Memorizers of the Qur'an who recite for the sake of fees

Q 1: People who memorize the Qur'an here in Morocco recite it for the purpose of earning money. Whenever a banquet is prepared for them, they come to recite the Qur’an without knowledge or observance of the rules of Tajwid (reciting the Qur'an following the rules of recitation). While they are reciting the Qur’an, people start whispering to one another and talking about side issues. There is a style of recitation used by them called "Tahzanit" that distort the pronunciation of the words and cause headaches; our ears can hardly bear it when they halt at pause-sites. (Part No. 4; Page No. 132) Although they have memorized the Qur’an, regrettably they neither understand it nor guide people through it. They simply memorize it.Their primary concern when they attend a banquet is the fees and the Sadaqah (voluntary charity) given to them by people. Then, they begin to supplicate to Allah to have mercy upon the deceased person and their family, and to grant success to those who have given them Sadaqah. They divide the money among them, and no poor or needy person gets any share of it. What is the ruling of the Shari‘ah (Islamic law) on the Sadaqah that they collect and distribute among themselves, and their style of recitation?I have found in a book a Hadith ascribed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) that reads as follows: Whoever uses the Qur’an to earn money shall come on the Day of the Resurrection with their face all bones (having no flesh). Is this an authentic Hadith or not? What is the meaning of the Ayah saying: Say: "No reward do I ask of you for this (that which I have brought from my Lord and its preaching) ?

A: Firstly, reciting Qur’an is purely a form of worship through which one can draw closer to Allah. The original ruling on such pure forms of worship is that they should be done by a Muslim with the sincere intention of seeking to please Allah and be rewarded by Him, not with the intention of receiving reward or praise from one of Allah’s creation. (Part No. 4; Page No. 133) It was never reported that the Salaf (righteous predecessors) hired someone to recite the Qur’an in assemblies or banquets. None of the Imams of the Salaf permitted this or gave a Rukhsah (concession) allowing it. None of them ever took fees in return for reciting Qur’an, whether in weddings or funerals. They used to recite the Qur’an seeking reward from Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked those who recite the Qur’an to ask Allah by virtue of it, and warned them against asking other people for anything. Al-Tirmidhy reported in his Sunan, on the authority of `Imran ibn Al-Husayn, that he once passed by a man reciting the Qur’an, who then started begging from people. ‘Imran exclaimed: "Truly to Allah we belong and truly to Him we shall return." He then said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: Whoever recites the Qur’an, should beg of Allah by it, for there will come a people who will recite the Qur’an and beg of people by it. As for taking fees in return for teaching Qur’an, performing Ruqyah (reciting Qur’an and saying supplications over the sick seeking healing) with it, and such things that benefit others, Sahih (authentic) Hadiths prove that it is permissible; for example, the Hadith of Abu Sa‘id who took a herd of sheep offered to him in return for reciting Surah Al-Fatihah over a sick person who got healed through it, and the Hadith of Sahl about the Prophet (peace be upon him) uniting a man and a woman in marriage provided that he would teach her what he had memorized of the Qur’an as a marriage gift. It can be gathered from this that if a person takes fees in return for the recitation itself, or hires a group of people to recite the Qur’an, they contradict the Ijma‘ (consensus) of the Salaf (may Allah be pleased with them). Secondly, the Qur’an is the Words of Allah. Its superiority over the speech of people is like the superiority of Allah over His creatures. It is the best way to remember Allah. (Part No. 4; Page No. 134) A person who recites Qur’an should be humble in recitation, feeling Khushu‘ (the heart being attuned to the act of worship), contemplating its meanings as much as possible, and not engaging in anything else, without affectation or speaking gutturally, or raising his voice more than he needs to. A person who attends a place where Qur’an is being recited should listen attentively and ponder the meanings, not preoccupy themselves by talking, or distract the person reciting Qur’an or other listeners. Allah (Exalted be He) says: And recite the Qur’ân (aloud) in a slow, (pleasant tone and) style. He (Exalted be He) also says: So, when the Qur’ân is recited, listen to it, and be silent that you may receive mercy. And remember your Lord within yourself, humbly and with fear and without loudness in words in the mornings, and in the afternoons and be not of those who are neglectful. Thirdly, people vary in their understanding and reflective capacities. Each Mukallaf (person meeting the conditions to be held legally accountable for their actions) should comprehend the religion and the rulings of Shari‘ah as much as their understanding and time allows them, so that they may apply them and guide others to them. The first thing that should be understood and cared about is the Qur’an. If a person fails to understand it on their own, they should seek the Help of Allah, then the scholars, as much as possible. After that, they are not to be blamed, as Allah (Exalted be He) does not burden a person beyond their scope. Failing to understand the Qur’an does not hinder a person from reciting it, provided they have exerted all possible efforts. It is authentically reported from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) that he said: The one who is proficient in the Qur’an (i.e. Masterfully recites and perfectly memorizes it) will be with the noble, dutiful scribes (angels); and the one who recites the Qur’an and falters in it, and recites it with difficulty, will have a double reward. (Part No. 4; Page No. 135) Fourthly, it is permissible for a reciter of poor means to take Sadaqah to provide for himself and for those dependent on him. It is also permissible to invoke Allah to reward those who gave him Sadaqah. But fees, given or received, in return for reciting Qur’an, giving a sermon, or having the blessings or Du‘a’ (supplication) of some shaykh is not permissible. This was not the way of the Muslims in the first three generations of Islam which the Prophet (peace be upon him) testified to their being the best of generations. Fifthly, the meaning of Allah’s saying: Say: "No reward do I ask of you for this (that which I have brought from my Lord and its preaching) is that Allah has commanded His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to tell his people that he does not want anything in return for delivering the Wahy (Revelation) sent down to him from Allah and inviting them to pure Tawhid (monotheism) and the other laws of Islam. He (peace be upon him) should only fulfill his duty of conveying and clarifying the Wahy to the Ummah in obedience to the Orders of Allah, seeking reward only from Him. The purpose was to eliminate any illusion that might have existed inside the Mushriks (those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity or worship) that he (peace be upon him) might be asking them to follow him in obeying Allah’s revealed Law to achieve for himself worldly gains or authority over them. He (peace be upon him) thus clarified to them that his call to the truth is purely for the Sake of Allah, like all other messengers (peace be upon them) who did not ask their people for anything in return for guiding them. (Part No. 4; Page No. 136) It has already been mentioned in the first paragraph of the answer the Hadith of `Imran ibn Al-Husayn warning against earning money through reciting the Qur’an and asking people by it, but as for your question about the punishment awaiting the one who does this on the Day of Judgment, and that the flesh of their faces will fall, this is a threat addressed to anyone who begs of people while they are not needy and do not have a valid excuse, whether they use the Qur’an or other means of begging. `Abdullah ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Beggary remains in one of you (i.e. Who keeps practicing beggary) until he meets Allah (on the Day of Resurrection) and not a shred of flesh is on his face. In another narration: A man keeps on begging of people until he comes on the Day of Resurrection and not a shred of flesh is on his face. (Agreed upon by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Anyone who begs for the money of people to increase his own, it is as if he is asking for live coals, so let him ask for little or much. (Related by Muslim) Thus, anyone who begs using the Qur’an will fall under Hadith mentioned in the first paragraph, if they are poor. But if they are rich, all the Hadiths previously mentioned apply to them. As for the wording of the Hadith you mentioned in the question, we do not know it to be authentic with this wording.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.