About the validity of Salah despite lacking pronounciation

01 Oct 2018 Ref-No#: 1048

Peace be with you

I have a dire problem with correct pronouciation in Salah which has caused me deep depression. Let me first state clearly that Arabic is my mother language and that I have no problem pronouncing the letters of its alphabet in a correct manner. In my opinion this problem cannot be solved by learning because I have been speaking Arabic all my life and this issue transcends the Arabic language and is found in other languages that I speak. I have no problem with single letters, words or phrases if uttered individually but it is in the flow of speech, such as when speaking or reciting Quran or Dhikr of Salah that a chance of omitting or even adding a letter arises. Speaking slowly – and I am not one to speed through prayer – does not eliminate the problem. To illustrate the type of mistakes, here are some examples:

> Instead of “Attahyatu lillah” or “la ilaha illalah” I sometimes say “attahyatu llah” or “la ilaha illah” because my tongue fails to seperate from the palate between two ‘L’ especially when a Shaddah is involved.

> Instead of saying “Assalamu ‘alayka” I sometimes say “Assaamu ‘alayka” because my tongue could not reach the palate to form an ‘L’. I am aware of the altered meaning here.

> Instead of “Allahu Akbar”, I sometimes say “Allahu Akwar” because the lips don’t quite close or are improperly sealed to build up internal pressure for the ‘B’.

> When saying “Assalamu …” sometimes a bubble forms whereby the ‘U’ is obstructed resulting in what sounds like an elongated ‘M’ instead.

> Sometimes I fail to pronounce a ‘Q’ or ‘K’ because the back part of the tongue fails to contact the palate.

> Sometimes I pronounce a ‘T’ in place of a ‘D’ because my attempt at a ‘D’ was too hard.

Before I read that missing a single letter from a fard part of Salah is sufficient to invalidate it, everything used to be fine. I recited many Ayat in Salah and was endeavouring to pray in a meaningful manner. Yet ever since I learned that many months ago my life has become quite sad and depressing. I used to repeat the words that I mispronounced but then stopped doing so fearing that that might invalidate my prayer. Instead I went to repeating the prayers I made a mistake in. It used to take me up to more than ten attempts to succeed with a prayer. Salah became an empty exercise devoid of meaning. I then conjectured that maybe this is not what Allah expects of me even though I mispronounce in a manner that alters the meaning. So currently, I am trying to give myself only one attempt and ignore any mistakes but there are some problems:

1.) The rate of mistakes depends on how much I concentrate on pronounciation. If I lose focus or instead focus the meaning of Salah itself it may result in mistakes which I feel I could have avoided. Likewise, I often think that I should have kept my throat clear or dried my lip to avoid a given mistake.

2.) The rate of mistakes depends also on certain factors such as hunger, cold or tiredness. The Fajr prayer is the most difficult in terms of pronounciation because the muscles required for speaking are not fully active yet.

4.) Sometimes I simply get stuck in the middle of a word and then do not know how to proceed. Should I restart the word? Then what about the word fragment I failed to finish would that not invalidate Salah? So perhaps I should continue after the interraption with the other half? But what about the gap in between? So instead I just restart payer altogether because I think that in both cases it would be invalid.

3.) I could not find any shar’i confirmation that a condition like mine is excused.

So whenever I mispronounce something, especially when it changes the meaning, I find it very hard to ignore it and to walk away after finishing Salah. I have shortened my prayers and recite only certain short Surahs in order to lower the risk of mispronounciation. If I was to recite many Ayat like I used to, mistakes would almost be guaranteed.

I believe that there is something relating to this matter that I am clearly in the wrong about, otherwise Allah would not cause such immense distress about the validity of Salah. Whereas other people endeavour to educate themselves in this religion and improve their character I have only deteriorated and am frustrated about my situation and how I could not find a solution to it for so long. I could not sleep at night until I repeated a prayer I was unsatisfied with. I have stopped memorising Quran for now because of this. The fault, the error, the sin must lie with me – I am just unable to figure out what the right thing to do is.

Please help me.

Answer

Wa’alaykum as Salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

Islam is a practical religion, and Allah intends ease for us. Allah does not intend to make things difficult upon us.

In your specific case, you should not pay any attention to the errors. Do not think too much about keeping your lips dry , clearing your throat or about factors like hunger, cold or tiredness.

In a case where you get stuck in the middle of a word, if you already recited 3 verses, or one long verse, then just proceed into Ruku’.

If you get stuck in Surah al-Fatiha, or before reciting 3 verses, then just repeat the word once. If you still get stuck, then just continue after the interruption.

In short, you are excused for the errors and slip of your tongue. Allah knows what is in your heart, and you should not let the devil deter you. Your prayers will be valid, and you will not get any sin.

References

قال الله تعالي لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا (البقرة 286)

إن الله تجاوز لي عن أمتي الخطأ والنسيان وما استكرهوا عليه (اخرجه ابن ماجه وهو حديث حسن)

وَإِنْ كَانَ مِثْلُهُ فِي القُرَآنِ وَالمَعْنَى بُعِيدُ، وَلَمْ يَكُنْ مُتَغِيرَاً [تَغْييراً] فَاحِشَاً تَفْسُدُ[أَيْضَاً عِنْدَ أَبِي حَنِيفَةَ وَمُحَمَّدٍ]، نَحْوَ: { إِنَّا كُنَّا } غافلين مكان { فَاعِلِين } وَهُوَ الأحْوَطُ
وَقَالَ بَعْضُ المَشَايخِ: لا تَفْسُدُ لِعُمُومِ البَلْوَى ، وَهُوَ قَوْلُ أَبِي يُوسُفَ رَحِمَهُ اللهُ تَعَالَى   (منية المصلي وغنية المبتدي – ص: 183)

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