Can I listen to the Qur’an in the background while doing other things like cooking, exercising, driving, sleeping, or doing homework?

Short Answer

Yes, if it is a low-attention task. Do not have a long conversation, read a book, or watch a movie with the Qur’an playing in the background because that would be like ignoring the Qur’an for something else since those things require high-attention.

Reason for Asking the Question

The Qur’an says to pay attention when it is being recited so the questioner wants to know if this is a prohibition and whether full attention needs to be there.

What the Qur’an and Sunnah Say

“When the Qur’ān is recited, listen to it attentively and be silent, so you may be shown mercy.” (al-A’rāf 7:204)

Abdullāh ibn Mas’ūd said, “The Prophet told me, “Recite Qur’an to me.” I said to him, “You want me to recite (it) to you but it has been revealed to you?” He said, “I like to hear it from others.” (Bukhārī 5056)

Detailed Answer

Yes you can listen to the Qur’an in the background while cooking, exercising, driving, doing homework, or other low-attention tasks. The Qur’an is blessed and can bring peace and contentment to anyone who listens to it, even if in the background. Even the Messenger of Allah wanted to listen to someone else reciting it sometimes. This can be done with the Arabic recitation or coupled with a translation. We are supposed to be attentive when listening to the Qur’an out of respect and not ignore or neglect it. At minimum, try your best to pay minimal attention to it while you do other things. Do not busy yourself completely with something else that takes most of your focus like reading another book or watching a video or having a long conversation.

What the Scholars Said

The compilation al-Fatawa al-Hindiyyah by over 40 scholars (completed 1082 AH/1672 CE) (1:317) states: “It is allowed for a worker such as a weaver or shoemaker to recite the Qur’an if his work does not (fully) occupy his heart away from it. Otherwise, it is not (and is disliked).”

Advice

Listening to the Qur’an in the background is much better than listening to some other music. It has immense blessings and spiritual/psychological benefits.

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Shaykh Mustafa Umar