The early Muslims faced a lot of persecution. At times, the early Muslims were murdered for their beliefs. For example, if anyone – Muslim or non-Muslim were to get caught listening to the recitation of the Quran they were punished. Early classical sources mention this.
Ibn Ishaq (704 – 768 AD):
“If anyone of them wanted to hear what he was reciting as he prayed, he had to listen stealthily for fear of Quraysh; and if he saw that they knew that he was listening to it, he went away for fear of punishment and listened no more. If the apostle lowered his voice, then the man who was listening thought that they would not listen to any part of the reading, while he himself heard something which they could not hear, by giving all his attention to the words.” (Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah – The Life of Muhammad Translated by A. Guillaume, [Oxford University Press – Seventeenth Impression 2004], page 141)
Ibn Kathir (1301 – 1374):
“When the Messenger of God (SAAS) spoke the Qur’an loudly as he prayed, people would move away and refuse to listen to him. If anyone did want to hear any of what the Messenger of God was reciting as he prayed, he had to strain his ears away from the rest. And if he knew that they were aware that he was listening he would have to leave, for fear of harm from them. And so he would not listen. But if the Messenger of God (SAAS) were to lower his voice, those who were listening would hear nothing. Therefore God Almighty revealed, ‘and do not speak the prayer loudly’ or they will disperse away from you. And also ‘nor speak it too softly’ or those trying hard to hear it, believing it may be beneficial to them, will not be able to do so. And so, ‘seek a path between these.”‘ (The Life Of The Prophet Muhammad – (‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’) [Translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick, Garnet Publishing – Copyright 1998, The Center for Muslim Contribution To civilization], by Ibn Kathir, volume 1, page 368 – 369)
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