Narrated Sa’eed bin Jubair:
Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu in the explanation of the statement of Allah: Move not your tongue concerning (the Quran) to make haste therewith, [al-Qiyamah 75: 16] said, “Allah’s Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to bear the revelation with great trouble and used to move his lips (quickly) with the Inspiration.” Ibn ‘Abbas moved his lips saying, “I am moving my lips in front of you as Allah’s Messenger used to move his.” Saeed moved his lips saying, “I am moving my lips, as I saw Ibn ‘Abbas moving his.”
Ibn ‘Abbas added, “So Allah revealed ‘Move not your tongue with it (O Muhammad), to hasten with recitation of it (the Qur’an). Indeed, upon Us is its collection (in your heart) and (to make possible) its recitation [al-Qiyamah 75:16 – 17],’” which means that Allah will make him (the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) remember the portion of the Qur’an which was revealed at that time by heart and recite it. The Statement of Allah: And ‘So, when We have recited it (through Jibreel) then follow its recitation,’ [al-Qiyamah 75:18] means listen to it and be silent. ‘Then upon Us is its clarification (to you),’ [al-Qiyamah 75:19] means then it is (for Allah) to make you recite it (and its meaning will be clear by itself through your tongue). Afterwards, Allah’s Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to listen to Jibreel whenever he came and after his departure he used to recite it as Jibreel had recited it.”
[Volume 1, Book 1, Hadeeth # 5]
Previously, we learned about the hardship of receiving revelation. In this hadeeth, we learn that not only was the process of revelation hard on him, but the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would also endeavor to remember what was revealed to him. Doing so, he would move his lips in haste (repeating what was said) so that he did not forget it. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then revealed another set of ayaat to teach him to slow down, for He had taken the responsibility of preserving the Qur’an in the heart of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
Why did the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam move his lips in haste? It is because he was an ummi [unlettered]. He did not know how to read or write, and hence could not write the words and preserve them. Instead of giving up due his circumstances, he devised his own method of learning. How often do we complain of lack of skills but do not look for an alternate?
It shows us the love the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had for the Words of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. He did not want to miss even one word. It teaches us that we should be greedy for khair [all kinds of goodness]. We should not miss our classes or get distracted by petty things. Also, those who are memorizing the Qur’an should do so sincerely without missing a day.
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam teaches us to give our best to the Words of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
This also teaches us that the first step to learning is listening. If one begins speaking or reading along with the teacher, it hampers the learning process. To understand the Qur’an, one must first carefully and quietly listen to its recitation. Then one should attentively listen to the explanation. Any study requires focus, but it is more important when the subject is the Qur’an. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would revise the words after Jibreel ‘alayhi salaam left.
If we do our part that is we listen attentively and revise our work regularly, then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala too will make the path easy for us. He will preserve it in our heart.
Why was the Prophet’s action of moving his lips recorded in this hadeeth? We should remember that the Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum and the hadeeth narrators would take special care in narrating the words and actions of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam exactly as he did. So, if the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam smiled while narrating something, the Companions and the narrators too would smile. If he opened a shirt button, they too would do the same.
It is for this reason that the scholars of the past would cover long distances to sit in the company of the learned men. It is not sufficient to read from a book or listen to a lecture; sitting in the company of scholars positively affects one’s character. One sees the actions correctly and learns etiquette.