فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فَزَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَهُمْ يَسْتَبْشِرُونَ
Fa-ammaladhīna āmanū fazādthum īmānan wahum yastabshirūn
As for those who have faith, it increases them in faith, and they rejoice.
(Sūrat al-Tawba, No 9, Āyat 124)
This verse refers to the response of believers to verses of Quran that were revealed. The hypocrites who listened to the verses asked each other sarcastically if the verses had increased them in faith. This was to show their indifference to the verses and their skepticism regarding its effect. Allah ‘azza wajall answers by saying that the verses increase the faith of the believers. It has the opposite effect on the hypocrites, as mentioned in the next verse. It only adds to their spiritual darkness.
Listening to verses of the Quran with the conviction that it is God talking to the believer has a tremendous effect on the heart of a believer. The effects include:
1. A strengthening of faith. This could come from the reassurance and reconnection established by the verses. Just as a person feels a surge of love when hearing the voice of a loved one, the believer also feels an increase of faith at hearing from God.
2. A feeling of joy. Not only does the faith increase, the believer also rejoices in listening to the words of God. One of the functions of the Quran is to give joy to the heart of a believer. Almighty Allah describes it in Sūrat Yūnus: O mankind! There has certainly come to you an advice from your Lord, and a cure for what is in the breasts, and a guidance and mercy for the faithful. Say, ‘In Allah’s grace and His mercy—let them rejoice in that! It is better than what they amass (Q 10:57 & 58).
3. Visible signs of happiness. The word ‘yastabshirūn’ refers to signs of happiness that appear on the face and body of the believer.
Verses of Quran are like droplets of rain that fall on permeable soil and are absorbed and stored. The soil mixes with the water, a rapid movement taking place beneath the surface as the water soaks through deeper levels within the soil. The whole process that takes place internally is then manifested through the growth that shoots up above the surface. Such is the effect of verses of Quran on the heart of a believer. There is an internal movement that takes place, a process that becomes visible through the words and deeds of the believer.
This verse teaches us that every verse a believer listens to is a fresh joy. It is an opportunity to hear from God, a chance to learn something new, a way to refine and polish the soul. This is deeply satisfying. The verse also shows that the faith of a believer keeps increasing, a fact that Quran refers to in another verse: He it is Who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the believers that they might have more of faith added to their faith– and Allah’s are the hosts of the heavens and the earth, and Allah is Knowing, Wise (Q 48:4).
‘Allāmah Tabātabā’ī in Tafsīr al-Mīzān says that faith is increased in different ways by listening to the Quran. When the light of a verse of Quran falls on the heart of a believer, it illuminates it. The guidance received clarifies and strengthens the faith that already resides in the heart. This increase is in the quality of the faith. Because it brings with it, fresh awareness and new realities; it adds fresh faith to the faith that exists. This is increase in the quantity of faith. The ‘Allāmah gives the example of how we attribute certain enhancements of health to particular foods that we eat. We may be healthy but feel better when we eat specific types of food. This is somewhat like the effect of verses of Quran on our spiritual health.
Let this verse remind you of the happiness that listening to Quran can bring you. Listen with a soft and attentive heart, and you can be part of the group described in this verse. Make it a habit to recite or listen to verses f Quran each day. It will help you in your quest to maintain spiritual and emotional wellbeing. The Holy Prophet said: One who listens to the Quran will be kept away from the evils of this world; and one who recites the Quran will be kept away from the trials of the hereafter. And the person who listens to even one verse of the book of Allah – this is better (for him) than possessing a mansion of gold (Bihār, 92:19).
Sources: ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh.