Use of the microphone in Salaat.

Q. For some time now there has been a controversy over the use of the MICROPHONE (MIC) in Salaat. Some Mussallis say it can be used and is universally used in this day and age. Others say it cannot be used and that it is Mukru Ma Tehrimi.
(1) What is the ruling in relation to use of MIC in Salaat?
(2) If permissible what are the parameters of permissibility, if any?
(3) Is the use restricted to number of Musallis or rows of Musallis?
(4) Is the use of the MIC at the discretion of the Imaam Saab?

A. The issue of using the microphone (loud speaker) in Salaat has been a debatable one in the past among our great scholars and jurists, especially those of the Indo-pak continent. Around the period of 1953 (1372 AH) and afterwards, when this device (Mic) came to be commonly used, some of our great scholars looked at it in different ways, and based on their research, they concluded upon dissimilar verdicts (fatawas). Basing their rulings on the research of certain technologists, some of our Akabir stated that the voice emanating from the microphone was not that of the Imam, and so it was not permissible to be used in Salaat. In fact, its usage will invalidate the Salaah, according to these scholars. Other scholars however, examined the research of other expert technologists and ruled that the voice emanating from the loudspeaker is indeed the voice of the Imam (as proven by technologists), and so its usage will not invalidate the Salaah. In fact, the salaah will be valid and acceptable. These were the first opinions given on this issue.

As the years passed, our scholars ventured into more updated research, and upon examining the findings of expert and leading technologists of India and Pakistan, the scholars unanimously agreed that the voice of the mic was indeed the voice of the Imam, and the usage of the loudspeaker would not create any ‘fasadat’ (invalidation) in the Salaah (which was performed with the use of the microphone). With this, the scholars who ruled that it invalidated the Salaah, revoked their former opinions/verdicts, and agreed with the other scholars. (see Aalaate Jadeeda by Hazrat Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi (AR) ).

The general body of scholars therefore, agreed that Salaah which was done while using the microphone was Saheeh (sound and valid) and was not Fasid (invalid), which needed to be repeated.

However, while giving this ruling, some of the scholars maintained the stance that there were some elements in the use of the device (mic) which showed a bit of reprehensibility (karahat), and on account of these factors, they did not give an open and full consent for its usage in Salaah. They suggested that it is better not to use it, seeing that certain problems can emanate from its usage. In this regard, they stated that due to these problems, it will be Makrooh to use it. (see Fatawa Rahimiya vol. 1 pg. 93, Aalaate Jadeeda; Fatawa Haqaniya vol 3 pg. 220).

It should be understood however, that the Karahat (reprehensibility) which they indicated to, was not general (in all cases). Instead, it was based upon a situation when it is used at a time when there is no reason or need to use it. This has been clearly stated by Mufti Marghoob Ahmad Lajpuri in his Marghoobul Fatawa (vol.2 pg. 224). This means that when there is a need and reason to use the Microphone (loudspeaker), there will be no Karahat in doing so. The statement written by Mufti Kifayatullah also indicated to this understanding when he wrote, ‘with respect to (the Microphone) itself, there is no reason and ‘cause’ to say that it is ‘not permissible’. It is for this reason, it is allowed to use it for the Khutba of Juma and Eid, for lectures, bayans and wa’z (good counsel) etc. In large gatherings for Salaah where people announce the Takbeer and, in order to raise the voice, it (the microphone) can also be used, and there is no harm in doing so. It does not matter. (chandan Muzaya’qah nahin). (Kifayatul Mufti- Kitab Al Hadhr wal Ibahah).

In a similar manner, the great jurist, Shaikul Hadith Mufti Abdul Haqq and other Muftis (of Jamia Darul Uloom Haqqaniya, Akora Katak Pakistan) have written, ‘the loudspeaker (microphone) is a new device, through which the voice of the Imam or Mukabbir is magnified, and reaches far. Taking the scientific understanding of this device into consideration, the voice emanating from it is indeed the voice of the actual Imam (when used in Salaah). Hence, the expert scholars of Islam have unanimously agreed that it is permissible to lead (perform) Salaah over the loudspeaker (microphone). However, when there is no reason and need to use it for Salaah, then one should refrain from using it. (Fatawa Haqqaaniya vol. 3 pg. 220).

Based upon these clarifications, it can be clearly seen that the Karahat ( reprehensibility ) of using the microphone in Salaah would only come about when it is used without a need to do so. However, when there is a need to use it, there will be no Karahah ( as evident from the verdicts of Mufti Marghoob, Mufti Kifayatullah and Mufti Abdul Haqq which are mentioned above).

