by Mehol K. Sadain
The first verses revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) were “Iqra’ Bismi Rabbikalladhii khalaq”, followed by “Khalaqa insaana min ‘alaq!” In English, “Read, in the Name of thy Lord, who created; Created man from a clot of blood!” [Surah 96, Verses 1-2]
From the beginning, ALLAH advances several important points: First, this revelation is meant to be read. Second, ALLAH, as the Creator, is the Source of this revelation. Third, this revelation contains messages that can only come from an All-Knowing God, as can be seen from its reference to a clot of blood as the beginning of a fetus — something that is not known to the people of those days.
The first point indicates that if the Qur’an is meant to be read, and is considered as a “Reading”, then man as recipient of its message, must LISTEN to it. “Listening”, after all, is a consequence of “reading”. The Noble Qur’an confirms this by saying:
“When the Qur’an is read, LISTEN to it with attention, so that you may receive mercy.” [Surah 7, Verse 204]
The verse, therefore, makes it imperative for one who hears a Qur’an recitation, to “listen” and pay attention to the reading, because this is a way of receiving Mercy from ALLAH. It is said that even if one does not understand Arabic, listening to the recitation of the Qur’an is beneficial to a person. Ibn Taymiyyah said, “By means of this listening, ALLAH guides His slaves and sets straight their affairs in this world and the Hereafter.”
The Qur’an also informs us of a group of Jinns (anglicized as Genie) who listened to a Qur’an recitation:
“Behold, We turned towards thee a company of Jinns 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. They said, ‘O our people, we have heard a Book revealed after Moses, confirming what came before it. It guides to the Truth and to the Straight Path. O our people, hearken to the one who invites you to ALLAH, and believe in Him. He will forgive your faults and deliver you from a grievous chastisement.’” [Surah 46, Verses 29-31]
The words of Ibn Taymiyyan and the above-quoted verses tell us that the Mercy we receive from listening to the Qur’an is that of forgiveness and guidance. The Straight Way we ask to be shown in Surah 1, Verse 6: “Ihdina s-Siraatal Mustaqiim,” is given to us by the Qur’an, if we only listen to it. Thus, the Qur’an says in Surah 2, Verse 2: “This is the Book. In it is Guidance sure to those who reverence ALLAH.”
The Qur’an in Surah 73, Verse 4, also provides the method for effective listening, by emphasizing how it should be read, thus: “… (A)nd recite the Qur’an in slow, measured rhythmic tone,” which in Arabic is “wa rattili l-Qur’ana tartiilaa.” The Qur’an is usually chanted when it is recited, and the recitation of the words are measured in accordance with marks that indicate where to prolong the recitation.
All these point to the highest regard Muslims accord the Noble Qur’an as the Words of ALLAH, and therefore, entitled to utmost respect and reverence. It is in this context that Muslims get offended or angry when the Qur’an is disrespected or desecrated. A believer’s bond with ALLAH is characterized by his holding on to His Words as revealed in the Qur’an, and by respecting the Qur’an which is the repository of these words on earth.
Along this line, many Muslims go to the extent of memorizing the Qur’an, word for word, to keep it in themselves. They are called Huffaz from the singular Hafiz, and they take their name from the words in the Qur’an which says: “Innaa lahuu la-Hafizuun,” which means “And we will assuredly guard it,” [Surah 15, Verse 9].
Being a hafiz, therefore, is comparable to taking part in guarding the Qur’an, because truly, the best way to guard a message is by preserving it in one’s memory. (MKS)