The verse (interpretation of the meaning): “But when there comes the greatest catastrophe (i.e. the Day of Recompense, etc.), The Day when man shall remember what he strove for” [an-Naazi‘aat 79:34-35] speaks of a person remembering what he strove for, i.e., what he sent on ahead and what he did in this world of good or evil, and what he attained of hasanaat (rewards for good deeds) or sayi’aat (requital for bad deeds). The terror of the Reckoning will cause everyone to remember what he did and he will see in his mind’s eye his life playing out quickly in front of him. So he will hope that Allah will reward him for his good deeds and pardon him for his bad deeds and errors. So the verse is stating that the individual will remember his deeds and what he earned in this world. It has nothing to do with a person remembering what he had forgotten of the Holy Qur’aan, which is clearly beyond this context, and paying attention to the context is one of the basic foundations of sound tafseer.
Al-Haafiz Ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“The Day when man shall remember what he strove for” means: on that day the son of Adam will remember all his deeds, both good and bad, as Allah, may He be glorified, says elsewhere (interpretation of the meaning): “And Hell will be brought near that Day. On that Day will man remember, but how will that remembrance (then) avail him?” [al-Fajr 89:23].
End quote from Tafseer al-Qur’aan al-‘Azeem, 8/317
Al-‘Allaamah as-Sa‘di (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“The Day when man shall remember what he strove for” i.e., in this world of good or bad, then he will wish for an atom’s weight of increase in his good deeds and he will worry and be grieved by an atom’s weight of increase in his bad deeds. And he will realize then that his fate will be based on his striving in this world, and all connections that existed in this world will cease, apart from his own deeds.
End quote from Tayseer al-Kareem al-Rahmaan, p. C10
Thus it becomes clear that there is no shar‘i evidence to suggest that the Muslim will remember what he had forgotten of the Holy Qur’aan on the Day of Resurrection. We have researched in the books of tafseer that quote different opinions on the interpretation of verses, such as the Tafseers of al-Maawardi and Ibn al-Jawzi, but we have not found any opinion concerning this verse other than what we have mentioned above.
One of the great hadeeths that speak of the virtue of the “companion of the Qur’aan” is the hadeeth of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, according to which the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “It will be said – i.e., to the companion of the Qur’aan – : ‘Recite, as you used to recite in the world, and ascend, and your status will be with the last verse you recite.’”
Narrated by at-Tirmidhi, 2914. He said: This is a hasan saheeh hadeeth. It was also classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh at-Tirmidhi
Most of the scholars said that what is meant by the “companion of the Qur’aan” is the one who fulfilled two criteria: memorisation and action, not just memorisation without acting upon what one has memorised, and not only reciting with precision but without memorising.
The evidence that one must memorise in order to attain the virtue mentioned in the hadeeth is based on the following:
If the virtue could be attained by anyone who reads the Qur’aan, then there would not be much difference among people in that regard, because reading from the Mushaf is something that everyone is able to do and no one is better than another in most cases, except in the beauty of the recitation (tajweed), and it is unlikely that this virtue would be connected to the beauty of recitation, because the hadeeth connects the virtue to reading and says that one’s status will rise according to “the last verse you recite”.
So it is not connected to precision in tajweed.
Giving the name qaari’ (reader or reciter) to the haafiz (one who has memorised the Qur’aan) is something that is well known according to the usage of these words at the time of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and his Companions. The qurra’ (reciters) were present in the gatherings of ‘Umar and were among his consultants, whether they were middle-aged or young men, as is proven in Saheeh al-Bukaari, 4276
Moreover, memorisation of the Holy Qur’aan involves a great deal of persistent effort that not many could do. Therefore the virtue mentioned in the hadeeth must only be connected to memorisation and not merely reading from the Mushaf, especially since this memorisation is a communal obligation (fard kifaayah) upon the ummah, so those who memorise the Qur’aan and shoulder this duty on behalf of their ummah deserve to be given this great reward.
Furthermore, the apparent meaning of the hadeeth also indicates that the one who has memorised it precisely is not like the one who has memorised it imprecisely. So the degree of the rise in status will depend on how much of the Qur’aan they can recite by heart, and the recitation of one who has memorised it precisely will excel the recitation of one who has memorised it imprecisely, verse by verse. Precision in memorisation points to sleepless nights, effort during the day and patience in striving to memorise, repeating verses and words. Justice dictates that the reward for the one who has memorised it precisely should be higher than the reward for the one who has memorised it imprecisely, and Allah has promised both of them al-husna.
Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
The report referred to applies specifically to the one who memorises it by heart, not the one who reads it from the Mushaf, because people do not differ in merely reading it from the book, and they do not differ in how little or how much they read. Rather what they vary in is memorisation by heart. Hence their statuses in Paradise will vary according to the level of their memorisation.
Another thing that supports that is the fact that memorisation of the Qur’aan by heart is a communal obligation upon the ummah, whereas merely reading from the Mushaf without memorising does not mean that this duty is waived, and it does not have a great status like that of memorisation. So it – I mean memorisation by heart – is what is meant in this report, and this is clear from the wording of the report.
The words of the angels to him, “Recite and rise” clearly refer to his memorisation by heart, as it is quite obvious.
End quote from al-Fataawa al-Hadeethiyyah by Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, p. 113
Al-‘Azeemabaadi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: It may be understood from this that no one will attain this great reward except the one who memorises the Qur’aan and recites it precisely.
End quote from ‘Awn al-Ma‘bood, 4/237
Shaykh al-Albaani (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
It should be noted that what is meant by the words “the companion of the Qur’aan” is the one who memorises it by heart, based on the words of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him): “The people should be led in prayer by the one who knows the most of the Book of Allah” i.e., the one who has memorised the most. So differences in status in Paradise are based on memorisation in this world, not recitation on that Day and reciting a great deal, as some people imagine. This clearly shows the virtue of the one who memorises the Qur’aan, but that is on condition that he memorises it for the sake of Allah alone, may He be glorified and exalted, and he does not do it for worldly gain or to acquire wealth. The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Most of the hypocrites of my ummah will be reciters (of Qur’aan).”
End quote from Silsilah al-Ahaadeeth as-Saheehah, 5/284
With regard to the evidence which stipulates that one must act in accordance with the Qur’aan in order to attain this great reward, that is also clear, and there is a stern warning to the one who fails to act in accordance with the Holy Qur’aan. We see this in the lengthy hadeeth of Samurah ibn Jundub from the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) about dreams, in which he says: “As for the one whose head was being crushed with the rock, he took the Qur’aan then abandoned it, and he (often) slept and missed the obligatory prayer.”
Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1143
Ibn Battaal said:
“he took the Qur’aan then abandoned it” means: he stopped memorising its letters and acting in accordance with its meanings. But if he only stopped memorising its letters and still acted in accordance with its meanings, then he is not regarded as having abandoned it.
End quote from Sharh Saheeh al-Bukhaari, 3/135
With regard to the hadeeth mentioned, it was narrated from Anas ibn Maalik (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said:
“The rewards of my ummah were shown to me, even a little dirt that a man removes from the mosque. And the sins of my ummah were shown to me, and I did not see any sin greater than a soorah or verse of the Qur’aan that was given to a man then he forgot it.
Narrated by at-Tirmidhi, 2916 and others; they all narrated it via ‘Abd al-Hameed ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez, from Ibn Jurayj, from al-Muttalib ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Hantab, from Anas ibn Maalik, in a marfoo‘ report (i.e., attributed to the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him)).
But it is a da‘eef (weak) hadeeth according to the consensus of the muhadditheen, and it has a number of faults, such as doubts about ‘Abd al-Majeed ibn Abi Dawood as he is the only one who narrated this hadeeth, and interruptions between Ibn Jurayj and al-Muttalib and Anas ibn Maalik.
At-Tirmidhi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
This is a ghareeb hadeeth; we know it only from this isnaad; I mentioned it to Muhammad ibn Ismaa‘eel but he did not know it and he found it strange. Muhammad said: I have not heard any report from al-Muttalib ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Hantab from any of the Companions of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), apart from his saying: One who was present and heard the khutbah of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) told me…
He said: I heard ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan – who is ad-Daarimi, the author of al-Musnad – say: We do not know that al-Muttalib heard from any of the Companions of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him). ‘Abdullah said: ‘Ali ibn al-Madeeni denied that al-Muttalib heard from Anas. End quote.
Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
This hadeeth is not saheeh and cannot be quoted as evidence because it is da‘eef (weak).
End quote from at-Tamheed, 14/136
Ad-Daaraqutni (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
The hadeeth is not proven, because Ibn Jurayj did not hear anything from al-Muttalib. And it was said that he used to narrate from Ibn Abi Sabrah and other weak narrators.
End quote from al-‘Ilal, 12/171
An-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
There is some weakness in its isnaad.
End quote from al-Khalaasah, 1/306
It was also classed as da‘eef by Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Baari, 9/70; and by al-Albaani in Da‘eef Abi Dawood – al-Umm, 1/164-167
And Allah knows best.