Question # 213: Is it permissible for the person who is praying behind the imam in Taraweeh prayers to hold the Mushaf?

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: It is better for the people praying behind the imam to not hold the Mushaf, and to listen attentively to the recitation of his imam. Holding the Quran by the followers of Imam (Mamoum) might cause a lot of movements during the prayer which invalidate the prayer. However, if someone holds the Mushaf to correct the imam in case of necessity, then there is nothing wrong with that. But if each person holds a Mushaf, that is contrary to the Sunnah and not from the way of our pious predecessors.

Long Answer: Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked: What is the ruling on the person praying behind the imam holding the Mushaf during Taraweeh prayers?

He replied: “I do not know of any basis for that. It seems that he should focus with proper humility and not hold the Mushaf, rather he should place his right hand over his left as is the Sunnah, placing the right hand over the left wrist and forearm and placing them over his chest. This is the most correct view and is best. Holding the Mushaf will distract him from these Sunnahs, and his heart and eyes may become busy following the words on the pages and that may distract him from listening to the imam. What I think is that not doing that is the Sunnah, and that he should listen attentively and not use the Mushaf. If he has knowledge he will be able to prompt his imam, otherwise others will prompt him. Then if it so happens that the imam makes a mistake and is not corrected, that does not matter, unless it is in Soorah al-Faatihah, rather it matters only in Soorah al-Faatihah, because al-Faatihah is a pillar of the prayer which is essential. But if he omits some verses other than al-Faatihah, that does not matter if there is no one behind him who can alert him to that. If someone holds the Mushaf to correct the imam in the case of necessity, then there is nothing wrong with that. But if each person holds a Mushaf, that is contrary to the Sunnah.”

In his another reply, he (may Allah have mercy on him) added the following: “[This is so] because Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “So, when the Qur’an is recited, listen to it, and be silent that you may receive mercy” (Soorah al-A’raaf, 7:204) and “Successful indeed are the believers.

Those who offer their Salah (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness” (Soorah al-Mu’minoon, Soorah 23:1)

And [it was narrated that Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari (رضي الله عنه) said:] The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The imam has been appointed to be followed, so when he says takbeer, then say takbeer, and when he recites, then listen attentively.” [(Narrated by Muslim)]

No exception is made from that apart from the recitation of al-Faatihah only.  It was narrated that ‘Ubaadah ibn al-Saamit (رضي الله عنه) said: We were behind the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) in Fajr prayer, and the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) recited and the recitation became difficult for him. When he had finished he said: “Perhaps you were reciting behind your imam?” We said: Yes, that is so, O Messenger of Allah. He said: “Do not do that, except for the Opening of the Book (al-Faatihah), for there is no prayer for the one who does not recite it.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood; classed as sahih by Shaykh Ibn Baaz in his Fataawa) (Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz)

(The above reply is based on various answers by Islamqa.info)

According to Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah, Member of the Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America: “Holding a Mushaf while praying Taraweeh – or any other optional prayer is not literally prohibited, but it is not in a compliance with the Sunnah. A Mamoum (the follower of the Imam) does not need to hold a Mushaf, he should listen to the recitation of the Imam only. Additionally, holding a Quran by the… followers (Mamoum) might cause a lot of movements during the prayer which invalidate the prayer. It causes a lot of interruption to the Imam when many people correct him when doing mistakes in his recitation…” According to AMJAonline Jurisprudence Section: “There is nothing wrong with that, even though it would be better not to do it because it was not the way of our pious predecessors.”

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam