Is it necessary to read the Quran and say tasbihat in prayer in Arabic? Is it not permissible in English or any other language?

Details of the Question

Is it necessary to read the Quran and say tasbihat in prayer in Arabic? Is it not permissible in English or any other language?

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(editor) on Tue, 26/12/2017 - 09:01

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

According to Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad, it is not permissible to fulfill qiraah in any language other than Arabic. That is, it is not permissible to read a translation of the Quran in any language in prayer. For, the Quran is the word of Allah. Every word and sentence of it is full of so many meanings and wisdoms.

Arabic is a very rich language. Words have several meanings on their own and based on the sentence they are in; translation can reflect only one of those meanings. However, there is a fatwa stating that an illiterate person who cannot pronounce Arabic words can read the translation of the verses until he learns them. 1

Imam Abu Hanifa had an ijtihad stating that it was permissible to read the verses of the Quran in one’s own language but it was understood through serious research that he gave up this ijtihad and accepted the ijtihad of Imam Muhammad and Abu Yusuf later. As a matter of fact, this issue is mentioned in Fatawa al-Hindiyya and the following is stated there: «It is narrated that the imam gave up his ijtihad. It is necessary to trust in this narration.» 2

The Determination of Ibn Abidin Regarding the Issue:

Ibn Abidin states the following by reporting the text of Durrul-Mukhtar:

"Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad gave up their ijtihad and accepted Abu Hanifa’s view and ijtihad related to the permissibility of uttering takbir and starting in Persian except for the cases of weakness. Abu Hanifa gave up his ijtihad and accepted Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad’s ijtihad about impermissibility of qiraah in Persian (or any other language) except the cases of weakness."

"However, nobody reported that Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad accepted the view of Abu Hanifa about takbir (starting the prayer). The report in Tatarhaniyya is not clear about this takbir. They may be takbirs of tashrik and slaughtering an animal. This is better. For, the writer of Tatarhaniyya mentions it related to the issue of Adhkar (dhikrs) outside prayer." 3

Qasani (d. 587) states the following in Badayius-Sanayi regarding the issue:

«According to Abu Hanifa, qiraah is possible in Arabic and in Persian. This permissibility is general. That is, it does not matter whether the person can pronounce Arabic properly in qiraah or not.

According to Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad, if a person cannot pronounce Arabic properly, qiraah is permissible in Persian (or any other language). Otherwise, it is not permissible.

According to Imam Shafii, qiraah in Persian is not permissible whether a person can pronounce Arabic properly or not. For, the Quran was sent down in the Arabic language. Therefore, what is read in Persian cannot be the Quran. However, a person who cannot pronounce verses of the Quran can say Subhanallah and la ilaha illallah instead of qiraah until he learns qiraah.»

The writer of Multaqa Sharh Majmaul-Anhur states the following regarding the issue:

«According to Abu Hanifa, it is permissible to utter takbir of iftitah in Persian whether a person can pronounce Arabic properly or not. According to Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad, it is only permissible for a person who cannot pronounce Arabic properly and meaningfully. However, according to the soundest determination, Abu Hanifa gave up his ijtihad and accepted Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad’s view and ijtihad regarding the issue.»

«According to both Abu Hanifa and the two imams, it is permissible to fulfill qiraah in Persian if a person cannot pronounce Arabic. As for a person who can pronounce Arabic, it is permissible according to Abu Hanifa but not permissible according to the two imams. For, According to Abu Hanifa, the Quran is meaning. Persian (or any other language) indicates that meaning. Therefore, qiraah in another language is permissible. However, this permissibility is only about the qiraah in prayer.»

«According to a narration, Abu Hanifa gave up his ijtihad and accepted Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad’s view and ijtihad regarding the issue. This is the sound view. Trust is according to this narration. As a matter of fact, the compiler preferred the view that he gave up his ijtihad and reported qiraah to be fulfilled in Arabic in prayer as the unanimous view of the imams.» 4

This issue is explained a bit more in Fatawa al-Hindiyya and the following statements are included:

«About Abu Hanifa’s giving up his ijtihad and accepting the two imam’s view, the writer of al-Asrar states the following: «This is my preference.» The following is stated in the book at-Tahqiq: «This is a narration that has been chosen and preferred by all researchers. Fatwa is based on it.» The same thing is stated in Sharh Nuqaya. The note ‘this is the soundest determination’ exists in it.» 5

The conclusion that is reached from all those narrations:

- According to almost all of the notables of fiqh scholars, it is true that Abu Hanifa gave up his ijtihad and accepted Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad’s view and ijtihad regarding the issue afterwards. All of them tried to state that this narration was the soundest and some of them specially noted that they preferred it. Then, fatwa related to fulfilling qiraah in Persian or another language is based on the ijtihad of the two imams. It is also in compliance with the spirit and purpose of the Quran.

As a matter of fact, Abdurrahman al-Jaziri reports in the chapter of qiraah in his book called Kitabul-Fiqh Alal-Madhahibil-Arbaa the view of Hanafi imams in unanimity and says, «According to Hanafis, it is permissible for a person who cannot pronounce Arabic to fulfill qiraah in another language. The prayer he performs like that is valid.» 6

Footnotes:

1. Fatawa al-Hindiyya - Sharh Nuqaya / Sheikh Abil-Makarim.
2. Fatawa al-Hindiyya, I/69 - al-Maktabatul-Islamiyya - al-Hidaya.
3. Ibn Abidin, I//505.
4. Multaqal-Abhur, Sharh Majmaul-Anhur, I/92-93 - Dersaadet: 1327.
5. Fatawa al-Hindiyya, I/69 - 70 - al-Maktabatul-Islamiyya.
6. Kitabul-Fiqh Alal-Madhahibil-Arbaa, I/230 – Egypt.
(Celal Yıldırım, Kaynaklarıyla İslam Fıkhı, Uysal Kitabevi, I/238-241)

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