Interpretation of Quran 17:110
Fatwa No: 90368

Question

The verse 17:110 says: "Neither speaks thy Prayer aloud, nor speaks it in a low tone, but seek a middle course between."
In the above verse, it is mentioned that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, should not pray neither aloud nor be silent. I read that the scholars say that the verse is specific to Tahajjud. On what basis do the scholars say this, as there is nothing in the verse that indicates it is restricted to Tahajjud only? I read another interpretation the command in the above verse is related to supplication and one of the narrations of 'Aa'ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, in Bukhaari mentions the same. Is this interpretation correct?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. We ask Allaah to exalt his mention as well as that of his family and all his companions.

 

The scholars of the interpretation of the Quran  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them differed as regards the meaning of the verse: {…And do not recite your prayer [too] loudly or [too] quietly…}[17:110].

Some of them believe that what is meant by "your prayer" is "the recitation during prayer."  This is reported from Ibn 'Abbaas, 'Ikrimah, Qataadah and others  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them.

Other scholars believe that "prayer" here refers to supplications. This is another view of Ibn 'Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him which is also reported from 'Aa'ishah and Sa'eed Ibn Jubayr  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them.  A third group of scholars interpreted the verse to mean: "Do not offer the Daylight Prayer loudly and do not perform the Night Prayer in a low voice." Another group believes that what is meant is just the night prayer.  The reason for this difference in view is that each group explained the verse according to what they believed to be the reason of its revelation.

Those who returned its meaning to "Prayer" believe that it was revealed about the prayer.  Imaam Ahmad may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him reported that Ibn 'Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said: "This verse was revealed at a time when the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) was hiding in Makkah, he used to recite loudly while leading his companions in prayer at night.  When the polytheist heard the Quran, they insulted it, insulted the One Who revealed it (i.e. Allaah) and the one who brought it to them (i.e. the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention )).  Allaah then revealed: "And do not recite your prayer neither in a loud voice" lest the polytheist hear it and insult it "nor in a low voice" to make sure that your companions hear it."

Those who explained it with supplication believe that the reason for the revelation is supplication.  'Abdullaah Ibn Shaddaad  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said that an Arab from the tribe of Tameem whenever he greeted the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) used to say: "O Allaah give us camels and children," then this verse was revealed.  One of the meanings of the word prayer (Salat) is supplication in the Arabic language.  Also the context in which this verse was revealed was of supplication.  Allaah Says (which means): {Say, “Pray to (call upon) Allaah or pray to (call upon) the Most Merciful [ar-Rahman]. Whichever [name] you call — to Him belong the best names.” And do not recite [too] loudly in your prayer or [too] quietly…}[Quran 17:110].

Ibn Haatim, may Allaah have upon him, reported that 'Aa'ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her said: "The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) used to supplicate loudly, and he once said: "O Allaah O Rahmaa'n."  Then the people of Makkah heard him and came to him.  Thereupon Allaah revealed the above verse to him."

Ibn Mardawayhy may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him reported also from Abu Hurayrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him what proves that this verse was revealed regarding the supplication.

Other scholars believe that the reason for the revelation is that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) passed by Abu Bakr  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him while praying at night and he was reciting silently and passed by 'Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him and he was reciting loudly.  Abu Bakr  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said to the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ): "My soft tone was loud enough for The One I was addressing to hear me (i.e. Allaah)" and 'Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said: "I chase away satan and wake up the sleepy people."  The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) then said to Abu Bakr: "Say your prayers more loudly" and he said to 'Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him: "Say your prayers less loudly."

From the above, you know that each one of the companions based his explanation of this verse on something that is within the verse itself.  In fact, the verse contains everything said by the interpreters.  Ibn Jareer may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: 'The meaning of the verse is: {Say: O Muhammad invoke Allaah……….} and do not say loudly the reading in your prayer and your supplication of your Lord and your asking of Him and the mention of Allaah lest the polytheist hear you and harm you.  Do not also say them in a low voice lest your companions do not hear you and take a way between the two.'

Allaah Knows best. 

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