Rules of Reverence for reading the Holy Qur’an

[Maulana Zakariyyah Kandhlawi (rahimahullah)]

After cleaning the teeth with a miswak (a green twig of special varieties of trees used for brushing the teeth) and wudhu (ablution), one should sit in a quite place with grace and humility and face towards Qiblah (direction towards the Ka’bah in Makkah). Then, with an attentive heart, deep devotion and zest befitting the occasion, ons should recite, imagining all the time that he is reciting it to Almighty Allah. If one understands the meaning, one should pause and reflect on ayaat (Plural of ‘ayat‘-a verse of the Qur’an) of promise and mercy and should beg for His forgiveness and compassion. On ayaat of punishment and admonition, one should seek His refuge, as “except Him there is no Helper”. On ayaat pertaining to His Majesty and Sanctity, one should say “Subhaanallah” (Glory to Allah). If one does not spontaneously shed tears while reading the Book, one must induce one self to weep a little.

One should not read fast unless one desires to memorize it. The Qu’ran shoud be placed in a slightly elevated position on a wooden stand or 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 Book, and then recite ‘Ta’awwudh‘ (seeking refuge of Allah against Satan mardud), before reading again. If people nearby are occupied in their work, reading in a low voice is appreciated otherwise reading loudly is more rewarding.

The Masha’ikh have mentioned six external and six internal rules of reverence for reading the Holy Qu’ran, which are given below:

Rules of External Reverence

(1) Perform Wudhu and then sit facing Qiblah in an extremely dignified manner

(2) Do not proceed fast but read with Measure and correct pronunciation.

(3) Try to weep, even if you have to compel yourself

(4) The response to ayaat of mercy or of punishment should be as explained above.

(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.

Rules of Internal Reverence

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

(2) Bear in the heart the Loftiness, Majesty and Magnificence of Almighty Allah, Whose Revelation the Qu’ran is.

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

(4) Dwell upon the meanings and enjoy reading it.

Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) once spent the  whole night reading over and over again the following ayat:

If Thou should chastise them, they are Thy servants, and ifThou should forgive them, Thou art the Mighty, the Wise” (V: 118):

Once, Hadhrat Sa’eed ibn Jubair (Radhiyallahu anhu) spent the whole night repeating the following ayatAnd with draw aside today, O guilty ones (XXXVI: 59).

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

(6) The ears should be made 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 Qu’ran according to these rules of reverence.

A Religious Principle

The memorizing of that much of the Glorious Qu’ran as is necessary for the offering of salaat is obligatory for every Muslim. when memorizing the whole of the Holy Qur’an is Fard Kifayah. i.e. an act obligatory on all, but which may suffice if performed by an adequate number, If there were not a single  hafiz (may Allah’ forbid) all the Muslims would be held responsible for this sin. Mulla ‘Ali Qari (Rahmatullah alaih) has further reported from zarkashi (Rahmatullah alaih) that if, in a town or a village, there were no person to read the Holy Qur’an, all the Muslim inhabitants of that place would be considered sinful. In this age of darkness and ignorance when the Muslims have become misguided in respect of many aspects of Islam, it is generally considered useless and stupid to memorize the Qur’an and a sheer waste of time and mental energy to repeat its words without understanding their meaning. If this were the only case of our aversion to faith, something in detail could be written about it. But today all our acts are erring and all our thoughts are leading us. astray. For how many should one wail and about how many should one complain.

So to Allah do we complain and from Him do we seek help.

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