Adding the third testimony in Tashahud

Question 268: Why do Usooli Shia Muslim consider Tashood cannot be changed with 3rd Sahada of Imam Ali AS. If azaan is added with Ali Un Wali Ullah.

Answer 268: As the prayer is Tawqifi act we must not add anything other than what shariat allowed us to do. Since, the third testimony is not a part of prayer we are not allowed to add it in tashahud.[1]

There are different narrations regarding zikr (recital) of Tashahhud. However, all jurisprudents consider what they have mentioned in their Manuals of Islamic Laws (Resalah) as sufficient. When it comes to reciting more azkar (plural of zikr) in Tashahhud, if one recites them without the intention of wurud (i.e. doing an act which has no religious origin or validation), there is no problem in it but if he recites with the intention of wurud, some scholars have allowed reciting an additional zikr keeping in view that some of the narrations have been accepted and others have not.[2] However, most of the jurisprudents have sufficed to the zikr that has been mentioned in the Manuals of Islamic Laws.


Makarem Shirazi (ha): The precaution is that Tashahhud has to be recited as usual.

Saafi Gulpaigani (ha): Tashahhud has to be recited in the same way that has been prescribed in the book of Islamic Laws.

Noori Hamedani (ha): There is no objection in reciting the azkar without intention of wurud.

Sayyid Sistani (ha): The third testimony must not be recited in Tashahhud, as an obligatory precaution. It is recommended to recite the following zikr the second testimony in Tashahhud: “Arsalahu bil haqqi bashiran wa naziran bayna yada yis sa’ah, wa ashhadu anna rabbi ne’mar Rab wa anna Muhammadan ne’mar Rasul and then recite the salawat.”

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answer:

Index: “Ashhadu anna aliyyan waliyyullah” in Adhan and Iqamah, answer 276.


[1] . Imam Khomeini, Istiftaat, Vol. 1, Pg. 167.

[2]  Grand Ayatollah Sistani (ha).


How to Repent from Sins committed in the month of Ramadan

Question 139: I have done a very bad sin in the month of Ramadan. I went to the masjid for fajr on drugs. Everyone knew I was high. How do I repent from this sin and how do I stay on the straight path?

Answer 139: There are several aspects to your question that need to be addressed including the following:

  • Method of Repentance
  • Medical Issues of Addiction
  • Issues Related to Fasting
  • Public vs. Private Sins
  • The Issue of Hopelessness

Method of Repentance: There are some elements necessary to achieve repentance. One of the methods is knowledge. “…those of His servants only who are possessed of knowledge fear Allah Surely Allah is Mighty, Forgiving.”[1]

Realization of the serious sinful nature of intoxication and its consequences is an important element. Substance abuse is particularly dangerous to one’s soul because it can lead to a host of other sins, lead to bad deeds becoming more fair-seeming, afflict one’s ability to feel the weight of ones sins, and contribute to hopelessness in Allahs (swt) mercy. Imam Al-Ridha (as) said, “Allah (swt) forbade the drinking of wine, since it causes corruption, disturbance and intoxication of the mind and becomes the cause of all the sins including: murdering, falsely accusing chaste woman of adultery, committing adultery, lessening abstinence, and refraining from forbidden deeds.[2]

Consuming intoxicants is mentioned as one of the greater sins, “They ask you about intoxicants and the games of chance. Say, in both of them there is a great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profit.”[3]

Another method is regret or remorse, as it states in the Holy Qur’an Allah (swt) says, “And He it is who accepts repentance from His servants and pardons the evil deeds and He knows what you do”.[4] Another method is a strong will and intention. Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (as) said, “A man never gets weak if he is strengthened with a firm intention (will).”[5]

Another method is doing extraordinary good deeds which cause forgiveness of bad deeds. Just as it states in the holy Quran, “And keep up prayer in the two parts of the day and in the first hours of the night. Surely good deeds take away evil deeds. This is a Reminder to the mindful.”[6]

To set these elements in place, one must continually work for and pray for his/her increase in correct knowledge of the straight path. Upon realizing one’s sin one should feel sincere regret and remorse over the action, not just in getting caught at it, and one should make a clear intention, resolve and plan to reform.

