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Imam not pronouncing the letters with the correct makhraj in salah

My question is in regards to salah. On a regular basis I begin to have doubts as the local masjid that I have prayed
almost all my salah’s in for the past 6-7 years has Imam’s who unfortunately have weak makhraj. This is especially the
case with letters that need to be pronounced from the throat such as ‘ain and qaaf. Therefore, I always think to myself that
these prayers that I have been reading for quite a while have not been accepted. I’ve thought of going to other masjid’s
but they are further away and thus attending all the jama’ats is not so easy, and also the followers in my local mosque
who I have a good relationship with are likely to question me as to why I have decided to go to another masjid to offer
my salah. Am I wrong to have such doubts and if not, what would you recommend I do?

  In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.Answer

The Hanafi jurists have mentioned the following rules with regards to making a mistake in recitation during salah:

  1. If the person makes such a mistake in which the meaning of the Holy Quran is changed.  The Salah in this case will be deemed invalid irrespective of whether three verses of the Holy Quran was recited or not.
  2. If the mistake is such that the harakaats were changed.  For example zabar was read instead of zer etc.  In this situation the salah will not be rendered invalid.  However, if by changing the harakaats the meaning of the Holy Quran changed then the salah will become void.
  3. If a person read a certain letter instead of another letter and it was possible to differentiate between both without any difficulty the salah will break.  However, if it was difficult to differentiate between the letters for example ‘seen and saad’ then if he changed it intentionally the salah will be rendered void, otherwise it will be considered intact.
  4. If a person read extra words in which the meaning of the verse changed the Salah will be rendered invalid, whether the extra words he read were in the Holy Quran or not.  However, if the meaning does not change then whether the extra words he read are mentioned in the Holy Quran or not, his salah will remain intact.  (Fatawa Hindiyyah p.79 v.1)

If the Imam did not differentiate between certain letters such as Seen and Thaa and read Thaa instead of Seen then such a mistake changes the meaning of the Holy Qur’an, which lead to the salah breaking.

Mufti Rashid Ahmad has said that it is compulsory for an Imam to know and learn the correct pronunciations of the letters of Arabic and with regards to the other rules of tajweed such as ikhfa and idghaam it is only desirable for him to learn it. (Ahsanul Fatawa p.86 v.3)

The conclusion to your question is that if the Imams recitation is causing lahne Jale (a mistake where the meaning has changed) then it would be best to pray salah in another masjid.  Explain to the other muqtadis in a gentle way of your decision. However, I would like to stress that the aforementioned answer applies when the incorrect pronunciation is done clearly. If it is not clear then you should not doubt the Imams recitation whether he is pronouncing some words properly or not.

Only Allah Knows Best

Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham.

This answer was collected from DarulIftaBirmingham.co.uk, which is run under the supervision of Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah from the United Kingdom.

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