acts of prayer, The Recitation in the Friday Prayer
He would recite alJumu’ah, al-Munafiqun or al-Ghashiyyah, in their complete forms, or al-A’la and al Ghashiyyah. He never recited just the ending of some Surahs which began with “O you who believe...” surah alJumu’ah). Those who insist on doing so every Friday are not following the Sunnah.
Sunnah acts of prayer, The Recitation in the Two ‘Ids
He would recite Qafor al-Qamar completely and sometimes al-A’la and al-Ghashiyyah. The rightly guided caliphs did the same. Once Abu Bakr read al-Baqarah in the Morning Prayer until the sun was about to rise. They said, “O successor of the Messenger of Allah, the sun is about to rise.” He said, “Had it risen, you would not have found us negligent.” ‘Umar would recite Yusuf, an-Nahl, Hud, al-Isra’ and similar Surahs.
If reciting long Surahs was abrogated, it would have been known to the khalifahs or to those who may have criticized them. Muslim records from Jabir Ibn Sumrah that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, recited Qaf in the Morning Prayer, and that his subsequent prayers during that day would be shorter. Umm al-Fazhl heard Ibn ‘Abbas recite al-Mursilat and she told him, “O my son, that recital reminded me of that surah. It was the last one that I heard the Prophet, upon whom be peace, recite, and he read it in the sunset prayer.” That is one of the latest actions that we have from him.
Given the above, we may now interpret the Prophet’s hadith, “O you who lead the people in prayer, be easy on them,” and Anas’ statement, “The Prophet, upon whom be peace, conducted the prayer very lightly, though it was complete.” ‘Easiness’ or ‘lightness’ is a relative term. We must return to how the Prophet behaved to understand and follow his example correctly. It is not to be determined by the whims and desires of those who are present for prayer. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, did not order the people to differ from his practice, even though he knew that behind him were the aged, weak and people with needs to tend to. He performed his prayer in the same manner that he asked others to pray--’light’ or ‘easy’. If his prayers were somewhat long, they were still easy compared to how long he could have made them.
The guidance that he came with and practiced is the one that decides our affairs and disputes for us. This is supported by the hadith recorded by an-Nasa’I and others in which Ibn ‘Umar reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, ordered those who lead prayers to be ‘easy’ by reciting as-Saffat. Therefore, a surah the length of as-Saffat is part of what the Prophet, upon whom be peace, meant when he said that the imams should be easy on the people.
Sunnah acts of prayer, Reciting a Specific Surah
The Prophet, upon whom be peace, did not confine his recitation of the Qur’an in prayers to some specific surahs, (except for the Friday and ‘Id prayers). Concerning the other prayers, Abu Dawud has recorded a hadith from ‘Amr ibn Shu’aib from his father on the authority of his grandfather who said, “There is no separate surah, large or small, except the ones I heard the Prophet recite while leading the people in one of the obligatory prayers.
He used to recite the entire surah in two rak’ahs, or just the initial part of the surah. It has not been recorded from him that he would recite from the middle or the end of the surah, nor that he would recite two Surahs in one rak’ah during the obligatory prayers.
He would, however, do so during voluntary prayers. Said Ibn Mas’ud, “I know the Surahs the Prophet used to recite together in one rak’ah: ar-Rahman and an-Najm, al-Qamar and al-Haqqah, at-Tur and azh
Zhariyat, al-Waqi’ah and Noon, and so on.” But this hadith does not tell us if this was during obligatory or voluntary prayers. The latter is more probable. He rarely recited one surah in two (both) rak’ahs. Abu Dawud records that a man from the tribe of Juhainah heard the Prophet, upon whom be peace, recite the complete surah az-Zil~al twice in both rak’ahs of the Morning Prayer. The man commented, “I do not know if he did this out of forgetfulness or if he recited it twice intentionally.”
Sunnah acts of prayer, Lengthening the First Rak’ah of the Morning Prayer
The Prophet, upon whom be peace, would make the first rak’ah of the Morning Prayer longer than the second. At times, he would continue to prolong his recitation until he heard no more footsteps (of the people coming to catch the prayer). He made the Morning Prayer the longest of his (obligatory) prayers. This is because its recitation is witnessed by Allah and the angels. It is also stated that it is witnessed by both the angels who record the daytime deeds and those who record the nighttime deeds. Whether it is Allah and His angels or His angels alone who witness that time, or does it continue until the Morning Prayer is over or until the sun rises cannot be said with certainty, though both of the statements are correct.
