Prayer: Why Loud and Silent Recitation?

What should a Muslim do when receiving a divine command? Why are `Asr and Zhuhr silent prayers?
Some people are offering prayer in a mosque.
The Prophet taught his Companions how to pray. He commanded them to pray in the same way they saw him praying.

In the first place, we would like to note that a Muslim should show complete surrender to Allah’s will and His great commands. On receiving a Divine command, a Muslim should respond: “We hear and obey.”

This complete surrender is the sign of true faith and real submission. It is also a reflection of deep-rooted belief in Allah and strict following of His teachings. By the same token, a Muslim abides by the Prophet’s instructions in all aspects of his life. This abidance comes in tune with Allah’s command:

And whatsoever the Messenger gives you, take it, and whatsoever he forbids, abstain (from it). (Al-Hashr 59: 7)

In another verse, we read:

Whoever obeys the Messenger obeys Allah, and whoever turns away: We have not sent thee as a warder over them. (An-Nisaa’ 4: 80)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) taught his Companions how to pray. He commanded them to pray in the same way they saw him praying. Therefore, we pray in the same way the Prophet offered Prayer.

Addressing the point of loud and silent prayers, here is the fatwa issued by Sheikh `Atiyah Saqr, former Head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, in this regard:

“The wisdom behind making Zhuhr and `Asr silent, may be traced to the situation of the early Muslims in Makkah. During that period, Muslims were subject to persecution and torture. Thus, they were commanded to make their prayers silent in order to evade the torturing of the disbelievers who used to harm them. At the early morning, when the whole Makkah was sleeping, Muslims could make their prayer loud. Also, after sunset, the Quraish used to be busy with their social gatherings or celebrations where they used to drink wine or the like. So that time also was suitable for Muslims to make their prayer loud.

It is thus clear that silent recitation in both Zhuhr and `Asr was just to evade the harm of the unbelievers. After their migration to Madinah, Muslims were no more subject to harm. However, the ruling of silent recitation for both Zhuhr and `Asr was kept in force as a reminder for all Muslims that one day they were offering silent prayer out of fear of persecution.

This also serves as an encouragement for all Muslims to praise Allah for His everlasting blessing and the overwhelming victory He granted them. Almighty Allah gives us a clear reminder of His grace in this respect when saying:

And remember, when ye were few and reckoned feeble in the land, and were in fear lest men should extirpate you, how He gave you refuge, and strengthened you with His help, and made provision of good things for you, that haply ye might be thankful.(Al-Anfal 8: 26)


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