The first matter that it befits him to employ is Taqwa (consciousness) of Allah secretly and openly, by exercising caution (wara’) with regards to the sources of his food, drink, dress and earnings. He is perceptive about his time and the corruptions of its people that he may beware of them regarding his religion. He concentrates on his own situation, having the aspiration to reform whatever is corrupt in his affairs, guarding his tongue and choosing his words.
If he speaks, he speaks with knowledge when he sees speech to be correct. He fears from his tongue things more severe than he fears from his enemy. He imprisons his tongue the way he imprisons his enemy, so that he may be safe from its evil and bad consequences. He rarely laughs at the matters which people laugh, due to the bad consequences of laughter. If he is pleased by something in accordance with the truth, he smiles. He dislikes joking, fearing frivolity: if he jokes, he speaks the truth. He is accommodating in countenance and pure in speech. He does not allow himself to be praised for qualities he has, how then for qualities he does not have? He is wary of his self, that it should overcome him for what it desires, of the things that will anger his Master. He does not backbite anyone. He does not look down upon anyone. He does not abuse anyone. He is not happy at the affliction of others. He neither transgresses upon anyone, nor envies them. He does not think the worst about anyone, except for one who deserves it. He loves with knowledge, and hates with knowledge. He speaks about a person’s faults only with knowledge, and remains silent about a person’s real nature with knowledge.
He has made the Qur’an, Sunnah and Fiqh his guide to every good and beautiful quality, guarding all his limbs from what has been forbidden. If he walks, he walks with knowledge. If he sits, he sits with knowledge. He strives hard so that people may be safe from his tongue and hand. He does not behave ignorantly: if someone behaves ignorantly towards him, he is forbearing. He does not oppress: if he is oppressed, he forgives. He does not transgress: if he is transgressed upon, he has patience. He restrains his fury to please his Lord and enrage his enemy. He is humble in himself: when the truth is presented to him, he accepts it, whether from one younger or older.
He seeks status from Allah, not from the creatures. He despises arrogance, fearing for his self from it. He does not (earn to) eat by the Qur’an, nor does he like his needs being fulfilled by way of it. He neither runs with it to the sons of kings, nor sits with it amongst the rich so that they may honour him.
If the people earn plenty from the world without understanding or perception, he earns a little with understanding and knowledge. If the people wear fine luxury, he wears of the halal with that which conceals his private parts. If his circumstances ease, he eases; if they tighten, he tightens. He is content with little, so it suffices him. He bewares for his self from the world that which will make it tyrannical. He follows the obligations of the Qur’an and the Sunnah: he eats food with knowledge; he drinks with knowledge; he dresses with knowledge; he sleeps with knowledge; he has union with his wife with knowledge; he accompanies his brothers with knowledge; visiting them with knowledge, seeking permission to enter upon them with knowledge, and greeting them with knowledge; he treats his neighbour with knowledge.
He imposes strictly upon himself the honouring of his parents: he lowers his wing to them, and lowers his voice before their voices. He expends his wealth for them, and looks upon them with the eye of respect and mercy. He prays for their longevity, and is thankful for them in old age. He is not irritated by them, and does not look down upon them. If they ask for his help in a matter of obedience, he helps them. If they ask for his help in a matter of disobedience, he does not help them, but is gentle with them in his disobedience of them: he shows beautiful etiquette such that they may return from the ugly matter that they intended, that it does not befit them to do. He maintains family relations and despises breaking them. If someone breaks off relations with him, he does not break off relations with them. If someone disobeys Allah regarding him, he obeys Allah regarding him.
He accompanies the believers with knowledge, and sits with them with knowledge. He benefits those who accompany him, being an excellent companion for those whom he sits with. If he teaches another, he is gentle with him. He is not harsh with the one who makes a mistake, and does not embarrass him. He is gentle in all his matters, extremely patient in teaching goodness. The leaner finds comfort in him, and the one sitting with him is joyous at his company. Sitting with him brings goodness. He educates his companions with the etiquettes of the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
If he is afflicted with a difficulty, the Qur’an and the Sunnah are two educators for him. He grieves with knowledge. He cries with knowledge. He has patience with knowledge. He purifies himself with knowledge. He prays with knowledge. He gives zakat with knowledge. He gives charity with knowledge. He fasts with knowledge. He performs the hajj with knowledge. He wages jihad with knowledge. He earns with knowledge, and he spends with knowledge. He eases in matters with knowledge, and tightens in them with knowledge. The Qur’an and the Sunnah have taught him his manners. He looks through the pages of the Qur’an in order to teach himself manners, and he is not pleased for himself to fulfil with ignorance the obligations imposed by Allah. He has made knowledge and understanding his guide to every goodness.
