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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

When the Qur'an is recited, listen carefully to it, and keep silent so that you may be shown mercy


Qur'an is the true word of Allah and therefore Allah Himself lays down the guidelines and etiquette for its recitation and listening. In the times of disbelieving, the disbelievers would mock when the verses of Qur'an were read and would speak louder than the reciter of Qur'an so as to play down its recitation. The following 204th verse of Surah 7. Al Aaraf is one such commandment from Allah for Qur'an to be listened to silently so that mercy could be showered on to the listeners.

The commandment is even true for all times and applicable to the believers as well that when Qur'an is being recited in their presence, they should leave others chores and listen to the word of God silently with an intent to understand it, for those who understand the words of Qur'an and act upon these are the one who will be the blessed:

وَاِذَا قُرِئَ الۡقُرۡاٰنُ فَاسۡتَمِعُوۡا لَهٗ وَاَنۡصِتُوۡا لَعَلَّكُمۡ تُرۡحَمُوۡنَ‏  
So when the Qur'an is recited, listen carefully to it, and keep silent so that you may be shown mercy.' ( Surah 7. Al Aaraf: 204)
It means, "In your bigotry and obduracy you turn a deaf ear to the Qur'an when it is being recited, and make a loud noise so that no one should be able to listen to it. Leave this wrong attitude towards it and listen to it with attention and consider the teachings contained in it. It is just possible that your acquaintance with it may enlighten your hearts and make you co-sharers with the Believers in the mercy of your Lord."

Incidentally, it should be noted that the above answer to the taunts of the opponents is so nice and sweet and appealing to the hearts that words cannot describe its excellence. There is also a lesson of wisdom for those who are engaged in the missionary work.

Though the real object of this verse is the same that has been stated above, incidentally it also enjoins the hearers to remain silent and listen to it as a mark of respect which is due to the Book of Allah. It is also deduced from this that when the Imam recites the Qur'an during the Salat, the followers in the congregation should listen to it in silence, and they should not recite anything. There is, however, difference of opinion among the Imams in regard to its interpretation. According to Imam Abu Hanifah and his companions, the followers in the congregation should not recite anything whether the Imam is reciting the Qur'an aloud or silently in his mind. However, Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad arc of the opinion that only in that case when the Imam is reciting the Qur'an aloud, the followers should not recite anything, but in the other case they should recite Surah Al-Fatihah. But according to Imam Shafi'i, the followers must recite Surah AI-Fatihah, whether the Imam is reciting loudly or silently in his mind. He bases his opinion on the Traditions according to which one's Sales is not complete without the recital of Surah AI-Fatihah.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir
The Order to listen to the Qur'an - After Allah mentioned that this Qur'an is a clear evidence, guidance and mercy for mankind, He commanded that one listen to the Qur'an when it is recited, in respect and honor of the Qur'an. 

This is to the contrary of the practice of the pagans of Quraysh, who said, ("Listen not to this Qur'an, and make noise in the midst of its (recitation)'') [41:26]. Ibn Jarir reported that Ibn Mas`ud said; "We would give Salams to each other during Salah. So the Ayah of Qur'an was revealed; (When the Qur'an is recited, then listen to it.)

Towards Understanding Quran:
The unbelievers are asked to shed their prejudice and to abandon their deliberate indifference to the Qur'an. Whenever the Qur'an is recited to them, they stuff their fingers into their ears and make a lot of noise lest they or any others hear the Qur'an. They should better behave more maturely and make an effort to grasp the teachings of the Qur'an. It is quite likely that their study, of the Book would ultimately make them share with Muslims the blessings of the Qur'an. This is an excellent, subtle and heart-winning approach which simply cannot be over-praised. Those who are interested in learning the art of effective preaching can benefit immensely by, pondering over this Qur'anic verse.