There have been other great scholars also, who have given the general permission for the use of a microphone in Salaah, without considering it to be Makrooh. In other words, it will not be Makrooh to perform Salaah over the microphone. Instead, it will be permissible and acceptable according to these scholars. While writing on this issue, the jurist and Qazi, Mufti Khalid Saifullah states, ‘Through the media of the loudspeaker, the identical voice of the Imam reaches the Muqtadis, and upon this voice (of the Imam), the followers(Muqtadis) are able to move from one position to the other in salaah. For this reason, there will be no harm in using the microphone. In our times, the Ulamah are unanimous upon this. However, it is sad to see that many Muslims quarrel and argue, and even have physical fights over such an issue which does not have a ruling of Wajib, Mustahab, Haram or Makrooh. This type of conduct is sinful and haram (unlawful). It is most unfortunate to know that Muslims fight over such petty issues. May Allah protect the Ummah from this misunderstanding. (Kitabul Fatawa vol. 2 pg. 253)

The great scholar of Pakistan, Maulana Mufti Yusuf Sahab Ludhiyanwi (AR) has also written about the permissibility of using the microphone in Salaah in his famous book, Aap ki masaa’il aur unka hal. In this regard, while answering a question (about this), he wrote, ‘using the loudspeaker (microphone) in Salaah is permissible according to the general body of scholars’. (Aap ke Masail aur unka hal vol.2 pg. 215).

The great Mufti of Pakistan, Mufti Taqi Uthmani (DB), the son of the late Mufti Shafi (AR) has also indicated to the permissibility of using the microphone in Salaah in his fatawa. (Contemporary Fatawa pg.67)

Based on these explanations, the answers to your questions are as follows:-

1) It is permissible to use the microphone (Mic) in Salaat.

2) The parameters of permissibility is that it should be to the extent that the Muqtadis (followers) can hear the Imam. In other words, when the mic is being used, it should not be so low that the Muqtadi cannot hear the Imam, nor should it be so loud that the voice of the Imam reaches far beyond the congregation. According to the jurists, an Imam’s loudness should be to the extent of the congregation. ( Kitabul Fatawa vol.2 pg. 254- Ad Durrul Mukhtar).

This means that when an Imam leads the Salaah without the use of a mic, he should not raise his voice to the extent that it reaches far beyond the congregation (of Musallis) who are with him. In a similar manner, if the mic is used, then the volume should not be so loud that it goes much farther away from what is required for the congregation.

3) From the above, it shows that the high and low volume of the Mic (and P.A system) should be controlled to the size of the congregation. If the congregation (Jamaat) is small, to the extent that the Musallis will be able to hear the Imam directly, then the Mic should not be used, since in this case the extent of the loudness emanating from the Mic will go far beyond that which is required for a small amount of Musallis. It is in this regard, the great scholar, Hazrat Maulana Mufti Taqi Uthmani (DB) has written, ‘The loudspeaker should not be used at all where the number of musallis or the audience is such that they can hear the voice of the qira’at or of the sermon without a loudspeaker. However, if there are many in number and cannot hear the voice directly, only the inner loudspeaker should be used, and not the loudspeaker installed outside the masjid (since there is no need for the outside speakers when the audience/ musallis are inside the masjid). (Contemporary Fatawa pg.67).

It means therefore, that if there is one or two rows of Musallis, and the Imam knows that his voice can reach them (without a Mic), then he should not use the mic (since in this, there is no need for the Mic, and it is also a matter of caution in order to come out from the Iktilaaf of the scholars). However, if the Musallis are of such a number, that the Imam knows that it will be difficult for him to reach his voice to all, then he can use the Mic and control the volume to the extent that is needed.

4) The use of the Mic should be upon the discretion of the Imam. The reason for this is that it is the Imam who will be in a position to know whether he can recite and say the takbeers loud enough for the congregation. His health may also vary, and at times, he will not be able to read/ recite as loud as other times. He alone is in a position to know the ability and strength of his voice. Hence, it would be to his discretion to ‘use’ or ‘not to use’ the microphone. It should also be noted that the management of the masjid (and Jamaat) would also have a ‘say’ in this matter, since they, being a part of the audience may be in a better position to assess whether the audience who may be at a certain distance from the Imam can hear or not.

With respect to the factors which some scholars have identified as ‘problems’ with the Mic (loudspeaker), (on account of which, they used the word Makrooh), some of our recent expert scholars have advised that certain requirements should be implemented to eliminate or minimize the occurrence of those problems. (see Aap ke Masaail aur Unka Hal vol 2 pg. 215-216 by Hazrat Maulana Mufti Yusuf Ludhiyanwi Sahab (A.R); Contemporary Fatawa pgs. 65-67 by Mufti Taqi Uthmani).

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan