How should the level of the voice of a person who is performing a prayer individually be?

Details of the Question

How should the level of our voice be while performing a prayer individually? A. We can read aloud like talking. B. It is not appropriate to read the chapters of the Quran like talking. C. We should read without any voice; we should read by thinking. D. We should read in the form of whispering but the tongue should move and we should pronounce the words fully. Which ones are right?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is necessary to say the chapters or supplications by the tongue in prayer; it is not enough to read them through the heart. It is not necessary to read them aloud, that is, in a way that we will hear through our ears. That is, we should read in a way that we will feel the supplications.  

A person who is performing a prayer individually can read aloud or silently when he performs the morning, evening and night prayers. The same thing is valid for the nafilah prayers performed at night. However, it is wajib for him to read silently in the noon and afternoon prayers and the nafilah prayers performed during the daytime.

Reading the chapter of al-Fatiha and other chapters without moving the tongue and producing any voice in prayer by reading it through the mind is not regarded as qira’ah; that is, qira’ah, which is a part of the prayer, is not regarded to have been fulfilled in that case. It is necessary for a person to read with a voice that he himself can hear as if whispering in prayer; and if there are others next to him praying, he needs to read without disturbing them. It is necessary for the tongue to move in qira’ah.

It is wajib to read silently in the noon and afternoon prayers whether they are performed individually or in congregation. A person who is performing them individually or the imam reads al-Fatiha and an additional chapter with a voice that he himself can hear. It is also wajib to read silently in the nafilah prayers that are performed during the daytime.

It is wajib to read aloud in all rak’ahs of the morning, Friday, eid, tarawih and witr prayers and in the first two rak’ahs of the evening and night prayers that are performed in congregation. It is wajib to read silently in the third rak’ah of the evening prayer and in the last two rak’ahs of the night prayer. However, a person who is performing the morning, evening and the night prayer individually can read aloud or silently.

The wisdom behind the fact that qira’ah is silent in the prayers that are performed during the daytime and aloud in the prayers that are performed at night and in Friday and eid prayers is explained as follows in tafsir books:  

In the first years of calling people to Islam, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) conducted the duty of proclaiming Islam secretly. When he led prayers to the Companions, he used to read the Quran aloud. When the polytheists heard the qira’ah of the Prophet, they would read poems and utter the words that they made up. They even insulted and made fun of the Prophet. The following verse was sent down in order to prevent the polytheists from the ugly deeds and to save Muslims from being disturbed:

“Neither speak thy Prayer aloud, nor speak it in a low tone, but seek a middle course between.”1

The Prophet was asked not to read aloud in the verse so that the polytheists would not hear him.2

After that, the Prophet (pbuh) read silently in the noon and afternoon prayers so as not to be disturbed by the polytheists. The evening prayer time was their dinner time and the night and morning prayer times were their sleeping time; therefore, he read aloud in these prayers. Friday and eid prayers were rendered fard and wajib after the Migration and the polytheists could not disturb them anymore; therefore, the qira’ah in these prayers was aloud.

References:

1. al-Isra, 110.
2. Imam az-Zamakhshari, Tafsirul-Kashshaf, (Cairo: Darul-Mushaf, 1397-1977), 3:196.

(Mehmed Paksu, İbadet Hayatımız)

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