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What’s better in Ramadan: Reading Quran or Tefsir?

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QUESTION
I wanted to ask, in Ramadan, what is best: to finish reading the whole Qur’an, or to only attempt to read in the tafseer (exegesis) and not be concerned about finishing the whole book?
ANSWER
Salam alaykum Dear Sister,
Thank you so much for asking this very important question.
With the will and help of Allah Almighty, you can definitely do both!
First of all, the reward for reading the entire Qur’an is enormous and you don’t want to miss it. Narrated Muhammad bin Ka’b Al-Qurazi:
I heard ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud saying: ‘The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “[Whoever recites a letter] from Allah’s Book, then he receives the reward from it, and the reward of ten the like of it. I do not say that Alif Lam Mim is a letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter.”‘ (Jami` at-Tirmidhi)
Imagine 10 rewards for each letter you read from the Qur’an, and you actually read the entire Book! That’s gigantic thawab (reward), and everyone needs it.
Most importantly, being reminded of everything Allah Almighty says in His Book is a very critical act that we all need and we should all seek to do- especially in Ramadan, the month in which the Qur’an was sent down.
Now, completing the recitation of the Qur’an throughout the month is not an impossible act at all. As a matter of fact, one can easily make a daily plan that enables him/her to complete reading the Qur’an during the month at least once.
If you managed to read 20 pages a day, you’ll finish reciting the whole Qur’an once. You can do that by either scheduling an hour a day for reading. This could be at fajr time, right after dawn—or anytime according to your schedule.
Or, you can make it a point to read 4 pages after each of the 5 daily prayers. This will be easy and allow you to finish at a good pace.
Second of all, reciting the Qur’an is highly significant, but pondering upon its meanings, studying the context, grasping the wisdom, and acting upon the teachings is what really helps the person elevate and grow.
So, what you can do is have a realistic plan for attempting to engage with tafseer (exegesis). For example, you can plan – in addition to completing the recitation- to schedule an hour a day to read or listen to a tafseer of a Surah from one Part of the Qur’an, like Juzz ‘Amma.
Many teachers, like Nouman Ali Khan, have amazing tafseer of short surahs (chapters) of the Qur’an, which is very fulfilling and enlightening. You can download a podcast and listen to tafseer of a surah on our website every day, either when you’re commuting or before you sleep, etc.

Juzz’ Amma has a little over 30 surahs, and you can finish listening to tafseer of the entire Juzz in Ramadan without overwhelming yourself.
The point is that you can schedule just a realistic portion and time for the tafseer. You can either go for Juzz ‘Amma or the tafseer of one long Surahs or a few surahs and focus on that goal alone this Ramadan in addition to reciting the whole book.
This is actually very doable; it is also fulfilling and enriching and will help you have a great and rich Ramadan experience.
The most important thing is that you ask Allah Almighty for tawfeeq (success and blessings) and that He may descend His aid and blessings upon your time and upon your heart and mind that they may learn from His Words and enjoy them, live by them, and earn their rewards in this life and the next. Ameen.

Here are a couple of online tafseer initiatives:
Ramadan Daily Tefsir

Hope this helps. Please keep in touch.
Salam.
Please continue feeding your curiosity, you can ask questions on our forum, or drop your comments! Our scholars are online 24/7 to respond to your questions.

Ramadan Mubarak!

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