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Last Updated: 2012/03/14
Summary of question
The philosophy as to why saying Āmīn in prayer is impermissible.
question
Some Sunnī scholars have justified the saying of Āmīn in prayer with the following argument: “In accordance to the evidence found in authentic narrations, saying Āmīn during prayer is permissible according to the [Islamic] law and does not conflict with other absolute narrations. Therefore [the argument for] the prohibition of saying Āmīn in prayer is not credible, and if hypothetically there were any contradictions [between the narrations] then the [authentic] narrations take preference.” (Rashīd Riḍā, Tafsīr al-Manār, v. 1, p. 98) What is the Shī‘ah view in this regard?
Concise answer

In accordance to traditions narrated by the Ahlulbayt (as), saying Āmīn in prayer is not permissible; furthermore reciting it [intentionally] invalidates the prayer.

In addition, there is no need for evidence to prove the impermissibility [of saying Āmīn], in the sense that prayer is an act of devotion (the laws for it are already defined) and one can not add what they want to prayers as they wish. If the permissibility of something has not been established in the [Islamic] laws, this in itself is evidence that the action is impermissible; because the overruling principle in prayer is the impermissibility of adding anything to it. Also, reason dictates that one should practice caution in this issue and not say Āmīn, since when saying Āmīn one cannot have certainty that he/she fulfilled their duty in prayer as opposed to when not saying Āmīn.

Detailed Answer

One of the issues in which Shī‘ahs and Sunnīs differ on is the saying of Āmīn after Sūrah al-Ḥamd in prayer. Here, we would first like to discuss and get familiar with the arguments used by those in agreement of saying Āmīn and then analyze and refute them. Also, we will cite the method in which the Prophet (saw) prayed, the [different] narrations regarding prayer, and finally conclude with mentioning the Shia view.

As this dispute is in regards to saying Āmīn in prayer, and prayer itself is an act of worship [with set rules], the following points need to be kept in mind:

  1. According to Islamic law, worship, whether obligatory or recommended; are limited and preset. What is meant is that the manner in which the act must be performed is already set and we have no right to add or subtract anything from it based on our own desires, neither can we choose a particular method of performing the action based on personal opinions. This rule is not only limited to prayer but also applies to fasting, wuḍhu, tayamum, supplications[1] and other acts of worship.[2]
  2. Muslims [scholars] collectively agree that the word Āmīn is not an actual part of prayer;[3] hence those who believe that it is permissible to say Āmīn in prayer must bring proof for their claim. The axiom is that saying Āmīn is not allowed; therefore to establish its permissibility there should be [solid] proof. In the event that its correctness cannot be proven it will be considered an innovation and an act that invalidates the prayer.

 

The traditions concerning the saying of Āmīn in prayer are of two types:

 

1) Traditions in which the chain of narrators includes Abu-Hurayrahh; e.g. “It is narrated from the Prophet (saw) that he said, ‘When the Congregation leader recites ‘walāḍ ḍāllīn’, you should say ‘Āmīn’ because the angels [also] say ‘Āmīn’. Therefore every person who says Āmīn alongside with the angels will have all of his past sins forgiven.’”[4]

This group of traditions cannot be trusted due to the fact that the chain of narrators includes Abu Hurayrahh.[5]

Alī (as) says the following about Abu Hurayrah, “The most dishonest person in relation [to attributing lies] to the Prophet (saw) is Abu Hurayrah”[6] (i.e. he fabricated many traditions and attributed them to the Prophet (saw)).

 

2) Traditions in which the following people are included in the chain of narrators (of which none meet the criterion for being acceptable in terms of ‘hadīth’ narration): Ḥamīd ibn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Abī Laylī, Ibn ‘adī, ‘Abd al-Jabbar bin wa’il, Suhayl ibn Abī Suhayl, ‘ala’ ibn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān, and Talha ibn ‘Umar. Ḥamīd ibn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Abī Lalī possessed a weak memory and is considered ‘weak’ (in terms of narrating Hadīth), Ibn ‘adī is an unknown figure (majhul), ‘Abd al-Jabbār bin Waa’il cannot narrate from his father since his father died six months before he was born (in this respect the tradition is weak). Regarding Suhayl ibn Abī Suhayl and ‘Ala’ ibn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān, Abu Haatam says, “Their narrations are recorded (written down), however they bare no authority and Talha ibn ‘Umar is not useable (for narrating hadith), his traditions are extremely weak.”[7]

With the existence of such weak and unreliable narrators in the chain of narrations, these narrations have no credibility and cannot be trusted.

