Errors of the Imaam
Q. Could you please advise me on how we go about correcting/assisting the Imaam during Fardh Salaah, and what the sin is for not correcting yet knowing the mistake, if there’s a sin attached, under the following conditions:
a) The Imaam changes a letter, i.e. reading a ت (taa) as a ط (taw) or reading a ك (kaaf) as aق (qawf)
b) The Imaam misses a couple of Aayaat, e.g. if a Surah has 10 Aayaat, he read the first five, misses the following three and goes on to the last two
c) The Imaam gets stuck whilst reading but does not go into ruku’ – he stands, hoping to remember the next Aayah
d) The Imaam sits for qa’dah in the third rakaat of a four-rakaat Salaah (Zuhr, Asr, Isha) instead of standing up for the last rakaat
The Imaam leading the Salaat should be fully qualified in the Art of Qiraat. A person who distorts the pronunciation of the huroof is not competent to lead the Fardh Prayer. It devolves upon the trustees of the Masjid to appoint as the Imaam of the five daily Fardh Salaats a fully qualified reciter of the Qur’aan Shareef who furthermore upholds the Sunnah and is obviously acquainted with the masaail of Tahaarat and Salaat.
(a) If the mistake corrupts the meaning of the Qur’aan to such a degree that holding such a belief, as in the corrupted recital, is kufr then the Salaat will break. The Salaat will have to be repeated. If, however, the mistake was not of such a grave nature – a kufr meaning is not produced – then the Salaat will nevertheless be valid. Understanding the Tafseer of the Qur’aan is imperative in determining which mistakes invalidate the Salaat and which mistakes do not.
(b) If the Imaam made a complete waqf (stop in recital) and then read from a few Aayaat further on then this does not invalidate the Salaat. If, however, he joined two Aayaat, the joining of which gives off a corrupt meaning, then the Salaat will become faasid. It is not permissible to unnecessarily skip Aayaat when reciting the Qiraat in Salaat.
(c) The Imaam should not coerce the muqtadis to correct him. He should not stand still and constrain the musallis to recite the Aayat or place he is stuck at. He should either recite from elsewhere or go into Ruku’ if the Sunnah length of Qiraat has been discharged.
(d) The muqtadis should simply say, “Subhaanallah” upon which the Imaam will realize that his sitting was an error.