Once someone said in front of Imam Ali (as), “Astaghfirullah” (I ask Allah’s forgiveness), then Imam Ali (as) said, “Your mother may lose you! Do you know what ‘istighfar’ (asking Allah’s forgiveness) is?”[7]

‘Astighfar’ is meant for people of a high position. It is a word that stands on six meanings:

To repent over the past.

To make a firm determination never to revert to it.

  • To discharge all the rights of the people so that you may meet Allah quite clean with nothing to account for.
  • To fulfill every obligatory act which you ignored (in the past) so that you may now do justice with it.
  • To aim at the flesh grown as a result of unlawful earning, so that you may melt it by grief (of repentance) till the skin touches the bone and a new flesh grows between them.
  • To make the body taste the pain of obedience as you (previously) made it taste the sweetness of disobedience. On such occasion you may say: ‘astaghfirullah’.[8]

Medical Issues of Addiction: In the case of drug abuse, in addition to sincere repentance, one may have another issue to address. Several substances commonly abused by drug users may cause addiction. Addiction can be very powerful and may in some cases not be addressed through strength of will alone. One who is sincerely resolved to quit drug abuse may need to pursue medical and/or psychological assistance to achieve success. Without knowing individual details of this case, it is not possible to recommend particular resources but only to suggest that they might be needed. If such steps are needed, fulfilling them would be a necessary part of true and successful repentance.

Issues Related to Fasting: There may be concern about the validity of one’s fasts when under the influence of a drug. If a person eats or drinks something during the time period of fasting, this breaks one’s fast and requires both Qada (making up the fast) and kaffarah:

If a person eats or drinks something intentionally, while being conscious of fasting, his fast becomes void.[9]

In the following situations, both Qada and Kaffarah become obligatory, provided these acts are committed intentionally, voluntarily and without any force or pressure, during the fasts of Ramadan: (i) Eating and (ii) Drinking. If one committed such acts but didn’t know the rules concerning those acts which void his\her fast there would be no need to pay Kaffarah.

Making his\her fast up is sufficient in this matter. (Note: if one was able to know and learn the rule but didn’t, one must compensate and pay Kaffarah as well, according to Ayatollah Sistani (ha).

The kaffarah of leaving out a fast of Ramadan is to: (a) free a slave, or (b) fast for two months or (c) feed sixty poor to their fill (or give one mudd 3/4 kg.) of food-stuff, like wheat or barley or bread etc. to each of them. If it is not possible for him to fulfill any of these, he should give sadaqa according to his means and seek divine forgiveness. And the obligatory precaution is that he should give Kaffarah when he is capable to do so.[10]

If a person breaks his fast with something haram, whether it is haraam in itself, like wine or adultery or has become haram due to some reason, such as any food which is normally permissible but it is injurious to his health, or if he has sexual intercourse with his wife during haidth, he will have to observe all three Kaffarah, as a recommended precaution. It means that he should set free a slave, fast for two months and also feed sixty poor to their fill, or give one mudd of wheat, barley, bread etc. to each of them. If it is not possible for him to give all the three Kaffarah, he should perform any one of Kaffarah which he can possibly give.

Islamic Laws / Smoking during the time of fasting: It is an obligatory precaution not to allow the smoke of cigarettes and tobacco and the like to reach the throat while fasting.

Ayatullah Khamenei: As an obligatory precaution, smoking isn’t permissible while fasting.

Ayatullah Makarem Shirazi: It is an obligatory precaution that one who is fasting abstains from smoking cigarettes and all tobacco products, in addition to not allowing thick smoke reach his throat. Going to the shower where there is steam is okay.

Ayatullah Bahjat: The fast not being broken by dust or smoke that isn’t thick, isn’t a substitute for food and isn’t tonic, isn’t devoid of reason, although abstaining is ahwat (in accordance with precaution).

Ayatullah Nouri: The fasting individual must abstain from thick steam that changes back to liquid in the mouth and also, as per obligatory precaution, must not allow the smoke of cigarettes and tobacco products and the like to reach his throat.

Ayatullah Zanjani: In the holy month of Ramadan, smoking and using tobacco products openly in a way that is disrespectful to the fast is impermissible, and if it isn’t disrespectful, it is still impermissible as per precaution. In the case of an individual smoking, he should still abstain from all other invalidators of the fast until Iftar, and also must perform the Qada (make up for) that day.[11]

Ayatollah Sistani: Smoking during the time of fasting invalidates the fast. Injections do not necessarily break one’s fast unless the substance being injected is in place of food, for hydration, or is in itself the intoxicant.

