The Views of the Scholars of Islam

The honourable Mufti Sahib has cited copiously from the statements of Scholars of Islam. These Scholars were undoubtedly accepted Ulama and Fuqaha. The only achievement of the Mufti Sahib in this regard was to build a case for permissibility of audible Thikr which in any case has never been challenged by us. We reiterate our acceptance of the permissibility of audible Thikr.

However, permissible audible Thikr or any other Mubah act will leave the bounds of permissibility if accompanied by excesses, for then it will enter the domain of Bid’ah. This applies to acts which are presented in the form of ibaadat which is not substantiated in the Sunnah. It was unknown to the Sahaabah and the Taabieen, hence the excesses render such a practice Bid’ah.

The Mufti Saheb has cited the Scholars selectively in order to produce a distinct slant in favour of the imagined superiority of loud Thikr. In view of the biased attitude of the venerable Mufti Sahib it will be best to present an elaborate exposition of the views of the Fuqaha and Mufassireen on this topic for the benefit of readers.

TAFSEER MAZHARI

Call unto your Rabb with humility and silently. Verily, Allah does not love those who transgress the limits.”

(Al-A’raaf, aayat 55)

Khufyatan: i.e. silently, for verily, ikhfa’ is proof of sincerity, and is the furthest from riya (ostentation). Know that Thikr in general is ibaadat even if it is jahran (audible) when it is devoid of riya, or whether it is sirran. Abu Hurairah (radhiyallahu anhu) narrated that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said that Allah Ta’ala says: ‘I am according to the opinion My slave has of Me, and I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in his heart, I too remember him in My Heart. If he remembers Me in a gathering, then I remember him in a better gathering.’

This Hadith gives the benefit of both Thikr jahr and Thikr khafi. Some people have opined that this Hadith indicates the superiority of Thikr jahri over Thikr khafi. However this (opinion) is devoid of substance because there is no excellence (or superiority) of Allah remembering His servant in a gathering over His remembering him in His Heart. In fact, the reality is the opposite (namely, this Hadith indicates the superiority of Thikr Khafi). The zauq (spiritual understanding) of this statement will be appreciated by one who has tasted from the Cup of Divine Love.

Allah’s statement: “And remember Allah like your remembrance of your fathers or a remembrance of greater intensity”, is not a comparison with jahr, but (the comparison) is in making Thikr in abundance (ikthaar).

There is Ijma’ (Consensus) of the Ulama that verily, Thikr sirran (silently) is afdhal (superior, more meritorious), and jahr with Thikr is Bid’ah except in special cases when jahr is necessary, e.g. Athaan, Iqaamah, Takbeeraat Tashreeq, Takbeeraat Intiqaal in Salaat for the Imaam, Tasbeeh for the Muqtadi (to correct the Imaam’s error), Talbiyah in Hajj, etc………..

The Asal (the actual principle) in athkaar is Ikhfa’ while jahr with it is bid’ah. Thus when there is a conflict in jahr, then the lesser one will be preferred. The statement of Hasan, indicates silent Thikr is afdhal, and on it is the Ijma’ of the Sahaabah and of those who followed them (the Taabieen). His statement is, ‘Verily between a silent dua and a public dua there are seventy ranks’. (i.e. silent Thikr is seventy times superior than audible Thikr).

Further, the Muslims (i.e. the Sahaabah) would strive with fervour in their dua, and no sound would be heard from them. If there (occasionally was a sound) it would be a whisper between them and their Rabb.. And that is because Allah Ta’ala says: “Call unto your Rabb with humility and silently.” Also Allah Ta’ala mentioned a pious slave and was pleased with his (Nabi Zakariyya’s) action, hence Allah says (in the Qur’aan): ‘When he (Zakariyya) called unto his Rabb a silent call.’ The Hadith of Sa’d Bin Abi Waqqaas (radhiyallahu anhu) also affirms the superiority of Thikr Khafi. He narrated that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:

The best Thikr is Thikr-e-Khafi.”

Narrated by Ahmad and Ibn Hibbaan in his Saheeh, and Baihaqi in Shu’bul Imaan.

And, also the Hadith of Abu Musa who narrated: “When Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) went on the expedition of Khaibar, the people (the Sahaabah) ascended in a valley. Then they raised their voices with Takbeer. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: ‘Have mercy on your souls. Verily you are not calling a deaf being nor an absent being. Verily, you are calling One Who hears and Who is near.” Narrated by Al-Baghawi.

I (i.e. the author of Mazhari) say that although this Hadith indicates the superiority of Thikr Khafi, the statement, “Have mercy on your souls’, indicates that the prohibition of jahr and the command of Ikhfa’ are based on shafqat (affection). It is not for total impermissibility of jahr. Similarly, is the implication of the Hadith: “The best Thikr is Thikr khafi.”

