Short Answer: Although there are great rewards in listening to the Quran, “more of the human senses are engaged when a Muslim recites the Qur’an aloud, than when they just listen to it… The heart, as well as the body, connects more deeply to the Qur’an when a Muslim recites it aloud, with full focus and attention, than when they passively listen to it.“
Asalaamu alaykum, and thank you for sending in your question to our website.
Among the blessings of Allah upon mankind is the variety of ways that the Qur’an, His Glorious word, can be accessed and benefited from.
Many Muslims have weak (or no command at all) of the Arabic language.
But, they can still endeavor to read, recite, and listen to the Qur’an, coupled with efforts to understand its meanings.
Listening intently to the recitation of the Qur’an is definitely a very beneficial and recommended activity for Muslims, even those who cannot understand the Arabic language.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
And when the Qur’an is recited, give ear to it and pay heed, that you may obtain mercy. [7:204]
Ibn Taymiyah said: “By means of this listening, Allah guides His slaves and sets straight their affairs in this world and the Hereafter.”
As for listening to it, this means that one hears it with an attentive heart, pondering the meaning of what one is listening to. The one who adheres to these two commands when the Book of Allah is recited will attain a great deal of good, beneficial knowledge, ongoing and renewed faith, increased guidance and insight into his religion. [Tafsir Al Sadi]
This indicates that Muslims should listen to the recitation of the Qur’an, intently and without distractions, especially when it is being recited live.
The admonition to listen intently and remain quiet applies even when one is listening to recordings of Qur’an recitation.
This leads to being enveloped by the mercy of Allah, and other benefits.
When Listening to Quran Recitation Inspired a Group of Jinn
Allah mentions how a group of Jinn once listened intently to the Qur’an being recited by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
After they had heard it, they returned to their people, telling them about it, and warning them to heed it:
And [mention, O Muhammad], when We directed to you a few of the jinn, listening to the Qur’an. And when they attended it, they said, “Listen quietly.” And when it was concluded, they went back to their people as warners. [46:29]
In the chapter of the Qur’an titled “Al Jinn”, Allah says:
Say, (O Muhammad), “It has been revealed to me that a group of the Jinn listened and said, ‘Indeed, we have heard an amazing Qur’an’.” [72:1]
The Superiority of Reciting Qur’an Over Listening
Despite the importance and benefit of listening to the Qur’an, reciting its Arabic text aloud i.e. with the tongue, has clear superiority over it.
This is because more of the human senses are engaged when a Muslim recites the Qur’an aloud, than when they just listen to it.
Primarily, this includes their tongue, ears, as well as the eyes — if they are looking at the Arabic text whilst reciting (as in the case you mentioned, when one has not memorized the parts that they are reciting).
The heart, as well as the body, connects more deeply to the Qur’an when a Muslim recites it aloud, with full focus and attention, than when they passively listen to it.
The Prophet also said:
If anyone recites a letter from Allah’s Book, he will be credited with a good deed, and a good deed gets a tenfold reward. I do not say that Alif-Laam-Meem is one letter, but Alif is a letter, Laam is a letter and Meem is a letter. [Jami Al Tirmidhi]
Therefore, we can conclude that listening attentively to the Qur’an when it is being recited, and remaining quiet whilst doing so, is a good deed.
Listening to the recitation of Qur’an softens the receptive, humble heart that harbors true faith, and causes tranquility to descend upon the soul.
A Muslim should do both good deeds: reciting the Qur’an with their tongue, as well as listening to it quietly, with full attention.
Both these honorable actions reinforce each other.
If they have a weak command of Arabic, they should still strive to recite the Qur’an as best as they can.
Simultaneously, they should strive to gain the requisite knowledge that will help them improve their Qur’an recitation.
The Prophet said:
The one who recites the Qur’an while he is proficient in its recitation will be with the honorable and obedient scribes (angels), and the one who recites the Qur’an while it is difficult for him to recite, will have a double reward. [Sahih Al Bukhari & Muslim]
And Allah knows best. I hope that this answers your question.
Salam. Please stay in touch.