Can you please explain why the Zuhr and `asr prayers are offered silently, even though the Qur’an Â states that prayers should not be offered silently or loudly but in a middle course.
Offering the Zuhr and `asr prayers silently and the other three prayers in a raised voice is the established Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh). This is how the Prophet (pbuh) taught his companions to offer their prayers and this method has been transferred to us through the practical perpetuation (Tawatur) and conceptual consensus (Ijmaa`) of all the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) and that of the people of all the subsequent generations.
As far as the directive in the referred verse (Al-Israa 17: 110) of the Qur’an is concerned, a close look at it shows that it addresses the Prophet (pbuh) in the first person. It directs the Prophet (pbuh) neither to raise his voice and nor to remain silent in “his” prayers. It is obvious from these words that the directive concerns the particular prayer, which was specific to the Prophet (pbuh). This prayer was the Tahajjud1 prayer. We know that the Tahajjud prayer was obligatory only for the Prophet (pbuh) and not for the other Muslims, besides him. Thus, the referred directive of the Qur’an relates only to the Tahajjud prayer. Thus, it has been reported in a number of narratives of hadith that the Prophet (pbuh) offered his Tahajjud prayers in a slightly raised voice in compliance with the directive of the referred verse. Moreover, the Prophet (pbuh) also directed those of his companions, who used to offer this prayer, to do so in a slightly raised voice.
Thus, the directive in the referred verse does not relate to the five obligatory prayers. On the contrary, it is specific to the Tahajjud prayers.
26th July 1999
- The late night prayers, which were obligatory for the Prophet (pbuh) but are a naf’l (supererogatory) for other Muslims. [↩]