If we research the hadeeths of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), we'll find many regarding the virtues of reciting the Qur'an, one of them is as follows;
Ibn Mas`ud (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu'alayhi wasallam) said, "Whoever recites a letter from the Book of Allah, he will be credited with a good deed, and a good deed gets a ten-fold reward. I do not say that Alif-Lam-Mim is one letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter.'' (At-Tirmidhi)
Let me share my own personal journey in trying to be better at reciting the Qur'an. I still remember the times when my recitation was very slow and akin to a kindergarten kid reading his first book after learning ABC. And this was way after I had first learned the basics of recitation.
I started learning while around the age of 8 at a weekly Qur'an recitation class, sent by my parents, but due to much negligence in reciting it daily, with exception to the weekly class, the level of recitation remained poor, and actually became even worse as I stopped attending the classes altogether during the later part of secondary school without completing recitation of the whole Qur'an.
I still remember while at class, my pronunciation and tajweed was often wrong that my teacher had to stop and correct me every few seconds or so. As such, it resulted in a lot of time taken to read just one page of the Qur'an and the progress from one page to another was very slow.
Back then I was also very ignorant of the virtues of reading the Qur'an and not only that, I was very ignorant of Islam itself! So all these factors, in addition to my ignorance made me become frustrated, easily bored and in the end led me to neglect it altogether except for recitation of surah Yasin once in a while. Alhamdulillaah, nowadays every Friday morning or Thursday night more of surah al-Kahf insya Allah.. its genuinely Sunnah..
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever reads Soorat al-Kahf on the day of Jumu’ah, will have a light that will shine from him from one Friday to the next.” (Narrated by al-Haakim, 2/399; al-Bayhaqi, 3/249. Ibn Hajar said in Takhreej al-Adhkaar that this is a hasan hadeeth, and he said, this is the strongest report that has been narrated concerning reading Soorat al-Kahf. See: Fayd al-Qadeer, 6/198. It was classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 6470)
It was only during my NS years when I started to recite more, alhamdulillah, as I began to attend a weekly basic Islamic knowledge course. This time, I was more motivated as I realized that the Qur'an is the basic and most important guide for a Muslim, hence the need to be more proficient in its recitation and knowledgeable about its contents.
Alhamdulillah, maybe due to some keenness in that aspect, Allah guided me to think about going back to attending weekly Qur'an recitation class for guidance on proper pronunciation. Actually, that didn't last too and I didn't manage to finish reciting the whole Qur'an with the ustaz as I was kept busy with other commitments.
However, this time, my recitation and understanding of the tajweed improved more because in addition to the weekly recitation under the guidance of the ustaz, I also strived, to try to at least read a few verses or one page of the Qur'an every day and revise tajweed knowledge. Another factor that helped me in improving my tajweed was also the usage of a Qur'an where there are colour indicators to aid in reciting the proper tajweed, whether its 2,4 or 6 harakaats or the emphasis of raa' or qalqalah for example.
This was when I realized, that the key factor for improvement is simply to put in more time and effort in practicing on our own and to regularly recite the Qur'an. We just have to recite as much as we can with the time that we have, with or without a teacher to monitor.
Of course when we read alone, there is a higher chance of overlooking our mistakes but this is not a good reason for not practicing on our own. I'm not saying there's no need to read in front of someone who's proficient in the recitation and knowledge of the Qur'an, but we cannot just rely on the ustaz's weekly classes to help us improve.
I've observed too often that people who rely merely on their weekly classes, just don't improve much even though they have recited in the same class for many years. Some even neglected recitation of the Qur'an totally except for a few selected verses when they have completed reciting the whole Qur'an with an ustaz. Worse, some would be proud of it. It's as though they feel their small effort would be enough and they have chalked up enough deeds and rewards to save them in the hereafter. This is definitely a misconception.
Personally, while reading alone, to help prevent myself from overlooking mistakes that I might make, I would recite slowly and concentrate to listen to myself at all times. Slow recitation would help us be more aware when we make mistakes. At times I would also record my own recitation of a certain soorah then replay it, looking out for tajweed mistakes that I may have overlooked. I realized that when we listen to our own recitation, we'll actually realize better some of the poor recitation that we have been making even though previously, we thought that the recitation was fine.
