This is the first post of a series of reflections on Hadith related to the virtues, merits, and manners related to the Qur’ān.
Lady ‘Āi’sha (May Allāh be pleased with her) said: “The Messenger of Allāh (Peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: ‘The proficient reciter of the Qur’ān will be with the honoured elite angels (and the great noble prophets) (peace be with them) [Safart’l Kiram al Bararah], and he who recites the Qur’ān and finds it difficult to recite [orally impaired or otherwise]*, for him will be a double reward.'”
*Another narration uses the words “wa yashtaddu ‘alayhi” meaning “and he has extreme difficulty upon reciting it”
I taught this Hadith reciting in one of my Tajwīd classes as a basis of discussion after one of the students had struggled to pronounce some of the articulation points of letters [Makhārij al Hurūf] correctly.
These were the discussion points:
Who do you think is better?
It’s a question I think at best is not appropriate.
The proficient reciter [Al-Māhir bil’ Qur’ān] described in the Hadith is a person who has mastered reciting the Qur’ān with Tajwīd whereas the other is struggling to obtain that level. This comparison should only mean one thing, the proficient reciter is better than the two. Proficiency trumps improficiency, right? But hold on a second.
The proficient reciter gets company as a reward and the one who struggles gets two rewards. What is so amazing about this is that the reward of the one who struggles is not mentioned. It appears that means the reward for the one who struggles may be greater than the one who is proficient. For one, the proficient reciter gets one reward which is mentioned. That means there’s nothing else for them, it’s a done deal. The one who is struggling is getting two rewards but we don’t know what it is. This reminds me of the rewards of fasting for the sake of Allāh. When you struggle with fasting and keeping it well and pure, the reward is a secret. Likewise, when one is struggling with the Qur’ān and its recitation but keeps chipping away despite the struggle because they are doing so for the sake of Allāh, the reward is a secret. That reward sounds like it’s greater. Ordinarily too, if I am to tell you what gift I will be handing over to you, it’s not special. But if I give you a gift that you weren’t expecting or didn’t know about, that’s special.
What should we be aiming for?
We say that the question should really be: what are we aiming for? The Beloved Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is indicating the aim should, of course, be proficiency. We should aim for proficiency because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) himself was proficient. We are ordered in the Qur’ān to recite with proficiency (Tartīl).
But there is more to it than this, let’s discuss it further.
Two Rewards – Is it An excuse For People Not To Become Proficient?
There is an amazing point made that both the proficient reciter and the struggling reciter are in fact linked. How did the proficient reciter become proficient? For some, things come naturally but for others, they have to go through struggles to get where they are and because of that journey they get such a great reward. Yet on the other side, what makes a person struggle? The Hadith using the words extreme difficulty indicates some type of impairment or disability. Alhamdulillāh, I know of many individuals who have memorised the entire Qur’ān by heart with perfection (Itqān) and great proficiency despite being disabled with blindness, or a speech impediment. We cannot imagine how difficult it would be for them.
We can imagine one thing though – the greatness of such an achievement. We also see people struggle who are without impairments or impediments as such, perhaps struggling to pronounce certain letters and eventually after some struggle being able to deal with it. This is why there are two rewards for such individuals, yet what is truly amazing is that we do not really know what the reward might be – it could be Allāh Himself plus the company of the angels?
Another thing here is, “Did the Prophet, peace be with him, mention the word better or make a comparison?” No, he did not. Both are in fact separate yet interlinked.
So the sole aim is to reach proficiency to a level that you are able to! No one is better than the other except in proficiency. Perhaps we can liken this to Taqwa (nearness to Allāh). A quality that makes a believer better than another in the Eyes of Allāh. When you group together your intentions, your struggles, and your piety, your station (maqām) begins to rise and so does the reward.
So do not be sad if you struggle to recite.
I once heard one of our teachers say that those who struggle yet keep persistent without pain, sorrow, or complaining will be beloved to Allāh.
You keep going ok!
Allāh bless you.
What We Learn From This Hadith
- If you are able to reach proficiency because you do not have impairment, you should struggle to achieve it.
- If you have any form of impairment or impediments, this Hadith acts as your motivation – you will be rewarded twice!
- Remember, struggle is part of the package – No Pain, No Gain!
- You either fall into either one of the two. Whatever that might be. You aim for the top!
- No one is better than the other except in proficiency!
- Do your best.
May Allāh allow us to recite with proficiency and only for His Sake.