Saying aameen after completing the recitation of Surah Fatihah holds great virtues and is a sunnah of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam). A hadith states, "When the imaam says 'ghairil maghdhoobi alayhim waladh dhalleen', say aameen (because the angels say aameen and) whichever person s aameen coincides with the aameen of the malaikah, all his past sins are forgiven. " 1
There is no controversy whatsoever regarding the virtues of aameen and all the scholars are unanimous that to say it is sunnah. The difference of opinion however, is regarding whether aameen should be proclaimed audibly or silently. The fact that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said aameen aloud as well as silently should not be made an issue of great debate. At times, it is treated as such a serious matter that some of those who follow the view of saying it aloud, begin to label others who prefer the opinion of saying it silently as being ignorant or sometimes even astray.
It must be realised that the difference of opinion is merely regarding which is the better of the two, i.e. is it sunnah and more virtuous to say aameen aloud or is it more preferable to say it silently. Ibnul Qayyim (RA), explaining the nature of this issue writes in his book Zaadul Ma 'aad, "This is merely a common difference of opinion in which there should be no criticism levelled at the one who says aameen aloud and neither at the one who says it silently. This issue is like that of Raf-ul-yadayn. "2
Thus, the following will constitute a combined study of particular verses of the Holy Qur'an and ahadith of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam), which are relevant to the issue of aameen in order to derive the more preferable procedure. It is a true and established fact that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) did proclaim the aameen aloud as well as silently and the Hanafis accept that also. However, the question is, for how long a period did Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) say aameen loudly? Apparently there seems to be no evidence which establishes that aameen was said aloud on a permanent basis. The Hanafis assert that it was said aloud over a few days only, for educational purposes. It was said in this manner to teach the Sahaabah (RA) that they should also say aameen at the completion of Surah Fatihah, but other Ulama assert the contrary and say that aameen should be said aloud at all times (in the jahri prayers). Therefore, the need arises to analyse the various evidences presented by the different mazahib.
?The various opinions explained:
(i) The imaam's role in the Sirri salaah:
All the scholars agree that the imaam will say aameen silently.
(ii) The imaam's role in the jahri salaah:
Imaam Malik (RA) and lmaam Abu Hanifa (RA) are of the opinion that aameen will be said silently by the imaam. Another group's view is that it should be said audibly by him.
(iii) The muqtadi s role in the salaah:
Imaam Abu Hanifa (RA) and Imaam Malik's (RA) opinion is that the muqtadi should say aameen silently. This is also the later view of Imaam Shafi'ee (RA). However, another group's view is that the muqtadi should say it audibly.
As previously mentioned, the difference of opinion is only regarding which of the two methods is more virtuous because technically speaking, to say aameen itself is by consensus a sunnah act whether said aloud or silently. It is neither fardh nor an integral part of salaah.
?The word aameen according to the most correct analysis is understood to be a word of prayer used to beseech and request Allah. It means 'accept my prayer' and it is usually said following a supplication. The Qur'an has also given indications towards aameen being a dua or a prayer itself. In Surah Yunus, the supplication of Moosa Alayhis salaam is revealed after which are the words, "Verily the invocation of you both is accepted." 3
Allah has used a dual tense here and said, "The prayer of you both has been accepted." How can Allah be saying 'of you both' when only Moosa Alayhis salaam was making the supplication and there is no mention at all of any dua coming from Haroon Alayhis salaam? Still Allah uses the words 'The dua of you both has been accepted' which indicates that Haroon Alayhis salaam must have also been invoking Allah Ta'ala somehow or the other. The only logical explanation which could possibly be given for it is that Moosa Alayhis salaam was supplicating and Haroon Alayhis salaam was endorsing his brother's every prayer with 'aameen.
This proves that aameen is certainly a dua.
Imaam Bukhari in the chapter, 'Babu Jahril imaam bit ta 'meen’ (Chapter concerning the imaam saying aameen aloud) , states,
"Ataa says. 'Aameen is a dua. "4
Hafiz Ibn Hajar (RA) also states a very similar opinion in Fathul Baari where he writes, "The one saying aameen is known as the supplicant as it is stated in the words of Allah, 'The supplications of both of you have been accepted. 'Moosa Alayhis salaam was making the supplication and Haroon Alayhis salaam was saying aameen as narrated by Ibn Mardawayh (RA) regarding Hadhrat Anas (RA) hadith. "5
Thus, once it is understood that aameen has been classified as ?a dua, Allah teaches us the etiquette's of supplication in the Qur'an. He says, "Invoke your lord with humility and in secret. He likes not the aggressors. "6
Allah commands that the prayers and supplications be made to him in silence and with utmost tranquillity and sincerity. The Qur'an in a number of places, presents examples of how the various Anbiyaa Alayhimus salaam would invoke Allah. Relating the calmness of Zakariyya AIayhis salaam beseeching his Lord, the Qur'an says, "When he called out his Lord (Allah) - a call in secret" 7. Other than this, the Qur'an expounds on the methods utilised by various other Anbiyaa (Special Envoys of Allah to Mankind) in their supplications, "Verily, they used to hasten on to do good deeds, and they used to call on Us with hope and fear, and they used to humble themselves before Us."8
At another point the Qur'an gives us a glimpse of the Day when the Trumpet will be blown. It says, "And all voices will be humbled for the Most Beneficent (Allah), and nothing shall you hear but the low voice of their 'footsteps"9. This all leads to the understanding that because aameen is a dua, it should be said silently. The various envoys of Allah also preferred to say their duas silently because they knew they were beseeching the One who was As Samee ' (the All Hearing) and Al Qareeb (one who is very near) and there remained no need to raise the voice in praying to him and invoking him.
