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Invalidation of Prayer by Inaccurate Pronunciation

Ustadh Jamir Meah clarifies the rulings on mistakes in pronunciation during prayer and what one can do to rectify them.

 

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

A long time ago I read an answer to a question on a different site which has been causing problems I could not resolve until now. Therefore, I would like to base this question on the following content: https://islamqa.info/en/answers/50536/ruling-on-prayers-being-led-by-one-whose-pronunciation-is-defective.

The problem is very much summarized in one paragraph, which I would like to quote:

Al-Nawawi said in al-Majmu‘ (4/359): “It is essential to recite al-Fatiha in prayer with all its letters, including those which are doubled (letters with shaddah) … if a shaddah is omitted or one letter is substituted for another even though the person is able to pronounce it, then his recitation is not valid.”

Thus, it is to be understood that the established ruling regarding the matter of pronunciation mistakes differentiates between two cases, the first being in one who makes a mistake and fails to correct it despite his ability to do so, the second being in one who is intrinsically unable to produce the required letter and cannot learn to do so.

But what then about one who, despite being of Arabic tongue and able to pronounce all letters with ease, happens to frequently make mistakes in his speech? He certainly is capable of correcting his error since he can pronounce Arabic letters, but will this still be required of him? What is the minimum rate of mistakes for which an exemption could be made?

I understand that all the letters of the fara’id of the prayer must be present and none more, but merely being able to correct a mistake does not make it easy when they occur so often, especially in inconvenient situations like the takbir during transition, or the taslim.

Please elaborate on this matter and explain how the general ruling, represented by the quote of al-Nawawi, applies to the described situation. This issue has seriously eroded me since I could not find an explanation for so long.

 

Answer:

Wa alaykum assaalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

What has been quoted from al Majmu’ is correct and your understanding of it is accurate, namely, that if a person makes mistakes in his recitation of the Fatihah and he is able to correct it, then he must do so, while a person who makes mistakes in it while genuinely unable to correct it due to a valid excuse, is exempted and his recitation valid.

Mistakes in the Fatiha

In regards your situation, you are able to recite the Fatiha and other integrals in Arabic with ease but you commonly make mistakes. In this case, you would have to identify the reason(s) for making the mistakes, which you have not explained.

If the mistakes are changing letters, and it is due to lack of concentration or neglect of learning correct recitation while being able to, or similar, then this would mean that your recitation is not valid. If, however, you have a valid excuse, such as you are learning correct pronunciation and still sometimes make mistakes, or if you are a very new Muslim, then you would still need to correct what you notice as errors, but are excused otherwise.

If the mistakes are changing vowels (tashkil), then the recitation is invalid if the mistakes change the actual meaning of the word, and the mistake is due to neglect of learning or lack of concentration. If the change of vowels does not change the actual meaning, then the recitation is valid if unintentional, though it is better to correct it, while if done on purpose, the recitation is invalid. If the mistakes are due to a valid excuse, such as the ones given above, then the recitation is valid, even if it changes the meaning.

If the change of letters, or vowels which changes the meaning, are done intentionally and knowingly, the whole prayer is automatically nullified. All the above applies to native Arabic speakers and non-native Arabic speakers.

Takbir

Generally, the same rules above apply to other spoken integrals of the prayer, such as the takbiratul ihram (The opening takbir). The takbir has conditions which also apply to the sunna takbirs during the prayer. In regards pronunciation, the following conditions must be met:

  1. That the Name of Allah proceeds the Akbar.
  2. That one says it loud enough that one could hear himself if the surrounding was silent.
  3. That it comprises of the words “Allah” and “Akbar.”
  4. That the takbir is said in Arabic if one is able.
  5. That one does not extend the hamza in the Divine Name “Allah.”
  6. That one does not extend the “ba” of “Akbar.”
  7. That one does not add a shadda, a double letter to the “Akbar” (i.e. Akabbar)
  8. That one does not add “و” before the Divine Name of “Allah.”
  9. That one does not add a “و” between the two words.

(Bushra al-Karim)

Doubts

Lastly, be careful that you do not open the door to satan and waswasa, giving rise to frequent doubts about what you have recited. If this is the case, you should ignore the thoughts and continue to pray without hesitation.

