The Different Frequencies of Completing 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 the following beneficial discussion on how often one should complete a reading of the entire 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:

مراتب ختم القرآن
The Different Frequencies of Completing the Qur’an

قال الله تعالى : (فَاقْرَءُوا مَا تَيَسَّرَ مِنْهُ) [المزمل 20] .  ـ

Allah said:

فَاقْرَءُوا مَا تَيَسَّرَ مِنْهُ

So recite whatever of it is easy for you of the Qur’an [73:20]

عن ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما قال : قال رسول الله (إقرأ القرآن في أربعين) . ـ

Ibn ‘Umar said: Allah’s Messenger said, “Complete the Qur’an in 40 days.”

وعن سعد ابن المنذر أن رسول الله قال : (إقرأ القرآن في ثلاث إن استطعت) . ـ

Sa’d ibn al-Mundhir relayed that Allah’s Messenger said, “Complete the Qur’an in three days if you can.”

و عن عبد الله ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما : أن رسول الله قال : (لم يفقه من قرأ القرآن في أقل من ثلاث) .  ـ

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar relayed that Allah’s Messenger said, “Whoever completes the Qur’an in less than three days has not understood it.”

وله شاهد صحيح من حديث عبد الله ابن مسعود عند سعيد بن منصور: (اقرؤوا القرآن في السبع ، ولا تقرؤوه في أقل من ثلاث) . ـ

And in the hadith collection of Sa’eed ibn Mansoor there is an authentic support for this in the hadith of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood, “Complete the Qur’an in seven days, and do not complete it in less than three days.”

حدثنا سفيان ، قال لي ابن شبرمة : كم يكفي الرجل من القرآن ، فلم أجد أقل من ثلاث آيات ، فقلت : لا ينبغي لأحد أن يقرأ أقل من ثلاث أيات . ـ

Sufyan said: ibn Shubrumah asked me, “What amount of the Qur’an is enough for a person [to recite in the prayer], for I do not think it is anything less than 3 ayaat?” So I said, “It is not proper for anyone to recite less than three ayaat.”

وعن عبد الله بن عمرو رضي الله عنهما قال : قال لي رسول الله : (اقرأ القرآن في شهر ـ اقرأه في عشرين ليلة ، اقرأه في عشر ، اقرأه في سبع ولا تزد على ذلك ) .  ـ

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr said: Allah’s Messenger told me, “Complete the Qur’an in a month. Complete it in twenty days. Complete it in ten days. Complete it in seven days, but do not go beyond that.”

عادة السلف في ختم القرآن
The Practice of the Salaf in Completing the Qur’an

اختلف السلف رضي الله عنهم أجمعين في مقدار ختم القرآن وزمانه على مذاهب متعددة فذكر منها ما يلي : ـ

The salaf differed in terms of the the frequency and amount of time they would take to complete the Qur’an, falling into a number of different approaches. We will mention some of them below:

الأول : ذهب أحمد وأبو عبيدة وإسحاق بن راهويه وغيرهم إلى كراهية ختم المصحف في أقل من ثلاث ، واستحباب ختمه كل اسبوع أو كل شهر ونحو ذلك ، ودليلهم حديث عائشة رضي الله عنها قالت : (إن النبي كان لا يختم القرآن في أقل من ثلاث) . ـ

First: Ahmad, Abu ‘Ubaydah, Ishaq ibn Rahawayh and others held the position that it is disliked to complete an entire reading of the mushaf in less than three days, but that it is encouraged to complete it every week or every month or other similar intervals. Their evidence for this was the hadith of A’ishah where she said, “The Prophet used to not finished the Qur’an in less than three days.”

وكذلك حديث عبد الله بن عمرو (لم يفقه من قرأ القرآن في أقل من ثلاث) وغيرها من الأحاديث الدالة على المعنى نفسه ، وثبت عن بعض السلف أنه قرأ القرآن في أقل من ثلاثة أيام . ومن أجاز ذلك فحجتهم ما يروى عن عثمان رضي الله عنه أنه كان يختمه في ليلة واحدة . ـ

They also used the hadith of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, “Whoever completes the Qur’an in less than three days has not understood it,” as well as other hadith narrations which point to this same message. However, it has been authentically transmitted that some of the salaf used to complete the Qur’an in less than three days. The scholars who permit that use what has been reported about ‘Uthman regularly completing the entire Qur’an in a single night as their evidence.

قلت : وأنا استبعد صحة هذا الأثر ، لأنه مخالف للروايات الصحيحة التي تحكي عادته ﷺ في ختم القرآن ، ومحال من عثمان رضي الله عنه أن يخالف هدي النبي ﷺ وهو ذي النورين وثالث الخلفاء الراشدين المهديين الذين أمرنا بالاهتداء بهم والاقتداء بأفعالهم . وعلى صحة ثبوته فإن فعل النبي ﷺ مقدم على فعل الصحابة . فكيف وقد بين أن من ختمه في أقل من ثلاث لم يفقه ؟ وليس في هذا مدح وثناء على من ختمه في أقل من ثلاث ، بل فيه بيان أن الختم في ثلاث أفضل من ختمه فيما دون الثلاث ويقال أيضا : لعله أي حديث عائشة وعمرو خفيا على عثمان رضي الله عنه أو أنه اجتهاد منه رضي الله عنه إن صح ذلك عنه ، وقيل : إن ذلك كان في رمضان خاصة . ـ

I say: I highly doubt the validity of this narration because it is contrary to the authentic narrations that report the Prophet’s regular practice of completing the Qur’an, and it is impossible that ‘Uthman would contravene the guidance of the Prophet when he is Dhu’l-Noorayn [the son-in-law of the Prophet twice over] and the third rightly-guided khaleefah whom we have been commanded to take his guidance and follow his example.

But even if that information about ‘Uthman were to be verified, the actions of the Prophet trump the actions of the Sahabah. How could it not be, when the Prophet has made it clear that whoever completes the Qur’an in less than three days has not understood it? This does not entail any praise or commendation for those who complete it in less than three days; on the contrary, it holds a clarification that completing it in three days is better than completing it in less than three days.

Also, some say that the hadith of A’ishah and ‘Amr was not known to ‘Uthman, or that he engaged in some ijtihad to arrive at that decision, if the narration about ‘Uthman were to be authentic in the first place. And some say that he only did that during Ramadan.

ومما يؤكد الرأي الأول ما ثبت عن عائشة حيث قالت: (ولا أعلم نبي الله ﷺ قرأ القرآن في ليلة) . وعن ابن عباس : (لأن أقرأ سورة أرتلها أحب إلي من أن أقرأ القرآن كله) . ـ

One of the things which strengthens this first position is the authentic report from A’ishah where she said, “I didn’t know the Prophet to recite the entire Qur’an in a single night.” And also, from ibn ‘Abbaas, “For me to recite a single surah with slow and measured recitation is dearer to me than to recite the entire Qur’an [in a single night].”

والثاني : ومنهم من ذهب إلى أن ختمه كل سنة مرتين أداء لحقه ، وأن النبي ﷺ عرضه على جبريل في سنة التي قبض فيها مرتين . ـ

Second: There were some who held that completing the Qur’an twice every year was sufficient to fulfill its right, and that the Prophet reviewed the Qur’an twice with Jibril during the year in which he passed away.

الثالث : أجازوا ختمه مطلقا دون تقييد وزمن ولا قدر فلو ختنه أكثر من مرة في اليوم فهذ حسن مستحب ، ولذلك لما سئل مالك عن رجل يختم القرآم في كل ليلة فقال : أحسن ذلك ، إن القرآن إمام كل خير . ـ

Third: Those who permit completing the Qur’an without any time restriction or constraints in place, such that if one were to complete it more than once in a single day that would be fine and encouraged. In this line of thinking, that is why when Imam Malik was asked about a man who used to read the entire Qur’an every night he said, “He has done well in that. The Qur’an is at the forefront of every good.”

وقال النووي رحمه الله : ( والاختيار أن ذلك يختلف باختلاف الأشخاص، فمن كان من أهل الفهم وتدقيق الفكر استحب له أن يقتصر على القدر الذي لا يختل به المقصود من التدبر واستخراج المعاني ، وكذا من كان له شغل بالعلم أو غيره من مهمات الدين، ومصالح المسلمين العامة يستحب له أن يقتصرمنه على قدر الذي لا يختل بما هو فيه ) ـ

al-Nawawi said:

The preferred opinion is that it differs from person to person. If a someone is a person of understanding with attention to detail and thoughtfulness then it would be recommended for him to restrict himself to an amount that will not cause him to miss the goal of contemplation and understanding the meanings of the text. Likewise for someone who is preoccupied with seeking knowledge or other important aspects of the religion or is busied with attending to the general welfare of the Muslims at large. For such a person, it would be recommended that he restrict himself to a frequency that would not take him away from what he is engaged with.

ومال إلى هذا الرأي الشيخ أبو الوليد الباجي حيث قال : (أمر النبي عبد الله بن عمرو أن يختم في سبع أو ثلاث يحتمل أنه الأفضل في الجملة ، أو أنه الأفضل في حق ابن عمرو لما علم من ترتيله في قراءته ، وعلم من صفته عن استدامته أكثر مما حد له ، وأما من استطاع أكثر من ذلك فلا تمنع الزيادة عليه ) . ـ

And sheikh Abu’l-Waleed al-Bajee also leaned towards this position when he said:

The Prophet’s command to ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr to complete the Qur’an one week or three days can be interpreted to mean that this is the best practice in general, or it could be taken to mean that that was the best practice for ibn ‘Amr specifically because of what the Prophet knew of ibn ‘Amr’s way of reciting the Qur’an in a slow and measured fashion and what he knew of ibn ‘Amr’s character that he would consistently go beyond the limits set for him, but as for anyone who is able to do more than that then there is nothing to prevent him from doing so.

