What’s your target this Ramaḍān? How many times are you going to complete the recitation of the Qur’ān?
For these special servants of Allah, it was possible to achieve these feats, as they were scholars who recited and reflected on the Qur’ān throughout the year, and due to Allah placing barakah in their time.
However, for the majority of us, it is not possible to recite such large quantities with reflection. Those of us who understand the meanings of the Qur’ān should continue reciting the Qur’an with tadabbur (reflection) in Ramadan. The goal should not merely be rushing through a large number of completions without tadabbur and without applying the rules of tajwid and tartīl.
[Note: For Ramadan Qur’ān recitation, some scholars have suggested that a person should have separate sets of completions they read from on a daily basis. Whilst at least one or a few sets should be dedicated to be recited with tadabbur, other completions may be performed at a slightly faster pace with the purpose of completing as many khatmahs as possible to acquire the maximum reward of many recitations. However, the most perfect form is that which involves recitation with tadabbur and tartīl.]
Those who are memorizing the Qur’ān or are reviewing their memorisation may recite at a slightly faster speed, keeping in mind that that they do not contravene the rules of tajwīd. However, they too should allocate a portion of their time in Ramaḍān for recitation with reflection, especially during the qiyām prayers.
As for those who do not understand the Arabic language and the meanings of Qur’an, it may be difficult to reflect simultaneously whilst reciting. However, they should still recite with tartīl (see below) and tajwīd, and they could also interact with some of the āyat e.g. if they come across an āyah about Paradise, then pause and ask Allah for Paradise. Furthermore, they should also allocate time to learn the meanings of the Qur’ān, read the translation and reflect within their limits.
“I have not seen anything that nourishes the mind and soul, protects the body, and guarantees success more than constantly engaging with the Book of Allah.” – Ibn Taymiyyah (raḥimahullāh)
We should recite the Qur’ān with tajwīd and tartīl. Tartīl refers to reciting slowly and calmly, making each word distinct, and not exceeding the limits. Reciting like this ensures that the tongue, heart and the rest of the body are in perfect harmony with each other.
Sometimes we recite very fast, just to get to the end of a sūrah or a juz. Similarly, we may witness ‘super high speeds’ in the tarāwīḥ prayers. However, this is contrary to the sunnah and does not help us attain the objectives of the Qur’ān. Slow recitation is vital for absorbing the message of the Qur’ān and for reflecting on what Allah (ʿazza wa jall) is saying. Repeating certain āyāt is critical if we want to strengthen our īmān through the Qur’ān. This, however, is impossible if our aim is just to reach the end of a sūrah, juz or even the whole of the Qur’ān. A man came to ʿAbdullāh b. Masʿūd (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) and said, “I recite all the mufaṣṣal sūrahs in one rakʿah.” Upon this ʿAbdullāh (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said, “(Do you recite it) hastily like the recitation of poetry? Indeed, there are people who recite the Qur’ān, but it does not go down beyond their collar bones. However, it benefits when it enters the heart and becomes deeply-rooted in it. The best of (the actions) in ṣalāh are bowing and prostration. I am quite aware of the similar sūrahs which the Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to combine together: two sūrahs in every rakʿah” (Muslim).
Cry Whilst Reciting
The purpose of melodious recitation is not merely to ensure that the recitation of the Qur’ān sounds good. Instead, it is to ensure that the recitation is beautiful, with complete focus and khushūʿ. Such a recitation would inevitably result in the heart being moved. It should increase our fear of Allah (ʿazza wa jall) and provide peace. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Of those who recite the Qur’ān with the best voice is the one who, when you hear him recite, you think that he fears Allah” (Ibn Mājah).
When reciting the Qur’ān, we should try to cry, as this was the practice of the pious people of the past. Allah (ʿazza wa jall) says, “When the āyāṭ of the Most Merciful were recited before them, they used to fall down in prostration, weeping” (19:58).
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Indeed, this Qur’ān has descended with sadness. So, when you recite it, cry. If you cannot cry, then try hard to do so. And recite it melodiously, for he who does not recite it melodiously is not one of us” (Ibn Mājah).
Imām al-Nawawī says that crying during the recitation of the Qur’ān is, “A quality of those who have a deep awareness of Allah (maʿrifah) and it is a distinguishing feature of the pious servants of Allah… It has been reported that ʿUmar b al-Khaṭṭāb (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) led the congregation in the Morning prayer, and recited Sūrah Yusuf. He wept until his tears flowed over his collarbone. Another narration of the report mentions that this occurred during ʿIshā’, indicating that this happened repeatedly. Another narration mentions that he cried until the people in the rows behind him heard his weeping.”
Imām al-Ghazālī (raḥimahullāh) wrote, “It is mustaḥabb (recommended) to cry whilst reciting the Qur’ān, and when it is being recited. The way to achieve this is to evoke sadness in the heart by reflecting on the severe threats, warnings and promises; and then reflecting on one’s shortcomings regarding them. And if this does not evoke sadness and crying, as it does to the elite (worshippers), then he should cry over the lack of (being able to cry), as this is one of the greatest calamities.”
“I said to my nafs: ‘O nafs, recite the Qur’ān as though you (personally) heard it from Allah when He uttered it.’ I then felt the sweetness (of reciting the Qur’ān).” – Sulaymān b. Maymūn (raḥimahullāh)
Allah’s Special Chosen People
Ramaḍān is a bootcamp for the rest of the year. Let us make an intention and plan of continuing our relationship with the Qur’ān after Ramaḍān, so that we become the people of Allah. Our beloved Prophet ﷺ said, “Allah has His own people among mankind.” The companions asked, “O Messenger of Allah, who are they?” He replied, “They are the people of the Qur’ān: the people of Allah and His chosen people” (Ibn Mājah).