74: Restraining Our Tongue Except For Allah’s Remembrance

Although this is a meritorious act in all times, it is specially emphasized for the period of Ghaibat.

Shaykh Sadooq has narrated though a correct chain of narrators that Abu Ja’far Baqir (as) said: “A time will come upon the people when their Imam shall disappear from their view. Blessed be those who remain firm upon our guardianship during such times. The least divine reward that shall reach them would be that the Almighty Allah shall call them and say: O My servants and maidservants, you brought faith in My secret and believed in My unseen. Then good news to you for My goodness and rewards as you are truly My servants and maidservants. I shall accept your deeds, disregard your faults and forgive your sins. And due to you I shall send rain to My creatures and ward off calamities from them. If you hadn’t been there I would have sent My chastisement upon them.” Jabir asked: O son of Allah’s messenger, what is the best thing that a believer can do at that time? He replied: Guard the tongue and stay at home.1

Shaykh Sadooq (a.r.) has quoted Imam Sadiq (as) and he narrates through his purified forefathers from the Holy Prophet (S) that he said, “Those who recognize Allah and are humble to Him, they restrain their tongues and avoid unlawful foods, fast in the day and pray the whole night.” The companions said, “O Messenger of Allah (S), may our parents be sacrificed on you, who are these Awliya of Allah (Friends of Allah)?” He (S) replied, “When the Awliya were silent, their silence was meditation. When they spoke, it was Allah’s remembrance. When they looked, it was a lesson and when they uttered something it was wisdom. When they walked it was a bounty. If Allah has not destined death for them their souls would have still been intact in their bodies for the desire of performing good deeds in anticipation of heavenly rewards and in the terror of divine chastisement.”2

Explanation: Mostly, silence in guarding the tongue from speaking in a situation when a person is susceptible to what he says, and keeping quiet is general from that. And speaking mostly is used when a person is addressed and dialogue is the general form of that.

It is mentioned in Al-Kafi that Imam Muhammad Baqir (as) says, “Our partisans are mute.”3 And in the same book through a reliable chain of narrators it is narrated from Imam Musa Kazim (as) that a person said to him: Give me some advice. He replied: Protect your tongue so that you may become beloved and don’t give other people control over your affairs as they will degrade them.4

In the same book through correct chain of narrators it is narrated from Imam Reza (as) that he said: Among the signs of Fiqh are forbearance, knowledge and silence; indeed it is one of the doors of wisdom; indeed silence brings love, indeed it guides to all good.5

In a correct report it is narrated from Imam Sadiq (as) that he said: The Messenger of Allah (S) said to person who was present in his assembly: Shall I not guide you to that for which the Almighty Allah will send you to Paradise? He said: Yes, O Messenger of Allah (S). The Prophet said: Help others with what you have got. The man said: What if I myself need that which I want to give him? The Prophet said: Then help the oppressed. He said: What should I do if I am unable to help one I want to? He replied: Then do something for the needy. He asked: What if I myself am in need of that? He replied: Keep your tongue silent except from that which is good; are you not pleased that this one quality can take you to Paradise?6

In Kafi it is narrated from Imam Sadiq (as) that he said: A man is always written as a good one as long as he keeps quiet; but the moment he speaks up, he is written either as a good one or a bad one.7

Shaykh Sadooq has also mentioned a similar tradition in Faqih from Amirul Momineen (as).8 These two traditions and the one we quoted previously and another which is mentioned in Majalis of Shaykh Sadooq prove that remaining quiet is a recommended act even though it may not consist of contemplation and Taqayyah etc. There are some traditions which prove this and we shall present them in the coming pages, Insha Allah.

Majlisi (r.a.) has contemplated on the last tradition and said in explanation of the Imam’s words: “he would be written as a good man…” that: “Either it is due to his faith or due to his silence, because remaining quiet is a good deed as mentioned in this report.” Then he said: “And I say: “The first possibility is more obvious though most people have not noted it, as the Imam has said: “When he speaks up, he is either written as a good person or as a bad one.” Because according to the second possibility, the restriction goes away, as it is possible that he may speak a about lawful matter, that is neither good nor bad, but we give the bad one a generality, such that it includes all that is not good, and this is remote.

If there is doubt that: On the basis of what you choose, objection is laid against it at the time of stating it, he will get the reward of faith, thus he is good as well as bad. On the basis of this it is not correct to waver between good and bad.

