Let us now examine the views of some of the Fuqaha in this regard. Imaam Shamsuddin Sarakhsi (rahmatullah alayh) states in his Al-Mabsoot: “Ikhfa in dua is aula (best, of greater merit). Allah Ta’ala says (in this regard): ‘Call unto your Rabb with humility and silently.”, and Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: ‘The best dua is khafi (silent), and the best rizq is that which suffices.”

Imaam Alaauddin Kaasaani (rahmatullah alayh) says in his Badaaius Sanaai’: “According to Abu Hanifah, raising the voice with takbeer is bid’ah fil asl (i.e. originally and primarily) because it is a Thikr, and the Sunnah in athkaar is silence by virtue of the statement of Allah Ta’ala: “Call unto your Rabb with humility and silently”, and by the Hadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam): “The best dua is silent (dua).” Thus, this (silence) is closest to humility and respect, and furthest from riya (show). Hence, this asl (primary principle) will not be abandoned except when there is a daleel-e-mukhassis (to justify diversion from the fundamental principle of Ikhfa’). For the practice (of reciting takbeer aloud) from the day of Arafah until Asr of the Day of Nahr there exists a daleel-e-mukhassis which is the Qur’aanic aayat. Amal on the Kitaab (i.e. practising according to the Qur’aanic command) is Waajib by Ijma’, except in exceptions………….. Thus amal on the zaahir text of the Qur’aan is Waajib when there is a doubt regarding the khusoos (i.e. the daleel which permits diversion from the fundamental principle)…………Therefore, amal on the general daleel (daleel-e-umoom – which is the aayat: ‘Call unto your Rabb with humility and silence’) will not be abandoned. It is thus apparent that ihtiyaat (the precautionary course) is to abandon (the act which hovers between Sunnat and Bid’ah) because abandonment of Sunnat is aula (better and more meritorious) than commission of Bid’ah.”

Allaamah Kaasaani presented Imaam Abu Hanifah’s view, daleel and rationale in the discussion on Takbeer Tashreeq. This rationale and Shar’i exposition are perfectly applicable to silent and audible dua/Thikr.

The following extracts from the kutub of the Fuqaha are being cited from Ahsanul Fatawa:

* “According to us (the Ahnaaf), the Mustahab in Athkaar is silence except in such acts which relate to proclamation, e.g. Athaan. Talbiyah, Khutbah. So is it stated in Al-Mabsoot.”

* “It is stated in Al-Bahrur Raa-iq: ‘Verily, jahr with takbeer is bid’ah at all times except on specific occasions (the Days of Tashreeq, etc.).”

* “Qaadhi Khaan has explicitly said in his Fataawa that Thikr bil jahr is Makrooh. In Fataawa Alaamiyah it is mentioned: ‘The Sufiyah should be prevented from raising the voice and clapping. In Sharhut Tuhfah, Aini has explicitly mentioned it being haraam, and he has castigated what the claimants of Tasawwuf are doing in this regard…….. The Afdhal method is Ikhfa’

* According to Imaam Maalik and his Ashaab all these acts (of Thikr bil jahr) are Makrooh because the Salf (Sahaabah and Taabieen) did not practise it, and to close the avenue of bid’ah so that excess may not be committed in the Deen, and there be no transgressing beyond the confines of the clear Haqq. Verily in this era of ours, has happened what they (the Maaliki Fuaqaha) had feared and abstained from. –Rasaa-il

* It is explained in Al-Khulaasah: ‘Difference of opinion in the recitation of Takbeer is devoid of substance. There is no prohibition in Thikrullaah at any time. The prohibition applies to the bid’ah method of its execution. Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) said that raising the voice with Thikr is bid’ah because it is in conflict with the command in the aayat: ‘And, make the Thikr of Allah in your heart with humility and silently with a voice less than jahr.’ Hence, jahr will be restricted to occasions (commanded by the Shariah).