Moreover, RasoolulIah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) advised and counselled the Companions to beseech Allah silently in a number of ahadith He informed them that Allah is Qareeb and Samee ' thus there is no need for them to pray so loudly. In the same way, as aameen is also a dua it will be more preferable to proclaim it silently.
?It may have been misconceived from the above that the Hanafis seem to have based their view only on reasoning and on mere analogy. Therefore, in the following we will present authentic ahadith which should remove such misunderstandings and be concrete proof that the Hanafis are totally on the sunnah in saying that the aameen should be said inaudibly.
1. It is mentioned in the hadith of Samurah Ibn Jundub (RA) and Imran Ibn Husain (RA) that they had a conversation. Samurah (RA) informed of two occasions when Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) would become silent (during prayer). One was following the initial takbeer and the second was when he would complete waladh dhalleen. Imran Ibn Husain (RA) refused to believe this so they wrote to Ubay Ibn Ka'ab (RA). The answer they received in reply was, "Samurah (RA) has remembered correctly (meaning that he was correct in his statement)."10
Allamah Nimwi (RA) commenting on this hadith states, "The first silence was in order to recite thana, and the second pause was made in order to allow the aameen to be said silently Imran Ibn Husain (RA) probably refuted Samurah (RA) due to the fact the second silence was so brief that he probably did not think it worthy of mention. On the other hand, because the first silence was significantly long, he mentioned it. Clearly then, the second silence was the one in which aameen was silently recited, otherwise there is no apparent reason to break the recital for a brief moment at that particular time. "
2. Abu Hurayrah (RA) narrates that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said, "When the imaam recites ghayril maghdhoobi alayhim waladh dhalleen, say aameen because the angels say it and the imaam (also) does." 11
This hadith supplements the fact that the imaam would say aameen silently. The reason for this is that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) informed, "Make sure you say aameen because the angels and ?the imaam also say it. " If it had been more preferable for the imaam to say it loudly, Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) would have had no reason to inform the Companions about it because they would be able to hear the aameen anyway. Thus, the fact that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had to inform them that the imaam also says aameen (although silently) is proof that the aameen was usually said in a subdued voice. "
3. Wa'il Ibn Hujr (RA) narrates that he performed salaah in the company of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) who, when reaching ghayril maghdhoobi alayhim waladh dhalleen, said aameen keeping his voice subdued. 12
This hadith gives clarification that aameen was said silently by Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
4. Abu Hurayrah (RA) narrates that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said, "When the imaam says waladh dhalleen, say aameen. "13
What is understood from this hadith is that if it had been more preferable for the muqtadi to say aameen loudly, the wording of the hadith would have probably been something like this, ''When the imaam says aameen, you also say it." However, Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) knowing that the aameen would be said silently and everybody may not hear it, instructed that when the imaam's completion of waladh dhalleen is heard, the muqtadi should also say aameen silently.
Note: Those ahadith which actually contain the words 'when the imaam says aameen' have been interpreted to mean 'when the time comes for the imaam to say aameen'. Ulama have said that those ahadith will not be taken for their literal implications and they have also presented various evidences to reinforce this claim.
5. Shu 'bah (RA) reports from Alqamah (RA) who narrates from his father that his father performed salaah with Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) who, when reaching ghayril maghdhoobi alayhim waladh dhalleen said aameen and kept his voice subdued whilst saying it." 14
?As before, this is also clear evidence in favour of the Hanafis that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said aameen silently. Now to supplement these ahadith, we will take a closer look at how the Companions (RA) and Tabi 'een (RA) interpreted the concept of aameen.
Statements of the Sahaabah:
1. Abu Wa'il (RA) narrates that Hadhrat Ali (RA) and Abdullah Ibn Mas'ood (RA) did not recite bismillah, a 'u 'zubillah or aameen aloud. 15
2. Abu Wa'il (RA) narrates that Hadhrat Umar (RA) and Hadhrat Ali (RA) would not recite bismillah or aameen aloud. 16
Abdul Razzaq (RA) in his book Al Musannaf, and lmaam Muhammad (RA) in his book Kitaabul Aathaar, have related the words of Ibraheem Nakh'ay (RA) who was a very prominent Tabi 'ee. He states,
3. "There are five things the imaam will say silently, subhanakallahumma (the thana), ta 'awwuz, bismillah, aameen and Allahumma rabbana lakal hamd. " 17
The Concept of Aameen Explained Through Other Reasons:
1. According to the agreement of all the Ulama, aameen does not constitute any part of the Qur ' an. For this reason it should not be said aloud following the Fatihah so that nobody mistakes it to be part of the Qur'an along with Surah Fatihah. A misconception like this could possibly occur due to the fact that it is the qira 'ah of the Qur'an which has been stipulated necessary, in the state of qiyaam. Only portions of the Qur'an should be recited aloud in the qiyaam (in the jahri prayers). Thus, when somebody will reads aameen aloud, it may well lead others to assume that aameen is part of the Qur'an.
