We have been blessed by Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) to be the recipients and witnesses of the Holy Qur’ān. Have no doubt, the Qur’ān is a magnificent miracle from Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) that is full of wisdom and benefits that guide us in matters related to this life and the next. When one truly ponders over the words of Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā), they will be filled with awe from the vast and deep meanings therein. If we want to achieve this and personally extract these great meanings and benefits, then we must make tadabbur (contemplation) of the Qur’ān.
Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) says in the Qur’ān
“[This is] a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they might reflect upon its verses”
Therefore, this Qur’ān was in fact revealed for us to make tadabbur of its verses, a purpose we should be actively seeking to fulfil. Furthermore, Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) exclaims,
“Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’ān, or are there locks upon [their] hearts?”
So Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) disapproves of and condemns those who do not make tadabbur as having locks upon their hearts. We ask Him (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) to save us from being from amongst such people.
It is through tadabbur that we can appreciate more the beauty of the Qur’ān. In fact, one of the greatest disbelievers of Quraysh, al-Walīd b. al-Mughīrah, is reported to have said about the Qur’ān,
“By Allāh it has sweetness, it has beauty in it, its uppermost is fruitful, its lower point is overflowing, it rises above everything, and nothing can rise above it.”
An explanation of what tadabbur really is, and the difference between tadabbur and tafsīr (exegesis, intended meaning) has been provided by Imam Asim Khan in his article “Who has the right to interpret the Qur’ān?”. However, I would like to highlight the methods we can use to enable us to make tadabbur of the blessed words of Allāh so that we can move further towards fulfilling the purpose of the revelation of the Qur’ān, taste its sweetness and thus appreciate this magnificent miracle from Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā), according to our own abilities.
To make anything successful, one needs the right preparation coupled with the correct execution. This article will provide some practical steps to help us achieve the right preparation for tadabbur, followed by a second article that highlights the correct execution of tadabbur, inshāAllāh. These steps are based on a book written by Dr Khalid al-Lahim on the keys to tadabbur.
1. To love the Qur’ān.
For you to really reflect over the Qur’ān you must first love the Qur’ān so that your heart is attached to it. Tadabbur comes from the heart and love also comes from the heart, so you want to connect these two in your heart. If you have the love for the Qur’ān in your heart then Allāh will open the keys to tadabbur for you. Whereas if you do not have love for the Qur’ān, you can read and read the Qur’ān but you will not truly benefit from it. If, in that moment, you sit truly loving the Qur’ān and wanting to take from it then Allāh will open so many avenues and meanings for you. Therefore, before you start your session of tadabbur, it is best to take a moment to remind yourself of why it is that you love the Qur’ān.
2. To be aware of the purpose behind the revelation of the Qur’ān.
The Qur’ān was revealed for many purposes, including:
I. To take knowledge from it, whether knowledge about the world, your life, the hereafter, knowledge about the Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), knowledge about previous nations, and so on.
II. To read it so you can act upon it.
III. To converse with Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā). The Qur’ān brings solace to a person who is feeling lonely or low if his heart is open, so that when he recites it that loneliness and sadness will leave him as he is conversing with Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā).
IV. Reading it just to gain reward, knowing that each letter gives you 10 rewards. It is for this reason that it is advised to complete different types of ‘khatmas’ (cycle of finishing the Qur’ān); one for making tadabbur, reflecting on each verse and trying to extract benefits from them; and one to gain the rewards of reciting it.
V. To gain its healing and cure.
For more intentions to maximise the impact of our Qur’ān reading, also read “What is your intention whilst reading the Qur’ān?”.
3. To make tadabbur of what you have memorised
Tadabbur over verses you have already memorised is more effective than tadabbur of verses you are not familiar with. Ponder over the following parable:
Two people are travelling on a journey. One of them carries dates and the other person carries flour. When hungry, the person whose provision is dates needs only to sit and eat the dates, whereas the person whose provision is flour needs to take the flour, make dough, and then cook the dough in order to make bread so he can eat.
