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Why do I hear some Muslims performing salah in a melodious way (like singing) sometimes and sometimes just spoken? Is there a difference?

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As‘salaamu alaikum.

The Qur‘an should be recited in a slow, rhythmic way because the Qur‘an itself tells us to recite that way.

“And recite the Qur‘an in slow, measured, rhythmic tones.” Qur‘an 73:4

The key word in that verse is “tarteel”, which comes from the root word “ratila”. The word ratila means to chant something in a singsong kind of way. Tarteel itself means “slow chanting.” That is how Allah prescribed for His Word to be read.

Now, I‘m no scholar, but I have been a practicing muslim for quite a while. From my own direct personal experience there is medicine and great benefit from slowly chanting the Qur‘an.

Islamic meditation is called dhikr. One of the names of the Qur‘an is also “Dhikr”, so to chant it slowly is a meditational practice. We get the benefits of meditation from it, brother!

Reciting slowly and with some harmony (if you can do it without spoiling the words) has a very calming effect. The body relaxes, the emotions tend to become tranquil, the mind becomes clear and better able to focus. The worries and stresses of the day fade away and, in that moment, you are free from the concerns and pressures of the dunya (worldly life). You sometimes come away feeling refreshed and renewed, and with your mind thrumming with the Message of our Lord.

That is my understanding. I hope this answer helps you. Ma‘as‘salaam.

  • Thank you very much for clarifying this brother! I started slowly chanting this way following along to examples on youtube and you are so right! I feel so refreshed and renewed after each salah because of this rather than just speaking the words which I have been doing! As'salaamu alaukum! – Cerratos0921 Oct 17 '18 at 4:33
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I guess that by a salah performed in a melodious way you refer to those parts of prayers in the two first raka'as that might or must be performed in "loud" voice while standing for the Qur'an recitation:

  • The two raka'as of as-Sobh (the fard prayer performed after fajr) prayer.
  • The two first rak'a of al-Maghrib prayer.
  • The two first raka'a's of al-'Isha' prayer.

Now in fact reciting al-Fatihah loudly is considered as fard by all scholars and reciting a surah or parts of the Qur'an (with exception of repeating al-Fatihah itself which is at least frowned upon Can you read sura Fatihah after the Fatihah in Salaah?) as sunnah.

Scholars have basically two opinions on the prayer and the prayer parts: Either they are considering them as independent acts of worship or they consider parts that might be performed outside the prayer as related: For example: Some scholars say if you performed a du'a (supplication) like du'a al-Qunut -which is part of the prayer- you must raise your hands as if you perform a du'a others say no. Some even say one must do takbir before moving to this du'a.

Now when it comes to Qur'an recitation it is recommended by the qur'an and sunnah to recite the Qur'an in the best manner (tajweed and tarteel):

  • And [it is] a Qur'an which We have separated [by intervals] that you might recite it to the people over a prolonged period. And We have sent it down progressively. (17:106)

  • ... And We have spaced it distinctly. (25:32)

  • ... and recite the Qur'an with measured recitation. (73:4)

  • Move not your tongue with it, [O Muhammad], to hasten with recitation of the Qur'an. (16)
    Indeed, upon Us is its collection [in your heart] and [to make possible] its recitation. (17)
    So when We have recited it [through Gabriel], then follow its recitation. (75:16-18)

and in the sunnah:

  • Abu Huraira said, "Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, 'Whoever does not recite Qur'an in a nice voice is not from us,' and others said extra," (that means) to recite it aloud." (Sahih al-Bukhari)

  • Allah has not heard anything (more pleasing) than listening to the Prophet reciting the Qur'an in a sweet loud voice. (Sahih Muslim)

Both of this hadith show that what many people falsely interpret as a melodious recitation refers to aloud so it doesn't necessarily means that we need to recite the Qur'an melodiously and the matter about reciting the Qur'an in a manner that sounds like singing it is widely discussed among scholars and many rejected and refused it (see also islamqa #1377).

Ahadith like:

  • If you were to see me, as I was listening to your recitation (of the Qur'an) yester-night (you would have felt delighted). You are in fact endowed with a sweet voice like that of David himself. (See for example in Sahih Muslim)

  • "The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: 'Make your voices beautiful when you recite Quran.'" (See for example in Sunan an-Nasa-i)

Are often used as evidences for allowing a melodious or singing alike recitation. Nevertheless some scholars among them imam Malik according in at least one of his statements say it is not recommended to recite the Qur'an in a melodious voice or manner in the prayer or outside the same as it is not recommended to perform adhan this way and unnaturally prolong (the nartural madd -prolongation- is that of two letters: Allaahu akbar not Allaaaaaahu Akbar) the "recitation" which is the most prevalent manner people perform it and the audience seems to like that (but this is disliked, some consider it even bid'ah).
Note that tajweed and tarteel doesn't need to be melodious, even if the "famous" recitation records of "famous" reciters may suggest this. One could say people are different in this: some people can concentrate and find a kind of khushu' while listening to such a recitation, while others get disturb or can't follow it.

As for the recitation in the prayer all scholars are in consensus that one must recite the Qur'an -if able to- in a correct manner that means pronounce each letter in the correct manner in Arabic. So an "obvious or visible lahn اللحن الجلي" incorrectness in the Arabic pronunciation should be avoided (for example wrong pronunciation of a letter or a diacritic of a letter, false pausing so that the meaning get lost). So the majority requires only a correct recitation during the prayer even if a person is able to perform it with tajweed or tarteel and considers the later as a recommendation. It is also disliked to recite the Qur'an in a hasty manner.

Ibn Rushd -the grandfather- quoted a statement of imam Malik on this in his al-Bayan wa at-Tahseel البيان والتحصيل:
In the following I'm translating from Arabic if not otherwise quoted or linked these translations are of my own, take them carefully

وسئل مالك: عن الهذ في القرآن؟ فقال: من الناس من إذا هذ كان أخف عليه، وإن رتل أخطأ، ومن الناس من لا يحسن يهذ، والناس في ذلك على حالهم فيما يَخِفُّ عليهم، وذلك واسع. (Source islamweb #367195)
Imam Malik was asked about al-Hadh in the Qur'an (reciting the Qur'an fastly or hastily) And he answerd: The people in this matter are of different abilities among them there is that who may recite hastily as it is easier for him, while if he may recite with tarteel he may commit mistakes. Others may not be able to recite quickly. So the people are in this (asked to recite) in the manner that eases them, and the leeway is broad .

In his al-Umm الأم imam a-Shafi'i said (same fatwa source from islamweb as above):

وَأَقَلُّ التَّرْتِيلِ تَرْكُ الْعَجَلَةِ فِي الْقُرْآنِ عَنْ الْإِبَانَةِ، وَكُلَّمَا زَادَ عَلَى أَقَلِّ الْإِبَانَةِ فِي الْقِرَاءَةِ كَانَ أَحَبَّ إلَيَّ، مَا لَمْ يَبْلُغْ أَنْ تَكُونَ الزِّيَادَةُ فِيهَا تَمْطِيطًا
And the minimum of tarteel is leaving quick recitation to give the sound of the letters, and the more one goes further and adds to the minimum of this (by correctly pronouncing the letters) it was more beloved to me, as long as this addition was not too exaggerated (for example an exaggerated madd)

A prayer of a person who is able to recite correctly and nevertheless commits mistakes of the kind of obvious lahn is considered as invalid. Most scholars doubt that a "hidden lahn اللحن الخفي" (for example mistakes in idgham, qalqallah or ghunnah) can be considered as sinful, as it is hard to avoid it even for a good reciter.

In his sharh of Zaad al-Mustanqi' زاد المستقنع in the hanbali jurisprudence sheikh ibn 'Othaymeen commented (same fatwa source from islamweb as above):

ولم يذكرِ المؤلِّفُ كراهةَ إمامةِ مَن لا يقرأُ بالتَّجويدِ؛ لأنَّه لا تُكره القِراءةُ بغيرِ التَّجويدِ. والتَّجويدُ مِن بابِ تحسين الصَّوتِ بالقرآنِ، وليس بواجبٍ
The author didn't quote that it is disliked to be imam if one doesn't recite with tajweed; because it is not disliked to recite the Qur'an without tajweed. Tajweed is a means of rendering the voice more beautiful by reciting the Qur'an and is not ordered.

On the whole it is rather important and necessary to recite the Qur'an correctly while praying, reciting it by tarteel or tajweed which may add some melody to the recitation is only recommended.

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During prayer we recite quran. Reading quran in general can have different ways. But all of them have rules which is called Tajwid. Tajwid in fact means (pronouncing in a right and good way).

Now, It depends now on the one who is reciting: his ability to follow the rules and on his performance and his voice (not all have nice voices anyway).

However, if you know Tajwid rules or not you need to recite from quran during prayer.

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