In reply we say: It is possible that ‘good’ means one who does not commit a single bad deed as is apparent, then the competition between the good and bad will be correct. In addition to this we deny the continuation of reward in spite of committing the sin, and absence [of continuation of reward] indicates what the Infallibles (as) have said: “An adulterer, as long as he is a believer, does not commit adultery.” And the likes of this as some were mentioned before. This is one of the points derived from it and one of the points derived from the tradition that: “The sleep of a scholar is worship.” That is while he sleeps also, he is in the position of worship, as a result of continuation of the deed and faith and that he keeps from that which invalidates it.9

This discussion is having a number of aspects:

First: What they have considered obvious is not so. That the reward is not restricted to that which is not the proof of his faith, rather that which is clear is that which the readers is aware of and traditions have confessed to have understood from: “On the basis of the second possibility, the restriction goes away…” is a mistake. Because one who makes a legal statement has done bad to himself because he has wasted his capital of time and he has given it up in exchange of nothing. The time he spent in saying the lawful statements could have been used in remembering Allah or reciting Dua or reading the Qur’an. And as reward of those things he could have earned a lot of rewards, and here there is actually no metaphor. Because it is clear that everyone is either good or bad to himself. The foremost is one who wants the benefits for himself and second is one who removes the benefits from himself.

The bad people are of two types: The first are those who pull the punishment and distress towards themselves. And the second are those who just give up the benefits and each of them do bad to themselves, because a person who has wasted his life without earning rewards of the hereafter has wasted his life. And no one can doubt it.

What we have mentioned is having a generality and restriction to the saying of the Almighty Allah:


إِنَّ الْإِنْسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ 

I swear by the time. Most surely man is in loss. Except those who believe and do good. (Qur’an, Surah Asr 103:1-2)

Since its apparent meaning is that everyone who spends his life in good deeds, has wasted his life as he has wasted his time, even though it may be little by little. So think upon what we have said and Insha Allah you will gain numerous benefits from it. How nicely the poet has said:

Time came to purchase my life continually. I said I will not sell it for the world and what is in it. But it began to purchase it little by little with nothing. May those hands perish that sell at a loss!

Second: It is that in reply to the doubt you have you say: “It is possible that the implication of good…” I don’t find any justification for this. And the apparent meaning of traditional report is that those who assume silence or speakers who are either good or bad from the aspect of their deeds, if they remain silent the same act will be counted as a good turn to themselves. And if they speak up a good thing, this act will also be considered a good turn to themselves. And if they utter a lawful statement they would be doing bad to themselves because they would be forgoing the reward of silence and if they speak up a haraam thing they would have done bad to themselves from two aspects: One for losing the reward of silence and another of becoming eligible for punishment of saying a haraam thing.

Third: It is that his statement: “In addition to this I consider continuation of reward of faith in spite of committing sins as prohibited,” is a clear mistake. Because it is not compatible with divine justice and also due to the proofs mentioned above, faith consists of belief and its confession and the two are related.

And as for deeds: They have no role in formation of faith although it is concerned with its perfection. Thus if it is supposed that the believer dies when he is committing fornication. He will not remain in Hellfire forever even though due to his deed; he will be punished till he gets intercession. And in the view of Shia Imamiyah, faith is that which makes one enter Paradise. And the requirement of this scholar is that such a person will remain in Hell forever. And I don’t know how this statement was made by such a scholar! But sometimes even the best people make mistakes and the sharpest sword does not cut a thing. An Infallible is one that Allah has protected.

Fourth: His statement: “we deny the continuation of reward in spite of committing the sin, and absence [of continuation of reward] indicates what the Infallibles (as) have said: “An adulterer, as long as he is a believer does not commit adultery,” is also improper and it is a claim without proof. The fact is that faith is having different grades as mentioned in many of the traditional reports and the perfect believer is one whose words testify to his deeds. And without any doubt, a sinner, when he is disobeying Allah, his action is opposed to his faith, and in this manner a defect enters his faith because the true faith is present in him. Because faith, as you know, is belief and confession and till the time that person has belief and confession, his reward of faith is also proved. What we have mentioned is supported by numerous traditional reports and many Duas narrated from the Holy Imams (as). For example in one of his Duas the Imam says: O Allah, if I disobey You in what You have ordered or what You have prohibited, but the fact is that I have obeyed you in the thing You like most, and it is faith in You, the faith with which you favored us and not that we favored You by having faith in You.