Indeed the author of Mazhari has presented a balanced view. While he maintains the permissibility of reasonable jahr, he confirms the superiority of Thikr-e-Khafi.

The permanent and normal Thikr and dua practice of the Sahaabah has been explained in this tafseer as well as in almost all other kutub of Tafaaseer. The silent whispering method was the norm. The narrations which mention certain Sahaabah engaging in loud Thikr, are isolated examples. It was not the practice of the generality of the Sahaabah. While isolated examples indicate permissibility of Thikr-e-jahr, these cases cannot be presented as a basis for the claim that loud Thikr is the norm and has greater merit than Thikr-e-Khafi.

The stages of Thikr

Continuing the exposition of the methodology of Thikr, Mazhari states:

Know that verily, Thikr has three stages:

Jahr

(1) Jahr – raising the voice with it (Thikr). This is Makrooh (Makrooh Tahrimi – reprehensible and forbidden) by Ijma’ (i.e. the Consensus of the Sahaabah and Taabieen), except when there is valid cause and hikmah dictates it. At such a juncture, jahr will be superior to ikhfa’, e.g. Athaan, Talbiyah, etc. Perhaps the Chishtiyyah Sufiya had adopted jahr for the Mubtadi (the mureed who has just been initiated – the beginner in the path of moral reformation) because of the dictate of hikmah, and that hikmah is to ward off shaitaan, to banish ghaflat (obliviousness), and nisyaan (forgetfulness), and kindling the flame of divine love by means of riyaadhat (spiritual exercise). Notwithstanding this (hikmah), the condition (for permissibility of jahr) is abstention from ostentation and aggrandizement.

Thikr bil Lisaan Sirran

(2) Thikr bil lisaan sirran – silent verbal Thikr. This is the objective of Rasulullah’s statement: “Your tongue should forever be moist with Thikrullaah.” Narrated by Tirmizi and Ibn Maajah. Tirmizi and Ahmad. Narrated: “It was said (i.e. to Rasulullah – sallallahu alayhi wasallam): Which deed is the most superior?” Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) replied: “That you depart from this world with your tongue moist with Thikrullaah.”

Abu Hurairah (radhiyallahu anhu) narrated that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Verily, the Malaaikah wander around the roads searching for the people of Thikr. When they find a community engaging in Thikrullaah, they proclaim: ‘Come towards your need!’ Then they cover them with their wings until the sky. Then their (the angels’) Rabb asks them whilst He is more aware of them (of the thaakireen): “What are My servants saying?” The Malaaikah say: ‘They recite Your tasbeeh, Your takbeer, Your praise and Your holiness. Then Allah says: “Have they seen Me?” The Malaaikah say: “No, By Allah! They have not seen You.” Then Allah says: “What will be their reaction if they should see Me?” The Malaaikah say: “If they should see You, their worshipping, their glorifying and praising You will intensify and increase.” Then Allah says: “What are they asking?” The Malaaikah say: “They are asking You for Jannat.” Allah says: “Did they see Jannat?” The Malaaikah say: “Wallah! O our Rabb! They have not seen it.” Allah says: “How will it be if they had to see Jannat?” The Malaaikah say: “If they had to see Jannat, their desire for it would intensify; their quest for it would intensify and their enthusiasm for it would become greater.” Then Allah says: “From what are they seeking refuge?” The Malaaikah say: “They seek refuge from the Fire.” Allah says: “Have they seen the Fire?” The Malaaikah say: “Wallah! O our Rabb! They did not see it.” Allah says: “How will be their reaction if they had to see the Fire?” The Malaaikah say: “If they had to see it, their flight from it would intensify and their fear for it would become greater. Then Allah says: “Be you witness that verily, I have forgiven them.” Then one of the angels says: “A certain person is not one of them. He merely joined them for some need.” Allah says: They (all) are compatriots. Their companion will not be deprived.” Narrated by Bukhaari and Muslim similarly.”

Noteworthy is it that Mazhari recorded this lengthy Hadith in his exposition of the second category of Thikr, namely, Silent Verbal Thikr.

Thikr bil Qalb

(3) Thikr bil Qalb war-Rooh wan-Nafs – Thikr with the heart, soul and nafs – and with such spiritual faculties in which the tongue has no role. This is such Thikr Khafi which even the Guarding Angels are unable to detect. Abu Ya’la narrated from Aishah (radhiyallahu anha) that she said: “Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: ‘The silent Thikr which the Guarding Angels are unable to hear is seventy times superior. On the Day of Qiyaamah, when creation will be assembled for their reckoning and the Guarding Angels will present whatever they had preserved and written, Allah will say to them: ‘See, if anything else remains for him (the person whose deeds are being checked).’ They (the Angels) will say: ‘We have not left out anything of which we were aware and which we had preserved, but we have enumerated it and recorded it.’ Allah Ta’ala will then say: ‘Verily he has a good deed of which you are not aware. I shall inform you of it. It is Thikr-e-Khafi.

