What are the making mistakes in recitation? What is the dhallat al qari?
Principles of Dhallat Al-Qari
There is a consensus that if a word of the Qur’an is deliberately changed and the meaning is corrupted by it, such a recitation will invalidate the prayer. However, there is an exception if the word is about praising Allah and it is intentionally changed with another word to praise Allah Almighty. However, it is deemed impermissible to even have the audacity to do such a thing.
A mistake in recitation of the Qur’an is called “dhallat al-qāri (reciter’s error)”.
The Ḥanafis have two views on this issue. One of them is the opinion of the mutaqaddimūn (earlier jurists), and it is considered the view that is the most apt concerning the path of caution. The Shafiʿis also adopted this view. The other is the opinion of the mutaakhkhirūn (later jurists) and it is regarded as lenient. The Islamic jurists who lived until the middle of the eleventh century are called mutaqaddimūn (earlier jurists), and those who lived after this date and who interpret the Islamic rules according to new needs are known as mutaakhkhirūn (later jurists).
A) The Period of Mutaqaddimün (Earlier Jurists)
The following types of recitation invalidate the prayer:
1) Any misreading that alters the meaning so much that it becomes blasphemous to believe in such a thing.
2) Every reading that is not found in the Qur’an.
3) The prayer is invalidated due to a recitation, which changes the meaning excessively in comparison to the original meaning. For example, using words with similar pronunciation but different in meaning such as saying “hādha’l-ghubār (this dust)” instead of “hādha’l-ghurāb (this crow)”. Moreover, the prayer is invalidated by a word that does not have any similar words in the Qur’an and that does not make any sense. For example, saying the meaningless word “as-sarāil” instead of “as-sarāir”, which means secrets. Furthermore, the word “as-sarāil” is not to be found anywhere in the Qur’an, either.
According to Abu Ḥanīfa and Imam Muhammad, the prayers are also invalidated by expressions that have similar words in the Qur’an, but whose meaning is far from the meaning of the original word, but which does not distort the meaning exorbitantly. According to Abu Yusuf, such a recitation does not invalidate the prayer. This is because such recitations are generally recognized as being difficult. There is a common situation (‘umūm al-balwā) in this matter. This is the view that the Ḥanafi school as a whole adopts.
If there is no word similar to the changed form in the Qur’an but the meaning is not changed by the erroneous recitation, contrary to the above issue, according to Abu Ḥanīfa and Imam Muhammad, the prayer is not invalidated. However, according to Abu Yusuf, it is invalidated. For example, saying “Qayyamīn” instead of the word “Qawwāmīn”.
In this situation, Abu Ḥanīfa and Imam Muhammad took into account whether the meaning in the Qur’an changed excessively with the mistakenly misread wording. If the meaning changes too much, the prayer is considered invalidated. Otherwise, it is not considered invalidated. Moreover, whether or not the incorrectly recited word has a similar word in the Qur’an does not change the result. Abu Yusuf, on the other hand, took as a criterion whether there is a similar word in the Qur’an or not. He argued that if there is a similar word found in the Qur’an, even if there is an extreme change in meaning, the prayer will not be considered invalidated. However, if there is no similar word found in the Qur’an, the prayer will be invalidated even if there is no excessive change in meaning.
B) The Period Of Mutaakhkhirün (Later Jurists)
The conversion of societies to Islam that did not know Arabic led to the emergence of the problem of recitation and vowelizing the Qur’anic verses. By facing the difficulties in pronouncing the letters, and vowels, dividing the words from their appropriate places, and similar issues, the mutaakhkhirūn (later jurists) introduced the following principles regarding those who made mistakes in recitation:
1) The mistake in the ‘irāb (the last vowel of a word that changes in accordance with the place of the word in the sentence) does not necessarily invalidate the prayer. Whether the meaning changed caused by this error entails blasphemy or not does not change the result. This is because most people cannot distinguish the ‘irāb aspects of the Quran from each other. For example, in the case of the verse “wa izibtalā ibrahīma rabbuhu” (al-Baqara, 2: 124) (When his Lord tried Abraham)”, reciting the word Ibrahīma as Ibrahīmu, and the word rabbuhu as rabbahu. In the latter case, the meaning of the verse takes the form: “When Abraham tried his Lord…”, and such a meaning is deemed inappropriate. In like manner reciting the word “naʿbudu (We worship)” as “naʿbidu” is considered inappropriate and incorrect.
2) If a letter is erroneously read instead of another letter found in the Qur’an, the principle followed is that if two letters are close in terms of their articulation points, as in kaf (ك) and qaf (ق), or if their articulation points are same and if it is permissible to make ibdāl (convert one to the other) between them such as “like sīn (س) and ṣād (ص)”, then such an act does not invalidate the prayer. The same applies to reading “falā takhar (فَلَا تَكْهَرْ)” instead of “falā taqhar (فَلَا تَقْهَرْ)” and “as-samad (سَمَد)” instead of “aṣ–ṣamad (صَمَد)” or “fathun garīb” instead of “fathun qarīb (ﻓَﺘْﺢٌ ﻗَﺮِﻳﺐٌ)”.
3) In cases where it is possible to distinguish between two letters without any difficulty, reciting such another letter instead of the original does invalidate the prayer. For example, reading “tā (ت)” as in “at-tāliḥāt (التَّالِحَاتُ)” instead of “ṣād (ص)” in the word “aṣ-Ṣāliḥāt (الصَّالِحَاتُ – good deeds)” is unacceptable. Another example of such erroneous reading is the sentence “Allahu aḥad (اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ)” as “Allahu aḥat (اللَّهُ أَحَت)”.
4) If there is a difficulty in distinguishing between two letters read differently, the prayer is not invalidated by such a reading, according to the majority, since it is a common situation for the majority of the people. An example of this is reading with sīn (س) the word “as-sirata (سِرَاطَ)” instead of using the correct letter “ṣād (ص)” in the word “aṣ-ṣirāṭa (صِرَاطَ)”.
5) Even though there is no accord or closeness in articulation points between two letters, and if there is a common problem and it is difficult to distinguish between them, pronouncing one of them instead of the other does not invalidate the prayer according to many jurists. This means for instance reading “dāl (د)” instead of the letter “ḍāḍ (ض)”, or pronouncing the letter “za (ز)” or “ẓi (ظ)” instead of “dhal (ذ)”. The situation of the letters “ṣād (ص)” and “sīn (س)”, “ṭi (ط)” and “ta (ت)” is the same.
For example, reading “wa lā’ẓ–ẓāllīn (وَلَا الظَّالِّينَ)” instead of “wa lā’ḍ–ḍāllīn (وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ)”, that is, reading “ẓi (ظ)” or “za (ز)” instead of “ḍāḍ (ض)” does not invalidate the prayer. However, there are other views on this matter. Moreover, anyone who is able to distinguish these letters is not allowed to do this alteration and knowingly reciting it in this way invalidates the prayer.
6) It does not invalidate the prayer to recite by error a letter with a shadda (ّ) without a shadda, and a letter without a shadda with shadda, to recite a long letter short, or a short one long, a letter with idghām without idghām, or a letter without idghām with idghām. For instance, reading the word “iyyāka (إِيَّاكَ)” as “iyāke (إِيَاكَ)”.
Reading a soft letter as hard and a hard letter as soft is also of this nature. For there is a common mistake in these matters. For example, reading “Lā rayba (لَا رَيْبَ) (reciting the ra sound soft)” instead of “Lā rayba (لَا رَيْبَ) (reciting the ra sound hard)”.
7) The addition of a letter to any word from the Qur’an does not invalidate the prayer, either. In reading “aṣ–ṣiraṭ alladhīna (الصِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ)” instead of “ṣiraṭ alladhīna (صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ)”, the definite article (ال) added at the beginning does not invalidate the prayer, since it does not affect the meaning, even though it is not found in the text of the Qur’an.
