Saying Aameen Silently in Salaat – Explained

[By Maulana ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Yusuf Mangera D.B]

Saying Amin (pronounced aameen) after completing the recitation of Surat al-Fatiha holds great virtue and is a sunna of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) states in one hadith:

When the imam says “ghayr al-maghdubi alayhim wala’l-daaleen.” Say Aameen, because the angels say amin. And whoever’s amin coincides with the amin of the angels, all his past sins are forgiven (Sahih al-Bukhari 1: 108)

There is no controversy whatsoever regarding the virtue of saying amin at the completion of Surat al-Fatiha. All scholars are unanimous that it is sunna to say amin at that time. The difference of opinion, however, is regarding whether it should be uttered audibly or silently.

It is established that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said amin audibly as well as silently during his lifetime; therefore, it should be not made an issue of great debate. At times it is taken so seriously that some of those who choose to say it aloud criticize the practice of those who say it silently by labelling them ignorant and even deviant ; and some from the latter group criticize the practice of the former group as well.

It must be realized that the difference of opinion is only concerning which method is superior i.e is it more virtuous to say amin aloud or silently? Ibn al Qayyim (rahimahullah), explaining the nature of this issue, writes:

This issue is from among the valud differences of opinion in which no criticism should be directed at those who do it [i.e say amin aloud] nor at those who do not [i.e who say it silently]. This issue is similar to that of raising or not raising the hands [raf ‘al-Yadain] in prayer (Zad al-ma-ad 1:70)

Thus, the following discussion will constitute a combined study of verses of the Holy Qur’an and hadiths of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) that are relevant to the issue of amin, in order to ascertain the more preferred procedure. As mentioned earlier, it is clearly established that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) did say amin aloud as well as silently. The Hanafis and many others accept this.

However, the question is: for how long did the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) say amin aloud?? Since there seems to be no evidence to established that amin was said aloud on a permament basis, it is necessary totake a closer look at the various evidences on this issue that have been utilized by the different schools of fiqh.

                THE VARIOUS OPINIONS

The Hanafi opinion is that amin should be said inaudibly at all times during the prayer. They uphold that it was said aloud by the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) a few times, in order to familiarize the Companions with saying amin after the Fatiha; after which he would say it silently just like all other invocations and supplications of prayer. Others state that amin should be said aloud in all audible prayers (i.e Fajr, Maghrib and ‘Isha) and silently in the silent prayers (i.e Zuhr and ‘Asr).

The following points detail how the imam and the follower [muqtadi] should say amin:

a) All scholars agree that the imam should say amin silently during the silent prayers. As for the audible prayers, Imam Malik and Imam Abu Hanifa (rahimahumullah) are of the opinion that amin should be said silently in them, and another group of scholars says it should be said audibly

(b) Imam Malik (rahimahullah) (according to al-Mudawwanat al-kubra) and Imam Abu Hanifa (rahimahullah) are of the opinion that the follower should always say amin silently in both the audible and silent prayers. This is also one opinion of Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah). Another group is of the opinion that the followers should say amin audibly during the audible prayers and silently during the silent prayers.

As mentioned earlier, the difference of opinion is only concerning which of the two is more virtuous. Technically speaking, saying amin aloud or silently is regarded by all the scholars as being a sunna act of the prayerand not a fard, or integral part of it.

THE QUR’AN ON THIS ISSUE

According to the most accurate definition, amin is a verbal noun meaning “accept [our] prayer.” Hence, it is a du’a’ [invocation]. This is clearly indicated in Surah Yunus, where, after mentioning the du’a’ of Musa (alayhissalaam), Allah Ta’ala says:

“Accepted is your prayer (O Musa and Harun)!” [al-Qur’an 10:89]

Allah Ta’ala uses the dual tense in this verse and says “da’watukuma,” to mean “the prayer of you both.” Since only Musa (alayhissalaam) is mentioned to have made the du’a’ and not Harun (alayhissalaam), the use of this dual has been explained as implying that Musa (alayhissalaam) was making the du’a’ while Harun (alayhissalaam) was endorsing it with amin. Since amin is a du’a’, Allah referred to them both as invoking Him and said He had accepted the du’as of both.

