Are Our Imams too Fast, or Are We too Slow?

Alhamdulillah… All praises and thanks are due to Allah, Who has given us the strength and realization to appreciate this Ramadhan and strive to live it to the fullest of our capacity, as possilbe. May His Peace and Blessings be upon Habibi Muhammad, his household, his companions and all those who follow his guided path.

This article discusses a story I encountered, during this Ramadhan (2013) pertaining Taraweeh, where some fellow Muslims believe that Imams don’t give them enough time to recite their Tashahhud supplications.

On Friday, 26/7/2013, I delivered a short talk at Masjid Al Abdul Razak, Jalan Ismail, Singapore. A man among the audience approached me and raised a concern; that he doesn’t get enough time to recite Tashahhud, especially during Taraweeh.

I’m therefore writing this article:

  1. To convey the message, which the man entrusted me, to any Imam, who leads in Taraweeh or any other Solat, and happens to be reading this article; and
  2. To provide an answer, to the man, whom I hope he’ll come across it, in a way or another, as he didn’t give me the opportunity to respond to his concern; from different perspective.

According to the man, who I appreciate very much for raising his concern and speaking up, he’s not able to read half of the Tashahhud, before the Imam finishes his, and rises for another set of Raka’ahs.

According to him, he only manages to recite the basic du’a of Tashahhud. And it seems, to him, that the Imams only recite the basic du’a, and don’t recite the Al-Salatul-Ibrahimiyyah, which is part two of three parts of Tashahhud.

Here, I find it important to indicate, that Tashahhud comes in three components.

  1. The basic du’a of Tashahhud
  2. Al-Salawatul-Ibarahimiyyah (greetings upon The Prophet Muhammad)
  3. Du’a in which we seek refuge in Allah from four things

Below is the supplications recited in Tashahhud, in its three components:

Component One:

التَّحِيَّاتُ لِلَّهِ، وَالصَّلَوَاتُ وَالطَّيِّبَاتُ. السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكَ أَيَّهُا النَّبِيُّ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ. السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْنَا وَعَلَى عِبَادِ اللهِ الصَّالِحِينَ. أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ، وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّداً عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ

It means, “Glorifications (of any kind) is for Allah. All acts of worship and good deeds are for Him. Peace and the Mercy and Blessings of Allah be upon you, O the Messenger. Peace be upon us and all of Allah’s righteous servants. I bear witness that none has the right to be worshiped except Allah, and Muhammad is His slave and Messenger”.

Component Two:

اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا صَلَّيْتَ عَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَعَلَى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ. اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا بَارَكْتَ عَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَعَلَى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ

It means, “O Allah, send prayers upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, just as You sent prayers upon Ibrahim and upon the family of Ibrahim. Verily, You are full of praise and majesty. O Allah, send blessings upon Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad, just as You sent blessings upon Ibrahim and upon the family of Ibrahim. Verily, You are full of praise and majesty.”

Component Three:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أُعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ عَذَابِ جَهَنَّمَ، وَمِنْ عَذَابِ القَبْرِ، وَمِنْ فِتْنَةِ المَحْيَا وَالمَمَاتِ وَمِنْ شَرِّ فِتْنَةِ المَسِيحِ الدَّجاَّلِ

It means, “O Allah, I take refuge in You from the punishment of the grave, from the torment of the Fire, from the trials and tribulations of life and death and from the evil affliction of Al-Maseeh Al-Dajjaal. (the False Messiah)”

Click here, to read more about supplications recited in Solat.

The first component (alone) is recited in any first Tashahhud, where the prayer consists of two Tashahhud(s). This is according to the majority of scholars. Some scholars, however, opine that the first and second components (of Tashahhud) are recited in the first Tashahhud.

The first component, together with the other two components, are recited in any last Tashahhud in Solat. This is where some followers find problems with their Imams.

Sitting for the first Tashahhud is a recommended Sunnah, and if it’s left unintentionally (due to forgetfulness) one must do “Sujud Sahw”. And if it’s not done purposely, then one’s prayer becomes invalid. This is in accordance to the school of thought of Imam Al-Shafiee.