This is the difference between a person who has memorised and one who has not. For the person who has memorised, the tadabbur will come to him almost instantaneously because he already knows the verse, what comes next, what the sūrah is about and it therefore becomes much easier to contemplate these verses. Whereas, the person who has not memorised that part of the Qur’ān requires great effort to contemplate over its verses. This also points to the importance of understanding the meaning of what we have memorised.
4. To make tadabbur whilst you are standing in prayer.
When you are in prayer, you are standing before and conversing with Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā). Ibn al-Qayyim states that when you start your prayer it is as if Allāh removes the veil between you and He and once you get distracted the veil is put back again.
5. To recite it during the night.
During the night, you have no distractions and no responsibilities or commitments that require fulfilling. Also, the nights are generally peaceful and quiet which creates the best atmosphere for tadabbur. We know the nights are blessed, especially during the last third as Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) descends to the lowest heaven.
6. To recite the Qur’ān aloud and in a melodious manner.
As previously mentioned, tadabbur comes from the heart, and one way for things to enter our heart is through our ears and tongues. What you say and what you hear is what enters your heart. So, if you recite in a loud voice the Qur’ān enters your heart through your tongue as well as through your ears, which gives you more focus for tadabbur.
7. To recite the Qur’ān with Tajwīd without rushing through it.
We know that when the companion Hudhaifa (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) prayed with the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) during the night, he (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) recited each verse by itself and “whenever he came across a verse glorifying Allāh, he would do so and when he came across a verse asking a question, he would ask, and when he came across a verse that mentions seeking refuge, he would seek refuge in Allāh.” If you wish to make good tadabbur, you should recite the verses slowly, giving yourself time to absorb the meaning in your heart.
8. Repetition and stopping in certain places.
You can take a verse or a part of a verse and keep repeating it, as the more you repeat something the more it sticks in your head and the more it allows you to extract benefits from the verse. We know this was a habit of the companions:
I. Abbad b. Hamza (the son of ʿAbdullāh b. al-Zubair) entered upon Asma (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanha) and she was reciting:
“But Allāh has been gracious to us, and has saved us from the Torment of the Fire.” 
She was repeating it and invoking Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā), so he left her and went to the market and returned, and still she was reciting the same verse and invoking.”
II. A similar story was reported by Ahmed and al-Baihaqi that when ʿĀ’isha (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanha) used to recite this verse she would say: “O Allāh! Bestow upon me Your Grace and save me from the Torment of Hell.”
III. Ibn Masʿūd repeated the following verse: “O Lord, increase me in knowledge.”
IV. Saʿīd b. Jubair repeated the following verse: “And be afraid of a Day when you shall be brought back to Allāh.”
9. To split the Qur’ān and your contemplation sessions into parts
You can do this by splitting it per sūrah, or per quarter or a set small portion, however you should try to make this regular for you as we know the Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said the most beloved things to Allāh are the most regular, even if they are small. We can only be granted correct tadabbur if Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) wills, so we should do what Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) loves in order to gain the blessing of correct tadabbur.
10. To make connections between what you experience and what Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) says in the Qur’ān
Throughout your day, whenever you come across a scenario try to think of what Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) says about this certain scenario and the approach the Qur’ān takes with regards to this scenario. By constantly applying the Qur’ān to your daily interactions you become more accustomed to it and to what it generally calls for, therefore you can make better tadabbur when you are reciting the Qur’ān.
In part 2 we will discuss practical steps towards making tadabbur, inshāAllāh.
 Al-Qur’ān, 38:29
 Al-Wābil al-Sayyib, p50
 Reported in Sahih Muslim, 772
 Al-Qur’ān, 32:27
 Reported by Abu ’Ubaid and Ibn Abi Shaibah
 Al-Qur’ān, 20:114
 Al-Qur’ān, 2:281