8) The prayer is not invalidated by connecting the letters of one word to another in the Qur’an. For example, “iyya kana’budu (إِيَّا كَنَعْبُدُ)” where the original form of this phrase is “iyyaka na’budu (إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ) (We only worship you)”. However, it is still important to pay attention to not pause between such words by interrupting the sound.
9) If a part of a word from the Qur’an is cut off in prayer, for example, saying only “al (الْ)” then continuing with the word “ḥamd (حَمْدُ)” instead of “al-ḥamdu (الْحَمْدُ)” due to forgetfulness or shortness of breath, or if a word to be read is not remembered and switched to another word, according to the majority, the prayer is not invalidated. This is because there is a necessity and a general problem in regards to forgetting or being short of breath. For example, if one recites just before the rukūʿ “maṭla’il-faj (مَطْلَعِ الْفَجْ)” instead of “maṭla’il-fajr (مَطْلَعِ الْفَجْرِ)” due to shortness of breath, the prayer is not considered invalid.
10) If a letter is added to a Qur’anic verse by mistake, and if the meaning does not change, the prayer will not be considered invalid. For example, reading “yudhiluhum nāran (يُدْخِلْهُم نَارًا – He puts them in the fire)” instead of “yudhiluhu nāran (يُدْخِلْهُ نَارًا – He puts him into the fire)”. But if the meaning changes, according to another view, the prayer is invalidated. For example, reading “wa innaka la mina’l-mursalīn (إِنَّكَ لَمِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ وَ – I swear that you are one of the sent prophets)” instead of “innaka la mina’l-mursalīn (إِنَّكَ لَمِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ – You surely are one of the sent prophets)”. By adding this letter here, an oath is formed. However, other scholars say that the prayer will not be invalidated in this latter case.
11) If a letter of a word from the Qur’an is accidentally missed while reading if that letter is from the original word and the meaning changes, the prayer is invalidated according to Abu Ḥanīfa and Imam Muhammad. This is just like reading “‘alnā (عَلْنَا)” instead of “wa ja‘alnā (وَجَعَلْنَا)” or “مِمَّا َزَقْنَاهُمْ – mimmā zaqnāhum” instead of “mimmā razaqnāhum (مِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ – out of what We have provided for them)”.
In like manner, although it is not from the original word, if a meaning that leads to disbelief occurs due to dropping a letter, the prayer is considered invalid. For instance, reading “wa mā khalaka’dh-dhakara al-unthā (وَمَا خَلَقَ الذَّكَرَ الْأُنثَىٰ)” instead of the correct reading “wa mā khalaka’dh-dhakara wa’l-unthā (وَمَا خَلَقَ الذَّكَرَ وَالْأُنثَىٰ)”.
If the dropped letter is not originally from the text or if the meaning does not change by dropping the letter even if it is originally part of the text, the prayer is not considered invalid. An example of this is the reading of the word “al-Waqi’atu (الْوَاقِعَةُ)” without the letter “tā” as “al-Waqi’a (الْوَاقِعَ)”.
12) If a word in the Qur’an is repeated in the ritual prayer, and if the meaning does not change with the repetition, the prayer is not considered invalid. However, according to some other jurists, it is invalidated. This is the sound view. For instance, reading “رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ رَبِّ – rabbi rabbi’l-ʿalamīn (Lord of the Lord of the worlds)” instead of “rabbi’l-‘alamīn (رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ – Lord of the worlds)”. If a person knows that the meaning of the Qur’an verse will change with this, and he or she does it intentionally, the ritual prayer is considered invalid. However, if it is recited due to the effort of pronouncing the letters better or due to a slip of the tongue, it is more appropriate not to invalidate the ritual prayer.
13) Moreover, the prayer is not considered invalid as well if the meaning is not undone by mistakenly adding a word to the Qur’anic verses during the recitation, or dropping a word or a letter from the Qur’anic verses, or changing the place of a word or letter by moving it forward or later, or by altering the Qur’anic verse with another word or letter. For example, reading “تَعَالَ – taʿāla” by removing the letter “ya” from “taʿālā jaddu Rabinā (تَعَالَىٰ جَدُّ رَبِّنَا – And Exalted is the Majesty of our Lord)”, reciting “infarajat” instead of “infajarat”, or “ayyāb” instead of “awwāb”. As long as the meaning does not change, such recitations do not invalidate the ritual prayer.
