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Is it Permissible to Talk in Salah?

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Shafiifiqh.com

Is it correct for a shaafi to talk in salaat if the need arises for talking (eg.To answer a cellphone)?

Answer:

الحمد لله رب العالمين ، وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين، وبالله التوفيق

In the early years of Islam the Prophet Muhammad allowed the people to talk in Salah, and then such permission was abrogated and it was forbidden. (Sharh Sahih Muslim, Nawawi) Salah is principally nullified by talking outside of dhikr that is done therein. Answering and talking on one’s cellphone while in Salah nullifies one’s salah.

Zayd ibn Al-Arqam (radiya Allahu Anhu) said,

إِنْ كُنَّا لَنَتَكَلَّمُ فِي الصَّلَاةِ عَلَى عَهْدِ النَّبِيِّ ‏ ‏ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ‏ ‏ يُكَلِّمُ أَحَدُنَا صَاحِبَهُ بِحَاجَتِهِ حَتَّى نَزَلَتْ ‏

“During the life of the Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) we would speak in our Salah, one of us would speak to his companion when some need arose1 until Allah revealed,

حَافِظُوا عَلَى الصَّلَوَاتِ وَالصَّلَاةِ الْوُسْطَىٰ وَقُومُوا لِلَّهِ قَانِتِينَ

“Maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand before Allah , devoutly obedient.” (2:238)

فأمرنا بالسكوت ‏

‘And so we were commanded with silence.’ [Sahih Al-Bukhari, forbiddance on talking in Salah, 11252 ]

Abdullah narrates,

كنا نسلم على النبي ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏وهو في الصلاة فيرد علينا فلما رجعنا من عند ‏ ‏النجاشي ‏ ‏سلمنا عليه فلم يرد علينا وقال ‏ ‏إن في الصلاة شغلا ‏

“We used to gives salams to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) while he was standing in Salah and he would respond to us. When we came back from being with An-Najashi [in Abyssinia] we would give him salams and he would not respond to us. So we said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah! We used to send salams upon you while you were in Salah and you would respond [why has such stopped]?” And so He (‘alayhis salam) said, “In Salah, one is occupied [i.e. with Quran, dhikr etc.].” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, 11273 ]

The Prophet Muhammad told Mu’awiyah ibn Al-Hakam As-Sulami after he said “Yarhamakullah” to someone who had sneezed in prayer,

إِنَّ هَذِهِ الصَّلَاة لَا يَصْلُح فِيهَا شَيْء مِنْ كَلَام النَّاس , إِنَّمَا هُوَ التَّسْبِيح وَالتَّكْبِير وَقِرَاءَة الْقُرْآن

“Verily prayer is not correct with the words of the people, what is to be said is the glorification of Allah, Takbir and the recitation of the Qur’an.” [Sahih Muslim4 ]

Imam An-Nawawi states in Sharh Sahih Muslim in commenting upon this hadith,

“[This hadith shows that]  is forbidden to speak in Salah, whether it be for a need or not […] and if one needs to remind the Imam that he has forgotten something or needs to give permission for someone to enter or the likes he is to say “SubhanAllah” or the likes if he is a man, and if the one praying is a woman then they clap their hands, this is our madh-hab (school)!”

[…]

If one is forgetful of this ruling [or is ignorant] then speaking a little (qalil) does not nullify prayer, but if he speaks much it does nullify prayer. And that is due to this hadith of Mu’awiya, as the Prophet did not command him to repeat his prayer, instead he taught him that it was prohibited to speak in Salah.”

