Are there any Hadiths regarding a punishment for forgetting the Quran?
There are numerous Hadiths wherein Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) encouraged protecting the Quran once a person has learnt it:
1) Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radiyallahu ‘anhuma) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“The example of someone who knows the Quran is that of a hobbled camel. If he attends to it, it stays with him. If he lets it go, it escapes”
(Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 5031 and Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 789)
2) Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radiyallahu ‘anhu) reports that Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“…Habitually recite the Qur’an for it slips from your chest quicker than camels escape”
(Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 5032, Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 790)
Hadiths warning against forgetting the Quran
1) Sayyiduna Anas ibn Malik (radiyallahu ‘anhu) reports that Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“The rewards for my Ummah were displayed before me, even [the reward for] the dirt that a man removes from the Masjid. The sins of my Ummah were also shown to me, I have not seen a sin worse than a Surah or Verse of the Qur’an which a man learnt and then forgot”
(Sunan Tirmidhi, Hadith: 2916, Sunan Abi Dawud, Hadith: 462. Also see: Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah, Hadith: 1297)
Imam Tirmidhi (rahimahullah) has declared this Hadith weak. He also quotes other Muhaddithun like Imam Bukhari (rahimahullah) who were of the same view.
2) Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“No man recites the Quran and then forgets it, except that he will meet Allah on the Day of Qiyamah with his hands cut off/with no excuse”
(Sunan Abi Dawud, Hadith: 1469 with a weak chain. Refer: Fathul Bari, Hadith: 5038. Also see footnotes of Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah on Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, Hadith: 30617)
These Hadiths are suitable to quote as is the case with Hadiths of this nature and are further supported by numerous statements of The Salaf (pious predecessors). Hafiz Ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) has quoted these statements wherein they regarded forgetting the Quran a great sin.
(Refer: Fathul Bari, under Hadith: 5038)
The Fuqaha (Jurists) have a difference of opinion regarding this issue. Some have regarded forgetting the Quran a major sin and some have regarded it to be a calamity which befalls a person. Kindly contact a reputable Mufti/Darul Ifta for further clarification.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.
Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar
Checked by: Moulana Haroon Abasoomar