In the “Chapter on the Imam proclaiming Amin Aloud” [Baab Jahr al-imam bi-l-tamin], Imam Bukhari (rahimahullah) quotes the words of ‘Ata ibn Abi Rabah, “Amin is a du’a‘” (Sahih al-Bukhari 1:102). Hafiz ibn Hajr (rahimahullah) further clarifies thos in his commentary where he states,

The one saying amin is considered a da’i [or “invocant]as mentioned on the words of Allah, “Accepted is your prayer (O Musa and Harun)!” Musa (alayhissalaam) was making the du’a’ and Harun (alayhissalaam) was saying amin , as related by Ibn Mardawayh through the narration of Anas (radhiyallahu anhu) [Fath al-Bari]

Thus, once it is established that amin is a form of du’a,’ we must observe the etiquette which Allah Ta’ala has taught us:

“Invoke your Lord woth humility and in secret. He likes not the aggressors” (al-Qur’an 7:55)

Allah Ta’ala commands that prayers and du’a’s be made to Him with humility, sincerity and in silence [khufya]. Many examples are provided in the Qur’an of how the various Envoys [anbiya’] of Allah would invoke Him. Allah Ta’ala says, speaking of the calmness of Zakariyya (alayhissalaam) when he beseeched his Lord:

“When he called out his Lord (Allah)– a call in secret” (al-Qur’an 13:3)

The description of the du’as of other Envoys is also mentioned by Allah Ta’ala:

“Verily, they used to hasten in performing good deeds; and they used to call on Us with hope and fear; and they used to humble themselves begore Us” (al-Qur’an 21:90)

At another point, the Qur’an provides a glimpse of the Last Day when the Trumpet will be blown. Allah Ta’ala says,

“And all voices will be humbled for the Most Beneficient and you all shall hear nothing but the low sound of their footsteps” (al-Qur’an 20:108)

This establishes that since amin is a du’a’, it should be said silently just like other du’as. The various Envoys of Allah preferred to make their invocations silently when they would beseech the All-Hearing [al-Sami’] and the Nigh [al-Qarib]

In many hadiths, the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) advised the Companions to invoke Allah Ta’ala silently. He informed them that Allah is the Nigh and All-Hearing, and that there was no need for them to invoke Him too loudly. Therefore, since amin is also a du’a’, it would be more preferable to utter it silently just
as other invocations and prayers.

       THE HADITHS ON THIS ISSUE

It may have been misconceived from the above analysis that the Hanafis seem to have based their view on mere reasoning and analogy. Therefore, in this section, we will present hadiths to, God-Willing, dispel such misunderstandings and to provide concrete proof of the Hanafi opinion being in total accordance with the Sunna.

1. In a narration of Samura ibn Jumdub and ‘Imran ibn Husayn (radhiyallahu anhum) it is mentioned that

They had a conversation [during which] Samura (radhiyallahu anhu) related two occasions when the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would observe a short silence [sakta] [in prayer]- one following the initial takbir and the second when completing the wala’l Daalleen. ‘Imran ibn Husayn (radhiyallahu anhu) could not acknowledge this, so they wrote to Ubay ibn Ka’b (radhiyallahu anhu). His reply stated thay Samura (radhiyallahu anhu) has remembered [correctly] (Sunan Abi Dawud 1:120)

‘Allama Nimawi, commenting on this narration, states:

The first silence was observed to recite the thana silently and the second to say the amin silently. It is possible that ‘ Imran bin Husayn (radhiyallahu anhu) initially refuted Samura (radhiyallahu anhu) in regards to the second silence, because it was so brief and he did not think it worthy of mention; and therefore acknowledged rhe first silence because it was longer. It is quiet clear that the amin was recited during the second silence, because there was no other reason to discontinue the recitarion for a brief moment at that instance (Athar al-Sunan 382)

2. Abu Hurairah (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that the Messenger of Allag (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said:

When the imam recites “ghayr al-maghdubi ‘alaihim wala’l-daallleen,” say aameen, because the angels say it and so does the imam (Sunan al-Nasa’i)

This hadith proves that the imam should say amin silently. The reason for this is that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) ordered the companions to say amin and informed them that the angels and the imam also say it. If it had been more preferable for the imam to say it aloud, the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would have had no reason to inform the Companions of the imam’s saying amin, because they would have heard it themselves. Since the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) informed them that the imam also said amin , it meabs that amin was normally said in a subdued tonem

3. Shu’ba reports from ‘Alqama ibn Wa’il that:

He [Wa’il] performes prayer with the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), When the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) reached “ghayr al-maghdubi ‘alayhim wala’l-dallin,” he said amin and kept his voice subdued (Musnad Ahmad,Daraqutni; al-Mustadrak, Nasb al-raya 1:494)

This hadith has been narrated from Wa’il ibn Hujr (radhiyallahu anhu) by Sufyan al-Thawri and Shu’ba. The two reports differ however in that Shu’ba, whose narration is above, relates that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said amin silently; whereas Sufyan relates from Wa’il that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prolonged his voice [madda biha sawtahu] while saying amin.

Sufyan’s (rahimahullah) report has been used as evidence by those who claim that amin was said aloud by the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). They have criticized Shu’ba’s report in a number of ways and in doing so, have attempted to show Sufyan’s report as being the superior narration. On the other hand the Hanafis have taken Sufyan’s report to mean that the initial “alif” of amin was prolonged and not that the volume of the Messenger’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was raised. The Hanafi scholars have answered all the criticism levelled against Shu’ba’s report and have firmly established it to be the more acceptable one regarding this issue [see Athar al-sunan, Fath al-Mulhim, Darse Tirmidhi, etc.].

4.Abu Hurayra (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said:

When the imam says wala’l-dallin, say amin (Sahih al-Bukhari 1:108).

Had it been more preferable for the follower to say amin aloud, the wording of this hadith could have read, “when the imam says amin, you say it,” as the imam’s amin would have been the signal to the follower to say amin. However, the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) instructed them to say amin after the imam recited “wala’l-dallin,” since the amin was pronounced silently by the imam.

There are in fact some narrations which contain the words, “when the imam says amin, you say it; however, this is interpreted as, “When the time comes for the imam to say amin, you say it.” It is not taken literally since the normal practice of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was to say amin silently.

THE COMPANIONS AND FOLLOWERS ON THIS ISSUE

1. Abu Wa’il narrates that ‘Ali and ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhum) did not recite bismi’llah, a’udhubillah, or amin aloud [during the prayer] (majma’ al-zawa’id 2: 208).

2. Abu Wa’il narrates that ‘Umar and ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhum) would not recite bismi’llah or amin aloud (I’la al-sunan 2:215)

3. Imam ‘Abd al-Razzaq in his musannaf and Imam Muhammad in his kitab al-athar have related that the prominent Follower [tabi’i]  Ibrahim al-Nakh’ayy (rahimahullah) said:

There are five things the imam should say silently: subhanaka ‘llahumma [thana], ta’awwudh, bismillah, amin and Allahumma rabbana laka’l-hamd (Musannaf ‘Abd al-Razzaq 2:87)

OTHER REASONS FOR SAYING AMIN SILENTLY

(1) We know it is necessary [wajib] to recite the Qur’an aloud in the audible prayers. By saying amin aloud , someone could be misled into assuming that it is part of the Qur’an along with the Fatiha; whereas all scholars qgree that amin is not part of the Qur’an.

(2) Some scholars consider bismi’llah to be a verse of Surat al-Fatiha yet to do not recite it aloud during the prayer. This proves that invocations, like amin – which no scholar considers to be part of the Qur’an-should not be said aloud.

ANALYZING THE SEEMINGLY CONTRADICTORY HADITH

1. Wa’il ibn Hujr (radhiyallahu anhu) says,

The Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) recited “ghayri’l-maghdubi ‘alayhim wala’l dallin” and followed it with amin, prolonging his voice while saying it [madda biha sawtahu] (Sunan al-Tirmidhi 1:57, Abi Dawud 1: 142)

This is Sufyan’s report from Wa’il ibn Hujr (radhiyallahu anhu), which was previously discussed. It was stated above that the Hanafis prefer Shu’ba’s report over Sufyan’s in this issue.

The word “madda” used in this narration literally means “he stretched.” Hence, the hadith means that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) stretched the initial alif of the amin ane prolonged it, not that he said it aloud. Shu’ba’s version of Wa’il ibn Hujr’s (radhiyallahu anhu) report (hadith 3 above), which supports this interpretation, clearly mentions that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) subdued his voice while saying amin.

2. Abu Hurayra (radhiyallahu anhu) says,

When the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) recited wala’l-dallin, he said amin after it, which could be heard in the first row (Sunan Abi Dawud)

The version of Sunan Ibn Maja contains the additional phrase, “The masjid echoed with the sound” (Sunan Ibn Maja 1:61).

