Imam alGhazali in his book The Revival Of the Religious Sciences إحياء علوم الدّين has a section on the manners of reading/reciting the Qur’aan – آداب تلاوة القرآن .

This is a very brief summary of the main points from the third chapter of that section, The Internal Actions during Recitation –  أعمال الباطن في تلاوة القرآن .

  1. فهم عظمة القرآن و علوّه و فضل الله – Understanding the greatness of the speech of Allah and the favour of Allah in sending the Qur’aan
  2. التعظيم للمتكلم – Appreciating the greatness of the speaker, Allah
    • Whenever we start reciting the Qur’aan we should first bring to mind the greatness of Allah and feel how we should be so careful of how we approach it. Just as not every hand can touch the Qur’aan (ie. without wudu’) so also not every tongue is fit to read the letters of the Qur’aan (sura alwaaqi`ah).
  3. حضور القلب و ترك حديث النفس – Presence of the heart and leaving the talking of the nafs (self)
  4. التدبّر – Contemplation
    • Only think about the Qur’aan and not the sound of the Qur’aan coming from yourself
    • Recite with tarteel so that you have time to concentrate on the meaning
    • Ali said:  لا خير في عبادة لا فقه فيها و لا في قراءة لا تدبّر فيها (there is no good in worship that has no understanding in it, and no good in reading (the Qur’aan) that has no contemplation in it)
    • If you can’t pay sufficient attention in the first reading then read the ayat again, unless you are praying behind an imam
  5. التفهّم – You should investigate the appropriate meanings of the ayats , the descriptions of Allah, the actions of Allah such as the creation, the descriptions of the prophets
  6. التخلّي عن موانع الفهم – Keeping away from the actions which prevent understanding such as
    • Concentrating on the correct recitation of the letters rather than the meaning of the ayas
  7. التخصيص – Understanding that the messages are aimed at yourself
    • Orders
    • Forbiddings
  8. التأثّر – Allow the heart to be affected with the results of his reading
    • Sadness
    • Fear
    • Hope

    Whatever level your understanding reaches, the overriding emotion should be خشية fear, apprehension. This is because largely when we see an ayat of forgiveness it is followed by conditions, for instance surat Taa Haa<<But indeed, I am the Perpetual Forgiver of whoever repents and believes and does righteousness and then continues in guidance.>>

  9. الترقّي – Progressing – ascend to the level of listening to the speech from Allah and not himself
    • Level 1 is when the slave judges himself to be reading to Allah from in front of Allah and Allah is looking towards him and listening to him. The slave has a state of questioning (سؤال), adulation (تملّق),  pleading (تضرّع) and praying humbly (ابتهال).
    • Level 2 is when the slave feels in his heart as if Allah sees him and he (Allah) is addressing him and saving him with his bounties and favours.
    • Level 3 is when the slave sees in the speech the speaker and in the words the descriptions so he does not look to himself or his recitation or even to the relation between the bounties and the giver of the bounties. Instead he restricts himself and his thoughts to deep concentration on the speaker  (Allah).
  10. التبري – Distancing yourself – when you recite ayats of praise for those who do goods you don’t account yourself amongst them but instead ask Allah to put you amongst them, and likewise when you recite ayats about wrongdoers you associate yourself with them and ask Allah to forgive you.