I pray the above clarifies the matter for you.

Warmest salams,

Jamir

 

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


 

Pronunciation Errors in Prayer

Ustadh Farid Dingle clarifies questions about pronunciation in prayer.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa baraktuh.

For almost a year now I have had a problem regarding the validity of prayers due to errors in pronounciation. I will therefore describe the situation in extensive detail so as to exclude any misunderstanding and to ensure an accurate ruling.

My mother tongue is a dialect of Arabic, my problem is not at all specific to the Arabic language. I am fully capable of soundly pronouncing all the letters of the Arabic alphabet. Rather, my problem is related to speech in general and occurs in other languages as well.

In the flow of speech, even at a very slow pace, I cannot maintain tight control over my tongue and thus there occur mistakes. There are four aspects of this problem: 1. parts of the prayer which require correct pronunciation, 2. types of errors, 3. methods of correction and 4. options for dealing with this difficulty.

Please, bear with me even if this seems somewhat banal, this has had a grave effect on me and I am unable to function properly without finding a decisive and precise solution.

Dear questioner,

Our religion isn’t like this. You are going too overboard.

Just focus on the meanings of the words you say in the prayer, and don’t worry about the rest.

When these thoughts get too much just say: audhu billahi min al-shaytan al-rajim, and just do what other everyday religious Muslims do.

You can study this topic in more detail in formal classes on fiqh, but don’t worry about your prayer for now.

I pray this helps.

Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Should I Repeat Past Prayers in Which I Made Pronunciation Errors?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum

If one starts praying after a long time and remembers the surahs they have learned for the most part but upon reading the Surahs realizes that they have made some pronunciation errors, are all their previous prayers invalid?

Additionally, while reciting the tashahhud if one forgets to say “wa ala” after assalamu alaina, would it invalidate the prayer?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

Yes, your previous prayers are valid. In the vast majority of cases, non-deliberate pronunciation errors don’t affect the validity of your prayer.

Please also see: Do Grammatical and Pronunciation Mistakes While Reciting the Qur’an Invalidate Your Prayer?

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

wassalam,
[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.

Should One Do the Prostration of Forgetfulness Due to Pronunciation Errors?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: As salaamu alaykum,

In Salah,is the prostration of forgetfulness required if one repeats verses due to pronunciation errors? (Hanafi School)

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

You should not be repeating verses due to pronunciation errors. For the most part, such non-deliberate errors are completely excused. Further, even reciting with correct tajwid is not a requirement in the Hanafi school. Focus on your recitation outside of the prayer, and recite verses once within it.

Please see: Do Grammatical and Pronunciation Mistakes While Reciting the Quran Invalidate Your Prayer? and: Should I Repeat my Quran and Dua Recitations Due to Errors in Pronunciation?

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

wassalam,

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.

Is My Prayer Still Valid If I Fail to Recite the Tashahud Correctly?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Is my prayer still valid if I recite the tashahud erroneously in one place, like saying the letter “alif” instead of the letter “ayn”?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

Yes, your prayer would be valid as the vast majority of pronunciation errors don’t affect the validity or soundness of the prayer. Work on your pronunciation (tajwid) outside of the prayer. As for during the prayer. just pray. You and I, thankfully, won’t be the judges of our prayers, so learn what is required of you and then do the best you can, relying on Allah Most High and hoping in His Mercy. Remember that there is no necessary correlation between validity and reward; thus, even if you recited with perfect tajwid, that does not guarantee for you an accepted prayer that is pleasing to Allah Most High.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Seek what is balanced and correct and draw near. Know that none of you will enter the Garden on account of his deeds. The most beloved of actions to Allah are those which are the most constant, even if they are little.” [Bukhari]

Please also see: Do Grammatical and Pronunciation Mistakes While Reciting the Qur’an Invalidate Your Prayer? and: What Can I Do About Anxiety in Prayer and Waswas Regarding My Pronunciation?

Consider taking the following free class at SeekersHub: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Basic Hanafi Jurisprudence (STEP)

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani