What is needed to benefit from reading the Quran

Ibn a-Qayyim describes what is needed for one to benefit from one’s reading of the Quran. His discussion is based on the verse, 

إِنَّ فِي ذَ‌ٰلِكَ لَذِكْرَىٰ لِمَن كَانَ لَهُ قَلْبٌ أَوْ أَلْقَى السَّمْعَ وَهُوَ شَهِيدٌ

“Verily in this is a message for any who has a heart and understanding or who gives ear and is earnestly present.” [50:37]

Ibn al-Qayyim states that in a most succinct manner, this verse describes exactly the conditions that one must meet in order to benefit from hearing Allah’s revelation. he must have a “heart”; this is the “receptacle” that is to receive the message. If this receptacle is not ready, is not open to the message or is dead to the message, it will not be able to receive anything, even if the lips should happen to be reading the message.

Second, Allah mentions that “the person must give ear”, in other words, he must be listening intently, a type of listening wherein the person tries to comprehend what is being said.

Third, Allah states that “he is present.” Ibn al-Qayyim states that this means that his heart is present and attuned to what is being said.

Therefore, if the Quran finds the proper receptacle–which is the living heart wanting Allah’s guidance–and the proper conditions are met–wherein the person is listening attentively to what Allah is saying–and there are no obstacles–such as the heart not being attuned by turning its thoughts to other things while the tongue alone is reading Allah’s message–then the proper and desired effect will result: the person will benefit from the Quran and it will serve as a reminder and guide for him.

From How to Approach and Understand the Quran by Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo.


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