I (i.e. the author of Mazhari) say: “This Thikr is such a Thikr which has no termination and there is no defect in it.” End of Mazhari’s exposition.

The enumeration of the stages of Thikr by Mazhari is significant. First is Jahri Thikr which in general is Makrooh. Second is Sirri Lisaani Thikr (silent verbal Thikr) which is highly meritorious, and which is unanimously superior to permissible audible Thikr (Thikr devoid of excessive loudness). The third stage is the highest. It is such silent Thikr deep in the innermost recesses of the heart – Thikr of which even the Guarding Angels are unaware. It should now be clear that the greater the degree of Ikhfa’, the greater the merit of the Thikr. The attempt by the honourable Mufti Sahib to portray superiority for loud, collective Thikr enacted as a public performance is thus deplorable. Even the endeavour to prove that permitted audible Thikr is superior to silent Thikr, is lamentable.

MA’AARIFUL QUR’AAN

Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ (rahmatullah alayh) presents the same exposition which Tafseerul Mazhari elucidates on the aayat: “Call unto your Rabb with humility and silently.” However, Ma’aariful Qur’aan presented the same discussion in the tafseer of another aayat, namely, “Remember your Rabb in your heart with humility and with fear and with a voice less than jahr….”

Expanding further on this subject, Ma’aariful Qur’aan explains in the tafseer of the aayat: “Call unto your Rabb with humility and silently…” as follows:

“In these two words, two important etiquettes of Dua and Thikr are mentioned. The first is that for acceptance of dua it is necessary that man expresses in front of Allah his humility, weakness and contemptibility. The words of his dua should be in conformity with humility and weakness. His verbal expression too should be humble, and his countenance when making dua should also be the same.

The second is that even if someone understands the meanings of the words he is supplicating with, but his countenance and verbal expression are devoid of humility, then such a dua is simply a demand. No one has the right to make demands.

In the first word (i.e. tadharru-an –with humility) the rooh (soul) of dua has been shown. In the second word (khufyatan – silently) the teaching is that to make dua in concealment and silently is afdhal (superior) and more conducive for acceptance. Firstly, when making dua in a loud voice, it is difficult to maintain humility and weakness. Secondly, in loud dua there is the probability of riya (show and ostentation). Thirdly, its form (i.e. the form of loud dua) implies that this person (the one who makes dua) is unaware that Allah Ta’ala hears and knows when in fact Allah is equally aware of our zaahir and baatin. Every speech, be it audible or silent, is known to Him. It was for this reason that on the occasion of the expedition of Khaibar when the Sahaabah raised their voice with Thikr, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “You are not calling on a deaf or absent Being. You are calling a Being Who hears and Who is near.” It is therefore, futile to raise the voice.

Allah Ta’ala, Himself, mentioned the dua of a pious man (i.e. Nabi Zakariyya) with the words: “When he called His Rabb with a silent call.”, namely, that dua be made with a voice which is subdued and silent. From this it is understood that Allah Ta’ala loves this method, namely, that dua be made with a subdued voice and silently.

Hadhrat Hasan Basri (rahmatullah alayh) said that silent dua is 70 times superior to dua made loudly and publicly. It was the practice of the Salaf-e-Saaliheen to make great effort in dua and Thikr. Most of the time they were engrossed in dua and Thikr. But no one could hear their voice. In fact, their dua remained between them and their Rabb. Many among them had memorized the whole Qur’aan and while they constantly recited it, others would not be aware. Many among them had acquired vast knowledge of the Deen, but they would not advertise this. Many of them spent the nights in their houses performing lengthy Namaaz, but people would not be aware. He (Hadhrat Hasan) said: “They would never perform in public such ibaadat which they could conceal. Their voices were extremely subdued. (Ibn Kathir and Mazhari).”

Ibn Juraij said that it is Makrooh to raise the voice and make a noise when making dua. Imaam Abu Bakr Jassaas Hanafi says in Ahkaamul Qur’aan that according to this aayat it is afdhal to make dua silently instead of izhaar (i.e. expressing the dua audibly). The same is narrated from Hadhrat Hasan Basri and Ibn Abbaas (radhiyallahu anhuma).

May Allah Ta’ala guide the Imaams of the Musaajid of our age. They have completely abandoned this instruction of the Qur’aan, Sunnah and the way of the Salaf-e-Saaliheen. After every Namaaz there is an artificial performance. Some words are recited loudly in conflict with the aadaab of dua. Besides this, they disturb those musallis who are Masbooq. The domination of custom has hidden the evils and corruption of this practice.

If there is sometimes a special occasion and a congregational dua in which one person audibly makes the dua while the others say, ‘Aameen’, then this is not objectionable. However, the condition (for this permissibility) is that this should not be a disturbance to others who are engaged in Salaat and ibaadat. Also, this practice (of making congregational dua) should not become customary so that the masses do not gain the impression that this is in fact the method of making dua. This is generally the attitude nowadays.

While this explanation has been in regard to making dua for needs, if the meaning here is taken to be Thikr and ibaadat, then too, according to the Ulama-e-Salf Thikr-e-Sirr is better than Thikr-e-jahr.

With regard to the Mashaaikh-e-Chisht among the noble Sufiya who instruct the Mubtadi (beginner in the path of Tasawwuf) with Thikr-e-jahr, it is by way of Ilaaj (spiritual remedy), taking into consideration his condition so that indolence and obliviousness would dissipate with the jahr, and an affinity with Thikrullah develops in the heart. In reality, even according to them (the Chishti Mashaaikh) jahr in Thikr is not desirable (matloob) despite it being permissible. Furthermore, its permissibility in terms of the Hadith is conditional with the absence of riya.

Imaam Ahmad, Ibn Hibbaan, Baihaqi and others narrated from Hadhrat Sa’d Bin Abi Waqqaas (radhiyallahu anhu) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:

“The best Thikr is Thikr Khafi and the best rizq is what suffices (for needs).”

Yes, at particular times and special occasions, jahr is desirable and afdhal. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) has clarified these times and occasions with his command and practice, for example, reciting the Athaan and Iqaamah with raised voice, reciting qiraa’t audibly in the Jahri Salaat; raising the voice with Takbeeraat-e-Intiqaal, Takbeeraat-e-Tashreeq and Talbiyah during Hajj, etc. Thus, the Fuqaha (rahmatullah alayhim) have in this regard issued the verdict there should be jahr at the particular times and occasions which Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had instructed either by way of statement or practice. Besides these special occasions (instructed by Rasulullah – sallallahu alayhi wasallam), Thikr Khafi is aula (better and more preferable) and anfa’ (more beneficial).” End of Ma-aariful Qur’aan’s exposition.

The salient aspects in the aforementioned Tafseer presented by Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ (rahmatullah alayh) are:

* Thikr-e-Khafi is superior to reasonable Thikr-e-Jahr. On this there exists Ijma’ of the Sahaabah, Taabi-een and Salaf-e-Saaliheen.

* The occasions when Thikr-e-Jahr is better, and in fact, mandatory, have been specified by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), himself. Thus, no one has the right to introduce a special form of loud collective Thikr practice in the Musaajid. Such an innovation, when it becomes entrenched, will embed in the minds of the masses that this practice is the Sunnah.

* The customary jahri dua practices in vogue in numerous Musaajid are not permissible. Thikr has been included in this category by Hadhrat Mufti Shafi’ (rahmatullah alayh).

Noteworthy is Hadhrat Mufti Shafi’s criticism of the customary method of jahri dua after the daily Fardh Salaat despite the fact that there is a basis in the Sunnah for Dua after Fardh Salaat. To a far greater degree will the criticism apply to loud collective Thikr which has no basis in the Sunnah.

* The jahri Thikr which the Mashaaikh of the Chishti Silsilah prescribe are meant for the Mubtadi (the novice who has just been initiated), and the objective of such Thikr is to serve as a spiritual remedy. It has not been introduced as a substitute for Masnoon acts of ibaadat.

It now does not behove the devotee of Allah, who is in the quest of the Truth to deliberately don the blinkers of emotion to impair his judgement and to cloud his spiritual vision which if unfettered, will guide him into the felicity of Truth.

An interesting observation in Tafseer Roohul Ma’aani is the statement: “You will see numerous from the people of your age screaming in dua, specially in the Jawaami’ (public Musjids where the masses at large attend). So much so that there prevails much noise and the ears are deafened. However, they do not know that they have combined two bid’ahs – raising the voice in dua and doing that in the Musjid.”

The honourable Mufti Sahib will most assuredly argue that in the loud collective Thikr programmes presently in vogue, screaming is not practised. All acts of bid’ah had generally commenced with good intentions and at a slow pace. The vile accretions were a gradual process.

Bid’ah is engineered by Shaitaan himself. The practice is initiated ‘beautifully’. It incrementally progresses into hardcore bid’ah. At that juncture it is elevated to the status of Wujoob. So, the venerable Mufti Sahib may be rest assured that the current loud collective Thikr programmes if not halted, will follow the path which the Bareilwi bid’ah has gone.

TAFSEER IBN KATHEER

Tafseer Ibn Kathir presents the same exegesis which appears in Tafseer Mazhari and Ma-aariful Qur’aan. There is therefore no need to repeat it here.

TAFSEER KABEER

Presenting the tafseer of the aayat: “Call unto your Rabb with humility and in silence. Verily, Allah does not love those who transgress the limits.”, Imaam Raazi (rahmatullah alayh) explains:

“Know, that verily ikhfa’ is reliable in dua. Several facts indicate this.