Sitting for the second Tashahhud is classified to be Rukn (an essential component) of Solat, which if it’s not observed, intentionally or unintentionally, one’s prayer becomes invalid. That particular Solat must be repeated, and one must ensure the final Tashahhud is sat for, and the supplications are recited accordingly.

The concern raised by the fellow Muslim reminded me of another Brother, who similarly complained, three years ago, that Imams read their Tashahhud very fast. That was not in Taraweeh, but rather in the obligatory prayers. I happened to have prayed beside him (my friend) several times, and I knew that he recited his supplications in his prayers at a very slow pace. So when he commented, I said to him:

Maybe you recite your supplications at a slower pace.

Luckily, his friend was there, and immediately seconded me. My friend’s son, who was also present, loudly added:

Yeah, dad! You are too slow ‘lah!’ (in reciting your supplications, during Solat).

Alhamdulillah… their interference gave some credibility to my response. And it was only then, that my friend realized that, there’s a possibility for his complaints/concerns to be addressed without alerting the Imams.

For the one who finds it difficult to catch up with the Imam, especially in the final Tashahhud, he can continue to finish the recitation of his Tashahhud, even if the Imam had finished his Solat (with Salam).

Today, during Taraweeh, after every two sets of Raka’ahs, the Jama’ah rest for a while, to recite some Zikr. The time used to do that, is ample enough, for anyone who recites his Tashahhud at a slow pace to finish up, before they rise for another set. This practise is across South-East Asia, and in some Middle-Eastern countries. As for Singapore, I’m certain, that it’s practised in 90% of the mosques here.

Another option we can consider, as part of the solution, is to speed up, a (little) bit, when we recite our Tashahhud. Speeding up means to be moderate; neither too slow, nor too fast. We can certainly be as slow as we wish when we pray alone, at home, doing our Faraidh, Nawafil or Qiyamullail.

Now, it’s time for confession, on behalf of Imams (in Solat). It’s certainly true, that some Imams are rocket-fast in their Solat. Sometimes, you wonder what is their objective of the Solat (Taraweeh in particular)? Is it for physical exercise, for pleasing people or for fulfilling Ramadhan requirement? None of the above should be the case. Taraweeh is an act of worship, through which we seek Allah’s Pleasure. Thus, it has to be done, with concentration, focus and perfection.

I ever prayed behind one Imam, who lectured the audience to observe ‘Khushu’ and to pray, as if that was their last and final prayer. Not until he started, that I realized, that the reminder he gave came from his tongue, but not from his heart. The nature of his Solat was in the total.

Let’s perform our Taraweeh with moderation. Since in Taraweeh people gather from different walks of life; we have old men and women, we have children, we have the sick, we have those who come after long and tiring working hours, and in fact, we have those who have fully devoted themselves for Ramadhan, thus they are willing (because they expect) to stand for as longer as possible. With all these people behind you, as an Imam, the only way out is to be moderate in your recitation and speed. No matter how, you can’t fulfill the desire of every single individual in the Jama’ah. So just be moderate.

At the end of the day, the audience has many mosques to choose from. If one mosque performs 20 Raka’ahs, there are many mosques which pray only 8 Raka’ahs. If another mosque recites one full Juz’ (20 pages) every night, there are many which recite only 5 pages in 20 Raka’ahs, within 20-30 minutes. The vice (of all the above is) versa. The point I’m trying to make here, is that, we have many choices of mosques to choose from. No matter what expectations we set for ourselves, be it in Ramadhan or outside Ramadhan, there are different mosques that serve that. It’s just a matter of whether we find them or not.

We shouldn’t be too fast… And we don’t have to be too slow.

May Allah bless the one who finds this article useful and shares it. May Allah bless the Reader of this article. And may Allah accept from the Writer. Ameen.

I welcome your comments and would love to hear from you. Ramadhan Kareem!

Allah knows best.

Allahu Hafiz 🙂