Spiritual Dimension

We have now completed al-Fatihah and move on to the Quran recitation after it. Did you ever notice that any Quran recited in Salah is always recited when we are in the standing position? We do not recite al-Fatihah or any other Surah in the sitting position, nor during our Ruku [bowing], nor during our prostration. Why?

The standing position is man’s most dignified, honorable and respectful position possible. And because this Quran speaks the most honorable and noble Speech, it is thus only befitting for the most noble Speech to be recited while in the most dignified and respectful of positions. The Prophet tells us that he was prohibited from reciting the Quran while in Ruku [bowing] and while in Sujood [prostration]. The Quran is the Speech of Allah, The Most High, and is due our utmost respect. But how many a time have we recited it absent-mindedly, without any feeling or emotion, without any reflection on its powerful words? For many of us, if asked what of Allah’s prohibitions did we just recite, we would have no answer. What of Allah’s commands did we just recite?

We cannot recall! People stand behind their Imam in prayer. He recites of Hell and Heaven, and they are off drifting of food and drink. If ever were we to conduct a historic interview with a powerful ruler, how attentive would we be? We would grant not only our submissive ears but all our hearts as well, wouldn’t we? In fact, we would be so in tune that we’d probably even memorize this ruler’s every word as he speaks! So how can we not be mindful of what we’re reciting when it is Allah who speaks to us in this meeting? “Will they not seek to understand this Quran or are there locks upon their hearts?”1

It is said that if our hearts were pure enough, we would never get enough of Allah’s words! Remember, it is not in the quantity of Quran recited, but in the quality of how we recite and its effect on us. The Prophet once prayed an entire night with just one verse, repeating in tears: “If You should punish them-indeed they are Your servants, but if You forgive them – indeed it is You who is the Exalted in Might, the Wise..”1

So we are to recite with feeling, aware that we are talking to Allah and He is speaking to us. But how do we know what to feel with any given verse? Ibn al-Qayyim gave us basic guidelines to help us even if we lack thorough knowledge of tafseer. He says that:

  • If a verse speaks of Allah’s favours upon you, His names, His attributes… then it is Love that should fill your heart.
  • If a verse speaks of Allah’s mercy, forgiveness, the people of Heaven…then it is Happiness, Comfort, and Hope that should fill your heart.
  • If a verse speaks of Allah’s wrath, punishment, destroyed civilisations… then it is Fear and Worry that should fill the heart.


لَوْ أَنْزَلْنَا هَذَا الْقُرْآَنَ عَلَى جَبَلٍ لَرَأَيْتَهُ خَاشِعًا مُتَصَدِّعًا مِنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ وَتِلْكَ الْأَمْثَالُ نَضْرِبُهَا لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
“If We had sent down this Qur’ān upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of God. And these examples We present to the people that perhaps they will give thought.”