Keeping all this in mind, if the drug was consumed during the period of fasting, it is possible that the fast was voided and Qada and Kaffarah may be called for. If the drug was consumed during the night, it is possible the fast is still in order unless ones intoxication resulted in something else that voids one’s fast. If one has questions about a specific case, a follow-up question may help clarify.

Public vs. Private Sins: Committing a sin in public can be of particular concern if it contributes to corruption of others. If one is inviting others to join in the sin, this is a further sin upon the first sin. Although the drug was not consumed publicly, being under its influence publicly provides evidence of the sin to others. Absent the condition of other persons knowing of the sin, then the public sin is the same as a private sin.

It is important to remember that Allah (swt) is Omnipresent and we cannot in truth, hide our sins. We should be more concerned about Allah (swt) witnessing our sins. We must strive to increase dhikr (remembrance) of God at all times, and remember that it is His opinion that matters, not the opinion of people. Good deeds performed so that others will notice are of little benefit and sometimes even harmful to one’s soul. In some cases where people are more concerned about the opinion of other people, instead of God’s, this can be a form of shirk (polytheism).

The Issue of Hopelessness: Hopelessness or despair can often be associated with addiction or drug abuse because of the great effects it has on one’s soul and the difficulties many experience in conquering it. It is known as the second greatest sin after polytheism. Amirul-Mu’minin (as) said to the man who was prevailed by despair of God’s mercy out of his many sins, “You, to despair of the mercy of Allah is the greatest sin that you have ever committed.”[12] “…and despair not of Allah’s Mercy; surely none despairs of Allah’s Mercy except the unbelieving people.”[13]

In conclusion, we have tried to address in detail the question, how to repent and avoid such a situation in the future and include resources for further assistance.

In some situations, some outside help may be necessary to overcome drug, alcohol, and tobacco addiction, in addition to the spiritual and repentance measures that must be taken, for the sake of your soul and Allahs (swt) pleasure. There might also be some underlying psychological issues stemming from either clinical or situational depression or other issues with mental health, in which case a licensed professional could be utilized to deal with those underlying issues. You will be able to find such help in your local areas by the suggestion or referral of your primary care physician.

Warding off Bad Thoughts: The relationship is always mutual. Our relationship with God is sometimes severed and cut off or tend to become weak; but He is always everywhere with us. God, the Exalted says, “And He is with you wheresoever ye may be. And Allah sees well all that ye do.”[14] Hence, if our connection with God becomes weak, we must look for the cause or setback. It has been said that the best way to get friendly with someone is to be in touch with them more often. Psychologically, this point has been considered to be undeniable and without a shred of doubt.

We must try to find what has created a distance between us and God. Sometimes arrogance, haughtiness, jealousy, feeling of needlessness and other sins which originate in the mind, create a distance between us and God. That is to say, the thinking power has been paralyzed in the sense that it cherishes only bad thoughts. Sometimes, some sins are committed by organs and limbs causing an obstruction (barrier) between us and God.

As you have stated in your message, it is likely that your separation from God may originate in those thoughts. Since, there is a thought behind every action, and an action beyond knowledge, we should control the mind and not let everything enter it. Although such an action seems to be difficult, the results are very positive.

Sometimes, the thoughts that enter the mind come from the Shaitan which should be warded off and repelled immediately because they force man into action. God, the Exalted says, “And most surely the Shaitans suggest to their friends that they should contend with you.”[15] Therefore, one should prevent satanic thoughts from entering his mind.

