Extracted from Siyar A‘laam an-Nubalaa’, by ath-Thahabee
Translated by Aboo Shaybah
There is a hadeeth collected by both al-Bukhaaree and Muslim from ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas where he said, “The Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) said to me, ‘Read the Qur’aan each month,’ to which I replied, ‘I have strength (to do more).’ He said, ‘Then read it every twenty nights,’ to which I replied, ‘I have strength (to do more).’ He finally said, ‘Read it in seven, and do not go beyond that (making it less than seven).’”
Al-Imaam ath-Thahabee, in his book Siyar A‘laam an-Nubalaa’, recounted the same situation – though with a slightly different wording and less authentic chain of narration – and then commented on it in his biography of ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr.
Al-Imaam ath-Thahabee commented as follows.
Ibn Jurayj stated: Ibn Abee Mulaykah narrated to us, from Yahyaa ibn Hakeem ibn Safwaan, from ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr who said, “I collected the Qur’aan and recited it all in one night. Then, the Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) told me, ‘Read it every month,’ to which I replied, ‘O Messenger of Allaah! Let me enjoy my strength and youth (by doing more than that).’ He then said, ‘Read it in twenty days,’ to which I replied, ‘Let me enjoy myself (in doing more than that).’ He then said, ‘Read it in seven days,’ to which I replied, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, let me enjoy myself (in doing even more).’ However, he refused.” [Reported by an-Nasaa’ee]
It is authentically reported that the Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) further reduced the period to three nights, and he forbade him from reciting it in less than three. This was stated in relation to the portion of the Qur’aan that had been revealed up until that point in time; then, after this statement was made, the rest of the Qur’aan continued to be revealed. Thus, at the very least, it is disliked for the entire Qur’aan to be recited in less than three days, since someone who does so would not comprehend nor contemplate over what he recited. However, if he were to recite slowly over the course of a week, and continue doing so regularly, it would be an excellent deed, since the religion of Islaam is one of ease.
By Allaah, if someone were to slowly recite one-seventh of the Qur’aan during night prayers, while also remaining consistent in performing the raatibah (optional prayers like those before and after the obligatory ones), duhaa (forenoon prayer), and tahiyyatul-masjid (two rak’ah before sitting in the masjid); the authentically reported athkaar (remembrance of Allaah), including those at the times of waking, sleeping, after the obligatory prayers, and the last hours of the night; pursuing beneficial knowledge and engaging oneself with it sincerely for the sake of Allaah; enjoining what is right, teaching and guiding others who are in need of knowledge, and reforming those who do wrong; performing the obligatory prayers in congregation, with calmness, eemaan, and humble submission to Allaah; fulfilling all religious obligations and abstaining from major sins; supplicating to Allaah often and regularly asking His forgiveness; giving sadaqah (voluntary charity); and preserving the ties of kinship; accomplishing all of that, with constant humility and sincerity, would certainly be an immense and lofty task, and would lead to attaining the status of ashaab al-yameen (those who will receive the records of their deeds in their right hands on the Day of Judgment) and being amongst the Awliyaa’ of Allaah who obey His commands, carrying out obligations and abstaining from the impermissible.
It is most desirable to achieve all of the above. However, when the devoted worshipper of Allaah attempts to complete the recitation of the entire Qur’aan each day, he goes against the straight and moderate course of Islaam, leaving him unable to perform much of what was previously mentioned, and not having contemplated what he recited. This great worshipper and Companion (‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr) used to say when he attained old age, “How I wish I had accepted the concession given by the Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam).” He was advised similarly about fasting, and he continued asking permission to do more until the Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) finally told him, “Fast one day and break your fast the next day. Such was the fast of my brother Daawood (Alayhis Salaam).” It is also authentically reported that the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) said, “The best fasting is that of Daawood.” He also prohibited perpetual fasting and ordered sleeping for a portion of the night by saying, “However, I stand to pray and I sleep; I fast and break my fast; I marry women; and I eat meat. Therefore, whoever turns away from my Sunnah is not from me.”
Therefore, someone who does not adhere to the path of the Prophetic Sunnah, letting it define the manner and amount of his worship will be regretful, feel overwhelmed, and spoil his overall frame of mind. Furthermore, he will lose out on the tremendous blessing of following the Sunnah of the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) who was compassionate and merciful to the believers, keen to benefit them, and always directed them to the most virtuous deeds. He ordered them to avoid monasticism and being overly abstinent, which are matters that are not part of his teachings. Thus, he prohibited fasting every day, as well as wisaal (fasting consecutive days without breaking the fast in between), and praying for most of the night except the last tenth of it; he prohibited celibacy for someone able to get married; he prohibited the complete avoidance of meat; and so forth among the various commands and prohibitions.
Hence, the worshipper who may not have much knowledge of such things would be excused and rewarded; while the worshipper who knows the Prophetic narrations, yet exceeds their limits, mistakenly leaves what is best for something inferior. Ultimately, it must be borne in mind that the most beloved actions to Allaah are those which constantly continue, no matter how small they might seem.
May Allaah inspire us all to abide by the Sunnah, and may He keep us away from following desires and going astray.
“Make things easy and do not make things difficult. Give glad tidings and do not repel people..”
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