Fifth: It is his statement: “And this can be an explanation of this traditional report and one of the causes that is related: (Sleep of the scholar is worship)…” is also an interpretation without proof, rather the first is that the saying of the Infallibles (as) (Sleep of the scholar is worship) etc can be left at their apparent meaning, and there is no need to interpret it, because the acquisition of knowledge that the Almighty Allah has called us to is having much benefit and some of them are: The Almighty Allah gives his sleep the reward of worship and the wisdom behind it is that the student puts himself to trouble in acquisition of the pleasure of the Almighty Allah and he gives up rest so that the people are guided.

Thus the Almighty Allah rewards him, by making his sleep, which is rest and comfort for his body, as a worship act in exchange of having subjected his body to hardships. Thus every new sleep brings a new reward for the scholar as a recompense of subjecting his body to bear the hardships and discomfort of acquiring knowledge. It is like that which is mentioned as reward for visiting the grave of our master, His Eminence, Abi Abdullah al-Husain (as): The angel prays to Almighty Allah while the visitor to his grave sleeps and the reward is for him and after he is dead, he prays and this reward is also for him.

The conclusion of our discussion is: Remaining quiet - except to speak that which the Almighty Allah is pleased with or to speak that which is necessary for man to spend his life – is a recommended deed, even though we may discount that which may happen as a result of it. There are many traditions in Layali that prove this. For example the Holy Prophet (S) said to Allah: O my Lord, what is the foremost worship? The Almighty Allah replied: “Silence and fasting.” In another report it is mentioned: There are four things that except for a believer no one can obtain them. Silence, and it is the foremost worship act…and the Almighty Allah said: O Muhammad, there is no worship act more likeable to Me than silence and fasting.

And his saying: Among the signs of Fiqh are forbearance, knowledge and silence; indeed it is one of the doors of wisdom; thus guard your tongue except from that which is good as it would take you to Paradise. And it was said to Prophet Isa (as): Tell me of that through which I can go to Paradise. He replied: Never say anything. And the Holy Prophet (S) said: Good manners, moderation and silence is one of twenty-six parts of prophethood. And he said to Abu Zar: Shall I not tell of a deed that is heavy on the balance on Judgment Day and light on your tongue? He said: Why not, O Messenger of Allah (S)? The Holy Prophet (S) said: Silence and good manners; leaving off that which does not concern you. Prophet Isa (as) said: Worship is having ten parts; nine of which are in silence and one part is fleeing from the people. The Holy Prophet (S) said: The Almighty Allah conceals the defects of one who guards his tongue.

It is mentioned in traditional reports: There was a young man from the companions of the Messenger of Allah (S) who was killed battle of Uhad and it was found that he had tied up a stone to his stomach due to extreme hunger. Thus his mother present at his side removed dust from his face and said: My son, may you enjoy the Paradise. The Holy Prophet (S) said: How do you know that he has got Paradise; perhaps he had said something useless? And it is mentioned in Hadith Qudsi that: O son of Adam, if you have got hardness in the heart, deprivation in sustenance and sickness in the body, you should know that you have said something that does not concern you. It is narrated that Khwaja Rabi did not speak about worldly and useless matters for a period of twenty years, till our master, His Eminence, Husain bin Ali (as) was martyred; so the congregation said: Today, he would speak up; when they went to his place and informed him about the martyrdom of His Eminence, he said: May the Almighty Allah increase your and my reward on the killing of Husain (as) and he glanced at the sky, wept and said: O Allah, O creator of the heavens and earth, knower of the unseen and apparent, You do justice between Your servants in what they differed. After that he went to his place of worship, and did not say anything except truth till he passed away.

In Tohafful Uqool, among the advices of Imam Sadiq (as) to Abdullah bin Jundab it is mentioned: You must observe silence, whether you are ignorant or learned, you will be considered dignified; because silence is an ornament for the learned and a means of concealing the defects of an ignorant.

I say: How beautifully has a poet said:

Silence is an ornament and keeping quiet is a source of security. Thus when you speak up, do not be talkative. Not once have you regretted your silence. Whereas you have regretted speaking up many a times.