One of the biggest and most important factors that leads man away from God and causes him to become negligent are unwanted memories.”[16]

Some of these ungodly memories have so much influence on the individual that he loses his concentration amid performing the best act of worship i.e. prayer. It is therefore necessary to prevent the growth and development of such memories. The memories develop gradually as a result of talking and speaking with someone, listening, being in some gatherings, reading some magazines etc. When they get profuse and accumulated, they create some sort of enthusiasm. Finally, they become part of a man’s secondary habit coming easily to his mind and causing him to be oblivious of God. For this reason, those who have a materialistic mindset are constantly seeking worldly pleasures.[17]

As was said earlier, it is necessary to prevent such thoughts from entering the mind and one should endeavor to ward off those thoughts that are coming to his mind. The Qur’an gives a solution; (one should guard himself against evil things and remember God. He should be careful as to where he goes, what he reads, listens, eats and wears. When he takes care of all these, gradually, zikr (remembrance) of God will be instilled in his heart and thereupon, good memories will be formed in his mind. For this reason, the Qur’an suggests “remembering God” as a way for coming out of negligence and for seeking proximity to the Truth).[18]

God, the Exalted says, “O you who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance.[19] When remembrance increases in one’s heart, he starts to get interested in Him and this interest becomes his secondary habit so much that he remembers God in all situations.

Having said that, one should, therefore, pave the way for purifying and cleansing his heart and mind from bad memories and from impurities by remembering God and preventing the evil influences of negative and tormenting thoughts.

Note: Some of the answers have adapted (with a lot of changes have been made on) from:;;;;;

[1] . Holy Qur’an, 35:28.

[2] . Wasail-Shia – Volume 17, Page 22.

[3] . Surah al-Baqarah 2:219; Refer to the book of Ayatollah Dastghaib wrote about this in detail, Vol. 1&2.

[4] . Surah Shoura, verse 25.

[5] . Biharul Anwar, Vol. 67, Pg. 211; Biharul Anwar, Vol. 67, Pg. 205, hadith 14.

[6] . Surah Hud, verse 114.

[7] . Biharul Anwar, Vol. 93, Pg. 285.

[8] . “الجنة محفوفة بالمکاره و جهنم محفوفة باللذات و الشهوات” Wasa’ilul-Shia, vol. 15, pg. 309, section 42 (the section that speaks of refraining from haram desires and pleasures).

[9] . Tawzihul Masael of maraja, Vol. 1, Pg. 891, Q 1572.

[10] . Tawzihul Masael of maraja, Vol. 1, Pg. 931.

[11] . (Araki, Golpaygani, Khu’i, Fazel, Tabrizi, Sistani, Safi) the rest of the issue hasn’t been mentioned; Ajwibatul-Istifta’at (in Farsi), inquiries 744 and 760; Tawdihul-Masa’el (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 1, pg. 903, issue 1605.

[12] . Al-Mahjatul baida’i, Vol. 7, Pg. 253.

[13] . Surah Yūsuf 12:87.

[14] . Surah Al-Hadid, verse 4.

[15] . Surah An’am, verse 121.

[16] . Javadi Amuli, Abdullah, Stages of Morality in Quran, pg.30.

[17] . Ibid, pg.32, with minor modifications.

[18] . Stages of Morality in Quran, pg.34 and 35.

[19] . Surah Al-Ahzab, verse 41.


Surah al-Hamd or Tasbihat in the third and fourth Rakaat of Prayers

Question 553: Asalam alaikum. Is it better to read sura fateha in the third and fourth rakat of salat or is it better to read subhanillahi alhamdolillahi walaillaha ilallah huwallahuakbar 3 times? Surah al-Hamd or tasbihat?

Answer 553: A person offering prayer is at liberty to recite Surat at-l-Hamd and Tasbihat: “Subhanallah, val hamdu lillah, va la illaha illallahu vallahu akbar” (in Arabic) in the third and fourth Rak’ats of obligatory prayers.

It is not far from being preferable for the Imam to recite the Surahs and for the followers to recite Tasbihat. But, for a person offering prayer individually, both are the same. Read More


Hudhur al-Qalb in worshiping Allah

Question 014: If a woman feels distracted at the masjid and feels less intimacy when speaking to Allah (swt) (for example: unable to cry in public, has more trouble being mindful during prayer because of the crowd, etc) especially on a valuable night such as Laylatul Qadr, would it be best that she stays home and follows guidelines she finds online to make best use of the night or is it better to pray and worship in congregation?

What if she is relatively new to Shia Islam and doesn’t know how to perform the all night prayer on her own but she can perform the special 2 rakah prayer and all the other Duas and Dhikr on her own?

Answer 014: According to some Ahadith narrated from our Infallibles (pbuth), a woman who prays at home will get equal reward as praying at a mosque. They also say: if a woman prays at her house she will get more rewards than praying at other places. [1]

Given the supposition made in the question, if a woman feels distracted at the Mosque and has the problems that don’t let her has the complete presence of mind and heart throughout her prayers she would be able to stay at home offer her prayers, recite dua and finally do the righteous deeds.

It is noteworthy to say that our scholars, based on the following reasons, recommend us to have the complete presence of mind and heart in worshipping Allah, the Almighty.

Hudhur al-qalb in worshiping Allah, the Almighty means to not allow thoughts that have to do with material matters, whether they are personal or pertaining to others, and in general, thoughts that are in contradiction with the hereafter to enter one’s mind. But thoughts that conform to the nature of Ibadat (worship) do not disturb hudhur al-qalb in anyway. So, it is safe to say that this is a personal thing where everybody should be their own judge when it comes to saying whether a thought distracts their heart or not. The presence of the heart (hudhur al-qalb) in prayer has its levels and those who have reached the highest levels have completely forgotten and turned their backs on everything except Allah.

The great figures of our religion have introduced many methods for attaining khushu (humbleness) and hudhur al-qalb in prayer that can be helpful:

Specifying a place for worshiping Allah (SWT) like prayer can also help, which is exactly why praying in front of objects that cause distraction is makruh, it is also makruh to pray in front of an open door and passages, before a mirror and pictures and so on. This explains why the more simple a mosque is built the easier it will be to have hudhur al-qalb. Abstaining from sin is a pivotal element because sins separate us from God.[2]

A person offering prayer must have complete presence of mind and heart through-out his prayers, regardless of its words and actions. So nothing is counted as prayer from a devotee but what has been done in such condition. It means full attention towards the prayers and to what he utters and complete attention towards the Worshipped Being, whose Majesty is Glorified. He should be cognizant of His Greatness and the glory of His Dignity. He must sever himself from everything other than Him. He should find himself as if in the presence of the greatest of all the great kings of kings addressing Him and invoking His Favour. Once he is cognizant of all this, an immense awe shall enter his heart. Then he shall see himself responsible for negligence in the fulfillment of his duties and obligations, and shall be frightened. Then he shall realize the abundance of His Favour, and shall hope to receive His Reward. He shall find himself in a state of hope and fear, and this is the quality of the accomplished ones.

This quality has several degrees and innumerable ranks according to the statures of the worshippers. He must have humility and submission and peace of mind and heart and sobriety. He must have cheerful appearance and should apply perfume, brush his teeth and comb his hair before starting his prayers. He must offer his prayers like one bidding farewell, and should renew his penitence, invocation and asking forgiveness. He must stand like a humble slave in front of his Master. He should be sincere while uttering the words “We worship but Thee and ask help but from Thee”. He must not utter these words while he is still the adorer of his own desires and asking the help from others than his own Master.

He must also make all endeavors for removing the hindrances lying in the way of the acceptance (of his worship) like self-conceit, jealousy, pride, back-biting and avoidance of the payment of Zakãt and non-fulfillment of all due rights which are the real impediments in the way of acceptance (of the prayers).[3]

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answer:

Index:  The best place for a woman to pray is at home or mosque, answer 015.

Index: The Secret of Prayer / Sirr us-Salat, answer 589.

Index: Estrangement from people or being with them, answer 060.

[1] . Wasaiel al-Shia, Vol. 5, Pg. 237, Allamah Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 80, Pg. 371; Sheikh Saduq, Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih, Vol. 1, Pg. 374, H 1088; Abul Qasim Payandeh, Nahjul Fasahah, Pg. 474, H 1532.

[2] . Surah Ahzab, verse 33;  Sayyid Quṭb, In Tafsir Fi Zilal Al-Quran, Vol. 5. Pg. 2859;  Banu Amin, Tafsir Makhzanul-Irfan, vol. 1, pg. 103; Tafsir Makhzanul-Irfan, vol. 9, pg. 9; Tafsir Nemouneh, vol. 14, pp. 205-206;  Al-Kafi, vol. 2, pg. 268 “كان أبي (ع) يقول: ما من شيء أفسد للقلب من خطيئة، إنّ القلب ليواقع الخطيئة فما تزال به حتّى تغلب علیه فيصيّر أعلاه أسفله”

[3] . Tahrir al-Wasilah of Imam Khomeini (ra), Vol. 1, Preliminaries of Prayer.


