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Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "The believer who recites the Qur'an is like a citron whose fragrance is sweet and whose taste is delicious. A believer who does not recite the Qur'an is like a date-fruit which has no fragrance but has a sweet taste. The hypocrite who recites the Qur'an is like basil whose fragrance is so sweet, but its taste is bitter. The hypocrite who does not recite the Qur'an is like a colocynth which has no fragrance and its taste is bitter." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

 Vocabularies:

·     Citron: It is a fruit that looks like apple and of the best of fruits to the Arabs.

·        Basil: Every legume specie that has good fragrance that one can be comfortable with. It is also said to refer to any kind of plant with good fragrance.

·        Colocynth: a fruit in the size and colour of an orange. It has a very bitter

 Commentary:

Imam Ibn Hajar commented on the above hadith saying: "Its fragrance is sweet and it tastes delicious". It is said that he (PBUH) referred to the quality of faith with taste and that of recitation with fragrance, because faith is more inherent in a believer than reciting the Qur'an. It is clearer with the fact that faith can be found in a believer without the reading of the Qur'an. In the same way, taste is more inherent in a substance than the fragrance. The fragrance of a substance may vanish while the taste remains. It is also said that the wisdom behind making the simile of 'Citron' amidst all other fruits with sweet fragrance and taste like apple, is because its peels are medicinal and the beneficial oil got from the seeds as well. It is also said that the Jin (evil spirits) do not go close to a house where Citron is, and thus the simile of the Qur'an that Satan cannot get close to…its seed is covered by a white covering which look then, like the heart of a believer…it also have many other distinguishing features like the nice look, adorable colour, softness to the touch, its effect on the stomach on eating it, the deliciousness and many others mentioned in the book called al-Mufradat"

Ibn Battal said: "The meaning of this is that the Qur'an reading of a sinner and hypocrite does not ascend up Allah and is not useful in His sight. This is because only that which is done sincerely for His sake and with the sincere intention of doing it as act of worship for Him that gets to Him. Thus, it was given in the similitude of Basil, as it makes no benefit from the blessings of the Qur'an and missed out in the sweetness of the reward. The goodness does not exceed the good voice in the esophagus without getting to the heart. These are the people who will fall off the religion."

Al-Ayni said: "Note that in reality, this similitude entails reasonable abstract meaning that can only be made plain when imagined in the light of visible substance. The words of Allah have impact on both outward and inside a servant and the servants differ in that respect. Some of them have a huge portion of that and they are the believers who read the Qur'an. Some have no atom of portion in it and they are the real hypocrites. Some only have the impact on their outward form without the inward. Those are the eyes seekers. Or the opposite, who is the believer that does not read the Qur'an. These are exactly the qualities portrayed in the hadith in form of visible substances because there was nothing that could be best used in the qualification. Thus the tense of the similitude came in the present. This is because people are either believer or non-believer, pure hypocrite or linked to hypocrisy. The first category is either devoted and adherent r not, which gave rise to the two visible characteristics of fragrance and taste. He (PBUH) also made the selected options to come from what grows underneath the soil and that which grows up in the tree. He used the fruits of the tree for the believers (i.e. citron and date) and that which grow under the soil for the hypocrites (i.e. Basil and Colocynth) to show the elevation of the believer and his affairs compared to the meanness and debasement of the hypocrite and his affairs."

 The Benefits of the Hadith include the following:

1-   It portrays the status of the one who reads the Qur'an and that the objective of reading it is to work with its teaching.

2-   The similitude is just to bring closer the picture to our understanding.

3-   Reading the Qur'an has so much positive impact in a believer in increasing his faith, giving him rest of mind, elevation before God and man, self purification et al.

4-   A Muslim should have a daily portion he reads from the Qur'an and work with the teaching towards attaining self purity and good deeds.

5-   Some Muslim may at times fail to read the Qur'an or listen to it. This is abandonment of the Qur'an. Ibn al-Qayyim said: "Abandoning the Qur'an is of categories: 1) leaving listening to it, hearing it and even believing in it. 2) Abandoning working with it and ascertaining its halal and haram even when the person reads and believe in it. 3) abandoning governing with it in both fundamental or non fundamental matters of the religion while believing that its words are mere verbal proofs and not binding knowledge of certainty. 4) Abandoning pondering over it and understanding what the speaker intended in the speech. 5) Leaving making use of it as cure for all kind of diseases of the mind and searching for such cures elsewhere. All these are included in the statement of Allah:

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 "And the Messenger will say: "O my Lord! Verily, my people deserted this Qur'an." (al-Furqan: 30)

 

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