What is the ruling on listening to Soorat al-Mulk, which will save one from the punishment of the grave, before going to sleep, for one who does not know how to read Qur’an? Will the reward for that be equal to the reward of one who recites it?
Praise be to Allah
Concerning the virtue of Soorat al-Mulk, it was narrated by at-Tirmidhi (2891) that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “There is a soorah of the Qur’an, thirty verses long, which will intercede for a man until he is forgiven. It is the soorah [which beings with the words] ‘Tabaarak alladhi bi yadihi’l-mulk… (Blessed is He in whose hand is dominion…).’”
Classed as hasan by Shaykh al-Albaani (may Allah have mercy on him) in Saheeh Sunan at-Tirmidhi.
At-Tirmidhi also narrated from Jaabir (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) would not go to sleep until he had recited “Alif, Laam, Meem. [This is] the revelation of the Book” [Soorat as-Sajdah] and “Tabaarak alladhi bi yadihi’l-mulk… (Blessed is He in whose hand is dominion…)” [Soorat al-Mulk].
Classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani (may Allah have mercy on him).
An-Nasaa’i (10479) narrated that Ibn Mas‘ood (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “Whoever recites ‘Tabaarak alladhi bi yadihi’l-mulk… (Blessed is He in whose hand is dominion…)’ [Soorat al-Mulk] every night, Allah will protect him [mana‘ahu] thereby from the punishment of the grave. At the time of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), we used to call it al-maani‘ah (the protector). It is a soorah in the Book of Allah which, whoever recites it every night, he will have done a great deal and done well.”
Classed as hasan by Shaykh al-Albaani (may Allah have mercy on him) in Saheeh at-Targheeb wa’t-Tarheeb.
The point – as is the apparent meaning of the hadiths – is that the virtue mentioned is only attained by the one who recites that soorah.
With regard to simply listening, without reading, the one who does that is not regarded as reciting or reading it, even though listening to it is a prescribed act of worship and is something that is required. But he will not necessarily attain the same reward and virtue as the one who reads it. We do not know of any evidence to suggest any basis for regarding the acts as equal.
Based on that, whoever wants to attain the virtue mentioned in the hadiths has to read the soorah; it is not sufficient simply to listen to it.
If he cannot read it, then he can repeat after the reciter, especially since it is easy to listen via various means. There are recorded recitations that allow the listener to repeat after the reciter. If he is able to do that, then that is better, in sha Allah, and by doing that he will actually have read or recited it, and perhaps he will attain a greater reward for his patience in putting up with the hardship involved in that.
Whoever is not able to do any of that, or it is too difficult for him, so he only listens to what he is able to, then we hope that he will not be deprived of the reward of one who reads or recites, or the virtues narrated about reciting such soorahs, if he does what he is able to.
And Allah knows best.