Reciting for Ijazah by Reading from the Mus-haf, not from Memory



(This is the conclusion of the series of posts on Q/A  regarding the Qur’anic Ijazah and its process (translated from here), as mentioned in the concise treatise on this topic by Sh. Hasan Mustafaa al-Warraaqi حفظه الله. Part 1Part 2, Part 3Part 4Part 5, Part 6, Part 7)

Q21:  What is the ruling regarding a student who recites to the shaykh from the Mus-haf only, and he has not memorized the Qur’an, or memorized only a portion of it, and then they go on to obtain the Ijazah?

A21:  The recitation from the Mus-haf, even with excellent Tajweed, is considered deficient by the fact that it was not recited from memory so that the entire Sanad is connected through this method.  For Ijazah, the default procedure is to recite the entire Qur’an to one’s shaykh from memory.  Even though some scholars have allowed the recitation for Ijazah from the Mus-haf, such as al-Suyuti in his book, الإتقان, the truth is that this matter opens the floodgates to a greater problem: Along with having a Sanad, a student who recites from the Mus-haf then becomes equal in status with the one who has recited from his memory, along with having a Sanad from the shaykh.

Dr. Muhammad bin Fawzan, حفظه الله, said, as mentioned in the book, إجازات القراء, page 59:

What has been made apparent to me, and Allah knows best, is that the permissibility of this type of Ijazah is with conditions.  They are:

  1. That the student does not have the ability to memorize.
  2. That the benefit of the Ijazah is to certify that the recitation is from the Mus-haf directly.
  3. That the student who obtains an Ijazah in such a manner is not allowed to give Ijazah to others because this is a special kind of Ijazah.
  4. That the door to obtaining such an Ijazah should not be opened to the general public since necessities must be determined by careful consideration.

Both giving and obtaining such an Ijazah via reading only has gained great popularity in recent times.  It was the practice of the Salaf and the great scholars of the Qur’an to give the Ijazah to students who recited from memory.  The practice of giving the Ijazah for reading from the Mus-haf became widespread because it was to encourage the masses to recite the Qur’an when its memorization became an obstacle.  It has also been used as a method to increase the fame and popularity of the teacher, by increasing the number of students who obtain the Ijazah from him/her.  This is because reading from the Mus-haf can be a bit faster than reciting from memory which requires time and practice.   And lastly, many students who recite from the Mus-haf alone for Ijazah are deficient in many ways regarding their knowledge of the recitation because the same effort was not exerted as one who took the time to perfect both the Qiraa’ah and what was memorized.  

Having said that, this sort of Ijazah, when made available to the general public, decreases the determination to memorize the Book of Allah, decreases the value of the Ijazah, and makes the Ijazah more important than connecting with the words of Allah through its memorization and contemplation.  While this type of Ijazah is allowed by some from a purely theoretical perspective, it was not the usual practice of the Salaf.

We should make a distinction between Ijazah and a Shahaadah which is a general certificate, and in this way a Shahaadah can be given for reciting the Qur’an from the Mus-haf, but this does not mean it is the traditional Ijazah. Another practice that has become popular is giving an Ijazah in Tajweed for reciting from the Mus-haf, which means one will get a certificate but not the Sanad because it was not recited by heart, and Allah knows best.

It is also important to distinguish between a genuine inability to memorize and sheer laziness.  If the time factor is removed, a person could spend his lifetime memorizing the Qur’an and this would still be considered praiseworthy, since he/she would have spent each day reciting and contemplating the words of Allah.  There is nothing to lose in doing so, but it seems, the people are in a hurry.

Within the context of Ijazah, some will bring up the argument that there is no explicit evidence in the Qur’an and Sunnah that specifically mention the virtue of memorizing the Qur’an, and that the evidences we DO have refer to reading only.  Firstly, Allah سبحانه وتعالى says:

بَلْ هُوَ آيَاتٌ بَيِّنَاتٌ فِي صُدُورِ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ ۚ
Rather, the Qur’an is distinct verses [preserved] within the breasts of those who have been given knowledge.
[Surat al-‘Ankaboot, verse 49]

Secondly, we believe there are plenty of evidences (such as the above) to support the memorization of the Qur’an.  They are well-known and understood to refer to the memorization of the Qur’an by the scholars.  There is no doubt, therefore, that there is a special status given to those who have memorized the Book over those who have not.  Thirdly, reciting from memory for Ijazah was how the Salaf and great Imams of the Qur’an carried out this process.  It would not be befitting for us to exercise another method; while it may facilitate things for the general public, it opens the door to laziness and neglect.  And lastly, memorization of the Qur’an should not be abandoned entirely because it is too difficult on some people, because memorization of the Qur’an is to be fulfilled according to one’s ability (and as stated above, exceptions can be made).  Allah سبحانه وتعالى said clearly,

وَلَقَدْ يَسَّرْنَا الْقُرْآنَ لِلذِّكْرِ فَهَلْ مِن مُّدَّكِرٍ
And We have certainly made the Qur’an easy for remembrance, so is there any who will remember?
[Surat al-Qamar, verse 17]

 And Allah, Alone, knows best.

-The Rightful Recital Team

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