In Tohafful Uqool it is related from Imam Sadiq (as) that he advised Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Noman as follows: “Those who preceded you, used to keep silence; while you are learning how to speak. If one of them wanted to dedicate his efforts to worship, he would have to learn keeping silent ten years before that. If he learnt it adequately, he would go worshipping. Otherwise, he would say: No, I am not fit enough for it.”10

There are numerous traditions of the Holy Imams (as) and many wise sayings on this topic. The most comprehensive of this is the saying that Kulaini (r.a.) has quoted in Usool Kafi through his own chain of narrators from Imam Sadiq (as) that he said: Luqman said to this son: My dear son, if you think speech is silver, then silence is golden.11

I say: This tradition proves that keeping quiet to oneself is better than speaking up to oneself. That is if we look at the nature of silence from the aspect that applies to it and which is seen and nature of talking should be ignored from an aspect that applies to it is supposed; silence is the best, and its aspect is clear to its people, because the comfort of the body and heart lies in it. And it would be of lifespan from that which is not concerned with it. It has other benefits also which are clear for one who thinks upon them and on the basis of this it is a natural phenomenon and between this meaning and what is proved is inclination to speaking in special circumstances, and it being obligatory in other circumstances and there is no problem in it, just as sometimes silence is obligatory (Wajib) and sometimes it is unlawful (Haraam) and sometimes it may also be despicable (Makrooh). But to look at reports that speak of it being recommended does not make it lawful and contradiction between the order of silence and speaking does not change nature.

It is surprising of Allamah Majlisi that after quoting that tradition in Miratul Uqool he says: “It proves that silence is better than speech; it seems as if it is so in most cases and if not, it is clear that speaking up is better than remaining quiet in many cases. Rather, it is obligatory to speak up while expressing the principles and practical laws of religion, enjoining good and forbidding evil; and silence is haraam. Also, it is recommended to speak giving advices and exhortations to believers and to make them inclined to religious knowledge etc. Thus those traditional reports are having specialization without this context or related to the circumstances of the people, because most of their speaking is with to that which is not beneficial to them. Or that those traditions have been content with lawful matters.”12

I say: After you contemplate on what we have mentioned, you will realize that there is no need of this clarification. It must have become clear to you that where his doubts reach, in his statements – may Allah exalt his status – due to his many preoccupations, he failed to think on this tradition as he should have done.

Explanation and justification: You know that originally keeping quiet is better than speaking up. It may be otherwise if there are enough justifications to the contrary, as must be clear to the scholars. Our stance can best be understood if you consider the following problem: Is it obligatory to remain quiet while listening to the Qur’an or not? I say: This problem has three aspects:

First: During the congregation prayer.

Second: When the congregation leader is reciting the sermon of Friday Prayer.

Third: Listening to Qur’an at other times.

Issue one: It is said: Those who are praying behind a congregation leader, who fulfills all conditions, are obliged to keep quiet and it is obligatory on them to listen to his Qiraat keeping quiet at the same time. Some consider it to be recommended and what has come in traditions is prohibition of reciting the Qiraat in that condition. And it is that to remain silent, so much so that we don’t find proof that it is Wajib to recite glorifications and remembering Allah also, rather an opposite is found in traditional reports and the details of this have been fully researched.

Issue Two: It is said: It is obligatory for those who are present in a place where Friday Prayer is organized to keep quiet and listen to the sermon. According to another statement: It is obligatory on worshippers and accordingly yet another statement: on their sufficient numbers necessary for making Friday Prayer obligatory. According to another statement: It is obligatory to keep quiet and listen if one of the followers is able to hear the sermon. Some have considered it recommended and are opposed to those who have considered it Wajib. And some believe: It is Wajib to listen to both the sermons from the beginning to the end. Some say: As much as possible it is Wajib to remain silent and listen to the two sermons. And the statement that it is recommended and to take the path of precaution is clear and right. And the details of this is beyond the scope of this book.

Issue Three: That is since the matter whether it is obligatory or recommended to keep quiet when one can hear the Qur’an is something that our scholars have not solved and that is why we have discussed it here. Many of the Sunni jurisprudents have categorically said that it is Wajib to keep quiet and listen to Qur’an. But Imamiyah scholars are more inclined to deny its obligation and advocate that it is recommended and some of them have reconciled them and it is the right attitude.

But Allamah Majlisi has opposed this and said in Kitabus Salat of Biharul Anwar after the mention of the verse:

وَإِذَا قُرِئَ الْقُرْآنُ فَاسْتَمِعُوا لَهُ وَأَنْصِتُوا لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

And when the Qur’an is recited, then listen to it and remain silent, that mercy may be shown to you. (Qur’an, Surah Araaf 7:204)

Generally this verse is thought to prove that it is obligatory to keep quiet and listen to the Qiraat of Qur’an in all circumstances, whether it be during prayers or otherwise, whether we consider it absolute or consider the commands of the Qur’an to be for making it obligatory. That which is generally accepted by all is that it is Wajib to keep quiet when the Imam is reciting and the recommendation is for other than it, along with the fact that the apparent meaning of most reliable traditions is that it is Wajib except for a report of Zurarah who has quoted from Imam Muhammad Baqir (as) that he said: And when you follow the Imam in congregation prayer, thus in the first two rakats don’t say anything and remain quiet to listen to Qiraat. And in the remaining two rakats you recite the recitations as Allah, the Mighty and Sublime says to believers: “When Qur’an is being recited” that is in obligatory prayer behind the Imam of Jamaat so you remain quiet and listen to it, perhaps mercy may be done on you and the two later rakats are like the first two rakats.13

This tradition can be applied to the verse that is revealed about it and it will not be against its apparent import but they have gathered writings that it is not obligatory to listen to the Imam, except for Qiraat. And it is possible that it may support that: to listen to every recitation till one can. And another that: In congregation, regarding people who cannot follow the Imam, they must recite themselves. As much as possible one should follow the path of precaution and remain quiet during Qiraat.14

This the end of discourse of Allamah Majlisi, may the Almighty Allah increase his ranks in Paradise. And you will know what objections are applicable to his statements according to our view.

Thus I say: There are many points that show that it is not obligatory. There are many principles that support this matter. On the other hand we have the command to listen to Qiraat as much as possible. And this is also supported by verses of Qur’an. Since this matter was frequently encountered it was necessary for the scholars to have written about it. And they have objected to those who speak while Qur’an is being are recited. In the same way, they deny it to those who commit sinful acts and if it had been true they would have earned fame and reached the ears of all in all the lands.

A proof that it is recommended: Many sayings prove that it is recommended to keep quiet while the Qur’an is being recited, even in prayers when the Imam is reciting. And this has no contradiction with what some of our scholars say that it is haraam to recite when the Imam is reciting in congregation prayer. And that it is lawful or recommended to recite Tasbih at that time. Thus the objection to the writer of Tanqih al-Ijma does no go against his claim, because it would be for one that considers it unlawful. And we don’t find anyone saying that reciting the Tasbih is unlawful. So think upon it. And this is sufficient proof that it is recommended. In addition to that, keeping quiet and lending the ear is paying respect to Qur’an and respect of Qur’an is in fact respect for the Almighty Allah.

Another proof is a tradition that the great scholar Noori has mentioned in Mustadrakul Wasail quoting from Al-Alaa of Muhammad bin Muslim from His Eminence, Abu Ja’far Imam Baqir (as) that he said: Remaining quiet and listening to [Qiraat of] Qur’an in Prayers etc is recommended.15

In Tafseer Imam Askari (as) it is mentioned in the excellence of Surah Fatiha that he said: In fact Surah Hamd is greater and heavier than all things treasured in the stores of the Arsh (divine Throne) and the Almighty has reserved this grace only for me and not granted it to any of the earlier messengers, except His Eminence, Sulaiman (as) who was granted only Bismillaahir Rah’maanir Rah’eem from this Surah. This is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an in these words:

قَالَتْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْمَلَأُ إِنِّي أُلْقِيَ إِلَيَّ كِتَابٌ كَرِيمٌ 

إِنَّهُ مِنْ سُلَيْمَانَ وَإِنَّهُ بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Surely an honorable letter has been delivered to me. Surely it is from Sulaiman, and surely it is in the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. (Qur’an, Surah Naml 27:29-30)

Thereafter he said: Whoever recites this Surah (Hamd), believes in love of Muhammad and his progeny and has faith in obeying the apparent and hidden of them, Almighty Allah will grant, in its recitation, one unit of heavenly reward (Hasanah) for each and every letter of it and Hasanah is something better than all the treasures of this world. The hearer of this Surah will get one third of the said reward. Hence each of you must wish to obtain more and more good from it, which is just in front of you. You should consider it as worthy of making the most out of it lest time may pass away and you have to regret. 16

I say: The Imam the words, ‘obtain more and more good from it…’ show that it is recommended to recite and listen to Surah Hamd; since if it had been obligatory, we would not have been urged to recite it so much, since an obligatory thing must be carried out in any case. And there is no difference between this and other Surahs.

In Kanzul Irfan of Fadil Miqdad after the verse:

وَإِذَا قُرِئَ الْقُرْآنُ فَاسْتَمِعُوا لَهُ وَأَنْصِتُوا لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

And when the Qur’an is recited, then listen to it and remain silent, that mercy may be shown to you. (Qur’an, Surah Araaf 7:204)

It is said: Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) has said: It denotes that it is recommended to listen to it in prayer etc.

In Wafi and Burhan it is quoted from Tahdhib of Shaykh Tusi in a correct tradition from Muawiyah bin Wahab from His Eminence, Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) that he said: I asked His Eminence: There is a person you don’t like and he is leading a group in prayers which is recited aloud [what is the duty of the follower]? Imam (as) replied: When you hear him reciting the Qur’an you must listen to him. I said: That Imam of congregation considers me a polytheist! Imam said: If he disobeys Allah you obey Him. I asked again but the Imam did not permit. I said: I will pray at home and then attend prayer behind him also. Imam (as) said: Do it if you can. And he said: His Eminence, Ali (as) was leading the Morning Prayer when Ibne Kawwa, standing behind the Imam in prayers, recited the following verse:

وَلَقَدْ أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ وَإِلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ لَئِنْ أَشْرَكْتَ لَيَحْبَطَنَّ عَمَلُكَ وَلَتَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ

And certainly, it has been revealed to you and to those before you: Surely if you associate (with Allah), your work would certainly come to naught and you would certainly be of the losers. (Qur’an, Surah Zumar 39:65)

So Amirul Momineen (as) in order to accord respect to Qur’an, remained quiet till Ibne Kawwa finished its recitation. Then His Eminence (aj) continued. Again Ibne Kawwa repeated the same verse. Again Ali (as) remained quiet and after that continued his Qiraat in prayer. Once more, Ibne Kawwa recited the verse and Ali (as) remained quiet. And then he recited the following verse in reply to him:

اصْبِرْ إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقٌّ ۖ وَلَا يَسْتَخِفَّنَّكَ الَّذِينَ لَا يُوقِنُونَ

Therefore be patient; surely the promise of Allah is true and let not those who have no certainty hold you in light estimation. (Qur’an, Surah Rum 30:60)

After that he completed the Surah and went into Ruku.17

I say: Five orders can be derived from this correct narration. First: That it is recommended to remain absolutely quiet when Qur’an is being recited, even though the listener be in prayer and even though the reciter may not be the prayer leader.

Second: It is that this much silence does not go against the continuity that is necessary in prayer.

Third: It is allowed to recite Qur’an while in prayers.

Fourth: It is allowed make other announcements and address others through Qur’an in prayers.

Fifth: That this much Qiraat does not hamper the Mawalaat of prayer is reliable. And what we mentioned is that it is recommended to keep quiet and listen to Qiraat of Qur’an in every circumstance and in every place whether it be in Friday sermon or congregation prayer or in the sermon for Eids.

As for what is said in tradition: “I asked again but the Imam did not permit and he continued to prohibit it,” is regarding Wajib Qiraat in prayer. And this was done in this manner so that he may feel sad about it as will be clear to those who are conversant with traditions. In addition to this the prohibition to speak other things is not applicable to reciting Tasbih and Zikr because the special does not prove the common as will be clear to people of insight. And as for traditions that say that it is Wajib to keep quiet: or that which say that it is recommended; both the kinds can be reconciled like we reconcile the traditions that speak of obligatory nature of Friday bath.

And to consider them on the basis of Taqayyah because to remain silent is from the religion of Sunnis and the right way is other than that. And as for traditions that we came across includes: That which Allamah Majlisi has quoted from a manuscript who has in turn quoted from Jamil from Zurarah that he said: I asked His Eminence, Abu Abdullah Imam Sadiq (as) regarding one who is reciting the Qur’an, that is it obligatory on one who hears him to remain quiet and listen to him? The Imam replied: Yes, when the Qur’an is recited before you, it is obligatory on you to keep quiet and listen to it.18

Allamah Majlisi19 has also quoted from Tafseer Ayyashi from Zurarah that he said: I heard His Eminence, Abu Abdullah Imam Sadiq (as) say: To remain quiet for Qiraat of Qur’an in prayer and otherwise, is obligatory. So when Qur’an is being recited in your presence it is obligatory on you to keep quiet and listen to it.20 Similar traditions are found in Wasail and Burhan.