 

Some [scholars] have tried to justify saying Āmīn in prayer with the following explanation: “[We] say Āmīn because the phrase ‘Ihdinā ṣ-ṣirāṭ al-mustaqīm’ is a du‘a (supplication).”

In reply to this, it must be stated that this phrase only becomes a supplication if it is recited with the intention of supplicating, however those reciting it intend for it to be a part of the prayers and the Quran recited therein, not as a supplication.

 

Furthermore, if it were permissible to recite every supplicatory phrase for example ‘rabbanā aghfir lanā wa qinā ‘adhāba al-nār’ with the intention of supplicating, then it should also be permissible to recite Āmīn after every supplication, yet no one [of the scholars] holds this view.[8]

 

Besides, as was mentioned earlier, prayer is a pre-determined act of worship, and even if we were to assume that it is permitted to say parts of the recitation with the intention of supplicating, saying Āmīn would still not be considered permissible. Since adding or subtracting from an act of worship that is fundamentally pre-determined is unlawful according to Islamic jurisprudence and is considered an innovation. Considering that the word Āmīn is neither a part of the Qur’ān nor any supplication, saying it whilst praying is equivalent to saying any other word which is not a supplication or Qur’ānic.

 

The narration of the Prophet (saw) where he states: “It is not proper that the speech of man be added into prayer,”[9] tells us to refrain from this action (saying Āmīn), because without a doubt this is considered as speech of ‘man’ and not that of God.

 

Also if some one claims that Āmīn is amongst the names of God, we reply by saying that if it is so, then we should be able to find it amongst the [collection of the] names of Allāh, and it should be proper to say ‘Yā Āmīn’, whereas this is not the case, and none (amongst scholars) have said that it is amongst the names of Allāh.[10]

 

The Prayer of the Prophet (saw)

Without a doubt the Sunnat (sayings, actions, accounts) of the Prophet (saw) is one of the trust-worthiest sources for deriving Islamic law. So in light of this, if we can prove or disprove that the Prophet (saw) said Āmīn during prayers, this in its self will be sufficient proof (ḥujjat) for us and we must act upon it.

 

We will state exactly what historians, narrators, and recorders of traditions amongst the Sunni school of thought have narrated regarding the prayer of the Prophet (saw): Muḥammad ibn ‘Umr ibn ‘Aṭā’ says, “I heard from Abu Ḥamīd ibn Sā‘idī (who was amongst ten other companions), ‘Should I reveal for you how the Prophet (saw) used to pray?’ They replied, ‘What do you mean, since it was neither the case that you followed his eminence (saw) more adherently than ourselves nor did you become a companion of his before us.’ He (Abu Ḥamīd) said, ‘On the contrary, this is exactly the case.’ He continued saying, ‘At the time of prayer, the Prophet (saw) would raise his two hands adjacent to his shoulders and say the Takbīr, he would recite the Qirā’at of the prayer whilst he (his body) was completely still and stationary. Next, whilst raising his hands adjacent to his shoulders [again] he would say the Takbīr then go into Ruku‘ placing his two palms on his knees. While raising his head from Ruku‘ to stand again, he would recite Sami‘a Allāhu liman ḥamidah. [Again] he would raise his hands adjacent to his shoulders and as he was completely [in a] standing [position] he would say Allāhu Akbar then proceed to go down and perform his prostration in which he would place his two hands next to himself. When he rose from prostration he would sit (rest) upon his left leg, when in prostration (sajdah) he would open his toes up (space them out) again he would rise from prostration then sit (rest/lean) upon his left leg until his body was still and at rest. He would perform the second rak‘at in the exact same manner. After completing two rak‘ats he would say Takbīr in the same manner as he did when commencing the prayer, with his hands adjacent to his shoulders, he followed this procedure in all his prayers. In the final rak‘at he would bring his left foot back and lean/sit upon it. The companions said, “You speak the truth, the Prophet (saw) prayed in this manner”.[11]

 

Notes

There are a few points in this Ḥadīth that deserve particular attention.

