Rules of Reverence for Reading the Holy Qur'an

Chapter No.: 

After cleansing the teeth with miswaak (a twig of particular tree chewed and used as a toothbrush) and performing wudhu (ablution), one should sit in a quiet place with grace and humility and face towards the Qiblah (direction towards Ka’bah in Makkatul Mukarramah). Then with an attentive heart, deep devotion and zest befitting the occasion, one should recite the Qur’an, imagining all the time that he is reciting it to Almighty Allah. If one understands the meaning, one should pause and reflect on the verses of promise and mercy and should beg for His forgiveness and compassion. On the verses of punishment and admonition, one should seek His refuge, as except Him there is no Helper. On the verses pertaining to his Majesty and Sanctity, one should say “Subhaan Allah “(Glory is to Allah). If one does not spontaneously shed tears while reading the Holy Qur’an, one must induce one self to weep a little. For a lover, the moments of greatest pleasure are those when, in the presence of his beloved, he is full of self reproach and shedding tears profusely.

One should not read fast unless one desires to memorise it. The Qur’an should be placed in a slightly elevated position on a wooden stand or on a pillow.

One should not talk to others during recitation. If one is forced by necessity to speak to someone, it should be done after first closing the Qur’an, and before resuming reading again first recite Ta’awwudh (seeking refuge of Allah against Satan). If people nearby are occupied in their work, reading in a low voice is appreciated, otherwise reading loudly is more rewarding.

One should have clean body and clothes.

One should think that Allah is listening with a particular attention and that angels are also listening to his recitation as angels have not been bestowed with this treasure so they encircle one who recites the Qur’an.

One should recite with proper ‘Makharij’ and ‘Tarteel’.

One should recite the Qur’an at least once in a day. In one tradition on the authority of Sayid Khudri (RA) Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Give the eyes their share of Ibadat (worship). Sahabah asked as to what was the share of eyes in worship? Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said that the share of eyes is to look at the Qur’an” (Qurtubi)

It is narrated on the authority of Ubadah b Saamat (RA) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “Better worship of my Ummah is to recite the Qur’an while looking at it.” (Qurtubi)

One should apply the commands of the Qur’an on one’s day to day happenings.

One should testify the truthfulness of the Qur’an after finishing the recitation.

One should not keep anything over the Qur’an. It should be kept above every other book.

One should keep it over a selected place in the room and should not be placed on the floor.

Torn off pages of the Qur’an should be buried in some nice piece of land where there are least chances of trampling or these should be burnt and ash buried or may be thrown into a river.

One should not seek worldly gains by reciting the Qur’an or by teaching it.

One should not recite in such a way that it would resemble singing.

One should not recite it in Markets and at odd and obscene places.

One should not throw the Qur’an if one wants to hand it to other.

One should not use it as a pillow

One should not use gold for any purpose like writing with gold etc. as gold is from worldly beauties.

One should make Dua at the end of recitation particularly after finishing the recitation of whole of the Qur’an. Hadhrat Anas b Maalik (RA) used to call his family members and make dua at the end of completing recitation of the Qur’an.

One should not forget the Qur’an after memorising it.

It is reported on the authority of Ibne Umar (RA) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Analogy of Hafiz of the Qur’an is like that of a man who has a camel, if he keeps him tied up with the rope round its neck, the camel stays and when he keeps it free without tying up, the camel runs away, similarly if the Haafiz-e-Qur’an recites the Qur’an day in and day out, the Qur’an stays with him (in his memory) and when he leaves recitation, Qur’an also leaves (his memory) i.e., he forgets it.” (Muslim)

Abdullah b Masood (RA) says: “Qari-Qur’an (the specialist in reciter of Qur’an) should distinguish himself from those people who are sleeping by remaining awake till late in night, by weeping from those who are laughing, by keeping quiet from those who are gossiping, by humility from the arrogant and by remaining thoughtful from those who are enjoying.”

Hadhrat Abdullah b Umar (RA) says: Qari-Qur’an should not gossip like others.

He should not become fool like other fools.

He should forgive others and be good to others as in his chest is the treasure of the Qur’an.

He should talk less, laugh less and live with dignity.

He should not have vanity and pride.

He should not indulge in useless discussions and quarrels.

He should not harm others.

He should help others when they seek his help.

He should teach others the teachings of the Qur’an.

He should have high morals.

He should himself act as per the Qur’anic commandments and he should try his best to understand the Qur’an.

The Masha’ikh (the spiritual mentors) have mentioned six external and six internal rules of reverence for reading the Holy Qur’an, which are given below:

Rules of External Reverence.