In Majmaul Bayan it is narrated from Abdullah bin Yaqoob from His Eminence, Abu Abdullah Imam Sadiq (as) that the narrator said: I asked His Eminence (aj): There is a person who is reciting the Qur’an, is it obligatory one who hears him to remain quiet and listen to it? His Eminence (aj) said: Yes, whenever Qur’an is being recited in your presence, it is obligatory on you to keep quiet and listen to it. 21

These were the traditions that prove its obligation that were based on Taqayyah and which stressed recommendation. It has become clear from what we mentioned that what Allamah Majlisi has mentioned could be objected to for a number of aspects: Firstly: he says: “The apparent meaning of most traditional reports prove its obligatory nature.” I say: Are these traditions so many? Even in Biharul Anwar he has not mentioned them all except which we have quoted.

Second: These traditions are opposed to what you know and this is the place to reconcile them as it is much preferable. And we have reconciled them by saying that traditions which say it is obligatory were based on Taqayyah. And in addition to that we should give preference to traditions that speak of its recommended nature.

Third: That the verse we have mentioned, keeping aside the correct tradition, has also not proved absolute silence during Qiraat, as the meaning of ‘Insaat’ is not known from this verse.

Nishapuri in his Tafseer has narrated from Wahidi that he said: “Insaat in the view of Arabs is leaving off loud recitation; that is you can recite softly so that others don’t hear.” On the basis of this the proof will become brief, that is it will waver between absolute silence and reciting softly, and it is not proof that silence should be in this meaning only, although a word must be considered as per its clear meaning. Thus we cannot accept the claim that the word of ‘Insaat’ creates haste in the mind. And from here we can say that silence is prohibited to the follower of congregation prayer even in which the Qiraat is obligatory. Some traditional reports support that it is not obligatory.

It is mentioned in correct tradition of Abul Mughra that he said: I was in the company of His Eminence, Abu Abdullah Imam Sadiq (as) when Hafas Kalbi asked the Imam: When we are following a prayer leader who is reciting the Qur’an; should we supplicate and seek refuge from Satan? Imam (as) replied: Yes, supplicate.22

And it is that it is not correct to apply them to cases before the Imam begins recitation or when the followers cannot hear them, because it would be against the apparent meaning of this tradition.

For example: There is a correct narration from Zurarah that one of the two Imams [Imam Baqir or Sadiq] said: When you stand behind a congregation leader who, you can follow, you must observe Insaat and recite Tasbih to yourself.23 This proves that Insaat in the verse and correct tradition that Majlisi has quoted, means not reciting anything aloud. And if not it is not ordered that before itself you recite the Tasbih, and it is that it can only be applied to Zikr and it is not applicable to anything else.

For example: There is a tradition of Abu Khadija Saalim bin Mukarram from His Eminence, Abu Abdullah Imam Sadiq (as) that he said: When you lead some people in prayers you must recite the Qur’an in the first two rakats, and those following you must recite: Subhaanallaahi wal h’amdulillaahi wa laa ilaaha illallaahu allaahu akbar, in a standing position…24

And traditional reports that prohibit Qiraat behind the congregation Imam, do not prove that one must be absolutely quiet even from Tasbih and Zikr. All this goes on to show that silence is not obligatory on worshippers during the Friday sermon, because the best tradition offered in its support is that the two sermons will be counted as two rakat prayers. And when their obligation is not proved in prayer it cannot be proved in the sermon also and also other objections that all cannot be discussed here.

Thus what we have concluded is that it is not obligatory to keep quiet to listen to Qiraat in all circumstances, except when leaving off silence will be an act of disrespect to Qur’an, and if one happens to do it such a person will be like an infidel, we seek refuge from Allah. By this I only mean speaking to oneself. From what we have stated, it becomes clear that the stance that traditions advocate that it is obligation, are objectionable. Because Insaat does not imply silence that is mentioned in the traditional report of Muawiyah bin Wahab that describes the action of Amirul Momineen (as).

Fourth: It is his statement that it can be allowed in case the congregation leaves off reciting the Qur’an is false because reciting the Qur’an is not restricted to prayer and there are many places where a person can hear Qur’an between the Masjid and other houses. And another point is that in Shia faith, congregation for daily prayer is recommended and not obligatory. And it is that Qiraat is allowed softly in recommended prayer because it is tiresome to recite so much aloud and no one is convinced of its obligation. Thus what we have stated proves that it is recommended to be quiet when Qur’an is being recited. So please think upon this.