  1. In light of the fact that Abu Ḥamīd was not better and above them in following the Prophet (saw) or in companionship to him (saw), naturally their (the other companions) sensitivities were aroused.
  2. Since Abu Ḥamīd hoped to present for the people the manner in which the Prophet (saw) prayed, it was necessary that he capture the full attention and thoughts of the other companions.
  3. We can see that in this account, Abu Ḥamīd has paid attention to the smallest details.

 

Attention can be drawn to the above points, the introduction, and also the fact that both Shī‘ah and Sunnī sources have quoted the Prophet (saw) as saying, “Pray in the same manner that you see me praying.”[12] If Abu Ḥamīd added or subtracted anything to or from the prayer of the Prophet (saw), the other companions would most definitely not have remained quiet and would inform him [immediately]. So when we see that in his commentary, Abu Ḥamīd makes no mention of the Prophet (saw) saying Āmīn in his prayers, nor do any of the other companions make an effort to remind him of it or even mention it, it stands to reason that surely the Prophet (saw) did not recite Āmīn in his prayers. This action of the Prophet (saw) [not reciting Āmīn] is proof (ḥujjat) for us.

Other than this, the Prophet (saw) has also said, “It is not permitted to say Āmīn after the recital of [sūrah] Ḥamd.”[13] Imam Sadiq (as) has said, “In congregational prayers, after the Imām of the Jamā‘at (congregation) finishes reciting sūrah al-Ḥamd, do not say Āmīn.”[14]

Also apart from these traditions and proofs, the late Shaykh Ṣudūq narrates, “Āmīn in prayers is a slogan adopted from the Christians.”[15]

With all this in mind, and also with respect to the fact that prayer is a pre-determined act of worship which Āmīn is not part of, the verdict of the Shī‘ah scholars is, “Saying Āmīn after [sūrah] Ḥamd is impermissible and the prayer is invalid (if this action is performed).”[16]

 


[1] Yunus ibn Abd al-Rahman, narrates from Abdullah ibn Sinaan, that Imam Sadiq (AS) said: “Soon, a doubt will develop for you, that you will neither be able to solve, nor will have an imam who can solve it for you, and you will remain in bewildered. Those who seek deliverance from such doubts must recite the Ghariq supplication; the narrator goes on to say: “I asked the imam: “What is the Ghariq supplication?” He answered: “You recite: يا اللَّه يا رحمان يا رحيم، يا مقلب القلوب ثبت قلبى على دينك”, so I said: “يا مقلب القلوب و الابصار ثبت قلبى على دينك” [adding the phrase “و الابصار” to what the imam had dictated]. The imam said: “[It is true that] Allah is the transformer of hearts and eyes [مقلب القلوب و الابصار], but recite as I said and [only] say: “يا مقلب القلوب ثبت قلبى على دينك” (Ibrahim ibn Ali Aamili al-Kaf’ami, Al-Balad al-Amin (lithographical print), p. 24).

[2] You can refer to index: Saying Ameen or Alhamdulillah, Question 21830 (site: 21072) on this website.

[3] Muhammad Rashid Rida, Tafsir al-Quraan al-Hakim (Tafsir al-Minar), vol. 1, p. 39, Daar al-Ma’rifah Press, Beirut, Lebanon, second edition.

[4] Baydawi, Naasir al-Din Abu al-Khayr Abdullah ibn Umar, Anwaar al-Tanzil wa Asraar al-Ta’wil, vol. 1, p. 32, Ihyaa’ al-Turaath al-Arabi Press, Beirut, 1418 AH.

[5] Abu Hurayrah Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Sakhr al-Azudi (22 BH-59 AH): eight hundred Sahaabis and Taabi’is have narrated from him. During his rule, Umar appointed him as governor of Bahrain, but due to his weakness in character and leniency, he was dismissed from this responsibility. He spent most of his life in Medinah. Taqiyuddin Sabki has a booklet entitled “Fataawaa Abi Hurayrah”, and Abd al-Husayn Sharafuddin has a book entitled “Abu Hurayrah” on him. (Al-A’laam 4/80, 81). Hujjati, Asbaab al-Nuzul, p. 216.

