What chapters and verses did the Prophet (pbuh) read in prayers?

Details of the Question
What chapters and verses did the Prophet (pbuh) read in prayers?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The Prophet (pbuh) did not read certain chapters and verses in prayers all the time.

It is makruh (abominable) to read certain chapters in prayers every day. However, if a person does so due to being very busy, it is not makruh. It is definitely regarded as makruh for a person who has a view that it is wajib to read such and such chapters in such and such prayer. For, such an obligation did not become certain through narrations or ijtihads. (at-Tahawi - al-Isbijabi / Alaaddin Ali)

Then, it is more appropriate to read different chapters and verses on different days and it is in compliance with the spirit of the sunnah. It is especially necessary for the imam to pay attention to this issue. Otherwise, the people who follow the imam and who do not have fiqh knowledge may think that it is wajib to read certain chapters or verses in certain prayers.

How long should qira'ah (recitation) be in prayers under normal circumstances? What length is better for qira'ah in different prayers?

It is appropriate to read a chapter that is about 40-50 verses long in both rak'ahs of the morning (fajr) prayer after the chapter of al-Fatiha. In the noon prayer, the qira'ah is slightly shorter than the morning prayer. It is stated in the book called al-Asil that the qira'ah in the noon prayer should be shorter than that of the morning prayer. This is the true criterion. It is appropriate to read a chapter that is about 20 verses long or 20 verses in both rak'ahs of the night (isha) prayer after the chapter of al-Fatiha. A short chapter is read in the evening (maghrib) prayer in both rak'ahs after the chapter of al-Fatiha. This is sunnah or mustahab. (al-Muhit / Sarakhsi)

Most of the fiqh scholars have determined a general criterion as follows regarding the issue: It is more appropriate to sunnah to perform the fards of the morning and noon prayers with tiwal mufassal, the fards of the afternoon and night prayers with tiwal awsat and the fard of the evening prayer with short chapters if a person is not a traveler. (al-Wiqaya / Taj ash-Shari'a)

Explanation: Tiwal Mufassal are the chapters between the chapter of al-Hujurat and al-Buruj.

Tiwal Awsat are the chapters between the chapter of al-Buruj and the chapter of al-Bayyina.

Short chapters are the chapters from the chapter of al-Bayyina to the end of the Quran. (al-Muhit / Sarakhsi - al-Wiqaya / Taj ash-Shari'a)

As for the qira'ah in the witr prayer,

it is understood from the sound narration reported from the Prophet (pbuh) that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sometimes read the chapters starting with “sabbih isma rabbika”, “qul ya ayyuha'l kafirun” and “qul hu-wa'l-lahu ahad”and that he sometimes read other chapters and verses. For, reading the same chapters all the time causes one to stop reading the other chapters in prayers, which is not very appropriate.

Then, the most appropriate act is to read in accordance with the criterion stated as mustahab. To read more than this criterion is appropriate for a person who performs a prayer individually, but it is not appropriate for the imam because it is not right to tire the congregation. (Tahawi)

It is sunnah to read longer in the qira'ah in the first rak'ah of the morning prayer than in the second rak'ah. There is consensus on it. Imam Muhammad accepts it as mustahab to read longer in the qira'ah in the first rak'ah of all prayers. Fatwa on the issue is according to the view of Imam Muhammad. (Mi'raju'd-Diraya - Fatawa-yi Hindiyya)

There are similar and different views regarding the eid and Friday prayers. Imam Muhammad says the same thing is mustahab for those prayers.

How long should the difference between them be?

According to the majority of fiqh scholars, the difference should be two thirds. That is, the chapters or verses read in the first rak'ah should be almost twice longer than that of the first rak'ah.

According to Tahawi, it is appropriate to read thirty verses in the first rak'ah and ten verses in the second rak'ah. There is no drawback to increasing the ten verses to twenty verses, which is more appropriate. The fatwa is in accordance with the latter.

As for the decree regarding qira'ah, there is no drawback to reading the longest chapter in the first rak'ah and the shortest chapter in the second rak'ah. For, the qira'ah which is fard and wajib is fulfilled; the ratio mentioned above is the most appropriate and the best one.

It is stated in the book called al-Khulasa that it is makruh to read three or more verses longer in the second rak'ah than the first rak'ah and that it is not makruh to read fewer than three verses longer. This is a nice and easy way for the people in general.

According to Marghinani, who wrote the book called al-Hidaya, the length of the qira'ah needs to be calculated based on the number of words not the number of verses. However, if the verses are about the same length, calculation based on the number of verses is appropriate. (at-Tabyin / Zaylai)

Hz. Husayn says,

«When we went to Khorasan for war, there were at least 300 Companions with us. When some of them led the prayer, they would read the chapter of al-Fatiha and one verse from any chapter.»

According to a sound narration, Ibn Abbas readthe chapter of al-Fatiha and one verse from the chapter of al-Baqara in both rak'ahs.» (Daraqutni)

Abdullah bin Saib says,

«The Messenger of Allah read the chapter of al-Mu'minun in the morning prayer. When he started to read the part related to Moses (Musa) and Harun (Aaron) or Christ (Isa), he started to shiver slightly and bowed down.»

Hz. Umar read one hundred and twenty verses from the chapter of al-Baqara in the first rak'ah while he was leading a prayer. He read a chapter which had fewer than one hundred verses in the second rak'ah.

Al-Ahnaf read the chapter of al-Kahf in the first rak'ah and the chapter of Yunus or Yusuf in the second rak'ah.

Ibn Mas'ud read forty verses from the chapter of al-Anfal in the first rak'ah and a mufassal chapter in the second rak'ah.

Ibn Qayyim says,

«When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) led a prayer, he would read the chapter of al-Fatiha and another chapter in the first rak'ah; he would do the same in the second rak'ah, too. However, he sometimes read a long chapter; when we traveled, he would read a short chapter; in general, he read a chapter of medium length.»

According to the determination in Fiqh as-Sunnah,

the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sometimes read the chapter of "Qaf" in both rak'ahs; he sometimes read the chapter of "ar-Rum", "at-Takwir" and "az-Zalzala". He sometimes read the chapters of al-Falaq and an-Nas, especially when he travelled.

(Celal Yıldırım, Kaynaklarıyla İslam Fıkhı, Uysal Kitabevi: 1/268-275.)

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