Observing Jahr and Ikhfat in prayers / Zuhr and Asr quietly

Question 012: Zaid used to offer his prayers in his heart (i.e. he didn’t utter the words (Jahr)). Neither his elders nor his teacher told him the correct way of offering the prayers (i.e. afternoon prayers should be recited in such a way so that one can at least hear his words and morning and evening prayers must be recited loudly). He came to know about these rulings after three or four years since he became a follower (muqallid). So what is the ruling for his earlier prayers in which he didn’t utter (some) words?

Answer 012: According to all maraja’, those prayers that been offered without observing Jahr (loudly) and Ikhfat (quietly) would be considered as valid, if you didn’t know the rules in regards to recite surah al-fatiha and Ikhlas loudly in subh (morning), maghrib (evening), aid isha ‘ prayers or quietly in zuhr and asr prayers.

From now on, you should observe and learn Islamic rules related to the above mentioned issue.

Note:  It is not obligatory to express Intention (Niyyat) loudly, as it is something relating to the heart, as it is not obligatory to express it in the heart or speak in the imagination or present it in the mind, so that the person must only bring it into his thinking and the treasure of thought.

If a person raises his voice loudly at the time of Dhikr or recitation (of Surahs) in order to let the other learn it; it shall not be nullified when the basic purpose of both had been obedience (to Allah’s command).

It is obligatory to offer Zuhr and Asr prayers quietly except reciting Bismillah It is obligatory for men to offer the morning, Maghrib and Isha prayers loudly (Jahr) so that if a person does the reverse of it deliberately his prayer shall be void. However a person who does so due to forgetfulness or rather generally a person who does so inadvertently or one who is ignorant of the rule at all and unaware of asking about it, is excused, and rather such person shall not be required to repeat the recitation (in its proper form, slowly or loudly) in case mean while the excuse is removed.

As regards one who knows the rule briefly but does not know its right place of application or one who forgets it or one who is ignorant of the rule at all but who is aware that he must ask about it would be more cautious for him to offer prayers gain although according to the stronger opinion their prayer shall be valid if they have had intention of closeness to Allah in such cases.

Women are not allowed to offer prayers loudly. Rather in case there is no stranger there they may adopt a course between quiet and loud recitation but it is obligatory on them to adopt silence where it is so in case of men and they are also excused where men have been excused.

It is recommended for men to recite Bismillah loudly with Surat al Hamd (Chapter 1 of the Quran) and the other Surah in Zuhr and Asr prayers in the same way as it is recommended for them to recite loudly in Zuhr prayer on Friday, but they should not give up caution by reciting it quietly.

The basis for reciting quietly or loudly is the expression of the voice of a person or otherwise, and not its hearing or otherwise by the person beside him.

It is not permissible to be inordinately loud while reciting loudly as shouting, in the same way as it is not permissible to be so quiet that he may not hear himself when there is no impediment.

It is recommended to recite Qunut in the daily obligatory prayers, and it is emphasized that it should be recited loudly; rather it is more cautious not to avoid it. Its place is before the Ruku’ in the second Rak’at after having finished the recitation of the Sürahs (of the Quran). If a person forgets (to recite before kneeling down in the second Rak’at), he may recite it after raising the head from the Ruku’, and then he may perform prostration.

It is recommended in a Salat al-Ayat to recite loudly regardless whether it is offered at night or in the day, including even the prayer offered for solar eclipse, as well as the Takbir every time the person kneels to perform the Ruku’ or rises from it except when he rises from the fifth and tenth Ruku’s, when he says “Sami’ Allàhu liman hamidah” (who has been praised has heard), and then performs prostration.[1]

[1] . Tawzih al-Masael of maraja (with annotation of Imam Khomeini), Vol. 1, Pgs. 549, 550, 610, 550.


Do we have to pray in Arabic language

Question in short 010: Why do we have to pray in Arabic language?

