Can I Recite Prayer in English?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch


If a new Muslim said their salah in English because they found it too hard to learn it in Arabic, was Allah accepting their salah? Do all four Madhhab agree?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

According to the Hanafi school, prayer is valid in a language other than Arabic unless the person is unable to recite Arabic, such as a new Muslim. [Maydani, al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab]

Note that it is obligatory for a new Muslim to slowly work towards being able to recite sura al-Fatiha and any small sura in Arabic. This can be learned orally or via transliteration. [Ibid.]

In the meantime, they have two choices: they can recite the translation of the Quranic verses in their own language or they can replace the recitation of the Quran with remembrances like SubhanAllah (meaning glory be to Allah) in Arabic. [Ibid.]

The latter opinion is more cautious as it would be valid in both the Hanafi and Shafii schools. As they learn the Arabic verses of the Quran, they will include them in their prayer, replacing the remembrances.

The Other Schools

Shafi’i School

According to the Shafi’i school, if one cannot recite Sura al-Fatiha in Arabic they must learn it; otherwise, they can read it from the Quran in prayer. If they have no teacher or the prayer time is about to expire, they are prohibited from reciting in any other language. [Ibn Naqib, ‘Umdat al-Salik]

If they know another part of the Quran, they will recite seven verses of equal length to Sura al-Fatiha. If they cannot recite from another part of the Quran, they will say Arabic remembrances of Allah equal to the length of Sura al-Fatiha. [Ibid.]

If they know part of Sura al-Fatiha, they will recite what they can in Arabic and then use remembrances for the rest. [Ibid.]

If they cannot do any of the above, they will merely stand for the length of time it takes to recite Sura al-Fatiha – they do not have to repeat such a prayer. [Ibid.]

Maliki School

According to the Maliki school, reciting the Quran in any language other than Arabic is invalid. [Qarafi, Dhakhir; Ibn Abd al-Barr, Ikhtilaf Aqwal Malik wa Ashabuhu]

Hanbali School

According to the Hanbali school, one’s prayer is not valid by reciting in any language other than Arabic [Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni]

Hope this helps
Allah knows best

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani 

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he went on to study at Darul Uloom Seminary in New York and completed his studies in Darul Mustafa in Tarim, Yemen. There he completed the memorization of the Qur’an and his study of the Islamic Sciences. Throughout his years of study he was blessed to learn from many great scholars: al-Habib Umar bin Hafiz, al-Habib Kazhim al-Saqqaf, al-Shaykh Umar bin Husayn al-Khatib, and others. Upon returning, he joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.