Prayer needs heart, not voice
The use of loudspeakers in mosques has become a part of Ibadat (prayers) in Kashmir. In the month of Ramadan, with crowds of seasonal Namazis swarming the mosques unusually, the loud-speakers blare out more ferociously. On occasions it looks devotees shouting on higher and higher pitches to compete with one another in the race for achieving upper grades before Almighty Allah.
That has made the prayers more like a Hangama. It is quite disappointing that Islamic scholars and religious preachers and leaders have maintained a discreet silence over the way we observe our prayers. In some cases, religious preachers (Imams), driven merely by worldly benefits, do encourage such noisy scenes in the mosques. Saner voices are silenced (sometimes thrown out of the mosques) using the combined might of ignorant and illiterate devotees with accusations of being followers of a different thought (Fiqh).
Prayer is a spiritual experience aimed at purification of self, purgation of soul and raising of moral standards. It should not take one much trouble to understand that show off in prayers and putting spiritual experiences on public display defeats its very purpose. “Riya” (Show off), according to the sayings of Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him), eats upon one’s good deeds like insects devour wood.
Almighty Allah, whom we attribute all our prayers, has laid down strict guidelines in the holy Quran as how to offer prayers including Zikre. “Ud’u_ Rabbakum Tadarru’aw wa Khufyah(tan), innahu_ la_ yuhibbul mu’tadin(a)..(Call upon your Lord with humility and in secret. Surely He does not love transgressors) (Sura Ara’f—55). This verse clearly lays down the rules of etiquette to be followed while performing prayers and Zikre.
Calling upon Allah with fear and longing’ conveys the idea that man should fear God alone and this fear should make him tremble from within. According to the above Quranic injunction humility and secrecy are two fundamental principles in observing Zikre . Defying these principles has been described as “transgression”. And Allah surely does not love transgressors as the verse says.
Great commentator of Quran Allama Ibn Kathir in his famous tafseer says (while commenting on this verse) that Tadarrur`an wa Khufyah means remembering Allah within yourself humbly and without raising voice. Another verse of the same Sura is more clear and lucid. “Wazkur rabbaka fi nafsika tadarru’aw wa khifataw wa du_nal jahri minal qauli bil guduwwi wal a_sa_li wa la_ takun minal ga_filin(a) (Al-Araf 205) ( And remember [O Prophet] your Lord in your mind, with humility and fear, and without raising your voice; remember Him in the morning and evening, and do not become of those who are negligent).
Allam Ibn Kathir has quoted Prophet (SAW) (on the authority of Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari in Sahi Bukhari and Muslim) saying: The people raised their voices with supplications but the Messenger of Allah said; O people! Take it easy on yourselves. Verily, you are not calling one who is deaf or absent, rather, the One you are calling is All-Hearer, Near (to His servants by His knowledge). One of the major attributes of Almighty Allah is that He is Sami’un Aleem (All-Hearer and All-knowing). “Ya’lammo…….. Ma Tukhfis Sadoor (knows……what is hidden in hearts—Al Momin-19); Nalamo Ma Tu Waswusu Bihi Nafsaho Nahno Aqrabu Ilaihi Min Hablil Wareed (We know the promptings of his heart and We are nearer to him (man) than (his) jugular vein—Qa’f-16); Aalimul Gaiybi Wa Shahada’t (Knower of unseen and manifest—Hashr-22). When God is so closer to us shouting and crying does simply amount to disrespect. There could be three reasons as why we shout while praying. Either we are quite ignorant of the attributes of Allah o Ta’laa or we lack faith in Him being Sami’un Aleem or we try to impress other peoples of our piety and piousness. All the three conditions have no acceptability before Allah.
Allama Moulana Mohammad Shafi Usmani, in his commentary on Quran—Maariful Quran—says that making a prayer is different from reading it. It is necessary that one appears before Allah Ta’ala as weak, helpless and simply unable to hold on his own, modest and humble, and submits to Him with a total negation of what is supposed to be pride, dignity, honour, ego, or self-view. Stage demonstration of prayers, According to Moulana Taqi, has three inherent possibilities that could let it go squander. First, it is difficult to maintain modesty and humility while praying in raised voice. Second, there is the danger of hypocrisy and desire for recognition creeping in through this mode. Third, it only goes to show that the person making it almost does not know that Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
(The write-up has appeared as editorial in today’s Kashmir Monitor)