Reading From the Mushaf in the Solah
What is the ruling on an imam who reads from the Mushaf when leading the solah in congregation?
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-‘ālameen. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, is His Messenger
The Majority views is that there is nothing wrong with reading Qur’an from the Mushaf during a Nawafil Solah, such as Qiyam al-Layl (The Night Prayers). But in the case of Obligatory Solah, it is makrūh to do so, because in most cases there is no need for it. But if there is a need, then there is nothing wrong with reading from the Mushaf in that case.
Ibn Qudāmah (rahimahullāh) said:
According to Imam Ahmad (rahimahullāh): There is nothing wrong leading the people in performing qiyam whilst looking at the Mushaf. It was said to him: What about obligatory prayers? He said: I have not heard anything concerning it.
Al-Qadi ‘Iyad (rahimahullāh) said: It is makrūh in obligatory solah, but there is nothing wrong with it in voluntary solah if one has not memorized (Qur’an), but if one has memorized Qur’an then it is also makrūh. According to Al-Qadi: Imam Ahmad (rahimahullāh) was asked about leading the solah whilst reading from the Mushaf in Ramadhan. Ahmad (rahimahullāh) replied: If that is necessary (it may be done); and it was narrated from Ibn Hamid that it is equally permissible in both nawafil and obligatory solah.
The evidence for it being permissible is the hadith recorded by Al-Bukhari narrated by Abu Bakar Al-Athram and Ibn Abi Dawud with their isnads from ‘Aishah (radiyallāhu`anha), according to which Dhakwān, her freed slave used to lead her in solah in Ramadhān, reading from the Mushaf.
Al-Zuhri (rahimahullāh) was asked about a man who read from the Mushaf in Ramadhan. He said: The best ones among us used to read from the Mushafs.
Reading from the Mushaf has been permitted because of the need to listen to the Qur’an and recite it in night prayers (qiyam al-layl).
The ruling on it being makrūh applies only to those who have memorized Qur’an, because they will be needlessly distracted from proper focus in solah (khushū’) by that, and from looking at the place of prostration. And it is makrūh in obligatory prayers in general, because usually there is no need for it.
Imam An-Nawawi (rahimahullāh) said:
“If a person reads Qur’an from the Mushaf, this does not invalidate his solah, whether he has memorized the Qur’an or not; in fact that is obligatory if he has not memorized al-Fātihah.
What we have mentioned, that reading from the Mushaf does not invalidate the solah, is our view and the view of Mālik, Abu Yūsuf, Muhammad and Ahmad.”
Shaykh Ibn Baaz (rahimahullāh) was asked whether it is permissible for the imam to read from the Mushaf during the five daily obligatory solah, especially Fajar when lengthy reading is required and there is the fear of making mistakes or forgetting.
Ibn Baaz (rahimahullāh) replied:
“It is permissible if there is a need for it, just as it is permissible to read from the Mushaf in Taraweeh for one who has not memorized the Qur’an. Dhakwān, the freed slave of ‘Aishah (radiyallāhu`anha) used to lead her in solah in Ramadhān, reading from the Mushaf, as was narrated by Al-Bukhari in his Sahih in a mu’allaq majzūm report. It is Sunnah to recite at length in Fajar prayer, so if the imam has not memorized al-Mufassal or anything else from the rest of the Qur’an, it is permissible for him to recite from the Mushaf. But it is prescribed for him to strive to memorize the Qur’an, or at least to memorize al-Mufassal, so that he will not need to read from the Mushaf. Al-Mufassal refers to the portion of the Qur’an that starts with Surah Qaf, up to the end of the Qur’an. Whoever strives to memorize, Allah will make it easy for him, as He says (interpretation of the meaning): “And whosoever fears Allāh and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty)” [Al-Talāq 65:2] ; “And We have indeed made the Qur’an easy to understand and remember; then is there anyone who will remember (or receive admonition)?” [Al-Qamar 54:17] And Allah is the Source of strength.”
[Majmū’ Fatawa Ibn Baaz, 11/117]
There is nothing wrong with reading Qur’an from the Mushaf during a Nawafil Solah, such as Qiyam al-Layl (The late Night Prayers). But in the case of Obligatory Solah, it is makrūh to do so, because in most cases there is no need for it. But if there is a need, then there is nothing wrong with reading from the Mushaf in that case.
And Allah Almighty Knows best.
[Via Islam Q&A (Fatwa No: 65924)]