This is the first post of a series of reflections on Hadith related to the virtues, merits, and manners related to the Qur’an.
Lady ‘Ai’sha (May Allah be pleased her) said: “The Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘The proficient reciter of the Qur’an 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’an 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 Tajwid classes as a basis of discussion after one of the students had struggled to pronounce some of the articulation points of letters [Makharij al Huruf] correctly. These were the discussion points:
Who is better?
It’s a question I think at best is not appropriate. Let’s find out why. The proficient reciter [Al-Mahir bil’Qur’an] described in the Hadith is a person who has mastered reciting the Qur’an with Tajwid whereas the other is struggling to obtain that level. This comparison can only mean one thing, the proficient reciter is better of the two. Proficiency trumps improficiency. Wait a second! The proficient reciter gets the elite and honoured of creation as a reward and the one who struggles gets two rewards. What is so amazing about this Hadith is that the reward of the one who struggles is not mentioned explicitly so we are told that the one who struggles is inferior to the one who is proficient. This is entirely based upon the fact that the reciter will be with the honoured and great of creation. We say that the question should really be: what are we aiming for? The Beloved Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is indicating the aim should be proficiency which is why it is mentioned first in the Hadith. We should aim for proficiency because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) himself was proficient and we are ordered in the Qur’an to recite with proficiency (Tartil). 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 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. Alhamdulillah, I know of many individuals who have memorised the entire Qur’an by heart with perfection (Itqan) and great proficiency despite being impaired 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 Allah Himself plus the company of the elite? Or the Hadith could mean for him would be the same two rewards. 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 expect in proficiency.
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 Allah allow us to recite with proficiency and only for His Sake.