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Offline Reader Questions

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Why do we say 'Qul' (say) in our Prayers?
« on: November 11, 2011, 09:40:17 AM »
I hope you will help me to clear my confusion.

We, Muslims, widely recite Sura 'Ikhlas in prayer, dua or at many other occasions. This and many other sura starts with word 'Qul' translated as 'Say'.

While reading grammar book 'The Essential Arabic: A learner's Practical Guide' by Rafi'el 'Imad Faynan (Professor of Arabic at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi), I came across conjugation of word 'Qala' and grammar rules of imperative verb. 

On page no. 98, author provides conjugation of word 'Qala' (I took only three forms relevant to our discussion) which are as follow:

'Qul' (Say) is a 2nd person masculine singular imperative verb (fi'lul-amri)

'Aaqoolu' (I say) is a 1st person singular present tense verb (al-mudaari'u)

'Naqoolu' (We say) is a 1st person plural present tense verb (al-mudaari'u)

On page 53 of book, author writes:

'Imperative verb' is called ' fi'lul-amri '. It is a verb through which we order or request someone to do something. For example:

Go (Order) or Please go (Request).

In other words: One (Speaker) orders / requests someone (listener) to do something (to go)'
Now, let me apply this rule to Sura 'Ikhkas to demonstrate the problem, if we recite it 'as it is'.

One (Allah SWT) orders someone (Prophet SAW) to do something (to say - i.e. recite or convey to his followers - :  'He is Allah, the One. Allah is Absolutely Independent. He begets not, nor is He begotten. And there is absolutely none like Him.') This is perfect construction with reference to Quran. But problem arises when we recite 'as it is' in prayer, dua or at many other occasions.

Now, imagine when we recite Sura- Ikhlas 'as it is' what will be scenario considering the listener in this case is Allah SWT.

One (who recites the Sura Ikhlas) requests someone (who listens - Allah SWT) to do something (to say: 'He is Allah, the One. Allah is Absolutely Independent. He begets not, nor is He begotten. And there is absolutely none like Him.')
In other words, we are requesting Allah SWT to say that 'Allah SWT (another one?)' is He who is One and so on.
Isn't this scenario problematic?

What is solution to this problem?

We have other two conjugations: 'Aaqoolu' mean 'I say' and 'Naqoolu' mean 'We say'

So, will it not be appropriate to replace word 'Qul' with 'Aaqoolu' when reciting individually and 'Naqoolu' when reciting in congregation?

Note: I am not suggesting in any way to replace word in Quran, I am saying that when we recite this type of sura in namaz, dua or at any other occasion, Will it not proper to be mindful of language?


Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Why do we say 'Qul' (say) in our Prayers?
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2011, 09:46:01 AM »

Salamun Alaikum,

You are absolutely correct, that the current utterance of the 2nd person masculine singular imp. verb (fi-lul'amri) 'Qul' (Say) is possibly inappopriate in the context of a personal prayer. However, please note that it can be argued that an 'imam' in a congregational prayer is reciting not only a personal prayer, but also in the capacity as a leader (to the congregration). In the latter case, it may be considered appropriate to recite the 'Qul' in such a way to the congregation.

This is the sole reason why, I personally do not recite it with the 2nd person verb form. In fact, if like myself one is multilingual, one may even decide to recite a prayer in French, or Hebrew or any other prayer.

There is no point in my humble view making use of utterances which are not prayer based and are in effect, reading utterances back to God. This is 'ritual' prayer. The Quran does not command one to recite scripture back to God.

Surah Fateha on the other is a proper prayer as are many other prayers in the Quran.

The Quran does not define 'utterance'. Please note this very significant point. It leaves utterance open for a 'personal' communion with God. This also applies to 'form'. The Quran does not fix form (where you put your hands, how many rakahs etc) but it may make logistical sense in a congregation to have a form. The Quran describes all other aspects of prayer.

So the possible reasons as to why the Quran is intentionally silent about the prayer's form and content is because it does not want to fix it and neither does it want to fix it in any particular language.

However, this does not mean:

(a)  That we need Hadith and Sunna to fix the form and content and make it a ritual.
(b)  That we go to the other extreme, abandon the prayers altogether and inconsistently redefine all the prayer related verses.

Both of these approaches have not understood the reason behind the Quranic 'silence'.

We need to understand the 'hikmah' behind the Quranic silence and with regards prayer, form and content only.

The Quran can be detailed when it wants to be. It can go to lengths to inform you of what is required in 'Wudu'(5:6), a precursor to prayer, but on the other hand, not give you any details about what to say in prayer. Silence does not mean absence. It means, fluidity. It is left to the ummah and the individual to commune with God in a manner which makes one feel closest to Him.

Today many Jews and Christians do not have fixed form or content. However, this does not mean they don't pray. Many still do in a similar manner to many traditional Muslims.

There are many prayers in the Quran.

Here are some:

I for one, may choose to pray in English, Arabic, Hebrew, French, Spanish or whatever. The Quran gives me that right and no human can take that away. This is right given to me by my Divine Creator.

I hope you understand my point.

I'd like to share some articles with you.



I hope that helps, God willing.

'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell