What is the Islamic ruling on someone, who is praying behind an imam, holding a mus-haf (copy of the Quran) during tarawih prayer?


Someone from Egypt wrote to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa, citing the book Fiqh-ul-Masih on the matter of a non-hafiz providing corrective prompting to the imam during congregational tarawih prayers while using a physical copy of the Holy Quran [mushaf]. The individual expressed, “I cannot comprehend how prayer can be offered in this manner.” The quote from Fiqh-ul-Masih is as follows:

“Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra was asked about a non-hafiz providing corrective prompting to an imam, who is a hafiz, during congregational tarawih prayers that are held in Ramadan while using a mushaf. Huzoorra responded, ‘I have not come across any fatwa by the Promised Messiahas regarding this issue.’ Maulvi Muhammad Ismail Sahib Fazil, however, pointed out that the Promised Messiahas had deemed it permissible.

“Huzoorra responded, ‘If this practice is permissible, it could yield significant benefits. Arrangements could be made such that instead of one individual listening to all the tarawih prayers [while reading along from a mushaf], four people could listen for two rak‘ahs each, thus each completing six rak‘ahs [without reading from a mushaf].’

“When asked whether such an arrangement could be justified under Islamic fiqh, Huzoorra replied, ‘The primary objective is to accustom people to listening to the Holy Quran. This fatwa from the Promised Messiahas arises from necessity and constraint. It is akin to a person who cannot stand to pray and is thus permitted to pray while sitting, or lying down if necessary. Similarly, if someone’s clothes are soiled and they cannot wash them, they pray in that state. In a similar vein, this is not a religious commandment but a provision for exigent circumstances.’” (Al Fazl, Qadian Dar al-Aman, No. 66, Vol. 17, 21 February 1930, p. 12; Fiqh-ul-Masih, pp. 218- 219)

Huzoor-e-Anwaraa, in his letter dated 10 June 2022, provided the following answer to this question:

“During prayers, it is a common practice that if the imam forgets or makes an error in the recitation of the Holy Quran, a congregant [muqtadi] who recalls that particular portion of the Holy Quran can prompt the imam, or rectify the error. However, it is not permissible for a muqtadi to prompt the imam while looking at a physical copy of the Holy Quran. Accordingly, Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra elucidates in his book Zikr-e-Habib:

“‘Dr Mirza Yaqub Baig Sahib once submitted to the Promised Messiahas that he finds it difficult to remember longer Surahs of the Holy Quran, but desires to recite them during prayers. He asked if it was permissible to open the Holy Quran, place it on a stand or table, or hold it in hand during recitation, and then set it aside when bowing down or prostrating and pick it up again for the next rak‘ah. To this, the Promised Messiahas replied, ‘What is the need for this? You should memorise a few Surahs and just recite those.’’ (Zikr-e-Habib, p. 136, […])

“Therefore, a person ought to recite as much of the Holy Quran as they know in their prayers, and should continue to strive to memorise more of it. This is because the act of memorising and reciting the Quran is itself a virtuous and rewarding endeavour.

“This is precisely why, during the Khilafat of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh, when this issue was presented in the Majlis Ifta, Huzoorrh ruled on 17 June 1971, stating, ‘It is not preferable [mustahabb] to read from a physical copy of the Holy Quran even during supererogatory prayers [nawafil]. Furthermore, by allowing this, the objective of promoting Quranic memorisation would be compromised. Therefore, it is undesirable to adopt this method.’ (Register of Majlis Ifta Decisions, p. 49, [unpublished])

“In the books of Hadith and fiqh, there are some reports from the Companions [athar] that indicate that certain honourable Companions, including Hazrat Uthmanra, Hazrat Anasra, and Hazrat Aishara etc., when performing nawafil, would have someone with a copy of the Quran sit next to them. If they forgot something, this person would prompt them, or they would offer nawafil behind an imam who would lead them while reading from a mushaf. (‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Sha‘rani, Kashf al-Ghumma ‘an Jamee‘i l-Ummah, Kitab as-salah, Fasl fi l-fathi ‘ala l-imam; Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-adhan, Bab ’imamati l-‘abdi wa l-mawla)

“Among the Four Jurists, Imam Abu Hanifa’srh stance is that reading from a physical copy of the Holy Quran during prayer invalidates the prayer. However, according to Imam Shafi‘irh, and one of Imam Ahmad’srh opinions, the prayer does not become void. In contrast, according to another viewpoint of both Imam Malikrh and Imam Ahmadrh, such an action is permissible in nafl prayer, but not in obligatory prayers. (Abd al-Wahhab al-Sha‘rani, Al-Mizan, Bab sifati s-salat, Vol. 2, Alam Al Kotob, 1989, p. 47)

“While commenting on these athar and the views of the jurists, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh stated:

“‘As far as the issue of a person offering salat [qari] and another person [sami‘] reading from a mushaf during prayer and the sami‘ then prompting from it is concerned, in my opinion, only Imam Abu Hanifa’srh viewpoint is correct [i.e., such an action invalidates the prayer]. The examples that have been given, such as Hazrat Aisha’sra servant Zakwan leading her in prayer while reading from a mushaf, are not ahadith but athar. These are not such athar, based on which the permissibility of this practice can be established on the authority of the Holy Prophetsa. The authority of athar in such important religious matters is not the same as that of Hadith.’ (Letter from Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh to Secretary Majlis Ifta, 11 May 1993)

“Likewise, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh, while drawing attention to the rectification of these issues mentioned in the book Fiqh-e-Ahmadiyya, issued the following directives to his private secretary, stating:

“‘Please send this page of Fiqh-e-Ahmadiyya to Rabwah [for review] and ask how these reports became acceptable. They are entirely nonsensical. In those times, the Quran did not exist in the form we have before us today. Instead, it was written on stones, skins, leaves, and the bark of trees. Would they keep stones and skins, among other things, in the mosque to provide corrective prompting? These assertions are such that they cannot be accepted under any circumstances. Such outrageous notions have somehow found their way into our jurisprudence. Hence, a thorough re-evaluation is required.’ (Fax to Darul Ifta, from the Private Secretariat, London, 6 January 1998)

“Further illuminating this matter, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh stated:

“‘There is no justification for prompting by reading from a physical copy of the Holy Quran during prayers. This practice neither existed during the time of the Holy Prophetsa, nor during the era of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs. If an imam made a mistake and someone from the congregation remembered the correct version, they would correct it, or else it was considered forgivable in the Sight of God.’ (Letter to Darul Ifta Rabwah, from Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh, 1 July 1992)

“Thus, my stance on this matter is that one should recite as much of the Holy Quran during prayers as one remembers and strive to memorise more of it.

“However, if one is in such a predicament that they do not recall any part of the Holy Quran—which denotes a state of utmost necessity, and such extreme necessity does not commonly occur—under these circumstances, one can temporarily make use of the tradition attributed to the Promised Messiahas. Yet, similar to how Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra has deemed this tradition permissible solely in conditions of dire need and compulsion, in my view too, it is not appropriate to make this practice a regular habit.”

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