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’Assalāmu ‘alaikum wa rahmatul-Lāhi wa barakātuh,

I.  How is silent recitation done (in Salaah, but also in du‘aa’ and zikr; perhaps you could treat them separately, if there is a difference in the (silent) recitation between them)? I know from ’ahādees that it has movement of the mouth. Is it:

A) with a low voice?

B) whispering?

C) only moving mouth and tongue and thinking of it (without producing any sound)?

D) Is there anything that can be “recited” like C or without movement of mouth (only thinking), like du‘aa’ maybe?

E) Could you please provide a hadees to support your answer (to I)?

Jazākal-Lāhu khairā.

Salāmun ‘alaikum wa raḥmatul-Lāhi wa barakātuh.


Wa alaikum assalaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

We received this email question in the summer and felt the question required a fatwa from a qualified scholar.

Masha' Allah, the questioner forwarded the question to and received the following response that he was kind enough to forward to us

Response from islam-qa:

Praise be to Allah

According to the majority of the scholars (may Allah have mercy on them) (i.e. Hanafis, Shafe‘is, and Hanbalis), remembering Allah when praying whether by reciting Qur’an or du‘aa’ has to be audible. Hence, his prayer is not to be acceptable if he does not hear himself.

The other view,

He does not have to hear himself when reciting, thus it is sufficient to move his lips; which is the view of Maalikis.

Ibn al-Qasem (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “It is sufficient for he who recites silently to move his tongue which is the least, yet it is better to hear himself. Whereas reciting in one’s heart is not to be taken into account because moving the tongue is the least for the prayer to be accepted”.

Ibn al-Qasem (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Malik did not consider it reciting when praying if the tongue is not moved by which”. Hence, it was narrated from Shaykh al-Malikeyyah that whoever swears not to recite from the Qur’an but he looks at it and understands it without moving his tongue, then he is not breaking his oath, and it is permissible for the Junub to recite the Qur’an in his heart without moving his tongue”. End quote.

It is said in al-Insaaf (a hanbali’s book) that it is sufficient for him to spell the letters properly even if they are not heard, which is the same view as of Shaykh Taqeyy al-Deen. The author of al-Insaaf said: “I incline to this view”.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “…the first view (this of the majority of the scholars) is da‘eef (weak), the correct is that it is not necessary to hear himself because hearing is other than reciting and pronouncing which are stipulated in the Sunnah, thus the claimer has to show his evidence. Hence, if the person is sure that he is pronouncing the letters properly but does not hear himself, whether for a weakness in his hearing or for a noise around him or for anything else, then the correct view is that all his sayings will be taken into account as long as he follows what is stipulated in the texts (of the Qur’an and the Sunnah) and this is our view….” Sharh al-Mumti’ came to a close (the chapter of the description of the prayer).

Whereas if he does not hear himself or move his lips, rather he only recites in his heart, then his prayer is not to be correct according to the majority of the scholars (may Allah have mercy on them).

Hence, there are three types:

1: To raise his voice when reciting that he can hear himself and others can hear him, if there is any. Undoubtedly, this is the Sunnah if he is praying alone al-Fajr or al-Maghreb or al-‘Eshaa’ prayer. Whereas if it is a Jama‘a (congregational) prayer or a silent prayer (i.e. al-Dhuhr, al-Maghreb, al-‘Eshaa’), then the Sunnah is to recite silently as to just hear himself. With regard to Dhikr (remembering Allah) and Du‘aa’ (invocation), he has to hear himself whether he prays alone or with others.

2: Not to raise his voice when reciting or remembering Allah or invoking, rather it is sufficient to move his tongue, being in a silent or a loud prayer. The majority of the scholars said that praying as such renders it invalid, yet it is abovementioned that the correct view validates such prayer.

3: Not to hear himself or move his tongue when reciting, remembering Allah and invoking Him, rather he recites only in his heart. Then such recitation, remembering Allah and invocation are not to be taken into account, hence if he recites the Fatihah (the opening chapter of the Qur’an) as such, his prayer is not correct, according to the majority of the scholars.

And Allah knows best.
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