(1) This very verse indicates that Allah Ta’ala commanded dua together with ikhfa’. The apparent meaning is Wujoob (i.e. ikhfa’ is Waajib). If not Wujoob, then it will not be less than Mandoob (Mustahab).

Then Allah Ta’ala says: “Verily, He does not love those who transgress the limits.”

The apparent meaning is that He does not love those who transgress in abandoning these two aforementioned acts, namely, tadharru’ (humility) and ikhfa’ (silence and concealment). The meaning of Allah’s love is ‘thawaab’ (i.e. awarding thawaab). In other words, the meaning of the aayat is: Allah will not reward the person who abandons humility and silence in dua, and He does not prefer (such dua). One who is like this (i.e. abstains from tadharru’ and ikhfa’) is most certainly among those who deserve punishment. It is thus obvious that Allah’s statement is a severe warning for abandoning tadharru’ and ikhfa’ in dua.

(2) The second proof is that Allah Ta’ala praised Hadhrat Zakariyya (alayhis salaam). Thus Allah Ta’ala says: “When he called his Rabb a call which was silent (and concealed)”, i.e. he concealed it from people and sincerely offered it to Allah.

(3) The third proof is the narration of Abu Musa Ash’ari (radhiyallahu anhu). They (the Sahaabah) while on an expedition climbed in a valley and began raising their voices with Takbeer and Tahleel. Then Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Have mercy on your souls. You are not calling a Being who is deaf nor absent. Verily, you are calling a Being Who hears and Who is near and Who is with you.”

(4) The fourth proof is Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) statement: “Dua in silence is equal to seventy duas in public.” He (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) also said: “The best Thikr is Khafi (silent), and the best rizq is what suffices.” It is narrated from Hasan that a man (i.e. Sahaabi) would memorize the Qur’aan while his neighbour would not know of it. A man would acquire vast knowledge, and the people would not be aware thereof. He would perform lengthy Salaat during the night while the guests living with him would be unaware. Verily we found many people who were extreme in concealing their good deeds. The Muslims (i.e. the Sahaabah) would make dua with great fervour and their voices could not be heard except for a whisper because Allah Ta’ala says: “Call unto your Rabb with humility and silently.”

(5) The fifth proof is a rational one. The nafs excessively inclines to show, ostentation and aggrandizement. When man raises his voice with dua, then riya merges with that dua. Thus there remains absolutely no benefit in it. Therefore ikhfa with dua is best to ensure that the dua is saved from riya.

There are some issues in this regard in which the people of Tareeqat (Tasawwuf) have differences. The issue is: Is ikhfa in ibaadat better or izhaar (making public) of ibaadat? Some say that it is better to conceal it to ensure that it is saved from riya. Some others say that it is better to reveal it so that others are encouraged to follow in performing these acts of ibaadat. Shaikh Muhammad Bin Isaa Al-Hakeem adopted the moderate view, namely, if one fears of falling prey to riya, then ikhfa is best so as to save one’s good deeds from being nullified. If one has attained moral purity and such a degree of yaqeen that one feels safe from every vestige of riya, then izhaar is better so that the benefit of iqtida’ is achieved.” (Iqtida here means that others seeing the ibaadat will emulate it.).

All the kutub of Tafseer present similar explanation and highlight the superiority of Thikr-e-Khafi (Silent Thikr). Audible Thikr, besides the occasions commanded by the Shariah, is the exception, and is not advocated except in the circles of some Sufiya who have devised their audible Thikr programmes for serving as spiritual remedies. The objective of the Sufiya was never to present such Thikr methods as substitutes for the Sunnah acts of Thikr and Dua.

Thikr Gatherings in the Musaajid

The Mufti Sahib claims: “The Ulama have unanimously agreed that it is preferable to host gatherings of zikr in the Masaajid as well as out of the Masaajid…”

Here the Mufti Sahib, in addition to referring to loud Thikr, implies organizing of group-form Thikr. On the contrary, the Fuqaha have unanimously agreed on the afdhaliyyat (superiority and preferability) of silent Thikr. And, how is it possible for them to have ‘agreed unanimously’ that loud Thikr in congregational form is superior in the face of the explicit and abundant Nusoos to the contrary? The facts of the Shariah rebut this spurious claim proffered by the venerable Mufti Sahib. These irrefutable facts are:

  1. The Aayaat of the Qur’aan-e-Kareem.

  2. The Ahaadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).

  3. The practice of the Sahaabah.

  4. The practice of the Taabi-een and the Salaf-e-Saaliheen in general.

Any statement of anyone, be he a Faqeeh or Sufi or Wali, which conflicts with the Nusoos and the Sunnah shall be set aside and suitably interpreted to reconcile it with the mainstream Ijma’. The need for interpretation and reconciliation regarding such stray, odd and isolated views develops when the view is attributed to an Aalim of the Haqq who has genuinely slipped by the presentation of an untenable view.

