Is it permissible for a follower to follow the imam’s recitation in a mushaf while in the taraweeh salaah?
The question which originally refers to the muqtadī (follower) requires firstly a discussion regarding the leader of the prayer (Imam) and one praying by himself (munfarid). The latter case has been discussed by the Jurist, contrary – wAllah a‘alam – to the former and therefore the latter case will be looked upon as analogous to the former.
The Imam and munfarid holding and looking into a mushaf while in prayer
The question vis-à-vis the validity of the prayer of an Imam and munfarid was discussed at two places in our fiqh works:
1. The section that deals with excessive movement in prayer and
2. The section dealing with the obligation of the recitation of surah Fatihah.
Its discussion under heading 1 suggests that the only potential problem with reciting from a mushaf in salah was excessive movement. To this end, consider the following excerpt from the al-Hāwī of al-Imām Abū al-Hasan al-Māwardī:
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.
Heading 2 on the other hand poses no problem and merely emphasizes the permissibility of reciting from a mushaf in prayer. The Nihayah of Ramlī [1/476] commenting on the Minhāj of Nawawi reads:
( وَتَتَعَيَّنُ الْفَاتِحَةُ ) فِي السِّرِّيَّةِ وَالْجَهْرِيَّةِ حِفْظًا أَوْ تَلْقِينًا أَوْ نَظَرًا فِي مُصْحَفٍ ( فِي كُلِّ رَكْعَةٍ ) فِي قِيَامِهَا
(And the Fatihah is specified) in loud and soft prayers; whether from memory, dictation or looking in a mushaf (in every raka‘ah).
The Muqtadī holding and looking in mushaf while in prayer
As previously stated the muqtadī will be looked upon analogously to the Imam and munfarid. The current author cannot see why any difference should be made between the two categories. His prayer will thus also be valid when following the Imam’s recitation from a mushaf in any prayer, tarāwīh or otherwise. What further lends support to this conclusion is the above referred to quotation by Ramlī and Shirbīnī. They said:
وَلَوْ فَتَحَ كِتَابًا وَفَهِمَ مَا فِيهِ … لَمْ تَبْطُلْ ؛ لِأَنَّ ذَلِكَ يَسِيرٌ أَوْ غَيْرُ مُتَوَالٍ
‘Should he open a book (other than a mushaf) and understand its content … his prayer will not be invalid since that will be considered as little interrupted movement.’
The reasoning here being one of a fortiori: if following or silent reading from other than the Quran does not invalidate the prayer then how could following from a mushaf nullify it?
And Allah knows best
Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan
[adapted from www.Shafiifiqh.com]