Tadabbur and approach to the Qur’an
“…he is wary of that which his Generous Master has warned him against, and desires that which He has encouraged.
So whoever has these qualities when reciting the Qur’an and listening to it from others, the Qur’an is for him a Cure: thus he becomes rich without wealth, becomes honoured without relatives, and finds solace where others have anxiety. His concern when he begins reciting a surah is, “When will I be admonished by what I recite?” His objective is not, “When will I complete the surah?” Rather, his objective is, “When will I
understand from Allah, Mighty and Majestic, His address? When will I restrain myself? When will I learn a lesson?”
This is because the recitation of the Qur’an is an act of worship, and thus cannot be done with heedlessness, and Allah is the One who grants Capability for that.
The virtues of the people of Qur’an
Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, Allah has His own people among humanity.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, who are they?” The Prophet said, “They are the people of the Quran, the people of Allah and His chosen ones.” [Sahih Ibn Mājah 215]
The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), who said, “It will be said to the companion of the Qur’an on the Day of Resurrection, ‘Recite, and climb up the grades: recite rhythmically as you used to recite rhythmically in the world, for truly, your station will be at the last ayat you used to recite’.” [Sahih al-Tirmidhī 2914]
‘Abdullah b. Mas’ud(RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “Learn this Qur’an, and recite it, for you are truly rewarded for its recitation, for every unit ten good deeds. Lo! I do not say Alif-Lam-Mim [is a unit], but Alif is a unit, Lam is a unit, and Mim is a unit. Truly, this Qur’an is the banquet of Allah, so learn from the banquet of Allah as much as you are able. Truly, this Qur’an is the Rope of Allah. It is the Clear Light, the Beneficial Cure, the Salvation of he who follows it, and the Protection of he who adheres to it: he does not go crooked that he should be corrected. Its wonders do not cease, and it does not decay from much repetition.”
‘Abdullah b. ‘Amr b. al-‘As said, “He who collects the Qur’an has borne a great matter. Prophethood has been inserted between his shoulder-blades, except that he does not receive revelation. Thus, it does not befit the bearer of the Qur’an to show harshness with the one who shows harshness, or to show ignorance with the one who shows ignorance, for truly the Qur’an is in his interior.”
Antarah reported: I asked Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, “Which deed is best?” Ibn Abbas said, “The remembrance of Allah is greatest, (29:45). No people sit in a house, in which they are occupied with the Book of Allah among them and they study it together, except that the angels will shade them in their wings. They will be the guests of Allah as long as they remain there, until they enter into another conversation.” [Muṣannaf Ibn Abī Shaybah 34777]
The etiquette of the people of Qur’an
“They recite it as it should truly be recited” [2:121] it is said in explanation [of this ayat], “They practise it as it should truly be practised”.
The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “The one who recites the Qur’an and is expert in it, will be with the Pure, Noble Recording Angels. The one who recites it, finding it difficult, will have two rewards”;
The first matter that it befits him to employ is taqwa of Allah secretly and openly, by exercising caution (wara’) with regards to the sources of his food, drink, dress and earnings.
He is perceptive about his time and the corruptions of its people, that he may beware of them regarding his religion. He concentrates on his own situation, having the aspiration to reform whatever is corrupt in his affairs, guarding his tongue and choosing his words. If he speaks, he speaks with knowledge when he sees speech to be correct. If he remains silent, he remains silent with knowledge when he sees silence to be correct. He rarely delves into that which does not concern him.
He fears from his tongue things more severe than he fears from his enemy. He imprisons his tongue the way he imprisons his enemy, so that he may be safe from its evil and bad consequences. He rarely laughs at the matters at which people laugh, due to the bad consequences of laughter. If he is pleased by something in accordance with the Truth, he smiles. He dislikes joking, fearing frivolity: if he jokes, he speaks truth. He is accommodating in countenance, pure in speech. He does not allow himself to be praised for qualities he has, how then for qualities he does not have? He is wary of his self, that it should overcome him for what it desires, of the things that will anger his Master. He does not backbite anyone.
He does not look down upon anyone. He does not abuse anyone. He is not happy at the affliction of others. He neither transgress upon anyone, nor envies him. He does not think the worst about anyone, except for one who deserves it. He loves with knowledge, and hates with knowledge. He speaks about a person’s faults only with knowledge, and remains silent about a person’s real nature with knowledge.
He has made the Qur’an, Sunnah and Fiqh his guide to every good and beautiful character, guarding all his limbs from what has been forbidden. If he walks, he walks with knowledge. If he sits, he sits with knowledge. He strives hard so that people may be safe from his tongue and hand. He does not behave ignorantly: if someone behaves ignorantly towards him, he is forbearing. He does not oppress: if he is oppressed, he forgives. He does not transgress: if he is transgressed upon, he has patience. He restrains his fury to please his Lord and enrage his enemy. He is humble in himself: when the truth is presented to him, he accepts it, whether from one younger or older. He seeks status from Allah, not from the creatures. He despises arrogance, fearing for his self from it.
If the people wear fine luxury, he wears of the halal that which conceals his private parts. If his circumstances ease, he eases; if they tighten, he tightens. He is content with little, so it suffices him. He bewares for his self from the world that which will make it tyrannical. He follows the obligations of the Qur’an and the Sunnah: he eats food with knowledge; he drinks with knowledge; he dresses with knowledge; he sleeps with knowledge; he has union with his wife with knowledge; he accompanies his brothers with knowledge, visiting them with knowledge, seeking permission to enter upon them with knowledge, and greeting them with knowledge; he treats his neighbour with knowledge. He imposes strictly upon himself the honouring of his parents: he lowers his wing to them, and lowers his voice before their voices. He expends his wealth for them, and looks upon them with the eye of respect and mercy. He prays for their longevity, and is thankful for them in old age. He is not irritated by them, and does not look down upon them.
