Assalamualaikum ustaz. What is the status of the hadith “The best of my ummah are those who recite the Quran,”? Thank you.
Waalaikumussalam. Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
The above hadith is recorded by al-Baihaqi in Syu’ab al-Iman from Nukman bin Basyir. The Prophet PBUH said:
أَفْضَلُ عِبَادَةِ أُمَّتِي قِرَاءَةُ الْقُرْآنِ
“The best worship of my ummah are those who recite the Quran.”
Narrated by al-Baihaqi (1865) in Syu’ab al-Iman
The above hadith is also narrated by several other companions such as Ubadah bin Somit and Anas. Imam al-Ghazali included this hadith in his book Ihya Ulum al-Din. Furthermore, Abu Nuaim al-Asbahani recorded the hadith in his book Fadhail al-Quran.
Regarding the question asked, al-Hafiz al-Iraqi commented on the above hadith, stating the sanad of the hadith is weak . The reason is, the credibility of two of the narrators is questionable. The two narrators are:
- Abbas bin Fadl. Among the hadith scholars that criticized him are:
- Yahya bin Ma’in states that he is not among the trusted (thiqah) narrators. (See al-Mughni Fi al-Dhu’afa, 1/323)
- Imam al-Nasaie states that his is considered as matruk (left) and his sayings are left.
- Ibnu ‘Adi states that most of the hadith from his is munkar (denounced).
- Abbad bin Kathir. He is also considered as a weak narrator.
- Imam al-Bukhari said that he is a questionable narrator. (See al-Tarikh al-Kabir, 6/13)
- Yahya bin Ma’in said that he is a weak narrator.
- Syu’bah said: “be careful in regards to his narrations.” (See al-Kamil Fi Dhu’afa’ al-Rijal, 5/331)
However, the weakness of the sanad of the hadith does not deny that the matan of the hadith has a sahih meaning. The benefit of reciting the Quran is stated through the verses of the Quran and sahih hadiths. Some of it is the statement of Allah SWT:
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يَتْلُونَ كِتَـٰبَ ٱللَّـهِ وَأَقَامُوا۟ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَأَنفَقُوا۟ مِمَّا رَزَقْنَـٰهُمْ سِرًّا وَعَلَانِيَةً يَرْجُونَ تِجَـٰرَةً لَّن تَبُورَ
“Indeed, those who recite the Book of Allah and establish prayer and spend [in His cause] out of what We have provided them, secretly and publicly, [can] expect a profit that will never perish,”
Surah al-Fatir (29)
The above verse means that for those who recite the Quran they will never experience loss but will receive a huge profit.
The benefit of reciting the Quran can also be understood through the hadith of the Prophet PBUH from Abdullah bin Mas’ud. The Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ قَرَأَ حَرْفًا مِنْ كِتَابِ اللهِ فَلَهُ بِهِ حَسَنَةٌ ، وَالحَسَنَةُ بِعَشْرِ أَمْثَالِهَا ، لاَ أَقُولُ الْم حَرْفٌ ، وَلَكِنْ أَلِفٌ حَرْفٌ وَلاَمٌ حَرْفٌ وَمِيمٌ حَرْفٌ
“[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.”
Sunan al-Tirmizi (2910). He states that the hadith is hasan.
 Refer al-Mughni Fi Hamli al-Asfar Fi al-Asfar Fi Takhrij Ma Fi al-Ihya Min al-Akhbar (2/682)