What is a slow reader of the Qur’ān?
By default, we should all be slow readers or reciters of the Qur’ān. Slow recitation is vital for absorbing the message of the Qur’ān and for reflecting on what Allāh is saying. When reciting the Qur’ān, the Beloved Prophet (ﷺ) was instructed by Allāh to recite with ‘tarteel’ (73:4). This means to recite slowly with measure, clarity, making each letter and word distinct, and making stops well. This means reciting with Tajweed and Tadabbur (reflection).
Qatādah (Allāh have mercy upon him) narrated that Anas b. Mālik (Allāh be pleased with them) was asked, “How was the recitation of the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ)?” He replied, “It was elongated. He then recited بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ , elongating بسم الله, elongating الرحمن and elongating الرحيم” (Bukhārī).
Yet when we hear from our brothers or sisters who say that they recite slowly and need advice, what do they mean? They mean that they are slower than the average person (though I’m curious to know what that average might look like with Qur’ān recitation).
They also mean that they can’t recite at other speeds. There are three levels of Qur’ān recitation: slow (tahqeeq), medium (tadweer), and fast (hadr). Slow reciters struggle to recite at a medium or fast pace. When playing a YouTube video or listening to an audio clip, you can adjust the speeds, right? Like this, slow readers can’t move beyond their normal speeds. This is now a bad thing! This is not something to feel ashamed about or something that should make you feel inferior.
What causes slow Qur’ān recitation?
There can be a number of things that cause slow Qur’ān recitation and these are things that you must figure out. Here are some of the reasons:
- you have trouble with your vision and hearing
- you have struggles with fluency
- you have medical reasons that make you read slowly like dyslexia
- you have a lack of practice in reciting the Qur’ān aloud
There’s another reason that I have picked up in students and that is that they are often slow talkers. This slow talking transitions into reading speeds. One of the reasons for this is that as an individual they are perfectionists. They want to get every word and letter right. They don’t want to stumble over their words and many times they struggle to find the right words or remember them.
Why would you want to recite faster?
As someone that is memorising the Qur’ān, you will only have a limited amount of time to both memorise and revise. The slower you recite, the more time you’ll need to be able to recite more Qur’ān. Say you want to memorise a page a day but you need to revise a Juz’ too. Often the challenge with slow reciters is that once they’ve completed the memorisation, they need a lot more time to revise but because they recite slowly, they end up only doing a fraction of what they need to cover. So a Juz’ a day becomes a quarter a day.
How can you increase your Qur’ān recitation speed as a slow reader?
There are a number of things that you should be working on trying to implement into your daily routine.
(1) Listen to the Qur’ān more
When listening to the Qur’ān, I encourage you to do so with reciters at different speeds and pitches. The more you listen, the more you will be familiar with the Qur’ān. You will begin to pick up melodies and become aware of the different speeds. One of the things you should aim to do is to try to recite alongside the audio that you are listening to. When you fail, try again and again. With the help of Allāh, your tongue will become more fluent with recitation.
(2) Recite more of the Qur’ān
One of the reasons for reciting slowly is that you don’t have a strong practice of recitation. Without practice, you won’t get better. The more you practice, the better you will become. A good framework is to recite the Qur’ān aloud for 15 minutes each day for a month. In the second month, go back and recite from where you started, once again for 15 minutes. Do this again in the third month. Now you will have recited the same verses each day for 15 minutes for three months. During the three-month period, you should be noting down any improvements. Did you cover more ground in the second month or the third month? You can continue in like fashion and increase the time period from 15 to 30 mins and then eventually 60 minutes. You can also take a 6-month framework and recite the Qur’ān by looking for longer (an hour a day) or look to complete the Qur’ān as many times as possible in the year.
(3) Find a method that works for you
When reciting the Qur’ān and you’re trying to recite faster, you need to work out what it is that you’re struggling with and try to figure out what method makes you faster. Firstly, you should record yourself and try to identify patterns and places of struggle. These will help you pinpoint what you need to work on. You may work with a teacher on these specific things. Secondly, when it comes to methods, you should think about things like using your finger or a pen when reciting.
(4) Break up the verses into chunks (another method)
You may need to break up verses to make life easier for yourself. This often helps slow readers to gain better fluency and increase their speed. You can read my article about chunking for memorisation.
(5) Have a warm-up routine in place
Having a warm-up routine in place can help you recite faster. Preview the portion you intend to memorise ahead of time by reading it, listening to it, writing it, reading the tafseer and listening to any tafseer. These will help you become more familiar with the portion you intent to memorise.
(6) Beat the emotions and inner-chatter
Another surprising thing that can lead to slow reading is feelings and environment. Feelings of boredom, intimidation, nervousness, anxiety, stress, and distraction can cause a person to recite slower than usual. What do you notice when you’re feeling down or are emotional when reciting? You will notice that you’ll be reciting slower and more attentively. When memorising the Qur’ān, you should first speak about any emotions or thoughts that you’re facing. Write them down or speak to someone first. Then start to recite after you’ve released them. This will help immensely.
You should also recite and memorise in more quiet spaces that can give you better focus and concentration on your recitation.
(7) Learn Arabic
Another thing about those that tend to recite slower is that they love to feel connected to the Qur’ān. They love to be perfect and love to understand what they are reciting. If you want to speed up, the best thing to do is to learn some vocabulary. Become familiar with the words of the Qur’ān. This will make you a lot faster!
May Allāh make it easier for you and enable you to recite well and beautifully.