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I was brought up a Muslim and taught that recitation of the Quran in Arabic (although I didn't understand Arabic and still don't) bears great "sawab". I haven't been able to find anything regarding this anywhere in Ahadith or the Quran. What does Islam really say about this? Is it true or it is just a bidd'a (or biddat)?

Technically, it's a waste of time to read the Arabic without understanding a thing of it, isn't it? So what's the logical thing to do in this case according to Islamic teachings?

  • reading Quran is not reading only Arabic. God gives any sawab to anyone he wish. at least this is a test. – Battle of Karbala Jan 14 '14 at 15:34
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The answer to your question is given in a hadith of the Prophet (saws):

Narrated Muhammad bin Ka'b Al-Qurazi:

"I heard 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud saying: 'The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "[Whoever recites a letter] from Allah's Book, then he receives the reward from it, and the reward of ten the like of it. I do not say that Alif Lam Mim is a letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter." (Source)

Of course the better thing by far is to recite with understanding (whether through knowledge of the language or through a translation). The fact remains however that this is Allah's Speech and He has put barakah in its recitation alone, even without reflection and pondering.

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Quran itself describes its purpose it is revealed so that it is a source of guidance and people ponder over it. Reciting it, without understanding defeats the basic purpose of it.

We should make Quran a center of our knowledge and actions.

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