Question : One of my companions doesn’t even move his lips while reciting Surah Fatiha in Nafl Salaat. Whenever asked, he said that he recites it in his mind. So, what should we do, recite with movement of our lips or without?
Answer : The minimum level of Qiraat Sirri i.e. reciting to oneself implies that the person reciting must be able to hear his/her own voice and the words must be pronounced properly. The words can be pronounced properly only when the lips are moved. As mentioned in Durre Mukhtar, Vol.1, Pg. No. 395 and in Fatawa A’alamgiri, Vol. 1, Pg. No. 69.
It is said in Hadith that when the Holy Prophet Mohammed ( صلى الله عليه و سلم ) would recite to Himself in Salaat, His blessed jaws would move. There is a Hadith in Sahih Bukhari:
Interpretation: It is narrated on the authority of Hadhrat Abu Ma’amar (May
Allah be well pleased with him): I asked Hadhrat Khabbab bin Arat (May Allah be well pleased with him): Did the Holy Prophet Mohammed ( صلى الله عليه و سلم ) recite the Holy Quran in Zuhr and ‘Asr Salaat? He said: Yes. I asked: How did you get to know the recitation of the Holy Prophet Mohammed ( صلى الله عليه و سلم ) ? He said: It would be clear from the movement of His jaws. Obviously His beard would not move without movement of His lips. (Sahih Bukhari, Kitaab Ul Adhaan, Hadith No. 761)
This is also mentioned in Haashiya Hidaaya, Kitaab Us Salaat, Vol. 1, Pg. No. 117.
It is clear from the aforementioned Hadith and the clarifications of the jurists that when reciting to oneself one should pronounce the words properly with movement of lips. One should recite in such a low voice that the recitation should be clearly audible to oneself. Otherwise, the article of recitation will remain unfulfilled and the Salaat will have to be reoffered.