* Although this Hadith (one particular Hadith) establishes Thikr bil jahr, it is ghair ma’mool (not accepted for practical adoption) according to the Jamhoor Hanafi and Shaafi’ Fuqaha, for verily, they have explicitly ruled that jahr with Thikr after Salaat is not Sunnat. On the contrary it (Sunnat) is Sirr. It is said in Nisaabul Ihtisaab: ‘It is Makrooh to recite Takbeer audibly after Salaat, and verily it is bid’ah except during the days of Nahr and Tashreeq.”……… Ibn Battaal and others have said that the authorities of the Math-habs are unanimous in the ruling that raising the voice with Thikr is not Mustahab. Imaam Shaafi’ (rahmatullah alayh) has explained that that jahr was made for a short while, not permanently.” – Rasaa-il

After presenting all narrations pertaining to Thikr-e-Khafi and Thikr-e-Jahri – narrations in favour of Thikr-e-Khafi and narrations which favour as well as oppose Thikr-e-Jahri, Hadhrat Mufti Rashid Ahmad (rahmatullah alayh), the Author of Ahsanul Fataawa, states:

Undoubtedly, Thikr-e-khafi is afdhal. Imaam Maalik and other Fuqaha have restricted the Jahr narrations to the specific occasions of the Shariah. In other cases, jahr is haraam. According to the Fuqaha of the Ahnaaf, besides the specific occasions of the Shariah (when jahr is permissible), there are two views pertaining to jahr: permissible and haraam……..

In athkaar such as Tasbeeh and Tahleel, firstly, there is no need for congregation. Secondly, if occasionally such a gathering has occurred, then what is the need to sit in a ‘halqah’ (circle)? To interpret nafs-e-ijtima’ (the mere act of congregating) as a ‘circle’ is neither intelligent nor is it stated in the dictionaries.

Most of the shurraah (commentators) of Hadith say that ‘halq Thikr’ has a general meaning. Within its scope are the gatherings of knowledge, the gatherings of Thikr, etc….

Generally, the Ambiyaa (alayhimus salaam) did not participate in congregational Thikr. The Muhadditheen and Fuqaha who have mentioned the narrations pertaining to congregational Thikr, did not themselves establish (practically) gatherings of Thikr. In fact, they did not even participate in the Thikr sessions of the Sufiya. They (the Fuqaha) have attributed this practice to only the Sufiya.

For the permissibility of congregational Thikr, the requisite is abstention from bid’aat. Any bid’ah accretion will render the practice haraam. Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) had branded the group of people who had engaged in a specific form of the halqah Thikr jahran as bid’atis, He reprimanded and expelled them from the Musjid.

Among the bid’aat pertaining to Thikr jahr are:

  • To regard jahr to be Mustahab Li-ainihi (Mustahab per se).

  • Without any Awaaridh (justifying factors) to believe that Thikr-e-jahr is superior to Thikr-e-khafi.

  • To consider gatherings of Thikr to be Mustahab is bid’ah.

  • To have an Imaam-Muqtadi relationship between the participants, i.e. one instructs the group to make Thikr , then the rest follow in unison.

  • Any type of relationship between the thaakireen (i.e. they should not all together recite in rhythmic form and chorus).

  • Making special arrangements to organize Thikr sessions.

  • To accord the Thikr sessions the degree of iltizaam which is accorded to Faraaidh and Waajibaat, or to criticize one who refrains from it or to believe that he is abandoning a superior act………..End of Ahsanul Fataawa’s discourse.

In his Musnad, Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) says that he saw in Musjidul Haraam a huge halqah (concourse/circle of people). It was a Halqah of Ilm. On investigating, he discovered that it was the Halqah of Hadhrat Abdullah Bin Al-Haarith Zabeedi (radhiyallahu anhu), who was a Sahaabi. The term halqah in the context of the Hadith is not restricted to groups of people engaging in verbal Thikr. The Majaalis of Thikr and the Halqah of Thikr mentioned in the Ahaadith refer to Ilmi gatherings as well. There is no Qat’iyyat (Absolute Certitude) for the claim that the Mujaalis and Halaqah necessarily refer to Thikr (i.e. specific verbal Thikr) sessions. It is a well-established fact that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) did not instruct congregational Thikr nor was it the practice of the Sahaabah to engage in such organized congregational Thikr sessions.