The answer to this hadith is that it is weak abd cannot be accepted as evidence, as one of its narratora Bishr ibn Rafi’, has been strongly criticized by a number of hadith experts. Imam Bukhari states, “He is not consistent in his narrations;” Imam Ahmad calls him weak; Imam Nasa’i states, “He is not strong;” and Ibn Hibban states, “He relates spurious narrations.” (Mizan al-i’tidal).

The second point to consider here is that if the sound of the amin only reached the first row (as the main portion of the narration mentions), then how did the whole masjid echo with it (as is added in Ibn Maja’s version)? Had amin echoed throughout the masjid, everyone would have heard it. It is not clear how one version states it was heard from the first row only, while the other states it was so loud that the whole masjid echoed with its sound. Thus, this hadith is self-contradictory and, as a result, cannot be accepted as evidence in proving that amin was said aloud permanently.

A GENERAL EXPLANATION AND CONCLUSION

There are other apparently contradicting narrations which state that amin was said aloud during the prayer. However, many of these have been judged to be extremely weak and inadmissible as evidence. These narrations have not been discussed here but can be found in larger works such as Athar al-Sunan and I’la al-Sunan.

A general answer for all such narrations is that even the Hanafis accept that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said amin aloud; however, they say it was only said aloud for a short period of time and that there is no evidence to establish it was said aloud on a permamant basis. The few times the Messenger (sallalaahu alayhi wasallam) said amin audibly was to emphasize its importance to his Companions. ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) did the same with thana. He recited it aloud for a few days to teach the Companions, after which he continued to recite it silently . This is further confirmed by a report from Wa’il ibn Hujr (radhiyallahu anhu) transmitted by Hafiz Abu Bishr al-Sulabi in his Kitab al-asma’ wa’l-kuna, which states:

I do not think the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said it [amin] aloud except to teach us (athar al-sunan:93, Fath al-Mulhim 2:50-52, I’la al-sunan 2:186).

Ibn al-Qayyim, concluding on the nature of this issue, writes in Zad al-Ma’ad under the discussion of qunut:

If the imam recites it [qunut] aloud a few times to teach the followers, there is no harm in that. ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) recited thana aloud to teach the followers, and Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) recited Surat al-Fatiha during the funeral prayer to teach them it was sunna. Likewise, the issue of the imam saying amin aloud is from the same category (Zad al-ma’ad 1:70)

Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (rahimahullah) states:

Both types of reports [i.e those which state that the amin was said aloud and those which state that it was said silently] have been transmitted from the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and both are reliable [sahih] (Fath al-Mulhim 2:50)

Hence, both types of reports are authentic, but refer to different occasions. The narrations that mention that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said amin silently, refer to the normal practice of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), and the other refer to the few instances when he said amin aloud to teach the Companions.

Had it been the permanent practice of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and the Companions to say amin aloud, it would surely have been narrated from more than just a few Companions. There are five prayers in a day. If amin were said aloud in three of them, it would certainly have been widely reported as such.

Besides the narrarions of Wa’il ibn Hujr, Abu Hurayra (radhiyallahu anhum) and few others (of which most extremely weak and cannot stand as evidences anyway), few Companions reported that the amin was said aloud during the prayer. Even Wa’il (radhiyallahu anhu) himself, whi was a resident of Yemen, visited the illuminated city of Madinah just a few times, so it is possible that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said amin aloud in his presence in order to teach him. Wa’il also mentions something to this effect, as transmitted by Hafiz al-Dulabi:

I do not think the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said it [amin] aloud except to teach us (Darse Tirmidhi  1:523).

This is not the only report from Wa’il (radhiyallahu anhu) in this regard. Another narration of his, mentioned in Sunan al-Nasa’i, states:

When the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) recited ghayr al-magudubi ‘alayhim wala’l-dallin,” he said amin. I heard him [say it] since I was behind him. (Sunan al-Nasa’i 1:147)

This indicates that he only heard the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) say it because he was behind him, and not because it was pronounced loudly.

Hence, even the narrations of Wa’il (radhiyallahu anhu), which are considered as strong evidence for those who say amin aloud, are surrounded by confusion. On the other hand, the evidence of he Hanafi school is from great Companions like ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, ‘Umar and ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhum), who have plainly reported that one must say amin silently.

Therefore, since it is established that amin was said silently by the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) for the most part of his life, and that many of the Companions and others gave priority to this method, it is the preferred way.

[Fiqh al-Imam]

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