Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr, former head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee states that: “Allah Almighty says, ‘And when the Qur’an is recited, give ear to it and pay heed, that ye may obtain mercy.’ (al-A`raf: 204)
Ibn al-Mundhir relates that there is a unanimous agreement among scholars that listening to the Qur’an and paying heed to it is obligatory during prayer and while the Friday sermon is delivered. In other occasions, paying undisrupted attention to the Qur’anic recital is only Sunnah, not obligatory. This is because some people do several jobs that require attention and full concentration. It is hard for such people to be tasked to listen attentively to the Qur’anic recital, taking into account that the Qur’an is recited and can be heard from several places not only at one’s home and work but also from other homes, stores, etc.
However, if one attends a gathering where the Glorious Book is being recited, as long as one is not busy with anything else, one should pay the gathering its due respect and let nothing distract him from listening to the Qur’an. Almighty Allah says, “O ye who believe! Lift not up your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor shout when speaking to him as ye shout one to another, lest your works be rendered vain while ye perceive not.” (al-Hujurat:2)
From this verse it is inferred that raising one’s voice above that of the Qur’an is worthier of being prohibited, for paying heed and respect to Allah’s speech takes high priority over the above injunction of giving full respect to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his speech.” [Source: Al-Fatawa al-Islamiyya, vol. 5, p. 1666]
Based on this, there is no harm in listening to the Qur’an while one is at work even if the listener finds it difficult to concentrate on the meanings, as there is good and blessing in a mere listening to the Qur’anic recital. The same applies to turning on the Qur’anic recitation while studying.
In fact, turning on the Qur’anic recitation is better than not running it at all. Getting preoccupied with something else in such case is not sinful, for it is not meant to keep one away from the Qur’an. Moreover, paying heed to the recitation is only obligatory while one is performing prayer or listening to the Friday Sermon, otherwise it is merely recommendable not obligatory.”