قلت : بل الأولى اتباع ما أمر به عليه الصلاة والسلام ، والتزام ما ألزم به نفسه وأمر به أمته ، لأنه أشفق منا على أنفسنا وأعلم منا بما نحتمل ونطيق ، وبما هو الأفضل لنا ، فينبغي للمسلم أن يقف حيث أوقفه الشرع الحنيف من غير زيادة ولا نقص ، لأن الاقتصاد في الطاعة إلى الحد الذي يبنه الشارع الحكيم خير وأولى من الزيادة على ما قرره الرسول الكريم ، وأمره عبد الله بن عمرو بالتزام السبع وعدم الختم في أقل من ثلاث إقرار بعبادة ، والعبادات عامة للأمة جميعا ، وعلى ذلك يدل قوله : (لم يفقه من قرأ القرآن في أقل من ثلاث) وهذا نهي عام يدخل فيه عموم المسلمين ، فديننا وسط بين الإفراط والتفريط ، فلا يقرأ أقل من ثلاث ولا يهمل أكثر من أربعين يوما دون ختمه ، ولذلك أولى الأقوال بالصواب القول الأول لموافقة السنة وعمل سلف الأمة . ـ

I say: On the contrary, the most appropriate course of action is to follow what the Prophet commanded us and to stick to what he himself stuck to and commanded the ummah to do. For he was more compassionate towards us, more aware of what we can handle and carry out, and more acquainted with what is better for us than even we ourselves are. Therefore, the Muslim ought to halt where this balanced sharee’ah stops without any addition or subtraction. For the balanced path of obedience is that which falls within the limits set by the Divine Legislator, the All-Wise, the One intimately acquainted with all of His creation. This path is more deserving to be followed than any sort of additions beyond what the Messenger laid out.

The Prophet’s instruction to ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr to stick to a seven-day schedule and to not complete the entire Qur’an in less than three days is an approval of this way of worshiping, and acts of worship are general to the entire ummah [i.e., these instructions were not limited to only ibn ‘Amr]. This is also indicated by the Prophet’s  statement, “Whoever completes the Qur’an in less than three days has not understood it,” and this prohibition is general, applying to all of the Muslims.

Our religion is a middle way between excess and negligence, so do not complete it in less than three days, nor become negligent and let more than forty days pass by without completing it. So the most correct of these positions is the first due to its correspondence to the Sunnah and the practice of the salaf of this ummah.

فالشرع يكره للمسلم أن يمر عليه أربعون يوما لا يختم فيه كتاب ربه ولذلك قال اسحاق بن راهويه : (يكره للرجل أن يمر عليه أربعون يوما لا يقرأ فيه القرآن) . ـ

It is disliked in the sharee’ah for a Muslim to let forty days go by without having completed his Lord’s book during that time. Ishaaq ibn Rahawayh spoke about this by saying, “It is disliked for a man to let forty days pass him by without completing the Qur’an.”

قليل في سنة خير من كثير في غير سنة ، والعبرة في قول النبي وفعله في عدم الزيادة على الثلاثة ، وقد جاء ثلاثة من أصحاب الرسول إلى بيوت أزواجه يسألون عن عبادات النبي فلما أخبروا بها تقالوها … إلخ . ـ

A small amount of action according to the sunnah is better than a large amount that is not on the sunnah, and the definitive point comes in the statement and practice of the Prophet about not going beyond the limit of three days. And there were three of the companions of the Prophet who came to the houses of his wives to ask about the Prophet’s worship, but then when they were informed about his regular practices they considered their own practices to be insufficient … until the end of this well-known story.

وفي هذا الحكاية شاهد لنا على ما نحن بصدده من وجوب الوقوف حيث أوقفنا الشرع الحنيف والله أعلم . ـ

So this story provides us with even further support that we are required to stop at the limits set by the balanced sharee’ah. And Allah knows best.

[Fadhaa’il al-Qur’an wa Hamalatihi fee al-Sunnah al-Mutahharah pg 107-111]

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 throughout this excerpt and the entire book were graded as saheeh.

For more from the same author, see also: How the Prophet Would Recite the Qur’an

See also: What is the minimum amount of time to complete reciting the Qur’an: Sheikh bin Baaz

See also: Can one take more than one month for reading the Qur’an with contemplation?: Sheikh bin Baaz

See also: How the Sahabah Read and Divided the Qur’an: ibn Taymiyah

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: Supplicating upon Completion of the Qur’an: Sheikh ibn ‘Uthaymeen

4 thoughts on “The Different Frequencies of Completing the Qur’an

  1. Pingback: What is the minimum amount of time to complete reciting the Qur’an: Sheikh bin Baaz | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Can one take more than one month for reading the Qur’an with contemplation?: Sheikh bin Baaz | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: How the Prophet Would Recite the Qur’an | Tulayhah

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