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7:203-204 Listening and remaining silent when Qur’an is being recited

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If thou bring them not a revelation, they say: “Why hast thou not got it together?” Say: “I but follow what is revealed to me from my Lord: this is (nothing but) lights from your Lord, and Guidance, and mercy, for any who have faith.” (verse 203)

 When the Qur’an is read, listen to it with attention, and hold your peace: that ye may receive Mercy.(verse 204)

Some important rules relating to listening and remaining
silent when Qur’an is being recited

In contrast with what has been said above, it is obvious that
whoever flouts these rules and shows disrespect to the Qur’an will
deserve Divine wrath, not mercy.

As for listening to the recitation of the Qur’an in the Salah and
remaining silent therein, Muslims generally know about it – though,
they do fall short in practice. Some of them would not even be aware of the Surah recited by the Imam. For such people, it is imperative that they should realize the greatness of the Quran, and listen to it attentively. This Islamic legal norm applies to the Khutbah of Jumu’ah etc. In addition to this verse, the Holy Prophet (S) has particularly said about the Khutbah:

When the Imam comes out (for Khutbah), then, there is no
Salah and no conversation.

And it also appears in a Hadith that no one should say anything to
anyone during Khutbah, not even a verbal advice is allowed to be given
to another person to keep silence (if it has to be done, making a sign by
hand should be enough). The objective is to emphasize that, during the
Khutbah, no conversation of any kind, tasbi, durud or Salah or acts of
similar nature are permissible.

Muslim jurists have said that the rule which applies to the
Khutbah of Jumu’ah applies to the Khutbah of the two ‘Eid prayers
and that of Nikah (marriage) for, at that time, listening to it and
remaining silent is obligatory (wajib)

However, in case someone is reciting on his own under usual conditions other than Salah and Khutbah, the question arises: Will others be required to be silent and listen to it? Whether or not would it be obligatory (wiijib) on them? The positions taken by Muslim jurists in this matter differ. Some consider listening and remaining silent in this
condition too as wajib and doing against it a sin. It is for this reason
that they have ruled that it is not permissible for anyone to recite the
Qur’an in a loud voice at places where people are busy doing their
chores or are resting. They have also said that anyone who recites the
Quran in a loud voice in such surroundings shall be a sinner. This is as it appears in Khulasatu l-Fatawa and other juristic works.

But, some other jurists have distinguished different situations
from one another by saying that listening attentively is wajib only on
occasions where the Quran is being recited for the express purpose of
being listened to – such as, in Salah and Khutbah etc. And should it be
that someone is reciting on his own, or some people are doing their
own recitation at one place, then, it is not wajib to listen and be silent.

The reason is that it stands proved on the authority of sound &gdith
that the Holy Prophet (S) used to recite the Qur’an in his
nightly prayers in a raised voice. At that time, his blessed wives would
be sleeping. At times, his voice could also be heard from outside his

There is a Hadith in al-Bukhari and Muslim. It says that the Holy
Prophet (S) made a stop on his journey and when morning
came he said , ‘I recognized my Ash’arite companions by the voices of
their recitation of Qur’an during the darkness of the night and was
able to pinpoint the direction and location of their tents – though, I had
no idea during the day as to where they stay.

This event shows that the Holy Prophet (S) never asked
these Asharite companions as to why they were reciting the Qur’an in
a loud voice, nor did he tell those sleeping that they all had to get up
and listen to the Qur’an when it was being recited.

As based on narratives such as these, jurists have given some
leeway in the case of recitation outside Salah. But, they all consider it
better and preferable to listen and be silent when the sound of the
recitation of the Qur’an comes from somewhere – even if it is outside
the Salah. For this reason, in places where people are resting or
working, it is not appropriate to recite the Qur’an in a loud voice.

This exposes the error of people who turn their radios to full
volume at the time some program of recitation from the Qur’an comes
on the air, particularly at places and gatherings where the crowd
would not listen to it attentively. Similarly, the practice of relaying the
recitation of the Qur’an from the public address systems of mosques
late at night, in a manner that the sound goes out and disturbs the
sleep of the sleeping or the work of the working, is not correct.

‘Allamah ibn al-Humam has written that, at the time the Imam in
Salah, or the Khatib in Khutbah, is reciting something about the
Jannah or Jahannam, then, at that time, it is not permissible even to
pray for Jannah or seek refuge from Jahannam. The reason is that,
according to this verse, the promise of mercy from Allah Ta’la is for
the person who remains silent when the Qur’an is being recited – and
whoever does not remain silent, to him the promise doesn’t apply.

Yes, if one supplicates voicelessly after the recitation of such verses
during his nafl prayers, it is an act proved by Sunnah, and is worthy of
reward as well. (Mazhari)


Shafi, Muhammad (2008). Maariful Quran. (Vol .4 surah 7 verses 203-204)English-MaarifulQuran-MuftiShafiUsmaniRA-Vol-4.pdf (

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