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Last Updated: 2008/08/18
Summary of question
What are the characteristics of a true qari (one who recites the Quran) according to Imam Sadiq (as)?
The What are the characteristics of a true qari (one who recites the Quran) according to Imam Sadiq (as)?
Concise answer

Imam Sadiq (as) has stated some traits and characteristics for those who want to be qaris (experts in the field of recitation) of the Holy Quran. Some of these characteristics are as follows: Accepting the wilayah (authority) of the Ahlul-Bayt, reciting its verses correctly, to be influenced by its verses, have wudhu when reciting its verses, be truthful and honest individuals and stay away from flattery and blandishment, be humble towards the Quran, be after learning and study, not to be after his/her own benefits and advantages by reciting the Quran and to act according to the Quran and recite it with a pure intention.

Detailed Answer

Since the Quran is a divine book from Allah (swt) for the guidance of all mankind, the infallibles have given us instructions on how to make the most out of this very important book. We will point to a few hadiths regarding this subject.

1- Accepting the authority of the Ahlul-Bayt

The authority and love of the Ahlul-Bayt is the main condition for our prayers and worship to be accepted, and the recitation of the Holy Quran is one form of worship, so in order for our recitations to be accepted, we need to be followers of the Ahlul-Bayt and have accepted the authority given to them by Allah (swt). Tabarsi reports that Imam Sadiq (as) said: “We (the Ahlul-Bayt) are the bearers of knowledge, the ignorant ones are our enemies and the men of reason and prudency are our true followers, and that is because knowledge that a person who lacks our wilayah (accepting the authority of the Ahlul-Bayt) possesses, and his recitation do him no good, even if he recites very well.”[1]

It has been narrated from Husein ibn Abil-Ala that Imam Sadiq (as) said: “…If the reciter (of the Quran) is a Shia, Allah (swt) will enter him into paradise without any fear of reckoning, and his intercession regarding his family and brothers in faith is accepted.”[2]

2- Reciting the Quran correctly

There is a verse that says: “(This is) a scripture that We have revealed unto thee, full of blessing, that they may ponder its revelations”.[3]

Concerning this verse, Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) says: “What is meant by this verse is that those who recite it, recite it correctly and observe the places that they have to pause on and the points that they aren’t supposed to stop at and the other manners of its recitation. They also concentrate on its meanings and act according to its instructions and guidelines.  They are in hope of its promises and afraid of its threats. They learn a lesson from its stories. They accept what has been demanded in it and stay away from what it has prohibited. By Allah (swt), this verse isn’t speaking of memorizing its verses, learning its different letters, reciting its chapters, and teaching its five or ten sections, what they do (those who only memorize and recite the Quran without achieving the other goals that the recitation of the Quran can carry) is memorize its words, yet they break its limits. The only thing that this verse is asking for is concentration on its meanings and acting according to its instructions. Allah (swt) says: “(This is) a scripture that We have revealed unto thee, full of blessing, that they may ponder its revelations”.”[4]

4- Being influenced by the Quran

Imam Sadiq (as): It is recommended for the one reciting the Quran to ask Allah (swt) for the best thing he can when he reaches verses that speak of His mercy and grace, and to seek refuge in Allah and fear the Hellfire and worldly punishment when reaching verses that speak of chastisement.”[5]

4- Having wudhu and being of ablution while reciting

In reality, the recitation of the Quran is listening to the Allah’s (swt) words, and the one reciting is truly in the presence of Allah (swt)[6], therefore good manners call for one to be of ablution when reciting the Quran.

Hasan ibn abil-Husein Daylami, in his book reports that Imam Sadiq (as) stated: “The recitation of the Quran is better than dhikr (remembrance of Allah (swt)), dhikr is better than charity, charity is better than fasting, and fasting is protection from the fire.” His Excellency also said: “The one who recites the Quran receives a hundred blessings in return for every letter he recites in his prayer if he prays while standing up, and if he prays while sitting, he gets fifty blessings in return for every letter he recites in his prayer, as for the Quran that is recited outside of prayer, he is given twenty-five blessings for every letter, given that he has wudhu, and if he doesn’t have wudhu, he is given ten blessings for every letter. What I mean by letter isn’t something like المر, what I mean by letter is that one who recites the word المر, is given ten blessings for the letter alif, ten blessings for the letter lam, ten blessings for the letter mim, and ten blessings for the letter ra’.[7]

5- Being truthful and honest and not of blandishment and flattery

It has been narrated that Imam Sadiq (as) reported the Prophet (pbuh) saying: “This nation (the Muslim nation) will continuously be supported and under the grace of Allah (swt) as long as the reciters of the Quran don’t blandish (and praise and work for) their rulers, and as long as the scholars (of this nation) don’t cooperate with those who are corrupt so that the good individuals never show a tendency to the evil. Whenever such takes place, Allah (swt) will deprive (the Muslim nation) of His mercy and grace and oppressors will take them over and will oppress them with the worst oppression and as a result, they will go through misery and poverty. If you ever see a reciter of the Quran seek refuge in the palace of a ruler, be sure that he is a thief and be careful not to be tricked by him. He claims that he wants to abolish all tyranny and oppression and defend the rights of the oppressed, nevertheless, this is one of the devil’s tricks and one of Satan’s traps; he takes advantage of (the reciter’s) recitation in order to reach his own wicked goals.”[8]

6- Being modest and humble in front of the Quran

Imam Sadiq (as) states that: “Whosoever recites the Quran, but not with modesty and humility, and without becoming tenderhearted and fearful of Allah (swt), hasn’t held its true respect and has considered its owner (Allah (swt)) low. Such an individual is of loss; a clear loss.”

His Excellency also says: “In order to reach the true rewards and benefits of reciting the Quran, three things must be observed; 1- A humble heart 2- A body free of all work and business 3- An empty place. Each of these three has its own advantages and great benefits, and humility causes Satan to flee.

Just as how Allah (swt) puts it when teaching us how to recite the Quran: “When you recite the Qur'an, seek refuge in Allah from the outcast Satan.”[9][10]

7- Learn and study

Imam Sadiq (as): “The reciter of the Quran who lacks knowledge, is like one who has no wealth and land, yet is proud of himself, the proud and poor one who hates others because he himself has nothing, while others hate him because of his pride.

8- Not to recite for money and other benefits

Imam Sadiq (as): “So always be with the Quran…Some people recite the Quran for others to say that they are reciters of the Quran, others recite the Quran in order to benefit from their recitation and to obtain worldly things, there is no true benefit in any of these recitations. There are also some who recite the Quran to make good use of it in their prayers and during the day and night.”[11]

9- Acting according to the Quran

Naturally, as is expected, the actions of the reciter of the Quran must be in accordance with the Quran more than others, and in the case of not acting as the Quran calls for and being covered by sins, the reciter’s punishment will be harder and harsher than normal people.

Imam Sadiq (as) reports from his father and grandfathers that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “On the Day of Judgement, the Hellfire will speak with three groups of people; the ruler, the reciter of the Quran, and the wealthy individual. It will call the ruler: “Oh you whom Allah (swt) granted power and sovereignty, yet you refused to be just!” and will swallow him like the seed that a chicken swallows. It will call the reciter: “Oh you who showed yourself as an adorned person, but went to battle with Allah (swt) by disobeying and Him!” and will go on to swallow him as well. It will call the wealthy person: “Oh you whom Allah (swt) gave plenty as a result of His grace, and didn’t help the low-status believer who was in need of and asked for a loan and instead showed selfishness!” and will devour him.[12]

10- Having a pure intention when reciting the Quran

One of the criterion for the acceptance of our prayers and worship is t have a pure intention, and one who redites the Quran isn’t an exception. If the one reciting the Quran recits it to impress others or to practice on his/her voice etc., not only doesn’t such a recitation have any value, but it also will be a burden on the shoulders of the one reciting.

Imam Sadiq (as) said: “I advise you to be with the Quran. Learn the Quran, some learn it so that others say that so and so is a reciter of the Quran, some learn the Quran and their goal is for others to recognize them for their good voices. There is no benefit in any of these groups of reciters. (Meanwhile), some learn the Quran to be with the it day and night and don’t think about who knows and who doesn’t.[13]

[1] Jafar Wujdani, Alfayn, translation of Wujdani, pg. 827. As it has been quoted by the Ahlul-Bayt that one day The Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (as) was passing by in one of the alleys of the city of Kufah, accompanied by Kumail ibn Ziyad. A reciter of the Quran was reciting a verse of the Quran in his house with the most beautiful voice ever. Kumail sighed and said: “I wish I was a hair on the body of this reciter of the Quran!” Imam Ali (as) replied: “Don’t make this wish, in the future you will see why!” After a while, the battle of Nahrawan took place and the Khawarij were killed. After the battle, when the dead were being searched, and Imam Ali (as) himself was among those searching as a means of sympathy, his Excellency reached the same reciter of the Quran. He called for Kumail. When he came, he asked him: “Do you know who this is?” “No, Oh Commander of the Faithful!” Kumail replied. Imam Ali (as) went on to say: “This is the same reciter of the Quran who would recite the verse “أمن هو قانت” and you wished that day (to be a hair on his body), do you still wish to be a hair on his body? This wicked person who is willing to fight me to be killed by the believers. He said: “Be careful, be careful, without accepting his leadership, neither knowledge does no good nor does zohd (living a simple life without much materialistic things) nor does the recitation of the Quran.

[2] Ali Akbar Ghaffari, Thawabul-A’mal, pg. 239, translation of Ghaffari.

[3] Pg. 29.

[4] Seyyid Abbas Tabatabai, Irshadul-Qulub, translation of Tabatabai, pg. 314.

[5] Muhammad Baqir Behboudi, Gozideye Kafi, vol. 2, pg. 213.

[6] Although we are always in the presence of Allah (swt), nevertheless, this presence is a special and specific one.

[7] Muhammad Husein Na’iji, Adabe Razo Niyaz beh Dargahe bi Niyaz, pg. 245.

[8] Muhammad Reza Ata’i, Majmu’eye Varam, Adab va Akhlaq dar Islam, pg. 163.

[9] Nahl:98.

[10] Abdul-Razzaq Gilani, Misbahul-Shari’ah (translation), pg. 112 and 113.

[11] Seyyid Javad Mustafavi, Usulul-Kafi (translation), vol. 4, pg. 410.

[12] Seyyid Mahdi Hijazi, Hijazi, Seyyid Alireza Va’idi Khosroshahi, Durarul-Akhbar (translation), pg. 633 quoted by Khisal of Sheikh Saduq.

[13] Muhammad Husein Na’iji, Adabe Razo Niyaz beh Dargahe bi Niyaz, pg. 247.

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