The Qur’aanic aayaat refuting the claim of the superiority of loud Thikr, and of it being ‘unanimously’ superior and preferable, have already been mentioned during the course of this discourse. To refreshen the memory, they are reiterated here:

* Allah Ta’ala praising Nabi Zakariyya’s silent and concealed dua, says:

(Remember) when he (Zakariyya) called His Rabb a call which was silent.” (Surah Maryam, Aayat 3)

* Allah Ta’ala issuing a command, says:

Call (make dua) your Rabb with humility and in silence (and concealment). Verily, Allah does not love those who exceed the limits.” (Surah A’raaf, Aayat 55)

* Allah Ta’ala commands:

And remember (make Thikr of) your Rabb in your heart with humility, in concealment and in a voice less than jahr….” (Surah A’raaf, Aayat 205)

* Allah Ta’ala mentioning the attitude of the Mushrikeen when they are overwhelmed by danger, states: “They call Him with humility and in silence.”

(Surah An’aam, Aayat 63)

Describing the plight of the unbelievers when they are engulfed with danger, the Qur’aan Majeed says: “Say: Who saves you from the (dangers of) the darkness of the land and ocean? You (in times of danger) call on Him with humility and in silence (tadharruan, khufyatan).”

The sincerity of the mushrikeen in times of overwhelming danger, is illustrated in these two terms, (tadharruan, khufyatan). When caught up in a raging storm in the oceans or when the aircraft is about to crash or some grave danger overtakes them, they forget their idols and false gods. They cry sincerely, with humility and in silence, pleading to Allah Ta’ala for safety. At times of overwhelming danger and fear, they forget their phantom deities and call unto Allah Ta’ala with sincerity and silently.

From this aayat too it is established that the necessary attributes of sincerity of Thikr and Dua are silence and concealment. In the aayaat too, these two terms depict the Dua and Thikr which are most beloved to Allah Ta’ala. Hence He praises Nabi Zakariyya’s dua which was accompanied by these two attributes.

Then we have the Sunnah – the teachings and practices of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the Sahaabah, and perpetuated by the Salaf-e-Saaliheen – giving practical expression to the command and spirit of the Qur’aan Majeed, Thus, it is seen that as a norm and permanent practice, the Thikr and Dua of the Sahaabah and Taabieen were silent.

On the other hand, there are isolated incidents of some Sahaabah having engaged in audible Thikr. But this was not the standing practice. Isolated practices should not be selected and given preference when these are in conflict with the teaching and spirit of the Qur’aan and Sunnah.

The honourable Mufti Sahib has resorted to this improper tactic of selecting isolated examples and some miniscule views to build a case for loud collective public Thikr entirely oblivious of what actually the Qur’aan commands and what exactly was the normal practice of the Sahaabah and Taabieen on this issue. Instead of maintaining course and ‘proving’ the validity, permissibility and superiority of the specific forms of loud collective Thikr performances being customarily conducted nowadays in the Musaajid, the venerable Mufti Sahib has been deflected from this subject by lack of Shar’i evidence. Thus, the presentation of argument in defence of audible Thikr is a diversionary stratagem for side-tracking the actual topic of dispute, namely, the contention that the customary loud Thikr performances are bid’ah. The topic of contention is not audible Thikr per se.

The venerable Mufti Sahib has cited Bazzaziyyah and Shaami to prove superiority for loud Thikr. As far as Bazzaziyyah goes, Shaami comments as follows: “I say the discussion of the author of Bazzaaziyyah in this regard (i.e. loud Thikr) is confused. Sometimes he says that it is haraam, and sometimes permissible.” Shaami further comments: “Some people of knowledge say that jahr is better.” He cites several benefits of Thikr jahri.

Thus, in Bazzaaziyyah the ruling vaults between haraam and jaaiz (permissible). The idhtiraab (confusion) referred to by Shaami is understandable. According to ‘some’ men of knowledge, says Shaami, audible Thikr is afdhal on account of the several spiritual benefits which he has enumerated, and to which we have referred earlier on. This afdhaliyyat view of some men of knowledge is the effect of the rationale which underlies this type of Thikr. This is what the Mashaaikh-e-Chisht aver. The audible Thikr being better is when it is prescribed as a spiritual remedy, not as an independent Masnoon act of ibaadat.

Furthermore, the view of some men of knowledge cannot be cited in refutation or in detraction of the explicit Qur’aanic and Hadith Nusoos which confirm the superiority of Thikr-e-Khafi beyond any shadow of doubt. In addition the amal of the Sahaabah and the Salaf-e-Saaliheen is a practical illustration of the Nusoos. Their amal also rebuts the contention of some men of knowledge, especially if the meaning is afdhaliyyat in general, i.e. audible Thikr is the original Masnoon norm, while Thikr-e-Khafi is secondary and inferior to loud Thikr. This is baseless. The view of ‘some men of knowledge’ is indeed a very far cry from the claim of consensus on the superiority of loud Thikr.

