Article: Warning against memorising the Quran without acting upon it

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

I remember something that one of my Quran teachers had told us: The Quran was not revealed except to be applied. She then gave us an example about the proper clothing of the women from the Quran and how we need to apply that.

It was quite astonishing for the students to hear their hifdh teacher saying that. One of them asked her more about the issue of the women’s dress and the next week onwards she started dressing properly, masha-Allah.

Too often, we’re so “busy” memorising the Quran that we forget to ponder over its ayaat (verses) and apply them!

And that goes against the whole purpose of why the Quran was revealed.

There are quite a few ayaat and ahadeeth which mention how the people of the past also made the same mistake: memorising without understanding or applying.

Here’s an article that goes into more depth about this issue:

[Note: Don’t let this STOP you from memorising the Quran under the pretext that you aren’t applying everything that you memorised.

That’s a trick of Shaytaan (the devil) by which he stops people from doing good deeds.

Continue memorising the Quran but also take some time out to understand and ponder the ayaat and try to apply whatever you are able to.]


Warning against Memorizing the Qur’aan without Acting upon it

The similitude of the one, who memorizes the Qur’aan but does not act in accordance to it, is like a donkey, which carries a load of books, but does not understand!

“Allah says in Soorah al-Jumu’ah (62): 5, “The similitude of those entrusted with Tawrah, but who subsequently failed is that of a donkey, which carries a load of books.”

Imaam Ibn Katheer (rahimahullah) writes in the Tafseer of this verse, “In this verse, Allah, the Exalted, admonishes the Jews who were entrusted with the Divine Book of Allah, Tawrah and were ordered to abide by it. However, they did not abide by it, and this is why Allah resembled them to the donkey that carries volumes of books. Surely, when the donkey carries books, it will not understand what these books contain because it is only carrying these books using its strength. This is the example of those who were entrusted with Tawrah, they read its letter but did not understand it’s meaning, nor abided by them. Rather, they even corrupted and changed the Tawrah – Therefore, there situation is worse than the donkey, because the donkey is not blessed with understanding, while they had been given the power to understand but they did not use it. This is why Allah says about them in another verse, “They are like cattle, nay even more astray, for they are heedless (of the warnings).” [Soorah al-A’raf (7): 179]

Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullah) writes in the Tafseer of this verse (Soorah al-Jumu’ah (62): 5), “Allah compares the one who carries His Book, that he may believe in it, act upon it and call (the people) to it, but who then fails to do so, neglecting to ‘bear’ it except in a literal sense, (meaning) reciting it, without putting it into practice and without understanding, without obeying it, without judging in accordance with it and without fulfilling its commands – to a donkey who carries a load of books or scriptures, without knowing what is in them. So the benefit, which he receives from them, is that he carries them on his back – no more! And this similitude, though it may have been revealed concerning the Jews, is equally applicable to anyone who ‘bears’ the Qur’aan and neglects to act upon it, does not fulfill the obligation towards it and does not take care of it.”

Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) said: “The Qur’aan is proof on your behalf or against you.” [Saheeh Muslim (432)]

This Hadeeth divides the reciters of the Qur’aan into two categories, first, those who recite the Qur’aan and it becomes a proof for them on the Day of Judgment. This is for him, who acts by the orders of the Qur’aan and stays away from that which the Qur’aan forbids. He judges by it and is pleased with its laws and regulations. He contemplates its meaning and acts in accordance with it. Allah says: “This is a Book, We have sent down to you full of blessing, so that they may ponder over its verses and so that the people of reflection take heed.” [Soorah Sad (38): 29]

Second Category is of such people who recite the Qur’aan, but it becomes a proof against them on the Day of Judgment. This refers to those who neither act in accordance to the orders of the Qur’aan, nor refrain from what it forbids. This is a warning to those people who have merely memorized the Arabic text of the Qur’aan without understanding or putting into practice its commandments, whilst believing that reciting the Qur’aan will earn reward for them and cancel their evil deeds!

Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) is authentically reported to have mentioned numerous blessings and rewards for the reciters of the Qur’aan, some among them are, “Whoever reads a single letter from Allah’s Book will receive a blessing, and each blessing is worth ten times its value.” [at-Tirmidhee, Authenticate by Shaikh al-Albanee in Saheeh Sunan at-Tirmidhee vol: 3, no: 2327]

Abu Usamah (radhiallahu anhu) also quoted Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) saying: “Recite Qur’aan, for verily it will interceded for its companion (who recites it often) on the Day of Resurrection.” [Saheeh Muslim (no: 1757)]

But, when Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) mentioned these virtues of reciting the Qur’aan, he (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) was addressing the Sahabah, who not only spoke and understood the language of the Qur’aan but they were always ready to apply the verses of the Qur’aan in their lives.

For example, when the verse, “O you who believe! Do not raise your voice over that of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) and do not speak loudly to him as you speak aloud to one another, lest your deeds may be rendered fruitless, while you know not.” [Soorah al-Hujurat (49): 2] was revealed, one of the companions of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam), Thaabit Ibn Qays (radhiallahu anhu), assumed that it referred to him, since he was noted for his loud voice. So, he got up and left the gathering and went home in grief. When Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) noticed his absence, he sent another companion to inquire. When the companion returned and informed Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) about the situation, he (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) sent for Thaabit and assured him that he will be among the people of Paradise. [Saheeh al-Bukharee vol: 6, no: 214]

So, the Sahabah used to reflect upon the verses of the Qur’aan and apply them in their lives, verses of the Qur’aan were instructions for them to be acted upon and not merely to be read or memorized.

Therefore, when Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) mentioned the virtues of reciting the Qur’aan, he was encouraging the Sahabah to read the Qur’aan as much as they could, and act according to its instructions.

Thus, in order to gain the rewards of reciting Qur’aan, it is important that we understand its meaning and act in accordance to its commandments. Allah says: “Verily, there is indeed a reminder for him who has a heart or gives ear while he is heedful.” [Soorah Qaf (50): 37]


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