With all his flailing in the endeavour to produce ‘proof’ for the collective loud Thikr performances in the Musaajid, the venerable Mufti has not attempted to claim that such congregational sessions are Sunnah. The certitude there exists on the fact that such gatherings are not Sunnah has not permitted the venerable Mufti Sahib to venture such a claim.

The following are extracts from Fataawa Mahmudiyyah whose author is Hadhrat Mufti Mahmudul Hasan Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh) who happens to be the Shaikh of the honourable Mufti Radhaaul Haq Sahib:

(1) Question: In the majlis of wa’z (lecture), during occasional pauses, the audience, making a noise (i.e. loudly) recite Durood Shareef. Also after Isha and other Namaaz, the musallis noisily recite Durood Shareef. Is this permissible according to the Shariah?

Answer: Durood Shareef is a dua, and in dua, Ikhfa is preferable and afdhal. The noisy method described in the question is not established in the Shariah. In fact it is baseless and bid’ah.

Should any over-zealous supporter of loud collective Thikr attempt to argue that Hadhrat Mufti Mahmudul Hasan (rahmatullah alayh) described the specific method of noisy recital as baseless and bid’ah, and that he did not label loud collective Thikr as bid’ah, then the response to this argument is: The specific method branded bid’ah should not be utilized as a subterfuge and diversion for our actual claim and for the clear and explicit answer given by Hadhrat Mufti Mahmudul Hasan. The dispute with the venerable Mufti Radhaaul Haq Sahib is the question of superiority of Thikr: Is Thikr-e-Khafi superior or Thikr-e-Jahri? While it is our contention that Thikr-e-Khafi is Mustahab and afdhal, the venerable Mufti Sahib has perspired profusely in the redundant exercise to prove that Thikr-e-Jahr is Mustahab and afdhal. In response to this baseless theory of the venerable Mufti Sahib, Hadhrat Mufti Mahmudul Hasan unambiguously states: “In Dua the matloob is Ikhfa which is preferable and afdhal.”

(Fataawa Mahmudiyyah, Vol. 6)

(2) Question: How is it during Fajr, after the dua, to stand up, form a halqah (circle) and recite, Ya Nabi Salaam alaika’, or after the dua to read the Fadhaail?

Answer: “This method of Durood Shareef is not established from the Qur’aan-e-Kareem, the Hadith Shareef, the Sahaabah-e-Kiraam, the Muhadditheen and the other Salaf-e-Saaliheen. Every person or whoever has the taufeeq, should sit in his position and recite. This will be something of fortune, goodness and barkat. Standing and forming a halqah and reciting in this manner is more ostentatious. Allah Ta’ala loves ikhlaas and accepts it. Ostentatious acts are not loved (by Allah Ta’ala) and are not accepted. After Fajr Namaaz when all the people have completed (their ibaadat), then to read the fadhaail and masaail of the Deen and to teach is excellent and beneficial.” (Fataawa Mahmudiyya, Vol 15)

The halqah method in public as a regular practice is ostentatious and bid’ah even if the correct Durood formula is recited. The innovated method is the target of criticism and prohibited.

(3) Question: There is a practice of reciting Durood Shareef jahran after Jumuah Namaaz and also in other neighbourhoods this practice is observed. Durood Shareef, Tasbeeh, Tahleel and Takbeer are recited in Ijtimaai (congregational) form, jahran (audibly). One Faadhil (Aalim) of Deoband explained to me that according to Shaami this practice is not bid’at. This person (the Deobandi Molvi) said by way of objection (i.e. objecting to the claim that it is bid’ah) that the Thikr which Naazim Saahib makes in Mazaahirul Uloom after Asr is a form and a time which he has himself fixed. Why is that not bid’ah? He also says that it has been the practice of the buzrugs of the recent past and now of their khulafa to gather their mureedeen in the Musjid to make Thikr-e-jali (audible Thikr). They instruct and exhort their mureedeen to do this. How is this?

(NB This is exactly the methodology of the venerable Mufti Radhaaul Haq Sahib’s argumentation. He has argued in similar style in support of loud collective Thikr in the Musaajid.)

Answering this question, Hadhrat Mufti Mahmudul Hasan Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh) states in his Fataawa:

“Durood Shareef in both ways – sirran and jahran – is permissible and a medium of spiritual progress and divine proximity. Reciting it (Durood Shareef) on Friday is specifically emphasised. But, to recite it jahran in Ijtimaai’ form (loud collective form) is not substantiated by the Hadith and Fiqh. The Sahaabah Kiraam would congregate five times a day in the Musjid. Besides the Salaat times, they found abundant opportunities to congregate in both safar (journey) and hadhr (i.e. not on a journey). But, nowhere is it proven that it was their ma’mool (practice) to recite ijtimaa-an jahran (collectively and loudly).

Even if one recites infiraadan (alone), then too when reciting audibly, it is necessary to refrain from disturbing anyone. For example, someone may be engaging in performing Salaat or he may be sleeping. Furthermore, there should be no (worldly or nafsaani) motive for reciting audibly. The motive should also not be riya and aggrandizement. The greatest ibaadat is unacceptable if the niyyat is corrupt…………

If in some place there is a practice to recite a fixed number at specific times, then that will be the amal of the Mashaaikh. It will not be Hujjat-e-Shar’iyyah (Proof of the Shariah). Following it is not incumbent. However, since the Mashaaikh were followers of the Shariah, their practice should be appropriately interpreted to avoid it being in conflict with the Shariah and within the confines of bid’ah. The interpretation for this is: ………..

A doctor prescribes a fixed amount of medicine to be taken at fixed times by a patient. This is not a command of ibaadat. It is a remedy based on the experience of the practitioner. Anyone who does not follow this, is not sinful by Allah Ta’ala. If he follows the guidance of the practitioner, he will, Insha’Allah, be cured. The special form of Thikr in which there is a fixed amount and a specific form of dharb (striking head movements) is of this category. With changing conditions (of mureedeen), the form of this Thikr too changes. Sometimes, this jahr and dharb are completely abandoned. The condition of specific forms of khatam is the same.” (Fataawa Mahmudiyyah, Vol.15)

The salient aspects in this Fatwa, which should be digested and not overlooked are:

  • The Ijtimaai’ (congregational) form was not the practice of the Sahaabah.

  • The Jahri method was not the ma’mool of the Sahaabah.

  • The loud method of the Mashaaikh is a remedy for the mureeds.

  • This practice of the Mashaaikh is not a Hujjat (Proof) of the Shariah.

The maximum leverage for loud Thikr which the venerable Mufti Saheb could cadge from the Fatwa of Hadhrat Mufti Mahmudul Hasan (rahmatullah alayh) is the permissibility of reciting Thikr Ifraadan (alone/individually) with moderate audibility on condition no one is inconvenienced and disturbed.

Hadhrat Mufti Mahmudul Hasan (rahmatullah alayh) was fully aware of the ma’mulaat of our Chishti Mashaaikh. He was not in the dark regarding the Thikr practices conducted in the khaanqahs and the khaanqah Musaajid. Nevertheless, his Fatwa is presented with clarity. The ma’mulaat of the Mashaaikh of the Khaanqahs dare not be presented in conflict with the rulings of the Fuqaha.

Hadhrat Mufti Mahmudul Hasan says in his Fataawa: “Insistence on Mandoob delivers it (the Mandoob) to the confines of Karaahat.” (Volume 1) When there is israar (insistence) and iltizaam (to make incumbent) on even a Mustahab act, then such an act becomes bid’ah notwithstanding its origin in the Sunnah.

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