترجيع في صوته .  ـ

‘Abdullah ibn Mughaffal reported an oscillation of the Prophet’s voice when he entered victoriously into Mecca. He said, “On the day of the conquest of Mecca, I saw Allah’s Messenger on his camel reciting surah al-Fath while he was oscillating his voice.

Oscillation is trilling one’s voice in the throat. ‘Abdullah ibn Mughaffal reported this trilling of the Prophet’s voice during recitation as something like, “AAaAAaAAa”. Ibn Atheer commented on this report by saying, “The Prophet only did this on he Day of the Conquest of Mecca because – and Allah knows best – he was riding on a camel, and so this oscillation in his voice happened as a result of that.”

وقرأ ليلة الجن بسورة الرحمن عليهم ؛ فكانوا أحسن مردودا من الإنس ، كلما أتى على قوله تعالى (فبأي آلاء ربكما تكذبان) قال : (ولا بشيء من نعمك ربنا نكذب ، فلك الحمد) . ـ

On the night of he Jinn, the Prophet recited surah al-Rahman to them, and they were much more responsive to his call than the human beings. Every time that the Prophet came to Allah’s statement:

فَبِأَيِّ آلَاءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ

So which of your Lord’s favors will you deny?

he would say, “We do not deny any of your favors, our Lord, and You are deserving of all praise.”

فهذه بعض صفة تلاوته القرآن الكريم ، وهو بعض أحواله مع كتاب ربه ، فهل نحن متبعون بهديه مقتدون ؟ اللهم وفقنا لإتباع كتابك وسنة نبيك حتى نلقاك . ـ

So these are some descriptions of the Prophet’s recitation of the Qur’an and some of the ways that he used to engage with his Lord’s Book. So will we follow his guidance and take it as our model? O Allah, enable us to follow Your Book and the the Sunnah of Your Prophet until we meet You!

[al-Qawl al-Mufeed fee Wujoob al-Tajweed pg 50-54]

Translator’s Note: Dr. Muhammad Moosaa was one of the long-term students of sheikh al-Albani and thus provided detailed notes on the gradings and sources of each hadith narration throughout his book. InshaAllaah, we hope it will be sufficient to note here that all of the narrations that he mentioned or referenced in this chapter were graded as saheeh.

For more from the same author, see: The Different Frequencies of Completing the Qur’an

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

See also: The Beauty of Reciting the Qur’an Properly: ibn al-Jazari

See also: The Great Merits of Reciting the Qur’an with Contemplation: ibn al-Qayyim

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

See also: The Importance of Learning Where to Pause and Start While Reciting the Qur’an: Abu ‘Amr al-Dani

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9 thoughts on “How the Prophet Would Recite the Qur’an

  1. Pingback: “Allah commanded me to recite to you”: Sharh al-Nawawi | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Etiquette of Reciting and Listening to the Qur’an: ibn ‘Uthaymeen | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: The Beauty of Reciting the Qur’an Properly: ibn al-Jazari | Tulayhah

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

  5. Pingback: The Different Frequencies of Completing the Qur’an | Tulayhah

  6. Pingback: What about the Qiraa’ah of ibn Mas’ood?: Makki ibn Abi Taalib | Tulayhah

  7. Pingback: Reciting the Qur’an without Understanding: Sheikh bin Baaz | Tulayhah

  8. Pingback: The Importance of Learning Where to Pause and Start While Reciting the Qur’an: Abu ‘Amr al-Dani | Tulayhah

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