Shaami mentioning the proof of the some men of knowledge, cites the Hadith: “If he (the thaakir) remembers Me in a gathering, I remember him in a better gathering.” Refuting this ‘proof’, Tafseer Mazhari says: “Some people (i.e. the some men of knowledge mentioned by Shaami) have thought that this Hadith indicates superiority of Thikr-e-jahr over Thikr-e-Khafi. However, this is devoid of substance because there is no excellence of Allah remembering His servant in a gathering over Allah remembering him in His Nafs. In fact, the reality is the opposite. And, the spiritual appeal of this explanation is perceived by those who have tasted from the Cup of Divine Love.”

The view of audible Thikr being better than silent Thikr is based on the far-fetched interpretation of some men of knowledge. But this view has to be necessarily set aside or reconciled in view of its conflict with the Nusoos explicitly declaring the superiority of Thikr-e-Khafi, and also because of its conflict with the amal of the Sahaabah and the Salaf-e-Saaliheen.

In fact, Shaami mentions that the afdhaliyyat view of some men of knowledge is conditional. It is not unrestricted. It is not the original rule and norm which is Thikr-e-Khafi commanded by the Qur’aan Majeed. Hence, Shaami says: “If (the Thikr) is devoid of these (evils such as riya, etc.) which have been mentioned, then some people of knowledge say that jahr is afdhal.”

The attachment of this condition further weakens the case of afdhaliyyat for Thikr-e-jahr. While Thikr-e-jahr has regulating factors which render it haraam, there are no such adverse factors encumbering Thikr-e-khafi.

The honourable Mufti Sahib, in defence of the customary loud collective Thikr displays in the Musaajid, states: The Ulama have unanimously agreed that it is preferable to host gatherings of zikr in the Masaajid as well as out of the Masaajid, except in the case when making loud zikr would disturb a person who is sleeping, or performing Salaah or reciting the Holy Qur’an.”

This claim appears in Shaami as well as in other kutub. Rejecting this notion, Tafseer Mazhari says: “The original practice in Athkaar is Ikhfa’ while jahr is bid’ah. Hence, when there is a conflict in jahr, then the lessor category will be preferred.” The ‘lesser category’ in this regard is the Istihbaab (being Mustahab, preferability) of Thikr-e-Khafi. What this means is that if certain Ahaadith indicate Thikr-e-jahr while other narrations point to the superiority of Thikr-e-khafi, then the way of reconciliation is to conclude the superiority of Thikr-e-Khafi in the Istihbaab category. But never will Thikr-e-jahr be superior to Thikr-e-khafi.

The alleged consensus on the superiority of Thikr jahr stated in Shaami is erroneous. There exists no such Ijma’. How could there be consensus on this issue, when:

  • The Qur’aan Majeed emphasises the superiority of Thikr-e-Khafi.

  • The practice of the Sahaabah and Taabieen was Thikr-e-Khafi.

  • Imaam Abu Hanifah states that Thikr jahr is bid’ah.

  • Some other Fuqaha say that it is haraam.

  • Some Ulama say it is Makrooh.

  • All Four Imaams say that Thikr-e-Khafi is Mustahab.

Now in view of this formidable array of Shar’i evidence, the claim of consensus of the superiority of loud Thikr is baseless regardless of the source of its emanation, be it Shaami. In fact, Shaami’s claim of ‘some men of knowledge’, effectively contradicts and dismisses the consensus claim.

Tafseer Mazhari continuing the explanation, states: “The Hadith of Hasan (and he also cites some other Ahadith) indicates the afdhaliyyat of the Thaakir of Sirr as well as the unanimity of the Sahaabah and those who followed them (the Taabieen) on this (i.e. on the superiority of Thikr-e-Khafi).” The venerable Mufti Sahib claims ‘unanimity of the Ulama’ on the preferability of loud Thikr while Tafseer Mazhari proclaims the Ijma’ of the Sahaabah and Taabieen on the afdhaliyyat of Thikr-e-Khafi. The view of our inclination is clear.

It is conceded that audible Thikr, provided there are no adverse factors accompanying it, is permissible. But, the claim that it is afdhal is fallacious. It is fallacious even if the audible Thikr is made with sincerity. In Kifaayatul Mufti, Hadhrat Maulana Kifayatullah (rahmatullah alayh) states: In circumstances where Thikr jahr is not established by the Shariah, if there are no adverse factors then the ruling is that it is permissible. If there is an accompanying adverse factor, then it (the audible Thikr) will not be permissible. Examples of such adverse factors are the jahr of the thaakir disturbs a sleeping person, or it disturbs a musalli performing Salaat, or the thaakir considers jahr to be necessary or incumbent, etc. Where these factors do not exist, Thikr-e-jali (audible Thikr) is permissible, but Thikr-e-Khafi is Aula (preferable, better and of greater merit).” And why should it not be so, when this type of Thikr was the permanent and original practice of the Salaf-e-Saaliheen – a practice commanded by the Qur’aan and Sunnah?

For loud Thikr there is no command and no exhortation in the Qur’aan and Sunnah. The permissibility is deducted from specific narrations and episodes which were not the norm of the Sahaabah. On the contrary, the Nusoos of the Qur’aan and Sunnah in favour of the superiority of Thikr-e-Khafi are abundant and conspicuous, unambiguous and explicit. Thikr-e-Khafi for its superiority is not reliant on inference, interpretation and deduction. The commands for its observation are explicit and emphatic.

In another place in Kifaayatul Mufti, the ruling is reiterated as follows: “When there are no other musallis in the Musjid, then it is permissible to recite loudly the Kalimah or the Qur’aan Majeed. But it is afdhal (then too) to recite silently.”

Imaam Sarakhsi states in his Al-Mabsoot: “Ikhfa’ in Dua is preferable. Allah Ta’ala says: ‘Call unto your Rabb with humility and in silence’.”

The following appears in Imdaadul Ahkaam, Vol. 1, Page 316:

Question: In the dua after the five daily Fardh Salaat, the Imaam recites the dua, Allahumma antas salaam, audibly (bil-jahr), and the Muqtadis also say bil-jahr, ‘Sami’na wa ata’na….’ Is there anything wrong in perpetuating this method?

Answer: It is bid’at. All should say it silently. Constancy in reciting it audibly is also bid’at. Its daleel is what Allaamah Abdul Hayy states in his Fataawa narrating from Mudkhal: “All of them should abstain from jahr with Thikr and dua after completing the Salaat if they are in Jama’at, for verily, that is bid’ah. According to Nisaabul Ihtisaab it is Makrooh for them to recite Takbeer audibly after Salaat. It is bid’ah except during the Days of Nahr and Tashreeq……..The method in the aforementioned question is in conflict with the tareeqah of the Nabi and the tareeqah of the Salaf-e-Saaliheen.”

Ibn Battaal said: “The authorities of the Math-habs and others are unanimous that raising the voice with takbeer and Thikr is not Mustahab. Ubaidah said that it is bid’ah.” In Fathul Baari is mentioned: “It is preferable for the Imaam and Muqtadis to make Thikr silently except if there is the need for ta’leem.”

In Kabeeri it is mentioned: “According to Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) it is bid’ah to raise the voice with Thikr because it is in conflict with the command in Allah’s statement: ‘Call unto your Rabb with humility and in silence.’

Mullah Ali Qaari states in Mirkaat: “Some of our Ulama have explicitly said that raising voices in the Musjid even with Thikr is haraam.”

In Sharh Muslim, Imaam Nawawi (rahmatullah alayh) said: “Without difference of opinion, dua shall be made silently.”

Imaam Siraajuddin Al-Hanafi said: “Ikhfa’ in dua is Mustahab.” Hadhrat Shaikh Abdul Haq (rahmatullah alayh) is quoted in the Haashiyah of Mishkaat: “In it (i.e. Shar’i practices such as Athaan), jahr is established in terms of Shar’i daleel. However, in acts which are not established in the Shariah, Khafi (silent Thikr) is best.”

The votaries of Thikr bil jahr are entirely bereft of any Qat’i (Absolute in certitude) and Sareeh (explicit) proof.

It should be well understood that when a permissible act or even a Mustahab act is elevated above its status and by virtue of permanency the idea of its incumbency becomes entrenched in the minds of the masses, then such an act degenerates into bid’ah. It will be incumbent to abstain from it. Allaamah Khalil Ahmad Ambethwi (rahmatullah alayh) states in his Baraahin-e-Qaatiah: “A mubah act, in fact even a Mandoob act, because of ‘iltizaam’ (rigid and perpetual observance) and the belief of its emphasis becomes bid’ah, hence not permissible. Therefore, even the Ta-aamul (practice) of the Mutaqaddimeen is not hujjat (proof) in this regard.”

The Usool of the Shariah will be invoked and fatwa issued even if there appears to be a conflict with the practice of the Mutaqaddimeen.

The honourable Mufti Sahib adopts a queer method of reasoning in his bid to confer superiority to loud Thikr. For example, he cites Mufti Kifaayatullah (rahmatullah alayh) on the permissibility of audible Thikr. Firstly the permissibility of audible Thikr, provided it is devoid of haraam factors, is not contested. Although there appears at the end of Mufti Kifayatullah’s fatwa, the categorical statement (which the venerable Mufti Sahib did in fact mention): “However, silent Thikr is better.” The (the Mufti Sahib) irrationally persists with the claim that audible Thikr is better.

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