Forgetting the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool. a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, posed and responded to the following question:

قال : لا أريد أن أحفظ القرآن خشية أن أنساه، فأدخل في قوله تعالى: (كَذَلِكَ أَتَتْكَ آيَاتُنَا فَنَسِيتَهَا ) ، ويستدل ببعض الأحاديث الضعيفة

A person says: I do not want to memorize the Qur’an out of fear that I will forget it and therefore fall under Allah’s statement:

قَالَ كَذَٰلِكَ أَتَتْكَ آيَاتُنَا فَنَسِيتَهَا ۖ وَكَذَٰلِكَ الْيَوْمَ تُنسَىٰ

Allah will say, “Thus did Our ayaat come to you, and you forgot them; and thus will you be forgotten this Day.” [20:126]

and this person goes on to cite a number of inauthentic hadith narrations.

قلت : لم يثبت عن الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم توعد من حفظ القرآن ونسيه . لم يثبت في ذلك شيء عن الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم وكل ما ورد هو أحاديث ضعيفة ، والثابت عنه عليه الصلاة والسلام أنه رغب في حفظ القرآن الكريم وحث عليه وأمر بتعاهده وأكد على ذلك فقال صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : ( تَعَاهَدُوا هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ فَوَالَّذِي نَفْسُ مُحَمَّدٍ بِيَدِهِ لَهُوَ أَشَدُّ تَفَلُّتًا مِنْ الْإِبِلِ فِي عُقُلِهَا ) [ رواه البخاري ومسلم وغيرهما واللفظ لمسلم ] ، ـ

I say: There is nothing authentically transmitted from the Messenger regarding a threat against someone who memorized and then forgot the Qur’an. There is nothing at all authentically transmitted from the Messenger regarding this; all of the hadith narrations on that topic are weak. What is actually authentically transmitted from the Prophet is that he encouraged us to memorize the Qur’an, promoted that, instructed us to retain what we had memorized and emphasized that point, for he said:

Commit yourself to this Qur’an, for I swear by the One in Whose Hand is Muhammad’s soul that it is more liable to escape than a camel is from its restraint.

[Transmitted by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others; here with Muslim’s wording]

فأمر بالتعاهد لهذا القرآن الكريم وأدَّب صلى الله عليه وسلم من حفظ شيئاً من القرآن ونسيه أن لا يقول : ( نسيت آية كذا وكذا)، وليقل : أنسيت آية كذا وكذا فقد قال صلى الله عليه وسلم: ( بِئْسَمَا لِلرَّجُلِ أَنْ يَقُولَ نَسِيتُ سُورَةَ كَيْتَ وَكَيْتَ أَوْ نَسِيتُ آيَةَ كَيْتَ وَكَيْتَ بَلْ هُوَ نُسِّيَ ) [رواه البخاري ومسلم وغيرهما واللفظ لمسلم] . ـ

So he instructed us to commit ourselves to the Qur’an and he taught us that whoever memorized a part of the Qur’an and then forgot it should not say, “I forgot such-and-such ayah,” but instead to say, “I was made to forget such-and-such ayah,” for the Prophet said:

How terrible it is for a man to say, “I forgot such-and-such surah” or “I forgot such-and-such ayah“. Rather, he was made to forget it.

[Transmitted by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others; here with Muslim’s wording]

فلو كان من نسي شيئاً من القرآن بعد حفظه له آثماً لبين ذلك الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم، ولما اكتفى بقوله: (لا يقل نسيت وليقل أُنسيت آية كذا وكذا)؛ فلا دليل شرعي ثابت في أن من حفظ شيئاً من القرآن ونسيه أنه يأثم أو أن عليه وزر.

And if forgetting part of the Qur’an after having memorized it was a sinful act, then the Messenger would have clearly communicated that. However he sufficed with saying:

Do not say, “I have forgotten it,” but say, “I have been made to forget such-and-such ayah.”

So there is no sound legal proof that a person who memorized and then forgot part of the Qur’an is sinful or will incur a punishment.

إنما من تهاون فيما حفظه ولم يتعاهده فقد فرط في خير كثير وفضل عظيم يسره الله له. ـ

The truth is just that a person who is lax with what he has memorized and lacks commitment to it has missed out on a considerable good and a tremendous bounty which Allah has facilitated for him.

والمراد بالنسيان في الآية : الإعراض بمعنى: الجحود والتكذيب والتولي، وهو كفر أكبر . والإعراض على سبيل الفسق والمعصية والذنب. ـ

Also, the meaning of “forgetting” in that ayah [20:126] is: turning away. In other words, it is referring to refusing, denying and rejecting them, which is major kufr. Though sometimes “turning away” can refer to wickedness, disobedience and sins [i.e. less than kufr].

فإن قيل : وما معنى النسيان بالنسبة إلى الله عز وجل : (وَكَذَلِكَ الْيَوْمَ تُنْسَى)؟ فالجواب : معناه بحسب الآية : أن تترك في العذاب ، وهذا يبين أن معنى : (نسيتها) أي: تركت العمل بها ، وكذا يكون الجزاء من جنس العمل ، فكما تركت العمل بها فالله يتركك في العذاب، فإن كنت من أهل المعاصي تترك في العذاب حتى توافق بالعذاب ما شاء الله عز وجل لك من العذاب : (إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يَغْفِرُ أَنْ يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ)(النساء: من الآية4، فمن كان من أهل المعاصي والذنوب وأراد الله عذابه فإنه يتركه في العذاب بقدر ما يوافي ذنوبه ، ومن ترك العمل بشرع الله جحوداً وتكذيباً وتولياً فحصل فيه كفر التولي والإعراض أو كفر الجحود أو كفر التكذيب فهذا يترك في النار خالداً مخلداً لأنه أصبح من الكافرين الخارجين من الملة. ـ

Now, if one were to ask: What is the meaning of “forgetting” as it related to Allah:

وَكَذَٰلِكَ الْيَوْمَ تُنسَىٰ

and thus will you this Day be forgotten.” [20:126]

Then we can respond by saying: the meaning of it in this ayah is that they will be abandoned in a state of punishment. And this makes it clear that the meaning of:


… you forgot His ayaat

means: you abandoned acting according to them. So this is an instance of the crime fitting the punishment, for just as you abandoned acting according to Allah’s ayaat, Allah abandoned you in punishment. Then if you are a disobedient person, you will be abandoned in punishment until you have reached the level of punishment that Allah wills for you:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يَغْفِرُ أَنْ يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ

Allah does not forgive associating partners with Him, but He forgives whatever is less than that for whom He wishes [4:48]

So whoever is a disobedient and sinful person and Allah wants for him to be punished, then He will abandon him in a state of punishment for an amount of time that is befitting for his sins. And whoever abandons following Allah’s divine legislation because he rejects, denies and turns his back on them, then his doing so entails disbelief of rejection or disbelief of refusal or disbelief of denial, so such a person will be abandoned in the hellfire for all eternity, since he has become a disbeliever and exited from the religion.

[Taken from the Facebook page of sheikh Muhammad Bazmool here on October 3rd, 2017]

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

See also: Memorizing from the Beginning or the End of the Mushaf?: Muhammad Bazmool

See also: How the Sahabah Memorized the Qur’an: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr

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