The Review of Religions (English), Jan & Feb 1920, pp. 4-6
Regarding this study [of the Holy Quran], it should be remembered that every man should fix for himself a certain amount of the text, which he should read daily. He should not indulge in desultory reading, but should observe a regular system and measure.
Desultory and irregular reading is not fruitful of result. What is therefore required with reference to the study of the Holy Quran is that a certain amount of it should be fixed for daily study and the same [should be] fully read every day. Whatever the amount may be, half a part or one or more, whatever portion may be fixed, should be regularly read every day and by all means be daily completed.
The Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, said that the devotion which is most pleasing in the sight of God is one which is regularly performed by the devotee and in which he allows no intermission. Intermission implies absence of zeal, and spiritual purification of the heart is impossible without zeal and sincere love. I have myself observed that when owing to any urgent pre-occupation I have failed to attend to the daily allotment of Quran study, I have invariably felt a depression in the heart and a perceptible effect upon other devotions.
Thus the first rule with regard to the reading of the Quran is that it should be regularly performed everyday.
The second rule is that the reading should be intelligent and never so hurried as to preclude a proper understanding of the sense. Slow reading should be practised so that a comprehension of the sense may accompany the reading of the text, and at the same time due reverence may be paid to the sacred nature of the book.
The third rule is that, whenever possible, one should proceed to the study after performing the prescribed ablution, although in my opinion it is no act of sin to proceed without such ceremony. It is true that according to some theologians it is not permissible to read the Quran without first performing the prescribed ablution.
But personally I hold no such extreme view. Nevertheless, I consider it proper as tending to deepen the effect and increase the merit of the exercise that one should proceed to the study after proper ablution. Some friend enquired what was to be done if one did not understand the Holy Quran. Such men should read the Quran with translation.
If, however, he cannot read the whole of the book with translation, the best thing for him to do is that he should learn the translation of a certain portion of the Holy text, and this he should revise every day when doing the fixed daily allotment of reading. It may be asked what then is the use of reading the fixed portion of which one cannot understand the sense.
The answer is that every work performed in a spirit of sincerity and devotion is sure to bring its reward from God. Therefore when a man reads the text even without understanding its sense with a view to please God, then God will surely mark the sincerity of his motive and give him his reward. Moreover, mere words are not altogether barren of influence.
For instance, the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, commanded that as soon as a child was born, the Azan or call to prayers should be recited into its ear, although, as a matter of fact, the infant at that time has not the least power to know or understand anything. But agreeably to the proverb that things left by will come handy one time or other, the practice will not altogether be barren of a useful effect.