1) Perform Wudu and then sit facing the Qiblah in an extremely dignified manner (It is disrespectful to sit leaning against the wall with feet stretched out in front while reciting the Holy Qur’an. This should be avoided. Likewise the Qur’an should not be placed directly on the lap.)

2) Do not proceed fast, but read with measure and correct pronunciation.

3) Try to weep, even if you have to compel yourself to do so.

4) The response to the verses of mercy or of punishment should be the same as explained earlier.

5) Reading should be in a low voice if insincerity is apprehended on your own part or disturbance is caused to others. Otherwise read in a loud voice.

6) Read in a melodious voice, because there are numerous Ahadith laying emphasis on this aspect.

Rules of Internal Reverence:

1) The heart should be full of the glory of the Qur’an i.e. realising how sublime it is.

2) Bear in the heart the Loftiness, Majesty and Magnificence of Almighty Allah, Whose revelation the Qur’an is.

3) The heart should be free from distraction and doubts.

4) Dwell upon the meanings and enjoy reading it.

5) Submit your heart to the subject-matter of the verses you are reading. For instance, on the verses containing a message of mercy, the heart should be filled with delight. And on the verses of chastisement the heart should tremble with awe.

6) The ears should be as attentive as if Almighty Allah Himself is speaking and the reader is listening to Him.

May Allah, out of His mercy and kindness, grant all of us the ability to read the Qur’an according to these rules of reverence.

Warning for Learners of Qur’an:

Narrated by Abu Hurayrah (RA), it has been nar­rated on the authority of Sulayman ibn Yasar who said: People dispersed from around Abu Hurayrah, and Natil, who was from the Syrians said to him:

“O Shaykh, relate (to us) a tradition you have heard from the Messenger of Allah (Sauallahu Alaihi Wasallam).” He said: “Yes. I heard the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) saying: The first man (whose case) will be decided on the Day of Judgement, will be a man who died as a martyr. He shall be brought (before the Judgement Seat). Al­lah will make him recount His blessings (i.e. the blessings which He had bestowed upon him) and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his life). (Then) will Allah say: What did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I fought for Thee until I died as a martyr. Allah will say: You have told a lie. You fought so that you might be called a “brave warrior”. And you were called so. (Then) orders will be passed against him and he will be dragged with his face down ward and cast into the Hell. Then there will be brought forward a man who acquired knowledge and imparted it (to others) and recited the Qur’an. He will be brought, Allah will make him recount His blessings and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime). Then will Allah ask: What did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I acquired knowledge and disseminated it and recited the Qur’an, seeking the pleasure. Allah will say: You have told a lie. You acquired knowledge so that you might be called “a scholar” and you recited the Qur’an so that might be said: “He is a Qari” and such has been said. Then orders will be passed against him and he shall be dragged with his face downward and cast into the Fire. Then will be brought a man, whom Allah had made abundantly rich and has granted every kind of wealth. He will be brought, Allah will make him recount His blessings and he will recount them and (admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime). Allah will (then) ask: What have you done (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I spent money in every cause in which Thou wished that it should be spent. Allah will say: You are lying. You did (so) that it might be said about (you): “He is a generous fellow” and so it was said. Then will Allah pass orders and he will be dragged with his face downward and thrown into the Hell.” (Bukhari)

It is reported in one tradition that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “One who seeks lIm (religious knowledge) for something other than pleasing Allah or intends something other than pleasing Allah, should think his abode in the Hell” (Qurtubi)

It is reported on the authority of Abu Hurairah (RA) that Rasulullah (SaIlaIIahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “One who learns lIm (religious) not for Allah’s sake but seeks with it worldly benefits will not (even) smell the fragrance of Jannah (The paradise).” (Tirmizi)

It is reported on the authority of Abu Hurairah (RA) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Seek refuge with Allah from ‘Jubb-ul-Hazan’. He (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said that it was a valley in Jahannum from which Jahannum (The Hell) itself seeks refuge with Allah one hundred times a day. He (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was asked as to who will be the people who will be thrown in that valley. He (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said “Qari­-e-Qur’an (reciters of the Qur’an) who are hypocrites by their deeds.” (Tirmizi)

There are so many Ahadith in this regard so it is very important for the student of the Qur’an to make his intention purely to please Allah and not for any mun­dane purposes and also to live his life as per the Qur’anic principles.

Rewards for Reciters and Listeners of the Qur’an:

There is a promise of reward for all the deeds performed as per Shari’ah but the reward for teach­ing, learning, reciting and listening of the Qur’an is quite extra-ordinary. All other acts of worship lead to Qurb (nearness) of Allah indirectly whereas the recitation of the Qur’an leads to nearness of Allah directly. When someone recites the Qur’an, he immediately comes under the shower of bless­ings of Allah. Allah Ta’ala listens to the recitation of the Qur’an with particular attention. The Angels sur­round the reciter in large numbers as the angels have not been given this treasure of recitation of the Qur’an.

Out of the rewards that the Qari or reciter of the Qur’an will be given, some are as follows:

1. His pan of the pious deeds of the balance on the Day of Judgement will be heaviour.

2. They will have Nur on the Day of Judgement because of recitation of the Qur’an in the world.

3. They will enjoy Divine protection along with their family and property.

4. The Qur’an will intercede for its reciter on the Day of Judgement.

5. It will protect its reciter from the Hell-fire.

6. There are specific rewards for reciting specific Surahs. For example, those who recite Surah ­Baqarah and Surah Aal-e-lmran, these two Surahs will form clouds over its reciter on the Day of Judgement and protect him from the scorching heat of the sun. Surah ‘Mulk’ will give company in the grave to its reciter. Similarly there are specific rewards for reciting specific verses.

8. Reciter of the Qur’an will be told to recite and ascend. He will ascend one step for every verse and his place in Jannat (Paradise) will be where he will stop reciting.

It has been reported on the authority of Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “As soon as the people assemble in some house from the houses of Allah (mosques) where they recite the Qur’an and learn it amongst themselves, the ‘Sakeena’ (con­tentment) and Rahmat (mercy) descends upon them and covers them. The Angels surround them and Allah makes a mention of them amongst the an­gels. (Muslim)

Allah Ta’ala says:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَتْلُونَ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَنْفَقُوا مِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ سِرًّا وَعَلَانِيَةً يَرْجُونَ تِجَارَةً لَنْ تَبُورَ () لِيُوَفِّيَهُمْ أُجُورَهُمْ وَيَزِيدَهُمْ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ إِنَّهُ غَفُورٌ شَكُورٌ ()

“Those who rehearse the Book of Allah estab­lish regular Prayer and spend (in Charity) out of what We have provided for them secretly and openly hope for a Commerce that will never fail: For He will pay them their wages in full nay He will give them (even) more out of His Bounty; for He is Oft-Forgiving Most Ready to appreciate (service). (35:29-30)

It is reported on the authority of Abdullah-b-­Masood (RA) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “One who reads one word from the book of Allah (The Qur’an), there is one Thawab for him and one Thawab is like ten, I don’t say that Alif Lam Meem’ is a single word, but Alif is one, Lam is one and Meem is one word.” (Tirmizi)

This Hadith is enough for exhorting the Muslims for reciting the Qur’an day and night.

It is reported on the authority of Uqbah-b-­Aamir (RA), that Rasulullah (SallaIIahu Alaihi Wasallam) came to us and asked: “Who amongst you likes to go to Bathan or Al-Aqeeq and come with two pregnant she-camels without any sin and without harming your relations? We said, “We like that” Then he said, “If you walk up to the mosque and learn or recite two verses from the Qur’an (Book of Allah) that is better than two she-camels and three verses are better than three and four are better than four.” (Muslim)

Abdullah-b-Umar (RA) reports that Rasulullah (SaIlaIlahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Beholder of the Qur’an will be told (on the Day of Judgement) recite and ascend, recite as you used to recite in the world, for your destination is at the last verse you recite. (Tirmizi)

Abu Amamah (RA) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Recite the Qur’an for it will intercede in favour of its reciter on the Day of Judgement” (Muslim)

Reward for Listening to the Qur’an:

Allah Ta’ala says:

وَإِذَا قُرِئَ الْقُرْآنُ فَاسْتَمِعُوا لَهُ وَأَنْصِتُوا لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

“When the Qur’an is read listen to it with at­tention and hold your peace: that ye may receive Mercy.” (7:204)

In this verse there is definite promise of mercy for those who listen the Qur’an and also keep quiet while it is being recited.

وَإِذَا سَمِعُوا مَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ تَرَى أَعْيُنَهُمْ تَفِيضُ مِنَ الدَّمْعِ مِمَّا عَرَفُوا مِنَ الْحَقِّ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا آمَنَّا فَاكْتُبْنَا مَعَ الشَّاهِدِينَ

“And when they listen to the revelation re­ceived by the Messenger thou wilt see their eyes overflowing with tears for they recognize the truth: they pray: “Our ‘Lord! We believe; write us down among the witnesses.” (5:83)

وَإِذْ صَرَفْنَا إِلَيْكَ نَفَرًا مِنَ الْجِنِّ يَسْتَمِعُونَ الْقُرْآنَ فَلَمَّا حَضَرُوهُ قَالُوا أَنْصِتُوا فَلَمَّا قُضِيَ وَلَّوْا إِلَى قَوْمِهِمْ مُنْذِرِينَ

“Behold We turned towards thee a company of Jinns (quietly) listening to the Qur’an: when they stood in the presence thereof they said “Listen in silence!” When the (reading) was finished they returned to their people to warn (them of their sins)” (46:29)

These two verses speak of the heart moulding effectiveness of listening to the Qur’an, first verse reveals how the Qur’an affects men and the second verse shows how it affects even the Jinns:

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to ask some of his companions (RA) to recite the Qur’an so that he (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) would listen. Listening to the Qur’an is also a great act of worship of unique nature. May Allah grant us Tawfeeq1 of reciting the Qur’an all day and night, the way He likes it (Ameen).

Cleanliness Needed for Recitation of the Qur’an:

The book that Allah Subhanahu-Wa-Ta’ala revealed to the best of the Prophets, Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) through best of the Angels, Jibrael (AS) for the best of the Ummah, Ummah of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), deserves a great respect while touching it, reading it or while placing it at any place.

While reciting it, there should be cleanliness of body, place, clothes, mouth and heart - that should be free from Shirk, Fisq and doubts.

Allah Ta’ala says:

إِنَّهُ لَقُرْآنٌ كَرِيمٌ () فِي كِتَابٍ مَكْنُونٍ () لَا يَمَسُّهُ إِلَّا الْمُطَهَّرُونَ()

“That this is indeed a Qur’an most honorable in a Book well-guarded Which none shall touch but those who are clean” (56:77-79)

It is not permissible to recite the Qur’an at dirty and odd places. It is not permissible to re­cite it in markets where people are busy with their worldly affairs.

It is reported on the authority of Hadhrat Ali (RA) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:

“Clean your mouths from the Qur’an”

“Indeed, your mouths are roads for the Qur’an, clean them with Miswaak.”

Reverence of Pages and Words of Qur’an:

Allah Ta’ala says:

بَلْ هُوَ قُرْآنٌ مَجِيدٌ () فِي لَوْحٍ مَحْفُوظٍ ()

“That this is indeed a Qur’an most honorable In a Book well-guarded”

فَمَنْ شَاءَ ذَكَرَهُ () فِي صُحُفٍ مُكَرَّمَةٍ () مَرْفُوعَةٍ مُطَهَّرَةٍ () بِأَيْدِي سَفَرَةٍ () كِرَامٍ بَرَرَةٍ()

“By no means (should it be so)! For it is indeed a Message of instruction. Therefore let whose will keep it in remembrance. (It is) in Books heId (greatly) in honour. Exalted (in dignity) kept pure and holy (Written) by the hands of scribes Honorable and Pious and Just.” (80:11-16)

بَلْ هُوَ قُرْآنٌ مَجِيدٌ () فِي لَوْحٍ مَحْفُوظٍ()

“Nay this is a Glorious Qur’an (Inscribed) in Tablet Preserved!” (85 :21-22)

Qur’an and its interpretation:

Allah Ta’ala says:

إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرَى لِلْعَالَمِينَ

“Verily this is no less than a message to (all) the worlds”

The Qur’an has been revealed neither for a particular nation nor for a particular period but has been sent for the whole world and for all the people of all times. lt is for this reason that there is an im­mense vastness in the meaning of the words of the Qur’an as it has to accommodate the solution and answers for a great variety of situations and problems of different times which are entirely dif­ferent from one another. So, it was not feasible to have words of limited meaning in the Qur’an. Thus a great field has been provided for the scholars of the Qur’an in the vast ocean of meaning. It is one of the miracles of the Qur’an that despite its vastness it has been able to keep in check its interpreters. There have been some mischievous elements from time to time that tried or are trying to misinterpret the Qur’an but an unseen Divine Hand of protection is always protecting it and maintaining its purity.

وَأَنْ تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

“And that ye should say of Allah that of which ye have no knowledge”

Allah Ta’ala categorically declared:

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ

“We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and we sill assuredly guard it (from corruption)” (15:9)

وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ

“And pursue not that of which thou hast no knowledge” (17:36)

Rasulullah (SallaIIahu Alaihi Wasallam) laid down the practical guidelines for the protection of the Qur’an. A Hadith says: “One, who says something about the Qur’an without knowledge, should find his abode in the Hell.” (Tirmidi)

Another Hadith says:

“One, who interprets Qur’an as per his own opinion, he did wrong even if his opinion may be correct.” (Tirmizi)

Hadhrat Abu Bakr Siddiq (RA) used to say “Which earth will carry me, which sky will cover me if I say anything about Qur’an of my own opinion or without knowledge.”

Sources of Tafseer

(Interpretation of the Qur’an)

1. The Qur’an: The Qur’an itself is the first source of interpretation of the Qur’an. Some verses of the Qur’an are explained by some other verses of it. For example, the verse:

اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ

“Show us the straight way” (1:6)

This verse is explained by another verse of the Qur’an as:

الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ مِنَ النَّبِيِّينَ وَالصِّدِّيقِينَ وَالشُّهَدَاءِ وَالصَّالِحِينَ

“On whom is the Grace of Allah - of the Prophets (who teach) the sincere (lovers of Truth the martyrs, and the Righteous (who do good)” (4:69)

“On whom is the Grace of Allah - of the Prophets (who teach) the sincere (lovers of Truth the martyrs, and the Righteous (who do good)”

2. Hadith: Hadith is the second most important source of Tafseer of Qur’an. Teaching of the Qur’an to the people was one of the main jobs of Rasulullah (SallaIIahu Alaihi Wasallam). Allah Ta’ala says

هُوَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ رَسُولًا مِنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ

“It is He Who has sent amongst the unlettered a messenger from among themselves, to rehearse to them His Signs, to purify them, and to instruct them in The Book and Wisdom” (62:2)

It is yet another miracle of the Qur’an that ­not only its words have been preserved in pristine purity but its interpretations in the form of Hadith have also been preserved in a miraculous way. How the Ahadith have been preserved, should be seen in various Hadith books. In this regards it is mandatory for the interpreter of the Qur’an to rely on authentic Hadith books.

3. Sahaba-al-Kiram: The companions of Rasulullah (SaIlallahu Alaihi Wasallam) constitute the third important source of interpretations as they were directly taught by Rasulullah (SalIaIlahu Alaihi Wasallam), so their interpretation is taken as next to Hadith even some Ulema include this in the definition of Hadith as well while others call it ‘Ather’.

4. Tabaeen: Tabaeen are the students of Sahaba, so if a tabaee quotes some Sahabi, it is also regarded as authentic.

5. Literal meaning of Arabic Language: Those verses of the Qur’an which are simple in meaning and do not have any complexity can be their understood by simple literal meaning only, but to interpret the whole Qur’an on the basis of literal meaning only, is not permissible.

The interpreter of the Qur’an should have full command over:

i. Arabic Language

ii. Arabic Grammar - both sequential and analytic

iii. Shaan-e-Nuzool (background of revelation)

iv. Naasikh and Mansookh (abrogating and abrogated verses)

V. Sunnah of Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam)

vi. Interpretations by Hadith

vii. Interpretations of Sahaba

viii. Interpretations of Tabaeen

ix. Arabic proverbs (Arab Muhawarah)

x. Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence


6. Intellect: If intellect is used along with above mentioned branches of knowledge then it can be used for interpretation of the Qur’an. If the intellect is used in the absence of these things then that intellect is usually led by Devil towards Devil, and not towards the Truth. The verse of the Qur’an which says:

وَإِذِ اسْتَسْقَى مُوسَى لِقَوْمِهِ فَقُلْنَا اضْرِبْ بِعَصَاكَ الْحَجَرَ

“And remember Musa prayed for water for his people; We said “Strike the rock with thy staff”. (2:60)

Sir Syed stretches his intellect and interprets the verse

اَضُرِبْ بِعَصَاكَ الْحَجَر

as “Walk on this rock with the help of the stick”

In the above mentioned verse the Qur’an mentions miracle of Hadhrat Musa (AS) that Allah asked him to strike a rock with his stick, by which twelve springs sprouted from that rock. Since Sir Syed did not like that he should be labeled as an orthodox and unscientific by the English people, who had honoured him with ‘Sir’, and they should not look down upon him, he denied this well known miracle of Hadhrat Musa (AS) and misinterpreted the verse by twisting the meaning of the words of the Qur’an.

This intellect is a double edged sword it can lead one to heights if used properly but it can also lead to lowest ebb if used otherwise.

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) prayed for Hadhrat lbne Abbas (RA) as

“O Allah! Teach him the interpretation of the Qur’an and bestow him with the proper sense of Deen.”

It is by way of this Dua that Ibne Abbas (RA) properly used his extraordinary intellect for the interpretation of the Qur’an.