Wa`alykum As-Salaamu Warahmatullahi Wabarakaatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- There is no harm in listening to the Qur’an while one is at work even if the listener finds it difficult to concentrate on the meanings, as there is good and blessing in a mere listening to the Qur’anic recital.
2- The same applies to turning on the Qur’anic recitation while studying.
Answering your question, Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr, the late head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, states:
Allah Almighty says, “And when the Qur’an is recited, give ear to it and pay heed, that you may obtain mercy.” (Al-A`raf 7:204)
Ibn Al-Mundhir relates that there is a unanimous agreement among scholars that listening to the Qur’an and paying heed to it is obligatory during prayer and while the Friday sermon is delivered.
In other occasions, paying undisrupted attention to the Qur’anic recital is only Sunnah, not obligatory. This is because some people do several jobs that require attention and full concentration.
It is hard for such people to be tasked to listen attentively to the Qur’anic recital, taking into account that the Qur’an is recited and can be heard from several places not only at one’s home and work but also from other homes, stores, etc.
However, if one attends a gathering where the Glorious Book is being recited, as long as one is not busy with anything else, one should pay the gathering its due respect and let nothing distract him from listening to the Qur’an.
Almighty Allah says, “O you who believe! Lift not up your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor shout when speaking to him as ye shout one to another, lest your works be rendered vain while ye perceive not.” (Al-Hujurat 49:2)
From this verse it is inferred that raising one’s voice above that of the Qur’an is worthier of being prohibited, for paying heed and respect to Allah’s speech takes high priority over the above injunction of giving full respect to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his speech.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.