In what order should we read chapters of the Quran in prayer? Is it makruh to read them without an order? Will you give information about the lengths of chapters and the order of reading them in prayer?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is sunnah to follow the order of the chapters in the Quran in prayer. There are also some scholars who say it is mustahab. According to the first group, in the second rak'ah, it is makruh to read a chapter that is before the chapter one has read in the first rak'ah. It is necessary to act in accordance with the order among verses too. Some scholars say it is makruh to ignore the order in a rak'ah while reading a few verses, that is, to skip one or more verses after reading a verse and to continue with other verses, but others say it is permissible. The decree is like the one about the chapters. (al-Muhit / Sarakhsi - Fatawa al-Hindiyya)

All of those decrees are about fard prayers. It is not necessary to follow the order in the Quran in sunnah and nafilah prayers. One can read in the order that is easy for him.

However, if one forgets to read in the order in a fard prayer or starts to read a chapter before the one in the first chapter as a slip of tongue, he does not have to change it; he completes the chapter that he has started; sajdah as sahw is not necessary either. For, he is regarded to have abandoned a sunnah or mustahab by doing so. (az-Zahira / Tajuddin)

If a person wants to read the chapter of Aal-i Imran but, as a slip of tongue, starts to read the chapter of al-Baqara and if he wants to change it after reading one or two verses, he will have committed a makruh deed. The view that it is makruh to change even after reading one or two words is more common. Fatwa is based on this. Explanations will be made accordingly.

If a person finishes qira’ah and wants to bow down for ruku’ but decides to read a few more verses before bowing down, it is permissible. However, if he returns and reads more verses after he bows down, it is makruh. (Fatawa al-Hindiyya - al-Khulasa)

If a person reads only al-Fatiha or al-Fatiha and one or two verses, it is makruh. However, abandoning the extra chapter after al-Fatiha deliberately is regarded as abandoning wajib; therefore, it becomes necessary to perform that prayer again. If he abandons it by mistake, he performs sajdah as-sahw. (al-Muhit / Radiyuddin Sarakhsi)

As a matter of fact, Abu Qatada states the following in a sound narration regarding the issue:

«The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) read al-Fatiha and a chapter in the first two rak’ahs of the noon, afternoon and morning prayers in both rak’ahs. He read only al-Fatiha in the last two rak’ahs of the noon, afternoon and night prayers. We usually could hear the chapters he read. He read longer in the first rak'ah than the second rak'ah.» (Bukhari - Muslim - Abu Dawud - Fiqhus-Sunnah)

It is more virtuous to read a full chapter in the rak'ahs in which it is necessary to read an additional chapter after al-Fatiha in prayers. However, it is also permissible to read one part of a chapter in one rak'ah and the other part in the other rak'ah; it is not makruh.

It is not makruh to read the end of a chapter in the first rak'ah of a prayer and the end of another chapter in the second rak'ah according to the sound view.

It is not makruh to read from the middle or the end of a chapter in one rak'ah of a prayer and from the beginning or end of another chapter in the other rak'ah or to read a short chapter. However, one should not do so unless there is a necessity.

It is not makruh to read one chapter in one rak'ah of a prayer and to read a chapter after it in the other rak'ah if there are two or more chapters between. However, it is makruh if there is only one chapter between. However, if the chapter that is skipped between two chapters is at least three verses longer than the previous one, it is not makruh.

It is not makruh to read a verse and to move on to another chapter of the same verse if there are at least two verses between but it is better not to skip unless there is a necessity.

It is not makruh to read two chapters in one rak'ah. However, it becomes makruh if one or more chapters are skipped. Nevertheless, it is more appropriate not to read two chapters in one rak'ah in fard prayers.   

It is makruh to move from one verse to another in one rak'ah unless there is a necessity. It is makruh even if there are three verses between. However, if a person reads like that by mistake and remembers it, he reads those verses in order again.

If a person reads a verse in place of another verse and stops fully at the end of it and if he starts to read another verse, his prayer is not invalidated. If a person repeats a verse in a prayer, reads a chapter twice in a rak'ah or reads the same chapter in two rak'ahs and if it is a nafilah prayer performed individually, his prayer is not invalidated; however, if it is a fard prayer and if there is no excuse like forgetting or not knowing any other chapters, it is makruh.  

If the chapter of “an-Nas” is read in the first rak’ah, it is appropriate to read the same chapter in the second rak'ah too because to repeat is better than to return and read another chapter. However, if a person who is performing prayers by khatm (reading the whole Quran in order) reads "al-Muawwizatayn" in the first rak'ah, he reads some verses from the chapter of al-Baqara after al-Fatiha in the second rak'ah.

It is makruh to read a chapter in the second rak’ah that is located before the chapter or verse read in the first rak'ah. It is not makruh if it is not done deliberately. However, if one has started to read, he must not stop it. Some scholars say it is not makruh in nafilah prayers.

It is makruh to make the second rak'ah longer than the first rak'ah in both fard and nafilah prayers. However, it is not makruh to make the third rak'ah longer than the first and second rak'ahs in nafilah prayers. For, every two rak'ahs are regarded as separate prayers in nafilah prayers.

If a person is confused after reading an amount of the Quran that is sunnah in prayer, he should bow down for ruku’ at once; he should not move on to another verse or chapter. However, if he has not read an amount of the Quran that is sunnah, it is not makruh for him to move on to another verse or chapter.

One should read the Quran slowly and by pronouncing the letters clearly. One should read moderately, a way between slow and fast, in tarawih prayers. It is permissible to read fast in other night prayers. However, the meaning should be understandable and one should not make any tajwid mistakes. 

(see Celal YILDIRIM, Kaynaklarıyla İslam Fıkhı, Uysal Kitabevi: I/272-273)

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