Please note: The answers on constitute friendly advice rather than fatwas. Where relevant, we translate the opinions and fatwas of respected scholars and present them in our answers.

Is reading and acting upon the Quran better than memorizing it?

Salaam, brother. Does reading the Quran and internalize then act upon it is better than just memorize it and wear it as a pride of being a Muslim? Does we have to memorize and act upon the Quran? What if I don't have the intention to memorize all the entire Quran, but only want to internalize it and act upon it in real life? I have seen some people memorize the Quran, but act like they haven't read it. And I have seen some people who seldom read the Quran, but is more civil than those who do. Am I just confused?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I believe reading and acting by the Quran is better than memorizing it. The Quran never praises Quran-memorizers, it only praises those who read/recite the Quran frequently.

And [I swear by] the reciters of the Reminder.

The Quran, verse 37:3.

They are not alike. Among the People of the Scripture is a community that is upright; they recite God’s revelations throughout the night, and they prostrate themselves.

The Quran, verse 3:113.

Those who recite the Book of God, and perform the prayer, and spend of what We have provided for them, secretly and publicly, expect a trade that will not fail.

The Quran, verse 35:29.

O you Enwrapped one.

Stay up the night, except a little.

For half of it, or reduce it a little.

Or add to it; and chant the Quran rhythmically.

The Quran, verse 73:1-4.

I am therefore not convinced that there is any special virtue in memorizing the Quran; the virtue of memorization comes from the fact that a person spends a lot of time with the Quran, so if a person spends a lot of time with the Quran without memorizing it, the same virtue applies to them as well. And if a person memorizes the Quran without acting upon it and taking it to heart, then there is little benefit in that and in fact the Quran mocks such religious people who acquire knowledge without acting upon it:

The example of those who were entrusted with the Torah, but then failed to uphold it, is like the donkey carrying works of literature.

From the Quran, verse 62:5.

So since I am convinced that the virtue comes from reading the Quran and taking it to heart rather than from memorizing it, I spend an hour every day with the Quran but do not plan to memorize it.

And God knows best.

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