At some point of my life i also developed the same notion that recitation of the holy qur’an is of no benefit unless you understand what it says. what a fool i was!Themightofpen
the fact is that even the recitation of the holy book has immense virtues even if the reader doesn’t understand its meaning.
Imam al-Shaatibi writes in his book,
“The remembrance of Allaah irrigates the heart, so get it irrigated.
And do not keep yourself away from the meadow of those who remember Allaah lest you should be barren.
And prefer its sweet and abundant wealth, as no fort and refuge is available like it.”
You must have also heard the famous hadeeth of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him); Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported:
Whoever recites a letter from the Book of Allah, he will receive one good deed as ten good deeds like it. I do not say that Alif Lam Mim is one letter, but rather Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter, and Mim is a letter.The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him)
Recently, I was reading a book written by Shykh Muhammad bin Shahaadah al Ghaul; and, something interesting really struck me. Regarding the above mentioned Hadeeth, Shykh pointed out the case of the verse Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gave from the Holy Qur’an.
It is interesting to note that hadeeth mentions from the Qur’an ‘Aleef Laam Meem’ which is from huroof-al-muqatta’aat. These are the words which are verses from the Qur’an. However, nobody knows their exact meaning except Allaah Subhanahu Ta’aala. To emphasize the blessings of the recitation, Prophet (PBUH) could have given the example of any other verse if he wanted. However, he chose huroof-al-muqatta’aat in particular.
Just a coincidence?
This hadeeth is one of the basis that gives backing to the fact that even mere the recitation of the Holy Book is a blessing because while reciting huroof-al-muqatta’aat also, the facet of comprehension is not there.
The Ramadan is approaching fast. I am sure you will again listen ‘what is the point of reciting without knowing its meaning’. You will again receive forwards on WhatsApp saying ‘what is the point of doing one more khatima (completion of cover to cover recitation of the Holy Qur’an)’. Once again a lowbrow uncle will be ashamed. Once again a bucolic aunty will be looked down for doing lots of ‘just-the-recitation’.
Of course to understand the meaning of the Holy Qur’an, to comprehend its exegesis, to assimilate its linguistics, to discern its ideologies, to envision its various sciences is an honor, another level. No doubt, the superiority of the scholar over the worshipper is like the superiority of the moon over all other heavenly bodies.
Nevertheless, none of that abates ‘just worship’ or ‘just recitation’ per se.
Sometimes I wonder, how many phases a learner goes through.
How many perspectives the Book of Allaah provides us.
From rote learning of the Qur’an as a kid to developing the bond with recitation in teenage, then to the clouds of doubt hovering over head to the sudden block. And, once again then, the dark drifting away cloud by cloud, shadow by shadow.
I remember a few years ago one of my Qur’an teachers expressing her surprise and displeasure when I told her that I do not get time for cover to cover recitation of Qur’an as I am currently busy learning other things from the Qur’an.
“Would you do that disowning the blessings of the recitation?”
By Allaah! This is no other book but the Holy Book.
I wonder how fool I was to think that how mere reading a foreign text might benefit me. So foolish I was to weigh something divine on temporal scales.
You might laugh if I read a French book cover to cover again and again without knowing what it says, or an Arabic book for that matter. For Qur’an, as long as I am aware of its fundamental message, I know what is sufficient for me to perform my obligations correct way, even the mere recitation is virtuous for me.
Let’s now know what scholars have to say about this issue.
Is it permissible to read the Qur’an without understanding its meanings?
Yes, it is permissible for believing men and women to read the Qur’aan even if they do not understand the meaning, but it is prescribed to ponder and think so that one may understand, and to refer to books of tafseer (commentaries) if one has enough knowledge to understand them, and to refer to books of tafseer and Arabic language in order to benefit from that, and he can ask scholars about anything he does not understand. What is meant is that he should ponder the meanings, because Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
(This is) a Book (the Qur’aan) which We have sent down to you, full of blessings, that they may ponder over its Verses, and that men of understanding may remember[Al Qur’an; 38:29]
The believer should ponder the meanings, i.e., he should pay attention to reading and think about what it means; he should understand the meanings and thus he will benefit from it. If he does not understand the meaning perfectly, he will still understand many meanings. So let him read carefully and ponder and understand. This also applies to women. The reader should benefit from the words of his or her Lord and understand the meaning so that he may act upon it. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Do they not then think deeply in the Qur’aan, or are their hearts locked up (from understanding it)?”[Al-Qur’an; 47:24]
Our Lord, may He be glorified and exalted, urges and encourages us to think and ponder His words. When the believer (man or woman) reads the Book of Allah, it is prescribed for them to ponder and think and pay attention to what is read, so that they may benefit from the words of Allah and so that they may understand the words of Allah and so that they may act upon what they learn from the words of Allah. They may seek help in doing so from books of tafseer that have been written by scholars such as those by Ibn Katheer, Ibn Jareer, al-Baghawi, al-Shawkaani and others. They may also make use of books of Arabic language and ask scholars who are known for their knowledge and virtue about anything they do not understand.~Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him).
I amend today.
“Read. Read. Read, even if you do not know what it says. Read, even if you feel no vibes. Yes, try your best to find out what it means and to seek this knowledge from scholars who can be trusted. However, don’t stop the recitation just because you do not know its meaning.”
Not every land turns green on the first rain of the season. There are patches so parched sometimes that no matter how much it rains over them, the green does not come out always. However; it reserves the water inside. And, one day the basin quenches the thirst of millions passers-by.
The recitation of the Qur’an irrigates the heart, so get it irrigated. Also remember, ‘Green is not the only fallout of the falling rain’.
A man will be rewarded for reading the holy Qur’an whether he understands its meanings or not. But a believer should not limit himself to the mere recitation without understanding at the time when he is responsible for his actions.Themightofpen
Recite the Qur’an daily even if you do not know its meaning. Even its recitation is blessing.