2. According to some Ulama, bismillah forms part of the Qur'an. In fact, they believe it is a verse of Surah Fatihah but they do not say it aloud. This proves that any prayer (like aameen) 'The Issue of Jameen 'ExyCainea which, according to all the scholars does not constitute part of the Qur ' an at all, will certainly not be said aloud.
Ahadith Which Appear Contradictory:
1. Wa'il Ibn Hujr (RA) reports that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) recited ghairil maghdhoobi alayhim waladh dhalleen and followed it with aameen, prolonging his voice whilst saying it. 18
The word 'madda' in the Arabic context of this hadith means 'he stretched'. Here in this hadith, the word has been taken to mean that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) stretched the Alif(in the aameen). It has not been taken to mean that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said it loudly. Wa'il Ibn Hujr (RA), the narrator, clarifies this interpretation in another report (hadith number three mentioned above). He clearly mentions in that narration that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) subdued his voice whilst saying aameen.
2. Abu Hurayrah (RA) narrates that when Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) recited waladh dhalleen he followed it by saying aameen which could be heard from the first row. Ibn Majah has added that the masjid echoed with its sound? 19
Firstly, it should be understood that this hadith is weak. Bishr Ibn Rafi is amongst the chain of narrators. He has been pointed out by various Ulama with a number of strong statements.
(i) Imaarn Bukhari (RA) says, "He should not be followed in his narration's."
(ii) Imaarn Ahmad (RA) terms him dha 'eef.
(iii) Nasai (RA) states, "He is not strong."
(iv) Ibn Hibban (RA) states, "He narrates a lot of fabrications."" Along with this, the second point to consider is that if the sound 20 of aameen only reached the first row as the hadith mentions, then how did the whole masjid echo with it (as the report of Abu Daud tells us)? If it did echo throughout the masjid, then everybody within should have heard. It is not clear how the narrator revealed that it was heard only from the first row, because if it had been so loud as to cause the whole masjid to vibrate, it must have reached the ears of even those who were in the rear. Thus, the hadith is self contradictory and cannot be accepted.
A General Answer:
Now, in order to address all the other apparently contradicting ahadith, the general answer for them would be that no one rejects the fact that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said aameen aloud. The Hanafis also accept that it was said aloud, but they say it was only done temporarily for a brief period. There is no evidence to be found in any narration indicating on the contrary that aameen was said aloud on a permanent basis. The few times Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) did say it audibly was to educate the Companions concerning the emphasis of aameen. Hadhrat Umar (RA) also did the same with thana; he read it aloud for a few days to teach the Companions, then continued reading it silently. Wa'il Ibn Hujr (RA) confirming this explanation states, "I do not think Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said it (meaning aameen) aloud except to teach us. " 21
Ibn Jareer At Tabari (RA) states, "Both types of reports (the ones which reveal aameen to be said aloud and those that describe it as being said in a low tone) have been transmitted from Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and they are both sahih." Nonetheless, since most of the predecessing Ulama have given priority to the silent method, it will be accepted as the correct and more preferable way to say the aameen. To go with this Allamah Darn Qutni (RA) has confessed that there are no sahih ahadith as regards to saying the aameen aloud.
Ibnul Qayyim (RA) beautifully caps it all. He explains in Zaadul Ma'aad, "There is nothing wrong if the imaam says aloud at times in order to teach the muqtadi. Umar (RA) recited thana aloud to educate the muqtadis and Ibn Abbas (RA) recited Surah Fatihah in Salaatul Janazah (in which it is usually recited silently according to opinion of some schools of thought) to teach them that it is sunnah (to recite it in that salaah). Likewise, the issue of raising the voice (sometimes by Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam)) for saying aameen is of the same nature. "22
1. Bukhari 108: 1
2. Zaadul Ma'aad 70:1
3.Al Qur'an 89:10
4. Bukari 102:1
5. Fathul Baari
?6. Al Qur'an 55:7
7. Al Qur'an 3:19
8. Al Qur'an 90:21
9. Al Qur'an 108:20
10. Abu Daud 120:1
11. Nasai 147:1
?12. Nasbur Raayah 494: 1
13. Bukhari 108:1
14. Ahmad, Darn Qutni, Hakim*
15. Majma-uz-Zawaaid 108:2
16. l'la'us Sunan 215:2
17. Abdur Razzaaq 87:2
18. Tirmizi 57:1, Abu Daud 142:1
19. Ibn Majah 61:1
20. Mizan *
21 Fathul Mulhim 50-52:2*, I'la'us Sunan 186:2
?22. Zaadul Ma'aad 70:1