In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy
Question to Shaikh Abdullaah Bin Humaid [rahimahullaah]: There is a masjid whose Imaam is a Haafidh of the Qur’aan and he has good understanding in the issues of the prayer, except that there are some defects on his tongue [i.e. in his pronunciation]; but he is from a non-Arab country. Is his Imaamship valid alongside the fact that there are those with a clearer tongue than him?
Answer: I say: [If] he is not able to pronounce the [letters] of the clear Arabic language, he might [read] some of the verses based on other than their intended [meaning], such as substituting (ر) with a ( غ ) or a (ح) with a (ه )- saying: (الرهمن), which is similar to what some non-Arabs do; saying: الهمد لله and substituting the (ح) with a (ه); [(saying) الهمد لله رب العالمين instead of الحمد لله رب العالمين] or substituting (ر ) with a ( غ) and what is similar to it; so, [in this case], it is not permissible to pray behind such a person, rather he should learn because the meaning of [what he recites] is the opposite [of what is correct]. And if his defects do not change the meaning, then there is no harm in praying behind him.
[If] his defects changes the meaning, it is obligated on him to rectify his tongue [i.e. his pronunciation] by learning the Arabic language and it is obligatory to get other people to be Imaam if he changes the meaning [in his recitation]. [Source: Al-Fataawaa Wad-Duroos Fil Masjidil Haraam of Shaikh Abdullaah Bin Humaid (rahimahullaah) Muhammad page:315-316]
Reminding The Imaam When He Makes a Mistake
It is Legislated to Remind The Imaam When He OMITS Something in His Recitation of The Qur’aan During The Salaah
In a Hadeeth reported by Imaam Abu Dawud [rahimahullaah], Al-Musawwari ibn Yazid al-Maliki [radiyallaahu-anhu] said that the Messenger of Allah [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] recited [i.e. the Qur’aan] in some prayer and left out something [i.e. omitted some verses accidentally], so a man said to him, ‘’O Messenger of Allah, you omitted such and such ayah!’’ So the Messenger of Allaah [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] said to him, ‘’’Would you have reminded me’’. [i.e. why did you not remind me of it?] [Ref 1]
Shams ul-Haqq al-‘Adheem Aabaadee [rahimahullaah] stated in his explanation of Sunan Abu Daawud: ‘’This shows that it is legislated to make known to the Imaam that he has left something [i.e. in order that he can rectify it during the Salaah]’’. [Ref 2]
Question to Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen: Is it obligated On Those Being Led in Salaah to Correct the Imaam If He Makes a Mistake in His Recitation of the Qur’aan?
Answer: If the Imaam makes a mistake in an obligatory recitation, such as in his recitation of [Surah] Al-Faatihah, it is obligated on those being led in prayer to rectify him. And if [the mistake occurs] in a ‘Recommended Recitation’ [i.e. a Surah other than Faatihah], we should examine [the affair]: If he altered the meaning, it obligatory to [help him to recite it again]; but if the meaning is not altered, it is not obligatory [i.e. i.e. to make him recite it again]. [Ref 3]
Do Not Be Hasty! Be Certain That The Imaam Has Stopped Due to a Mistake
Indeed, sometimes we find that some people are overzealous regarding this affair, so they rush to correct the Imaam, even though the Imaam only paused a little in order to seek Allaah’s Mercy when he reaches an Ayah that necessitates that etc
In a hadeeth reported by Imaam Muslim [rahimahullaah], Hudhaifah [radiyallaahu-anhu] said: I prayed with the Prophet [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] that night when he started Soorah al-Baqarah. So I said (to myself), ‘’He will make Rukoo after one hundred Aayaat’’. But he carried on after that, so I thought, ‘’He will finish it (the Soorah) in two Rak’aats.’’ But he carried on, so I thought, ‘’He will make Rukoo when he has finished it’’. Then he started Soorah an-Nisaa and recited it all, then he started Soorah Aal Imraan and recited it all. He was reciting slowly; when he came to an ayah in which there was glorification of Allaah, he glorified Allaah; at an ayah which had something to be asked for, he asked for it; at mention of seeking refuge, he sought refuge [with Allaah]…’’ to the end of the hadeeth [Ref 4]
Regarding Hudhaifah’s [radiyallaahu-anhu] statement: ‘’He [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] was reciting slowly; when he came to an ayah in which there was glorification of Allaah, he glorified Allaah; at an ayah which had something to be asked for, he asked for it; at mention of seeking refuge, he sought refuge (with Allaah)’’: Imaam An-Nawawi [rahimahullaah] said: In this is a recommendation regarding [the performance of] these acts by every reciter in the Salaah and other than it. And our madhab [regarding this affair] is that it is recommended for the Imaam, those praying behind the Imaam and the person praying alone’’. [Ref 5]
When Shaikh Uthaymeen [rahimahullaah] briefly discussed this affair [i.e. what Imaam An-Nawawi stated above] and stated that it is something legislated, he then said that if the person is listening to the recitation of the Imaam, then it is better that he does not busy himself with anything else besides keeping quiet and listening. And if the Imaam stops at the end of the Aayah and it is an Aayah about mercy, or an ayah about seeking refuge or an Aayah about exalting Allaah, then there is no harm in doing so. But if the person does this whilst the Imaam is continuing his recitation, then I [i.e. Shaikh Uthaymeen] fear that he [i.e. the person] will busy himself with this instead of listening to the Imaam….[Ref 6. End]
We’ve witnessed many times when the Imaam pauses a little to take a rest, but then some people rush to burden him whilst thinking that he has forgotten what to recite. Likewise, we sometimes find several people trying to rectify the Imaam at once and thus confuse and overburden him. Imaam Shawkaani [rahimahullaah] stated that it is disliked to hasten to rectify the Imaam. [Ref 7 End ]
Finally, we also remind ourselves that we should be absolutely sure that we are able to correct the Imaam, for there is no benefit at all in assuming that the Imaam has made a mistake, whilst we’re not sure and end up causing more confusion. If we are not certain whether the Imaam has made a mistake or not, then leave it to those people who are experts in the field- those well-known for that in the congregation. On the other hand, there are mistakes that can only be spotted by those brothers who are very proficient in the recitation of the Qur’aan and the rules of Tajweed, so leave the affair to them.
There Should Be No Exaggeration Regarding The Science of Tajweed And Burdening The Imaam
Also, we’ve come across- many times – people who exaggerate regarding recitation of the Qur’aan- going beyond bounds. Shaikh Rabee [may Allaah preserve him] has shed light on this affair in this link. http://www.rabee.net/ar/articles.php?cat=8&id=316
And Allaah knows best
[Ref 1:Hadeeth was declared Hasan by Imaam Albaani (rahimahullaah) in his checking of Sunan Abu Daawud. Hadeeth Number 907. Page 144. 1st edition Maktabah Al-Ma’aarif Riyaadh]: [Ref 2:See Awnul Mabood’; Publishers Daar Al-Fikr’ 1415AH (Year 1995)]: [Ref 3:Liqaa Al-Baab Al-Maftooh 3/29]: [Ref 4:Saheeh Muslim Hadeeth Number 772]: [Ref 5:See Saheeh Muslim Bi-Sharh An-Nawawi’ Vol 5-6’ page 55’ Publisher Dar Al-Kotob Al-Ilmiyyah 1st edition 1421AH (Year 200)]: [Ref 6:http://shamela.ws/browse.php/book-2300/page-2456 ]: [Ref 7:Fathul Qadeer 1/283]