If they ask for his help in a matter of obedience, he helps them. If they ask for his help in a matter of disobedience, he does not help them, but is gentle with them in his disobedience of them: he shows beautiful etiquette such that they may return from the ugly matter that they intended, that does not befit them to do. He maintains family relations and despises breaking them. If someone breaks off relations with him, he does not break off relations with them. If someone disobeys Allah regarding him, he obeys Allah regarding him. He accompanies the believers with knowledge, and sits with them with knowledge.
He benefits those who accompany him, being an excellent companion for those whom he sits with. If he teaches another, he is gentle with him. He is not harsh with the one who makes a mistake, and does not embarrass him. He is gentle in all his matters, extremely patient in teaching goodness. The learner finds comfort in him, and the one sitting with him is joyous at his company. Sitting with him brings goodness. He educates his companions with the etiquettes of the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
If he is afflicted with a difficulty, the Qur’an and the Sunnah are two educators for him. He grieves with knowledge. He cries with knowledge. He has patience with knowledge. He purifies himself with knowledge. He prays with knowledge. He gives zakat with knowledge. He gives charity with knowledge. He fasts with knowledge. He performs the Pilgrimage with knowledge. He wages war with knowledge. He earns with knowledge, and spends with knowledge. He eases in matters with knowledge, and tightens in them with knowledge. The Qur’an and the Sunnah have taught him his manners. He looks through the pages of the Qur’an in order to teach himself manners, and is not pleased for himself to fulfil with ignorance the obligations imposed by Allah.
He has made knowledge and understanding his guide to every goodness. When he studies the Qur’an, it is with the presence of understanding and intelligence: his aspiration is to understand that which Allah has imposed upon him of following His commands and avoiding His prohibitions. His aspiration is not: when will I complete the surah? His aspiration is: when will I be enriched by Allah, so that I am in no need of other-than-him? When will I be of the pious? When will I be of those who excel? When will I be of those who have total trust? When will I be of those who humble themselves? When will I be of the patient ones? When will I be of the truthful ones? When will I be of the fearful ones? When will I be of the hopeful ones? When will I have non-attachment to the world? When will I have yearning for the Hereafter? When will I repent from sins? When will I recognise the widespread favours? When will I be grateful for them? When will I understand from Allah His address? When will I understand what I recite? When will I overcome my self regarding its base desires? When will I strive in Allah with a true jihad? When will I guard my tongue? When will I lower my gaze? When will I guard my chastity? When will I be ashamed before Allah with true shame? When will I be preoccupied with my faults? When will I reform the corruptions in my life? When will I call my self to account? When will I take provision for the day of my resurrection? When will I be pleased with Allah? When will I have trust in Allah? When will I be admonished by the warnings of the Qur’an? When will I be preoccupied with His remembrance away from remembrance of other-than-Him? When will I love what He loves? When will I hate what He hates? When will I be sincere to Allah? When will I purify my deeds for Him? When will I reduce my vain hopes? When will I prepare myself for the day of my death, when my remaining term shall have vanished? When will I build the life of my grave? When will I reflect upon the Standing and its severity? When will I reflect upon my solitude with my Lord? When will I reflect upon the Return? When will I beware that which my Lord has warned me of: a Fire whose heat is severe, its depth is great and its grief is lengthy. Its inhabitants do not die that they may rest; their sins are not forgiven; their tears are not shown mercy. Their food is Zaqqum, and their drink is boiling water. Every time their skins are roasted, they are replaced with new ones so that they may taste the Punishment. They regret when regret does not benefit them, and they bite upon their hands in sorrow at their falling short in obeying Allah and their embarking upon the disobedience of Allah. Thus, one of them says, “Alas! If only I had sent something forward for my life!” Another says, “My Lord,Return me! It may be that I work righteousness in what I have neglected.” Another says, “O Woe to us! What is the matter with this Book? It does not leave a minor or major matter, except that it counts it.” Another says, “O Woe to me! If only I had not taken so-and-so as a close friend!” Another group of them says, with their faces turning in different kinds of punishment, “Alas! If only we had obeyed Allah, and obeyed the Messenger!”
Thus, when the intelligent believer recites the Qur’an, he presents himself to it, so it becomes like a mirror in which he sees which of his actions are beautiful and which are ugly. Thus, whatever his Master warns him against, he is wary of it; whatever He instils fear regarding its consequences, he fears; whatever his Master encourages him in, he desires it and hopes for it.
The Manners of the One Who Learns the Qur’an from the Teacher
Muhammad b. al-Husayn said: Whoever recites the Qur’an to a teacher and receives [instruction in] recitation from him, it befits him to show good manners in sitting before his teacher. He should humble himself in his sitting and be attentive towards his teacher. If his teacher reprimands him, he should bear this. If he scolds him, he should bear this also, be gentle with him and stick to holding him in awe and being shy before him.
Muhammad b. al-Husayn said: I prefer for whoever wishes to recite the Qur’an by day or night to purify himself [with the ritual washing], and to use the tooth-stick. This is in order to honour the Qur’an, for he is going to recite the words of the Lord, Mighty and Majestic. Further, the angels draw near to him when he recites the Qur’an.
I prefer that he recites often from the mushaf (written copy of the Qur’an), due to the virtue of the one reciting from it. It is only fitting to carry the mushaf when he is in a state of purity.
al-Bara’ Ibn ‘Azib (RA) related from the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) that he said, “Decorate the Qur’an with your voices.”