Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan
Question: Assalam alaykum,
Can I hold the Quran in prayer?
Answer: Wa alaykum salam
Shafi’i scholars discussed the permissibility of holding a mushaf in salah under the section dealing with excessive movement in prayer. In his al-Hawi, Imam al-Mawardi concluded that, contrary to the Hanafi school, reciting from a mushaf and turning its pages while in salah is not considered excessive movement and thus does not invalidate the prayer. He said:
فَلَوْ قَرَأَ فِي صَلَاتِهِ مِنْ مُصْحَفٍ قراءة المصلي جَازَ ، وَلَمْ تَبْطُلْ صَلَاتُهُ وَقَالَ أَبُو حَنِيفَةَ : تَبْطُلُ صَلَاتُهُ ، لِأَنَّ تَصَفُّحَ الْأَوْرَاقِ عَمَلٌ كَثِيرٌ ، وَهَذَا خَطَأٌ ، لِأَنَّ بُطْلَانَ صَلَاتِهِ إِمَّا أَنْ يَكُونَ لِأَجْلِ النَّظَرِ ، أَوِ التَّصَفُّحِ ، فَلَمْ يَكُنْ لِأَجْلِ النَّظَرِ ، لِأَنَّهُ لَوْ قَرَأَ فِي مُصْحَفٍ بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ لَمْ تَبْطُلْ صَلَاتُهُ ، وَلَيْسَ التَّصَفُّحُ عَمَلًا كَثِيرًا لِمَا بَيْنَ تَصَفُّحِ الْأَوْرَاقِ مِنْ بُعْدِ الْمَدَى فَدَلَّ عَلَى صِحَّةِ صَلَاتِهِ.
‘It is permissible that he recite from a mushaf in his salah; and his prayer will not be nullified. [Imam] Abū Hanīfah, however, considered this persons prayer to be invalid since the turning of pages is considered excessive movement. [al-Māwardī goes on to say:] This is incorrect as the invalidity of his prayer could either be on account of looking [in the mushaf] or the turning of pages. [We know that] it is not on account of looking, since [the prayer of] one who looks in a mushaf before him [e.g. on a stand] will be valid. And the turning of pages is not excessive [continuous] movement due to the long intervals between turnings. Accordingly this person’s prayer [the one holding and looking into a mushaf] is valid.’
The same reasoning was later upheld by the two jurists and commentators of the Minhaj, Shams ar-Ramlī and Khatīb ash-Shirbīnī.
Regarding which hand one should keep the mushaf in prayer, I have not seen any of our jurist discussing this. Even though one may assume, based on the generality of the above text, that it may be held in either hand. That being said, one should keep in mind that jurists, based on Prophetic traditions, encourage and gave preference to the right side, especially in acts of worship. Consequently, while you may keep the mushaf in either hand, preference should be given to the right.
And Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan
Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.