Furthermore, since the Morning Prayer has the least number of rak’ah, the recitation is prolonged to compensate for it. It is prayed right after sleep. As such, people are well rested. Also, it occurs before they have engaged themselves in their livelihood and other worldly affairs.
The spirit as well as the body is responsive to the words of Allah. This makes the recital easier to ponder over and comprehend. Also, prayer is the basis and the first of all works. Therefore, it is preferred to prolong the recital of the Morning Prayer. This would be recognized by one who is familiar with Islamic law and its aim, purpose and wisdom.
Sunnah acts of prayer, How The Prophet Would Recite the Qur’an
He would draw out his voice over the long vowels, pause at the end of every verse, and elongate his voice with the recital. This ends the section that has been taken from the writings of Ibn al-Qayyim.
Sunnah acts of prayer, What Is Preferred to be Done During the Recitation
It is Sunnah to make one’s voice beautiful and nice while reciting the Qur’an. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “Beautify your voices with the Qur’an.” He also said, “He is not one of us who does not chant the Qur’an,” “The one with the best voice with the Qur’an is the one that when you hear him, you feel that he fears Allah,” and “Allah never listened to anything like he listened to his Prophet chanting the Qur’an with a beautiful voice.”
Says an-Nawawi, “It is Sunnah for anyone who is reciting the Qur’an, whether he is praying or not, to ask Allah for His blessings when he comes to a verse of mercy. When he comes to a verse (describing) punishment, he should seek refuge in Allah from Hellfire, punishment, evil, from what is hated, or he may say, “Allah, I ask You for well-being, etc.” When he comes to a verse that glorifies or exalts Allah, he should say, “Glory be to Allah,” or “Blessed be Allah, the Lord of the Worlds,” and so on. Huzhaifah Ibn al-Yaman is reported to have said, “I prayed with the Prophet, upon whom be peace, one night, and he started reading al-Baqarah.
I said to myself, ‘He will bow after one hundred verses,’ but he continued. Then I said, ‘He will complete it and bow,’ but he moved to recite very slowly al ‘Imran and then an-Nisa’. When he came to a verse glorifying Allah, he would glorify Him. If he came to a verse that mentioned a request, he would request it. If he came to something that (one should) seek refuge from, he would seek refuge.” This was related by Muslim. Among the Shafiyyah, the glorifying, requesting and seeking refuge should be done during the prayer and at other times.
The imam, followers and one praying by himself should all do so, for they are supplications that one should say, like ‘Ameen. It is preferred that when reading, “Is not Allah the most conclusive of all judges?” / AtTin: 8 / one should say, “Certainly, and I am one of the witnesses to that. When one reads, “Is not He (who does so) able to bring the dead to life? / al-Qiyamah: 40 /, he should say, “Certainly, and I bear witness (to it).” When one reads, “Glorify the name of your Lord, the Most High,” (al-A’la: 1 ), he should say, “Glory to my Lord, the Most High.” That should be said during prayer and otherwise.
Sunnah acts of prayer, When The Prayer is to be Aloud or Subdued
It is Sunnah to recite aloud in the two rak’ah of the morning and the Friday congregational prayer, in the first two rak’ah of the evening and the night prayer, in the two ‘id prayers, the prayer for eclipses, and the prayer of asking for rain.
The recital should be subdued during all of the noon and the afternoon prayer, during the last rak’ah of the evening prayer, and during the last two rak’ah of the night prayer. Concerning voluntary prayers, those made during the days should be subdued, while those made during the night can be either loud or subdued.
Sunnah acts of prayer, It is best to be moderate in one’s recital
One night, the Prophet, upon whom be peace, passed by Abu Bakr when he was praying in a very low voice, and he passed by ‘Umar who was praying with his voice raised. (Later), when they were together with him, he said, “O Abu Bakr, I passed by you and you were praying in a very low voice.” He said, “O Messenger of Allah, the one who I was praying to could hear me.” And he said to ‘Umar, “O ‘Umar, I passed by you and you were praying with a raised voice.” He said, “O Messenger of Allah, this was to stop the drowsiness and to drive away Satan.” The Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “O Abu Bakr, raise your voice somewhat.
And ‘Umar, lower your voice somewhat.” (Related by Abu Dawud and Ahmad.) If one forgets and recites aloud when he should be silent or vice-versa, there is no blame upon him. If one recalls the correction while he is doing the mistaken act, he may change to the correct way.
To be continued