[…]

وَأَمَّا الْعَاطِس فِي الصَّلَاة فَيُسْتَحَبّ لَهُ أَنْ يَحْمَد اللَّه تَعَالَى سِرًّا , هَذَا مَذْهَبنَا

As for one who sneezes in Salah, then it is recommended (mustahabb) that he says ‘Alhamdulillah’ silently, and this is our madh-hab. And this is the view of Malik and other than him. And it is reported from Ibn ‘Umar and Nakha’i and Ahmad that one is to say it aloud, [however] the first opinion (that it is said silently) is what is more correct because it is a type of dhikr, and the sunnah regarding dhikr in Salah is that it is said silently except for recitation of the Qur’an in some of the Prayers…”

[end of quotes from Sharh Sahih Muslim]

He states in his Kitab At-Tahqiq,

“The pronouncement of a letter does not nullify Salah, however if it is understood such as ق Qi (as it means wiqayah) or ‘I ع or ش Shi or two letters, or with one letter that is elongated, it nullifies Salah.”5

In the Reliance of the Traveller (‘Umdat As-Salik), Ibn Naqib Al-Misri writes

(note that commentary is added by Shaykh Nuh in translation of others; “A” means Shaykh Abdul Wakil Ad-Durubi, “O” means Shaykh Umar Barakat’s commentary, and “N” is Shaykh Nuh Ali Salman’s commentary):

“The prayer is invalidated (if one has no excuse (def:below)) by uttering two or more letters or when two or more letters worth of sounds such as laughter, crying, groaning, clearing the throat, blowing, sighing, or similar are audible. It is also invalidated by much (O: i.e. more than six words worth of) sound, even when there is a valid excuse such as blurting out words unthingly, laughter or coughing overcoming one, absentmindedly speaking, or when one speaks because as a new Muslim one does not know it is unlawful during the prayer; though with such an excuse a slight amount of speech does not invalidate the prayer. One’s prayer is invalid if one speaks knowing that it is unlawful but ignorant of the fact that it invalidates the prayer, and is also invalid if one says “Aah” during it out of fear of hell.

When it is impossible to recite the Fatihah (N: to oneself) (A: or the final Testification of Faith (Tashahhud) or Salams) except by clearing one’s throat, one may do so even when it approximates two letters, though if it is merely impossible to recite aloud, then one may not clear one’s throat, but must instead recite to oneself. (A: Some things which are not commonly known to invalidate the prayer, such as clearing the throat, do not invalidate the prayer of ordinary people, whose ignorance of them is excusable, though a scholar has no such excuse.)

If one notices (N: during the prayer) a blind person about to fall into a well, or the like, then one must speak up to alert him if there is not a nonverbal means of warning him of it. No form of invocation of Allah (dhikr) invalidates the prayer unless it is a direct address such as ”Allah have mercy on you” or “And upon you be peace”, though it does not invalidate the prayer if it refers to someone not present, such as “Allah have mercy on Zayd” (O: nor is it invalidated by addressing Allah or the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)).

When something happens to one during the prayer. (O: such as someone asking permission to enter, or having to remind the imam that he has forgotten something), then if one is male, one says ”Subhan Allah” (O: intending only invocation (dhikr) thereby, as one may not merely intend to inform, nor lack any particular intention thereby,for these invalidate the prayer), or if female, one claps the right palm on the back of the left hand, not palm to palm. If one recites a Koranic expression such as “O Yahya, take the book” (Koran 19:12), intending only to inform (O: without intending invocation) or not intending anything in particular, this invalidates the prayer, though not if the intention is Koran recital or recital and informing together.”

[End Quote from Reliance of the Traveller (pgs 148-149)]

To add to this Taqiyud-din Al-Hisni states in his Kifayat Al-Akhyar,

“If one is coerced to speak in prayer, his Salah is nullified according to the most correct opinion…”6

And Allah Knows Best

Shafiifiqh.com Fatwa Dept.

Reviewed by Sidi Abdullah Marbuqi

  1. Ibn Hajr says in his Fathul Bari,  ’such as responding to salam’ []
  2. http://hadith.al-islam.com/Display/Display.asp?hnum=1125&doc=0&IMAGE=%DA%D1%D6+%C7%E1%CD%CF%ED%CB []
  3. http://hadith.al-islam.com/Display/Display.asp?Doc=0&Rec=1908 []
  4. http://hadith.al-islam.com/Display/Display.asp?Doc=1&Rec=1151 []
  5. page 239 []
  6. page 165, Dar Al-Minhaj []

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