[6] See: Ibn Abi al-Hadid Mu’tazili, ‘Izz al-Din Abu Hamed, Sharh Nahjul-Balaghah, vol. 4, p. 68, Library of Ayatullah Mar’ashi Najafi, 1956, first edition.

[7] See: Sultani, Abd al-Amir, Hukm al-Ta’min fi al-Salah, Ahlul Bayt World Assembly, second edition.

[8] See: Sabzawari, Ali Mu’min Qummi, Jaami’ al-Khilaaf wa al-Wifaaq bayn al-Imaamiyyah wa bayn A’immat al-Hijaaz wa al-Iraaq, Zamineh Saazane Zuhure Imam Zamaan Press, 1421 AH, first edition, Qum.

[9] Asfarayni Abu al-Mudhaffar Shaahfur ibn Tahir, Taaj al-Taraajim fi Tafsir al-Quraan lil-A’aajim, introduction, p. 20, Scholarly and Cultural Publications Press, Tehran, 1996, first edition; Shahid II (The Second Martyr), Zayn al-Din ibn Ali ibn Ahmad Amili, Ruwadh al-Jinaan fi Sharh Irshaad al-Adh’haan, p. 331, Aal al-Bayt Institute, first edition, Qum.

[10] Ibn Shahr Ashub, Maazandarani, Muhammad ibn Ali, Mutashaabih al-Quraan wa Mukhtalafuh, vol. 2, p. 170, Bidar Press, Qum, 1410 AH, first edition.

[11] Sunan abi Dawud, chapter on beginning the prayer, vol. 2, p. 391, hadith 627, http://www.al-islam.com (al-maktabah al-shaamilah); Sunan Abi Maajah, chapter on finishing the prayer, vol. 3, p. 355, http://www.al-islam.com (al-maktabah al-shaamilah); Bayhaqi, Sunan Kubraa, vol. 2, pg. 72, http://www.al-islam.com (al-maktabah al-shaamilah); Sunan Daarimi, chapter on the description of the prayer of the prophet, vol. 4, p. 165, http://www.islamic-council.com (al-maktabah al-shaamilah); Sahih Ibn Hibbaan, chapter on the description of prayer, vol. 8, p. 243, http://www.alsunnah.com (al-maktabah al-shaamilah).

[12] Bayhaqi, Al-Sunan al-Kubraa, vol. 2, p. 345; Sunan al-Dar Qutni, vol. 3, p. 172, http://www.islamic-council.com (al-maktabah al-shaamilah), Sahih Ibn Hibbaan, vol. 1, p. 314; Musnad Shaafi’i, vol. 1, p. 223, http://www.alsunnah.com (al-maktabah al-shaamilah); Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Bihar al-Anwaar, vol. 82, p. 279, Al-Wafaa’ Institute, Beirut, Lebanon, 1404 AH.

[13] Saduq, Man Laa Yahduruhu al-Faqih, vol. 1, p. 390, Jame’eye Modarresin (Association of Seminary Teachers) Press, Qum, 1413 AH.

[14] Kulayni, Al-Kaafi, vol. 3, p. 313, Daar al-Kutub al-Islaamiyyah Press, Tehran, 1986; Tusi, Al-Istibsaar, vol. 1, p. 318, Daar al-Kutub al-Islaamiyyah, Tehran, 1986; Tusi, Tahdhib al-Ahkaam, vol. 2, p. 74, Daar al-Kutub al-Islaamiyyah, 1986.

[15] Saduq, Man Laa Yahduruhu al-Faqih, vol. 1, p. 390.

[16] Hilli, Hasan ibn Yusuf ibn Mutahhar Asadi, Tadhkirat al-Fuqahaa (new edition), vol. 3, p. 162, Aal al-Bayt Institute, first edition, Qum, Iran. Researched and corrected by: Research group of the Aal al-Bayt Institute; Tusi, Muhammad ibn Hasan, Al-Khilaaf, vol.  1, p. 332, Islamic Publications Office associated with the Association of Seminary Teachers of the Islamic Seminary in Qum, 1407 AH, first edition, Qum, Iran, researched and corrected by: Shaykh Ali Khoraasani – Sayyid Jawad Shahrestaani – Shaykh Mahdi Taha Najaf – Shaykh Mujtabaa Araaqi.

 

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