Another way that I practiced, to try keep mistakes to a minimum when I recite alone, is by listening to the recitation of the verses that I'm about to read from the mp3 audio recording of good reciters before I recite the verses myself. My favourites are Shaykh Mishary Rashid al-Afasy and Shaykh Fahd al-Kanderi.
Alhamduliillah, I have managed to improve over the past few years especially, as I try to implement such exercises and try to increase the pages that I read daily on my own. Do keep in mind that it not as easy as it may seem. It requires continuous practice, a great deal of patience and perseverance before we'll see the results.
For now, I try to complete the recitation of the whole Qur'an by myself at least once within a few months. In the near future, I hope to be able to do this at least once every month. This would require us to read at least 20 pages every single day.
Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr: Allah's Apostle (sallallaahu'alayhi wassalam) said to me, "Recite the whole Qur'an in one month's time." I said, "But I have power (to do more than that)." Allah's Apostle said, "Then finish the recitation of the Qur'an in seven days, and do not finish it in less than this period." (al-Bukhari)
These next few hadeeths should motivate all of us to recite the Qur'an no matter what level we're at,
The Prophet sallallaahu'alayhi wassalam said: "The one who reads the Qur'an while having previously memorized it is with the angels, noble and dutiful, and the one who recites the Qur'an while it is difficult for him will receive two rewards." (al-Bukhari and Muslim) He also said: "It will be said (in Paradise) to the reciter of the Qur'an who acted upon its teachings: read, ascend and beautify as you did in your worldly life, for indeed your level is that equal to your last verse," (at-Tirmidhi)
Narrated Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari: The Prophet said, "The example of him (a believer) who recites the Qur'an is like that of a citron which tastes good and smells good. And he (a believer) who does not recite the Qur'an is like a date which is good in taste but has no smell. And the example of a dissolute wicked person who recites the Qur'an is like the Raihana (sweet basil) which smells good but tastes bitter. And the example of a dissolute wicked person who does not recite the Qur'an is like the colocynth which tastes bitter and has no smell." (al-Bukhari)
Here's a few additional hadeeths for other reasons with regards to the Qur'an;
The reward of teaching: The Prophet sallallaahu'alayhi wasallam said: "The best of you are those who learn the Qur'an and teach it." (al-Bukhari)
The reward for teaching the Qur'an to one's children: The Prophet sallallaahu'alayhi wasallam said: "One who reads the Qur'an, learns it, and acts upon it will place upon his parents a crown of light as brilliant as the sun. He will clothe them with cloaks that are more valuable than this whole world. They will ask: 'Why are we made to wear this garment [of honor]? It will be said to them: 'Due to the importance your child paid to the Qur'an.' " (al-Hakim)
Intercession of the Qur'an for its reciter in the Hereafter: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Recite the Qur'an, for it will intercede for its companions on the Day of Resurrection." (Muslim) He sallallaahu'alayhi wassallam also said: "A slave's fasting and recitation of the Qur'an will intercede for him on the Day of Resurrection." (Ahmad and al-Hakim)
Multiplication of Reward: Every person who recites the Qur'an purely for Allah's sake will receive reward, but this reward is multiplied if the recitation is accompanied with attentiveness, contemplation and understanding of what is being recited. If it is done in this manner, each recited letter will be multiplied from ten to seven hundred times.
Daily recitation: The companions of the Prophet sallallaahu'alayhi wasallam would recite the Qur'an daily, and none of them would make a habit of reciting the whole Qur'an in less than a week. Rather, they were prohibited from reciting it in less than three days.
Thus my dear brothers and sisters, let's spend our time in reciting the Qur'an. Set ourselves a fixed amount of passage or time to recite daily, and do not leave it no matter what happens, since a small amount recited regularly is better than a large amount recited occasionally.
If we forget or fall asleep, make up that recitation on the next day, as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Whoever falls asleep and fails to recite his portion of the Qur'an, or part of it, and then recited it between the Fajr and Dhuhr prayer the following day, it will be written for him as if he read it at night," (Muslim)
Let's not be of those who neglect the Qur'an or forget it in any way, such as failing to read it, recite it, not contemplating its meanings, not putting its teachings into action or not seeking the cure of illnesses by it. This is a reminder especially for myself before others.
Allah Almighty knows best.
- 'The Virtues of Reciting the Qur'an', And Explanation of the Last Tenth of the Noble Qur'an (www.tafseer.info)
- 'Virtues of Qur'an' of Sahih Bukhari (www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=61&translator=1&start=0&number=0)