If you want to benefit from the Qur’aan, you must concentrate and devote your heart solely when reciting and listening to it. You must pay attention, and try to comprehend the fact that what you are reading is the word of Allaah. As you read, you must know that Allaah is addressing you in and through this Qur’aan. Indeed, it is the words of Allaah to you through the tongue of His Messenger. Allaah says:
إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَذِكْرَىٰ لِمَن كَانَ لَهُ قَلْبٌ أَوْ أَلْقَى السَّمْعَ وَهُوَ شَهِيدٌ ﴿٣٧﴾
which means, “Verily, therein is indeed a reminder for him who has a heart or gives ear while he is heedful.” [Qaf (50):37]
Obtaining the perfect effect depends upon the stimulus, the place of the receiver, the condition for the effect to occur, and the absence of any obstacle that may obstruct the effect. The above verse explains all that in the most precise, and clear words. When Allaah says which means, “Verily, therein is indeed a reminder” it is a sign for what had passed from the beginning of the chapter until this verse. His saying, “for him who has a heart” refers to the place of the receiver and it means the living heart which comprehends what Allaah says. For example when Allaah says,
إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرٌ وَقُرْآنٌ مُّبِينٌ ﴿٦٩﴾ لِّيُنذِرَ مَن كَانَ حَيًّا
which means, “This is only a reminder and a plain Qur’aan. That he or it (Muhammad (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) or the Qur’aan) may give warning to him who is living (a healthy minded believer).” [Yasin (36):69-70]
“Who is living” means the one who has a living heart. And when Allaah says which means, “Or gives ear” means the person listens to what is being said to him. And this is the condition in order to be truly affected by the words.
And His saying, “While he is heedful…” means to be aware; that his heart is conscious and not distracted by any worldly matter.
Ibn Qutaibah said, “He is listening to the Book of Allaah while his heart is present and understands; not being inattentive or unaware. If the heart is inattentive; lacking understanding concerning what is being said, as well as failing to see or meditate on it, then there is an obstruction. If however, the Qur’aan produced an effect on the receiver, which is the living heart, and the condition of listening was fulfilled, and the heart is not engaged with something other than the meaning of the speech, the desired effect will occur, which is obtaining benefit from the Qur’aan and remembrance.
The Living Heart
Some people may say, “If the effect will take place by the combination of these matters, what is the purpose of the article ‘or’ in ‘Or gives ear’ while it is the article ‘and,’ which joins two matters and not ‘or,’ which indicates only one. To this, it can be said, “This is a good question and the answers is as follows:
“The speech includes the article ‘or’ because it considers the case of the one being addressed and called. Many people have a naturally living heart and so whenever he thinks and meditates, his heart and mind will lead him to the truth of the Qur’aan, and his heart will believe in what the Qur’aan has said. And here is the passing of the Qur’aan over his heart will only increase his natural light. This is the description of those, about whom Allaah says,
وَيَرَى الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّبِّكَ هُوَ الْحَقَّ
which means, “And those who have been given knowledge see that what is revealed to you (O Muhammad) from your Lord is the truth.” [Saba', (34):6]
And He, the Almighty says about them,
اللَّـهُ نُورُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ مَثَلُ نُورِهِ كَمِشْكَاةٍ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ ۖ الْمِصْبَاحُ فِي زُجَاجَةٍ ۖ الزُّجَاجَةُ كَأَنَّهَا كَوْكَبٌ دُرِّيٌّ يُوقَدُ مِن شَجَرَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ زَيْتُونَةٍ لَّا شَرْقِيَّةٍ وَلَا غَرْبِيَّةٍ يَكَادُ زَيْتُهَا يُضِيءُ وَلَوْ لَمْ تَمْسَسْهُ نَارٌ ۚ نُّورٌ عَلَىٰ نُورٍ ۗ يَهْدِي اللَّـهُ لِنُورِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّـهُ الْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ ﴿٣٥﴾
which means, “Allaah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is as (if there were) a niche and within it a lamp, the lamp is in glass, the glass as it were a brilliant star, lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of east (i.e. neither it gets sun-rays only in the morning) nor of the west (i.e. nor it gets sun-rays only in the afternoon, but it is exposed to the sun all day long), whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself), though no fire touched it. Light upon Light! Allaah guides to His Light whom He wills.” [An-Nur (24):35]
This is the natural light of the pious heart that recognizes the light and beauty of the Divine light contained in the truth of the Qur’aan, and this is the state of the owner of a living heart that is aware.
Ibn Qayyim said, “We have mentioned some of the lessons contained in this verse in the Book Ijtima’ Al-Juyush Al-Islamiyah ‘ala Ghazw Al-Mu’atilah wal Jahmiyah. The owner of the heart combines his own heart and the meanings of the Qur’aan. He finds that it is as if it was written in his heart and he reads and comprehends it with his heart. Many people do not possess a perfectly prepared and aware heart, namely a completely living heart. Such a heart needs a witness to distinguish between right and wrong. The life of his heart; his light, and his natural brightness do not reach the level of the owner of a living and aware heart. The way to lead him to this guidance is to dedicate his hearing to the words of the Qur’aan and his heart to think, meditate, and comprehend its meaning. He will then know that it is the truth.
One: The state of he who sees his own eyes what he is being called to and told about.
Two: The state of he who knows the truthfulness and piety of he who is informing him and says, “His truthfulness is enough for me.” Such is the level of faith while the first is the level of Ihsan. The first reaches ‘Assured knowledge’ and his heart is promoted to the rank of the ‘Assured eye’ while the other has definite belief, which rescued him from disbelief and enabled him to enter into Islaam.
The Assured Eye is of two kinds: one in this worldly life and the other in the hereafter. The one, which is found in this life is attributed to the heart, like an eye witness. Whatever the Messenger told us about unseen matters, will be seen in the hereafter with our own eyes and in this life such things will be ‘seen’ by insight.
 Ibn Qutaibah is ‘Abdullah bin Muslim bin Qutaibah Ad-Dainury. He is one of the chiefs of literature and has produced many works. He was born in Baghdad in 213 A.H. He settled down in Kutah, and was appointed as the judge of Ad-Dainur and attributed to it. He (rahimahullaah) passed away in Baghdad 276 A.H. From among his works are Al-Ma’arif, Adab Al-Katib, Al-Ma’aly, and Ta’wil Mukhtalif Al-Qur’aan. See Al-Bidayah wa An-Nihayah, vol.11, p.61.
- Abridged from: Al-Fawaai’d || Ibn Qayyim, rahimahullaah [p17-20]