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Narrated Awf ibn Malik al-Ashja'i:

I stood up to pray along with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ); he got up and recited Surat al-Baqarah (Surah 2). When he came to a verse which spoke of mercy, he stopped and made supplication, and when he came to verse which spoke of punishment, he stopped and sought refuge in Allah, then he bowed and paused as long as he stood (reciting Surah al-Baqarah), and said while bowing, "Glory be to the Possessor of greatness, the Kingdom, grandeur and majesty." :Then he prostrated himself and paused as long as he stood up and recited Surat Aal Imran (Surah 3) and then recited many surahs one after another.

Reference : Sunan Abi Dawud 873

In-book reference : Book 2, Hadith 483

English translation : Book 3, Hadith 872

This Hadith states that whenever the verse spoke of mercy, the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) made supplication and whenever punishment was mentioned he sought refuge.

What exactly does this mean? Does this mean that he made this ‘Duas’ in the middle of recitation? Can I too make these supplications whenever I pray and there comes a verse that speaks of mercy or punishment? And lastly, how can I do it? Should I stop the recitation and make a Dua and then continue?

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First you may have heard that salat in Arabic refers to prayer (including or more explicitly meaning supplication): so supplication is the real meaning of the prayer even if the technical (fiqh) term refers to the way our prophet () showed us to perform this worship.

The same meaning quoted in this hadith is quoted in a hadith narrated by Hudaifah (in sunan an-Nasa'i and sahih Muslim), in the narration of ibn 'Abbas about tasbih in sunan abi Dawod and also in the narration of abu Hurairah from sunan abi Dawod.

The way i heard in a lesson we should interact when reading/reciting the quran is as follows:

  • If you are reciting the quran and you pass by a verse of mercy (where Allah has given a good gift to his servants) you say for yourself (in the prayer) or in an appropriate voice: Alhamdulillah or ask Allah to give you the same (for example if good people have been promised Janah you may say: "Oh Allah let me/us be among them/those") then you continue the recitation. be aware that you should make a clear cut (pause) between the recitation and supplication as this supplication is not part of the quran and therefore not part of a prayer it is just a kind of interaction between you and the recited verse.
  • If you pass by a verse of punishment (in hell) you should seek refuge by Allah from the punishment of hell. Here also you should avoid reciting the supplication without making a pause from your recitation.
  • If you pass by a verse praising Allah you may praise him (saying Subhan Allah).

...

This is the opinion of most scholars at least in nafl (optional prayers as the hadith quotes an optional prayer "qiyam al-Lail" even if the author of 'Awn al-Ma'bud a commentary on sunan abi Dawod considered the opinion of the shafi'i school as stronger) and in the recitation. Imam an-Nawawi in his majmo' only quoted abu Hanifa saying this as makrooh. The view of the shafi'i madhab is that it is allowed in both optional and ordered (fard) prayers.

You may notice that this means that you should understand the verse recited as else you won't be able to interact Allah orders us twice in the quran to reflect the quran (while reciting it) (see 4:82 and 47:24)

See also this fatwa islamqa #96028 (only available in Arabic)

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