Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
I want to listen to the Qur’an as much as possible, but do I have to sit and listen, or can I do work while listening?
What about children? Should we play it while they play, even though they may not be paying full attention to it?
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful.
Allah has commanded us to be “attentive” when listening to the Qur’an: “When the Qur’an is recited, listen to it and be attentive, in order to attain Mercy.” [Quran, 7:204]
Full attentiveness is something few have, even when doing nothing else but listening.
What is ‘sufficient attentiveness’?
What is minimally sought, however, is to try one’s reasonable best to pay attention, and avoid mentally busying yourself completely with other things (such as reading a book or article while listening to the Quran) [al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya (1.317), Hashiyat al-Tahtawi ‘ala Maraqi al-Falah].
Thus, it is permitted to recite and listen to the Qur’an if one is doing housework, taking care of the children, driving, walking, or performing other worldly activities–if the above conditions of basic attentiveness are generally fulfilled. Otherwise, it is improper.
What to do when busy or distracted?
It would be best, when busy, to put on halal Islamic poetry (qasida) or religious music (nasheed) if you need to listen to something.
Many of the righteous continue to make remembrance of Allah (dhikr) even while working, whether on mundane tasks or tasks requiring concentration.
As for the children, hearing the Quran has great benefits for them, even when they are playing around.
And Allah alone gives success.
[Shaykh] Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age. He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.