Question 010:  I know this has more than likely been ask before, but, here goes. I understand the reasoning that we do certain things like Prophet Muhammad(SAW) especially salah, i read in Ad-Dukhan 44.58 that the Qur’an was made easy in they tongue so we can take heed. I can’t speak arabic very well at all, main salahs and I read transliterations when I pray,I understand that we do this because Prophet Muhammad(SAW) recited them im Arabic, it was his native language, my native language is English(USA), will Allah only honor the obligatory prays if they are only spoken in Arabic? Please forgive my newbiness

Answer 010: In order to give the appropriate answer we need to know what is being asked exactly. If the question is asking about why some other language wasn’t chosen to pray instead of Arabic, the same question will come up for those who don’t speak that other language. But if the question is about why we have to perform prayers only in Arabic and why it isn’t permissible for one to pray in his/her mother language, then we need to pay attention to the following points to get an answer to the question.

1- The main reason behind performing prayers only in Arabic after the fact that it is part of the prophet’s (pbuh) Sunnah and that in general, all forms of worship need to be dictated to us by Allah (swt) the way He wants them to be performed, is to avoid the alteration of the form of prayers throughout the different ages and to be protected from any potential change, and if every individual is to perform prayers in the language he/she speaks there would be a fairly great possibility of the alteration of the prayers by adding or omitting some words or even mixing it with superstition, there were also chances of these changes would leading to other changes in the fundamentals of the prayer and little by little the concept of praying would lose its importance and would be completely forgotten.

Obviously in order to prevent an act from fading away during different ages and eras, there needs to be an unchangeable criteria and measure that it can be judged by. For example, length is measured by the unit of centimeters and millimeters and weight is measured by the unit of kilograms and grams. The units and in other words the criteria never changes with the pass of time and this applies to praying too, meaning that there are certain criteria for prayers which are the wajib acts and the fundamental acts of prayer and among these fundamentals is saying the wajib phrases in Arabic.

2- Islam is a global religion that aims to unite all Muslims and without a language that they can understand each other through, such a goal is achievable. Arabic, which according to the experts, is one of the most comprehensive languages that has the potential to be an international language, one which Muslims can be united by and will remain as a sign of Muslim unity, just like in other aspects of Islam, like praying towards one Qibla and so forth.

3- Some may think that forcing people who aren’t good at Arabic to pray in this language is not fair because of the trouble they need to go through to learn it. In this regard one must say that learning a total of 20 words (without counting the words repeated more than once) that are used in the prayer isn’t considered difficult for those who can easily learn and use tens and hundreds of words and phrases of other languages! Add to that the fact that the simple meanings of the phrases in prayer are easy to learn and understand and all people are capable of learning the simple meaning of (بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم) and other phrases, although these phrases do have profound and deep meanings as well.

4- According to language experts, Arabic is one of the world’s most comprehensive languages that has the capability of conveying deep meanings in short and beautiful phrases.[1]

5- It is not obligatory to perform all acts of worship in Arabic. For example, some Islamic scholars’ fatwas do not say that it is wajib[2] for the marriage contract to be pronounced in Arabic; some great scholars like Imam Khomeini say that if a person isn’t capable of pronouncing the marriage contract in Arabic and is able to get an agent (wakil) to do it in Arabic for them, it isn’t necessary and he/she can do it his/herself in his/her own language.[3]

Also, it isn’t necessary to do supplications and call Allah (swt) in Arabic and is okay to talk to Him in other languages (of course not in prayer) and according to the fatwa of the majority of faqihs (jurists), one can pronounce all phrases of the prayer other than the wajib ones in other than Arabic, especially in the qunut (which isn’t wajib)[4]. What was said of course was not meant to encourage Muslims to ignore the meanings of the phrases in prayers, for all Muslims are responsible of learning the meanings of these prayers and supplications in order to understand what he/she says while speaking to Allah (swt). This gives rise to one’s worship not being a mere formality anymore, giving it life and integrity, helping him/her rise in spirituality.

[1] . Al-Mizan, vol. 4, pg. 160; Tafsir Nemoneh, vol. 9, pg. 300, and vol. 13, pg. 311.

[2] . Mo’allaqate Ayatollah Gerami, vol. 4, pg. 645.

[3] . Urwatul-Wuthqa, vol. 2, page 645.

[4] . Tawdihul-Masa’ele Maraje’, vol. 1, pg. 62.