Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Question: Assalam’aleykum. After recitation of the Fatihah, what is the shortest amount of Qur’an that can be recited? Does this apply to the imam, and what if he read less? Is this different for Taraweeh? When leading oneself and one recites less than this minimum and forgets the next verse, what is the best course of action?
Answer: Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.
The Minimum Recitation
The minimum obligatory (fard) amount is one short verse in total. Allah Most High commands, “Recite whatever is made easy for you of the Qur’an.” [Qur’an, 73.20].
The necessary (wajib) amount is the Fatiha and the extent of three short verses, based on Prophetic practice and instruction. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah] This is necessary recitation is necessary in the first two rakats of the obligatory prayer, and in every rakat of non-obligatory prayers (such as sunna and voluntary prayers). [ibid.]
Recitation in Tarawih
The above also applies to tarawih, according to the majority opinion. There are secondary opinions allowing even briefer recitation (even one short verse). While superior to avoid, if the imam follows this, one’s prayer behind them would be considered valid and sound.
As an aside, completion of the Qur’an in tarawih prayer is an established, recommended sunna–but not required for sound tarawih prayer. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Ibn Nujaym, al-Bahr al-Ra’iq] The basic sunna of tarawih prayer is fulfilled by briefer recitation, as well.
Among the wisdoms of Muslims striving to complete the Qur’an in tarawih is also to fulfill the Prophetic encouragement to, “Complete the Qur’an in a month.” [Bukhari and Muslim] This is an encouragement throughout the year (not just Ramadan) and completing the Qur’an in tarawih prayer can be an encouragement to bring recitation of the Qur’an into one’s life.
And Allah alone gives success.