The main purpose of the verse has also been explained. By implication, however, the verse also enjoins people to be silent and to listen attentively to the Qur'an when it is being recited. The verse also provides the basis of the rule that when the leader (imam) is reciting verses of the Qur'an in Prayer, the followers in the congregation should (refrain from reciting and) listen to the recitation in silence. There is some disagreement among scholars on this issue. Abu Hanifah and his disciples are of the view that the followers in the congregation should remain silent, irrespective of whether the the imam is reciting the Qur'an aloud or silently in his mind. On the other hand, Malik and Ahmad b. Hanbal are of the opinion that the followers in the congregation should listen silently only when the Qur'an is being recited aloud. According to Shafi'i, the followers in the congregation should also recite the Qur'an regardless of whether the imam is reciting the Qur'an aloud or silently'. His view is based on the Hadith that Prayer without recitation of al-Fatihah is void. (See Ibn Rushd, Bidayat al-Mujtahid, vol. 1, pp. 149-50; Ibn Qudamah, al-Mughni, vol. 1, pp. 562-9 - Ed.)

Tafsir Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
And when the Qur’ān is recited, listen to it and pay heed, [refraining] from speech, so that you might find mercy: this was revealed regarding [the requirement of] refraining from speech during the [mosque] sermon, which here has been expressed by [the recital of] ‘the Qur’ān’, because it [the sermon] comprises it; others say that it was revealed regarding the [requirement of silence and attention during the] recitation of the Qur’ān in general.

Asrar - Kashf Al-Asrar:
And when the Qur'an is recited, listen to it and give ear. Perhaps you will be shown mercy.

Listening [samāʿ] is the reality of giving ear to the Qur'an. Listening gives more life to a man's days than the spirit gives to the body. Listening is a spring that bubbles up from the midst of the heart, nurtured by the well of truthfulness. Truthfulness is to listening as the sun's body is to its rays. As long as the darknesses of mortal nature do not lift away from the heart, the reality of listening's sun will not be permitted to disclose itself in the desert of a man's breast.

Know that listening is of two sorts: The listening of the common people is one thing, the listening of the elect something else. The common people's share in listening is sound and its melodies, and the elect's share in listening is a subtlety in the midst of the sound and its meanings and allusions. The common people listen with the ear of the head, the organ of discernment, and the movement of the natures so as to be freed of sorrow and at ease from their preoccupations. The elect listen with a dead soul, a thirsty heart, and a burnt breath. They reap the fruit of the breeze of intimacy, endless reminder, and everlasting happiness.

It is said that the reality of listening is remembering the eternal call that came forth on the Day of the Compact from the Court of All-Compellingness and the Side of Unity: " Am I not your Lord? " [7:172]. It became connected to the hearing of the servants and its tasting reached their spirits. This is a call whose repository is in that world and whose lodging place [11:6] is in the spirit. What bears witness is the mark, what it expresses is the title-page. What is supposition in reports is face-to-face vision in finding. The servant's seven bodily members listen to the Friendthe call of the Friend does not belong to the now, for it is everlasting.

Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi:
(And when the Qur’an is recited, give ear to it and pay heed…) [7:204]. Abu Mansur al-Mansuri informed us> ‘Ali ibn ‘Umar al-Hafiz> ‘Abd Allah ibn Sulayman al-Ash‘ath> al-‘Abbas ibn al-Walid ibn Mizyad> his father> al-Awza‘i> ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Amir> Zayd ibn Aslam> his father> Abu Hurayrah who said regarding this verse (And when the Qur’an is recited…): “This was revealed about raising voices while in prayer behind the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace”. Said Qatadah: “When the prayer was first obligated, people used to speak during their prayers. A man would come and shout to his friend: ‘How many units of prayers have you performed?’ and his friend would respond: ‘such-and-such’ [while he is still in his prayer]. And so this verse was revealed”. Al-Zuhri said: “This was revealed about a youth from among the Helpers. Whenever the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, recited something from the Qur’an, this youth joined him in the recitation”. Ibn ‘Abbas said: “Once, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, read aloud during a prescribed prayer and his Companions read behind him with raised voices which made him stumble in his reading, and so this verse was revealed”. Sa‘id ibn Jubayr, Mujahid, ‘Ata’, ‘Amr ibn Dinar and other commentators of the Qur’an are of the opinion that this verse was revealed about listening to the prayer leader upon giving the sermon of the Friday prayer.

You may listen to Nouman Ali Khan explaining this verse:
May Allah help us understand Qur'ān and help us to act upon the commandments of Allah contained therein. Aameen.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
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Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Qur'ān officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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