When he studies the Qur’an, it is with the presence of understanding and intelligence: his aspiration is to understand that which Allah has imposed upon him of following His commands and avoiding His prohibitions. His aspiration is not: when will I complete the soorah? His aspiration is: when will I be enriched by Allah, so that I am in no need of other than Him? When will I be of the pious? When will I be of those who excel? When will I be of those who have total tawakkul? When will be of those who humble themselves? When will I be of the patient ones? When will I be of the truthful ones? When will I be of the fearful ones? When will I be of the hopeful ones?
When will I have non-attachment to the world? When will I have yearning for the Hereafter? When will I repent from sins? When will I recognize the widespread favours? When will I be grateful for them? When will I understand from Allah His address? When will I understand what I recite? When will I overcome my self regarding its base desires? When will I strive in Allah’s cause with a true jihad? When will I guard my tongue? When will I lower my gaze? When will I guard my chastity? When will I be ashamed before Allah with true shame? When will I be preoccupied with my faults? When will I reform the corruptions in my life? When will I call my self to account?
When will I take provision for the Day of Resurrection? When will I be pleased with Allah? When will I have trust in Allah? When will I be admonished by the warnings of the Qur’an? When will I be preoccupied with His remembrance away from remembrance of other than Him? When will I love what He loves? When will I hate what He hates? When will I be sincere to Allah? When will I purify my deeds for Him? When will I reduce my vain hopes? When will I prepare myself for the day of my death, when my remaining term shall have vanished? When will I build the life of my grave? When will I reflect upon the Standing and its severity? When will I reflect upon my solitude with my Lord? When will I reflect upon the Return?
When will I beware that which my Lord has warned me of: a Fire whose heat is severe, its depth great and its grief lengthy. Its inhabitants do not die that they may rest; their sins are not forgiven; their tears are not shown mercy. Their food is zaqqoom, and their drink is boiling water. Every time their skins are roasted, they are replaced with new ones so that they may taste the punishment. They regret when regret does not benefit them, and they bite upon their hands in sorrow at their falling short in obeying Allah and their embarking upon the disobedience of Allah. Thus, one of them says,
“Alas! If only I had sent something forward for my life!” (89:24)
Another says, “My Lord, return me! It may be that I work righteousness in what I have neglected!” (23:99-100)
Another says, “O woe to us! What is the matter with this Book? It does not leave a minor or major matter, except that it counts it!” (18:49)
Another says, “O woe to me! If only I had not taken so-and-so as a close friend!” (25:28)
Another group of them says, with their faces turning in different kinds of punishment, “Alas! If only we had obeyed Allah, and obeyed the Messenger!” (33:66)
So this is the Fire, O assembly of Muslims! O Bearers of the Qur’an! Allah has warned the believers of it in more than one place in His Book, out of mercy from Him towards the believers. Allah, Mighty and Majestic, said: “O you who have believed! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones. Upon it are angels, stern and severe: they disobey not Allah in what He commands them, and they do as they are ordered.” (66:6)
He, Mighty and Majestic, also said, “O you who have believed! Fear Allah, and let each soul see what it has sent forth for tomorrow; and fear Allah: truly, Allah is Aware of what you do.” (59:18)
He then warned the believers against being heedless of what Allah has obligated upon them and what He has entrusted to them not to lose, and to guard His limits that He has entrusted to them, and not to be like the others who rebelled against His command and so He punished them with different types of punishment. Thus He, Mighty and Majestic, said, “And do not be like those who forgot Allah, so He caused them to forget themselves: they are truly rebellious ones.” (59:19)
He then informed the believers that the people of the Fire and the people of the Garden are not equal, saying, “Not equal are the people of the Fire and the people of the Garden: the people of the Garden, they are the truly successful ones.” (59:20)
Thus, when the intelligent believer recites the Qur’an, he presents himself to it, so it becomes like a mirror in which he sees which of his actions are beautiful and which are ugly. Thus, whatever his Master warns him against, he is wary of it; whatever He instils fear regarding its consequences, he fears; whatever his Master encourages him in, he desires it and hopes for it.
Thus, whoever fits this description, or close to this description, he has recited it as it should truly be recited, and has attended to it as it should truly be taken care of. The Qur’an becomes for him a witness, intercessor, comfort and support. Whoever has these qualities benefits himself and benefits his family, and returns with every goodness upon his parents and his children in this world and the Hereafter.
Source: From 'The Character of The Bearers (and People) of the Qur'an', Chapter 4, by Imam al-Ajooriyy al-Baghdadi (rahimahullah).