If the word added to the Qur’anic verse by error is found in the Qur’an and does not change the meaning, then it does not invalidate the prayer. An example of this, for instance, is mistakenly adding the word “wa birran (and goodness)” to the end of the verse “لَا تَعْبُدُونَ إِلَّا اللَّهَ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا –Lā ta’budūna illallāha wa bi’l-walidayni iḥsānan (Worship none but Allah; treat with kindness your parents.)”.
However, although the added word is in the Qur’an, if it changes the meaning in a way that causes disbelief, then it is considered to have invalidated the prayer. For example, adding the word “(wa kafara (and becomes a disbeliever)” after the word “ṣāliḥan” to the verse “مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ – Man āmana billāhi wa’l-yawmi’l-akhiri wa amila ṣāliḥan falahum ajruhum (Any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward)”, reverses the meaning. Therefore, it invalidates the prayer.
If changing the places of the words does not cause a change in meaning, the prayer is not invalidated. For example, reading “fihā shahīkun wa zafīrun” instead of “fihā zafīrun wa shahīkun”. However, if the meaning changes, the prayer is considered invalid according to the majority of jurists.
In like manner, changing the places of the words naʿīm and jahīm in the verse of “وَإِنَّ الْفُجَّارَ لَفِي جَحِيمٍ . إِنَّ الْأَبْرَارَ لَفِي نَعِيم- Inna’l-abrāra lafī na’īm wa inna’l-fujjāra lafī’l-jahīm (As for the Righteous, they will be in bliss; and the Wicked – they will be in the Fire)” also reverses the meaning and makes it sound like that a good person will go to hell.
14) The mistake made in a reading, which causes a lineage to be understood differently, also invalidates the prayer. For example, the prayer is invalidated by reading “Maryam ibnatu Gaylān (Mary, daughter of Gaylan)” or “Isa ibn Luqmān (Isa son of Luqman)”. This is because it is a theological premise that Jesus was born without a father and the previous attribution contradicts the Qur’an.
15) If a person who speaks with a lisp pronounces the letter “ra” as “ga” or “lam” or “ya”, his prayer will not be considered invalid. For example, saying “labbi’l-alamīn” instead of “rabbi’l-alamīn”. However, such a person should attempt to correct his or her pronunciation as best as possible and choose and read the verses that he or she will not have difficulty in reading. Such a person is considered to be an “ummī (illiterate)”.
Those who read the word “al-ḥamdu lillāhi” as “al-hamdu” or the verse “qul huwallāhu aḥad” as “kul huwallāhu aḥad” but cannot read it otherwise are like the person with a lisp.
If a person returns and corrects his recitation after making an exorbitant mistake in prayer, his prayer will become valid.
According to the Shafiʿis and the Ḥanbalis, an error in recitations other than Fatiḥa does not invalidate the prayer. However, if such a person deliberately misreads it in a way that distorts the meaning, his prayer and the prayer of the congregation that follows him will be considered invalid. Moreover, if a person misreads the Fatiḥa in a way that changes the meaning while performing a prayer, his prayer will be considered invalid whether he did the misreading knowingly or by mistake. This view is based on the principle that prayer without Fatiḥa is not permissible. This is because, according to these schools, it is farḍ to recite the Fatiḥa in prayer.
 Ibn Abidīn, ibid, I, 589-593; al-Zuhaylī, ibid, II, 20 ff.; Bilmen, ibid, 217 ff.
 Ibn Qudāmah, Mughnī, II, 198; al-Zuhaylī, ibid, II, 21 ff.; Bilmen ibid, 221 ff.
Source: Basic Islamic Principles (ilmiḥal) According to the Four Sunni Schools With Evidence From The Sources of Islamic Law, Prof. Hamdi Döndüren, Erkam Publications