Imam al-Shatibi’s Hirz al-Amani | Lines 95-99


This is a continuation of the explanation of Imam al-Shatibi’s famous poem on the 7 Qiraa’aat: حرز الأماني ووجه التهاني في القراءات السبع.  In this poem, Imam al-Shatibi, may Allah have mercy upon him, documents the rules of 7 of the 10 authentic Qiraa’aat, i.e. the Qira’ah of Naafi’, Ibn Katheer, Abu ‘Amr, Ibn ‘Aamir, ‘Aasim, al-Kisaa’ee, and Hamzah.  The explanation of the Introduction, the first 94 lines of this text, was featured here, by Sh. Muhammad Saleem Ghaibie.  Please make sure to carefully study this Introduction so that the rest of the text can be understood clearly.

باب الاستعاذة

The Chapter on the Isti’aadhah

After the Introduction to the 7 Qiraa’aat, their Imams, and explaining the codes used in his text, Imam al-Shatibi begins with the Chapter on the Isti’aadhah, which involves seeking refuge with Allah, from Shaytan, the Accursed.  This chapter precedes all other chapters due to the fact that the recitation always begins with seeking refuge with Allah.


95.  If you intend to recite the Qur’an at any time, then always say the Isti’aadhah aloud, seeking refuge with Allah from Shaytan, according to what was documented by the Qurra’.

Every time and at any time one wishes to recite the Qur’an in any Qiraa’ah, from any part of the Qur’an, regardless if it is at the beginning of a Surah or in the middle of it, then one must say the Isti’aadhah aloud, as was documented by all the Qurra’.  As for saying it silently, then this is preferred when one is reciting to one’s self, or in the prayers.


96.  As it appears in Surat al-Nahl in the easiest form; and if you do more than this, affirming the divinity of your Lord, then you are not amongst the ignorant or neglectful.

The meaning of الاستعاذة is to say: أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ.  It is not an actual verse in the Qur’an, by itself, according to the consensus of the scholars.    The command to say the Isti’aadhah is mentioned in Surat al-Nahl, verse 98:

فَإِذَا قَرَأْتَ الْقُرْآنَ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ
So when you recite the Qur’an, [first] seek refuge in Allah from Satan, the expelled [from His mercy].

This form of saying the Isti’aadhah is the easiest one, and the bare minimum requirement for beginning the recitation, involving the least amount of words and letters.  And if preferred, one can increase the wording of the Isti’aadhah by mentioning some of the Names and Attributes of Allah تعالى, affirming His divinity and freedom from any comparison with the creation, such as saying:

أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ السَّمِيعَ العَلِيمِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ

Anyone who does this is considered free of ignorance or neglect.  This is because he has gone a step further in affirming the divinity of his Lord, declaring His freedom from any deficiency.  


97.  And they mentioned the exact words of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم that he did not increase the wording; however, if this report was authentic, then the matter would not have remained general.

This line gives an indication of Imam al-Shatibi’s knowledge of hadeeth, for there were some reports mentioned that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم did not increase in the wording of the Isti’aadhah, but they were considered to be weak reports.  Of these reports was a narration by Ibn Mas’ood who recited to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and said: أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ السَّمِيعَ العَلِيمِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ, to which the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم replied, “O Son of Umm ‘Abd, say: أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ.”  Another report states that on the authority of Nafi’ from Jubayr bin Mut’im that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم used to say: أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ.  However, these two narrations are weak.

In addition to this, the narrations which mention an increase in the wording of the Isti’aadhah are authentic.  It was narrated by Abu Sa’eed al-Khudari that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, when he would stand in the night (for prayer), he would say: أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ السَّمِيعَ العَلِيمِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ مِن هَمزِهِ وَنَفخِهِ وَنَفثِهِ.  

Imam al-Shatibi referred to the weakness of these narrations by saying that if these narrations were authentic (meaning those which did not involve an increase in the wording of the Isti’aadhah mentioned in Surat al-Nahl), then the general ruling of the verse would not have remained, the wording would have been very specific and there would not have been any other allowable alternative for it.  In other words, no addition or deletion would have been allowed.  These weak narrations are contradicted by narrations which are much more authentic which mention slight variations in the wording of the Isti’aadhah.  Therefore, the verse in Surat al-Nahl gives us an indication of what should be said in general, whether we increase or decrease the wording, as long as the meaning and intent is clear.

Having said that, there are three main ways that the Isti’aadhah can be worded:

  1. أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ (and this is what is most common form, using the same words in the command given in Surat al-Nahl).
  2. أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ السَّمِيعَ العَلِيمِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ
  3. أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ


98.  And there are a lot of details that can be found regarding it (the Isti’aadhah) in the branches of Usool (Fiqh, Hadeeth or Qiraa’aat); so do not turn away from these (sources), lofty in status, providing shade.

Here the هـ in فِيهِ may be referring to the Isti’aadhah, that there is much that has been said about it and its branches will become obvious to the student in the books which are the Usool or primary sources of this science of Qiraa’aat such as الإيضاح by Abu Ali al-Ahwazi, and الكامل by Abul Qasim al-Hudhali and others.  The student should refer to these books and not turn away from the correct opinion which is obvious and clearly proven.  The Imam referred to this by his saying بَاسِقًا which means high and lofty, i.e. lofty speech, and مُظَلِّلَا which is that which has shadow due to it having many branches and leaves.  It is also said that what he meant by Usool is the science of Usool al-Fiqh because of the speech related to the Islamic texts, so in this case the هـ in فِيهِ is referring to لَفْظَ الرَّسُولِ the words of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم or to النَّقْلُ the report, or to all of what was previously mentioned together.


99.  And hiding it (saying it silently) is a separation which our experts rejected; yet how many a youth such as al-Mahdawi applied this (saying it silently)!

This is the first place where the codes are mentioned in the poem, because the letter ف is the code for Hamzah and the letter ا is the code for Naafi’ (both red in color), there is an underlying meaning being given as well as an exterior one.  The underlying decoded meaning is that saying the Isti’aadhah quietly has been narrated from Hamzah and Naafi’, and the و in the word وعاتنا is for separation (واو فاصل) and it comes again in وكم i.e. this is the end of the decoded ruling.

As for the outer meaning of this line, then the word فَصْل may mean one of two things:

  1. The first is that the Isti’aadhah being recited silently is a section of the recitation, and our scholars and experts came across this particular narration from Naafi’ and Hamzah but rejected it and did not act upon it for their (Naafi’s and Hamzah’s) recitations.
  2. The second is that Imam Shatibi used the word فَصْل to clarify the wisdom behind saying the Isti’aadhah silently, and this is that it is the separation between what is from the Qur’an and what is not from it.  In this second meaning, أباه وعاتنا does not however mean that the experts rejected it being a separation between the Qur’an and other than it, as they only rejected it being recited silently, because saying it aloud is making the sign of the recitation obvious, similar to the talbiyah and the takbeeraat of Eid being done aloud.

From the benefits of saying the Isti’aadhah aloud is that anyone listening will become silent for the recitation from the beginning of the recitation without having missed any of it; since, if the Isti’aadhah is done silently the listener will not know about the recitation except after having missed some of what was recited.  This meaning is the difference between recitation outside of the Salah and during the Salah, because Isti’aadhah is recited silently in Salah due to the congregation already being silent from the beginning of the Salah.

Then Imam Shatibi indicated with his saying وكم من فتى that there is still however a strong group of this science who chose to say the Isti’aadhah quietly and justified this, and mentioned from among them was al-Mahdawi, who was Abul Abbas Ahmad bin Ammar, a Muqri’ and Mufassir, and the author of some well known books.  The هـ in فيه is referring to إخفاء (saying the Isti’aadhah silently), and أعملا i.e. he used critical thinking in his decision.

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