al-`Irbād b. Sāriyah relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever reads the Qur’an from beginning to end will have a supplication answered.”

30 September 2013

The hadīth is found in Mu`jam al-Tabarānī al-Kabīr (647). However, its chain of transmission has `Abd al-Hamīd b. Sulaymān al-Khazā`ī as one of its narrators, and he is regarded as weak.

We should consider the practice of offering a supplication when we finish reading the Qur’an in its entirety. This is especially the case at the end of Ramadan in the Tarāwīh prayer. There is a lot of scholarly debate about this practice, with some saying it is a Sunnah practice and others dismissing it as an unfounded innovation.

We need to look at this question in greater detail. First, reading the Qur’an from beginning to end in Ramadan the course of the nightly Tarāwīh prayer is a recommended practice. This is a point all the Islamic legal scholars agree on. Indeed, one of the reasons behind the Tarāwīh prayer is to provide an opportunity for the Muslim community to hear the entire Qur’an in Ramadan.

Second, it is the opinion of most scholars that offering the supplication upon completing the Qur’an is a recommended devotional act. This is the official stance of the Hanbalī school, as well as the view of the later Shāfi`ī and Hanafī scholars.

They cite the hadīth the hadith related above from al-`Irbād b. Sāriyah: “Whoever reads the Qur’an from beginning to end will have a supplication answered.” [Mu`jam al-Tabarānī al-Kabīr (647)]

Some Hanafī scholars hold the view that the supplication is recommended outside of prayer, not inside of it. Some Mālikī scholars say that it is never prescribed as a devotional practice, arguing that the practice is and unfounded innovation not substantiated by any valid evidence.

The hadith is weak. However, it is an established fact that the Prophet ‘s Companion, Anas b. Mālik, used to offer a supplication whenever he completed reading the Qur’an from beginning to end. He would gather his family together, and beseech Allah to bless them all. [Musannaf Ibn Abī Shaybah (30038) and Musnad al-Dārimī (3474)]

It is also related from al-Hakam that Mujāhid and `Abdah b. Abī Lubābah wrote to him: “We send this to you saying that we wish to recite the Qur’an from beginning to end, because it is said that our supplications are answered upon completing a reading of the Qur’an.” They got together and recited the Qur’an and then offered many supplications. [Musannaf Ibn Abī Shaybah (30038)]

As for offering such supplication inside of prayer after completing the Qur’an, like in the case of the Tarāwīh prayer or in the case of someone who recites the Qur’an in the Tahajjud prayer over the course of many nights, this is not an established practice. However, Ahmad b. Hanbal saw no problem with including such a supplication in the qunūt in the final Witr unit of Tarāwīh or Tahajjud, since the qunūt is a place in prayer where personal supplications are offered.

Prophet Muhammad prescribed the Witr prayer as a time for supplications. He taught his grandson al-Hasan to say:
O Allah! Guide me among those who are guided. Pardon me among those You pardon. Make me among those whom You turn to Yourself. Bless me in what You provide for me. Protect me from the harm in what You decree, for indeed You decree what You will and nothing is imposed upon You. No one whom You support is ever brought low whom You. You are most blessed, exaulted.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī (464) , Sunan al-Nasā’ī (1745)) and Sunan Abī Dāwūd (1425)]
Therefore, it is an established Sunnah to offer a supplication in the Witr prayer, either before or after bowing.

Ibrāhīm al-Nakha`ī was asked about the length of the qunūt in the Witr prayer. He said: “It should be as long as the time it takes to read the chapter in the Qur’an entitled al-Infitār.”

When Ahmad b. Hanbal heard this, he said: “That is quite short,” and suggested that a person could prolong it further.

When compare how the Prophet and his Companions offered the qunūt in their prayers with how some of today’s imams observe it, we find a stark difference. Some imams prolong the qunūt to the point where it taxes the worshippers and even bores them. They forget the spirit of supplication in which the qunūt is supposed to be offered. This is wrong and can lead some people to dislike engaging in the worship of their Lord.

There is nothing wrong with prolonging the qunūt a little bit on the occasion of completing the Qur’an, and mentioning the Qur’an in our supplication, like saying: “O Allah! Bless us and elevate our spirits with the Qur’an. O Allah! Makes us of those who read the Qur’an and attain Your special favour. You are the most merciful of all. Make our reading of the Qur’an intercede for us...”

There is a well-known supplication for completing the Qur’an that begins: “Allah has spoken truly; He who is All-Knowing and All-Powerful. Allah has spoken truly and no word is truer than His; Allah Almighty has spoken truly and conveyed His Message to His noble Prophet, and we are among those who bear witness to what Allah has said, and we deny nothing of what He has decreed and revealed....”

This is one of the supplications for completing the Qur’an that people are familiar with. Due to its widespread popularity, many people assume that it is from the prophet’s Sunnah. This is not the case. It is not related in the Sunnah at all. However, its content is generally good, and if an imam chooses to repeat this supplication as part of the qunūt, no one should make an objection to it. It does not warrant becoming a point of contention for the Muslim community. It is a small matter, since supplications are not fixed and the unity of the Muslims is a far more important concern.

At the same time, it is best for the imam to restrict the supplication to what is found in the Sunnah or at least has a precedent in the Sunnah. Stylized, affected, and ornamented speech should be avoided. The qunūt supplication is an act of worship which the imām and the congregation are all participating in together, and this should be kept in mind.

Some people, while offering a supplication upon completing the Qur’an, mention Heaven and Hell, the trials of the grave, the Resurrection, and the trials of the Day of Judgment. All of this is unnecessary in the context and inappropriate.

As we have already mentioned, the practice of offering a supplication after reading the Qur’an has been the topic of considerable scholarly debate. A balanced and moderate position is always best, neither dismissing it outright nor endorsing it in very possible guise without reservation. This is not a question that warrants severity or inflexibility. Even of someone wishes to offer this supplication in a prayer other than Witr, they can do so. The Prophet often offered the qunūt supplication in Fajr, and he did so occasionally in the other daily prayers.