Rather it can be said: From this aspect silence is ordered so that one can hear the recitation. Thus hearing depends on keeping quiet, that is why we are told to be quiet. From this we can say that: If we suppose that the Insaat mentioned in the verse implies silence, its order will also be regarding its recommendation and in the same way is the order to listen to it as mentioned in the correct report of Zurarah in Man Laa Yahzarul Faqih and Allamah Majlisi has also quoted in his statements that His Eminence first prohibited Qiraat in the first two rakats in congregation and ordered Insaat. And the prohibition of Qiraat in the later two rakats also can be seen in that verse, and after that the Imam said that the later two rakats are also like the former.

This shows that the order for the first two and the later two rakats is same. And as we mentioned, Qiraat is allowed in the later two rakats, even though reciting Tasbih and Zikr is better. This shows that Qiraat in the first two rakats also is lawful, because it is stated that the first two rakats are like the later two rakats, and the prohibition in the first two rakats is from the aspect of despicability; on the basis of this, the matter will be compelled to be taken as Insaat for being recommended. That which supports this is a tradition that we have quoted from Kanzul Irfan. And from this it can be said: The traditional reports prohibiting Qiraat of the follower behind the congregation Imam should be taken as despicability as Muhaqqiq Hilli has accepted it and a group has agreed with his view. And it is possible that there may be doubt in this statement that the apparent import of other traditional reports is that it is unlawful and you cannot give up the apparent of so many traditions to justify your point. So please think upon it. And this much explanation is sufficient here.

Another problem: That which is related to the actual aim and the topic of angels that note down what people say and do. Do they write each word that we utter, even the lawful words? Or they note only the words who have some effects. That those that are unlawful, obligatory, despicable or recommended. And that they don’t write the lawful (Mubah) words as there is not effect in Shariah for them. It is a controversial topic. Some have taken the first possibility and some have taken the second. And each of them have relied on a matter which will be too complex to explain here. What is reliable in the view of the author is that it is revealed from the Almighty Allah and the traditions that is mentioned in Tafseer Burhan quoting from the book of Husain bin Saeed through a correct chain of narrators from Imam Ja’far Sadiq (as) that he said: “Every person has two angels who note down what he says or utters.”

After that they take him to the two angels that are above them, thus they confirm the good and bad deeds and delete the rest.25 And so far I have not found any opposition to this tradition and Allah is the best guide.

  • 1. Kamaluddin, Vol. 1, Pg. 330
  • 2. Amali, Pg. 330
  • 3. Usool Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 113
  • 4. Usool Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 113
  • 5. Usool Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 113
  • 6. Usool Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 113
  • 7. Usool Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 116
  • 8. Man Laa Yahzarul Faqih, Vol. 4, Pg. 394, Tr. no. 5842
  • 9. Miraat al-Uqool, Vol. 8, Pg. 225
  • 10. Tohaf al-Uqool, Pg. 228
  • 11. Usool Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 114
  • 12. Miraat al-Uqool, Vol. 8, Pg. 214
  • 13. Man Laa Yahzarul Faqih, Vol. 1, Pg. 392, Tr. no. 1161
  • 14. Biharul Anwar, Vol. 88, Pg. 21
  • 15. Mustadrakul Wasail, Vol. 1, Pg. 295, Chapter 21, Tr. no. 4
  • 16. Tafseer Imam Askari (as), Pg. 9
  • 17. Al-Wafi, Vol. 5, Pg. 1208; Al-Burhan, Vol. 3, Pg. 268; Tahdhibul Ahkam, Vol. 3, Pg. 35
  • 18. Biharul Anwar, Vol. 92, Pg. 222, Tr. no. 7 & Vol. 88, Pg. 23
  • 19. Biharul Anwar, Vol. 92, Pg. 221, Tr. 5
  • 20. Tafseer Ayyashi, Vol. 2, Pg. 44, Tr. no. 132
  • 21. Majma al-Bayan, Vol. 4, Pg. 515
  • 22. Man Laa Yahzarul Faqih, Vol. 1, Pg. 407, Tr. no. 1209
  • 23. Usool Kafi, Vol. 3, Pg. 377, Tr. no. 3
  • 24. Tahdhib, Vol. 3, Pg. 275, Tr. no. 120
  • 25. Tafseer Al-Burhan, Vol. 4, Pg. 220; Surah Qaf 50:18, Tr. no. 6