Some Etiquettes of Reciting the Qur’an

(Notes taken from a lecture by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari)

It is important for the one reciting the Qur’an to not be a mere reader; but rather, one should bring the Qur’an alive in one’s life by exerting energy and effort in acting upon the etiquettes pertaining to it. Doing so will bring about a complete different spirit into one’s life. The book of Allah is not a regular book that one may read in whatever manner one desires; its recitation has rules and Adaab which should be implemented.

There are numerous virtues of reciting the Qur’an; the following prophetic statements highlight a few of them:

On many occasions the Messenger of Allah (May Allah bless him & give him peace) would define “the best among you” in relation to the questioner. On one occasion, the Messenger of Allah (May Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “The best among you is the one who learns the Qur’an and teaches it.” (Bukhari)

On another occasion, the Beloved of Allah (May Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “The one who is proficient in reciting the Qur'an will be with the honourable and obedient scribes (angels), and one who recites the Qur’an and finds it difficult to recite, doing his best to recite it in the best way possible, will have double rewards.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

There are several etiquettes when reciting the Qur’an. Here are some of them:

1) Being pure and clean prior to reciting. It is permissible to recite the Qur’an without being in a state of purity (wudu) though it is preferable to perform ablution for it. However, it is impermissible to recite in a state of major ritual impurity.

2) Using the Siwak is recommended before the recitation of the Qur’an.

3) Selecting a good time and place. Among the many optimum times is the time around Fajr prayer. A day commenced with the recitation of the Qur’an in comparison to a day without it are very different indeed. There are numerous places that are ideal, such as in the Masjid, in front of the Ka’bah and in the Haram.

4) Sitting facing the Qiblah, with humility, and lowering one’s head. One should avoid leaning and reading the Qur’an in a manner other novels and texts are read.

5) Reciting the Ta’awwudh before commencing the recitation.

6) Reciting with Tajwid at a slow pace, and contemplating the meanings (tartil and tafakkur). These are two important integrals. One should take time to utter each letter with its correct pronunciation; the recitation of the Qur’an is more to do with quality as opposed to quantity. It is recommended that when one is reciting, they contemplate the verses and respond in accordance to the subject of the verse; asking for Allah’s mercy at the verses of mercy, seeking forgiveness at the verses of forgiveness, expressing gratitude at the verses mentioning the ill-fate of the past nations that Allah has protected one from the punishments that afflicted them, and the list goes on. 

7) Shedding tears at the time of reciting. This is recommended, and if this is not possible one should try to cry.

8) Being respectful. One should avoid being disrespectful when reciting the Qur’an, one should avoid laughing out loud, futile talk and playing and fiddling during the course of one’s recitation.

9) Acting upon what is read. This goes without saying!

10) Maintaining an order. Generally inside and outside Salat, one should recite the Qur’an in the order of the Surahs, unless there is some reason to not do so like when memorizing.

11) Beautifying one’s voice. One should try and beautify the voice whilst reciting the Qur’an within the set parameters, and by that it is meant that the beautification should not compromise the correct rules of Tajwid.

Finally, listening to others recite the Qur’an is also recommended and rewarding. The Messenger of Allah (May Allah bless him & give him peace) himself would request certain Companions to recite the Qur’an so he could listen to them. Listening to the Qur’an should be given preference over listening to Islamic songs (anashid).