Difficulty in reciting Quran because of tongue-tie (ankyloglossia)
Fatwa No: 300151

Question

I am a 21 year-old-man, I have been suffering from a disease named tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) [please see http://goo.gl/Hf8R0e] ever since my birth. It makes that you cannot correctly pronounce the sound of a few letters. I also used to stammer, and I was suffering from severe migraines when I was 11 to 14 years old. Due to that, I never went to any imam to learn the Quran. Only my father taught me at home. I can recite Quran, but not correctly because I cannot correctly pronounce some arabic letters. [please see https://goo.gl/UjcyNd] Please help me, at this time I cannot treat my disease due to a lack of money, and I cannot go to an imam to learn arabic due to my disease and because of my age. At this time, can I read Quran in Arabic just as I know how to read it, with mistakes? I also do not understand the Arabic language.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger. 

Firstly, we implore Allaah to bless you with recovery and well-being. You should know that the basic principle is that the person who recites the Quran should pronounce its words in the correct manner in which they were revealed and that it is impermissible to make lahn (incorrect pronunciation) or errors in the recitation. Ibn ʻUthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, “It is impermissible to recite the Quran with incorrect pronunciation ... The person should recite the Quran correctly even if he stopped at a word for five or even fifteen minutes until he pronounces it correctly; this is better than mispronouncing it. This is obligatory because the Quran is not humane speech; it is the speech of Allaah, The Exalted.

However, if the lahn in the recitation is due to some physical defect such as the tongue-tie condition, then the person bears no sin for that (given that it is beyond his ability and control). Hence, if you make mistakes in recitation because of your disease, then you bear no sin for that. As for the words that you can correct, then you are obliged to learn their correct pronunciation. You should know that your disease and age do not prevent you from learning at the hands of a teacher. If you do not want to sit with a teacher directly, you can avail yourself of the websites for teaching correct recitation; you can listen to the online lessons or learn at the hands of a teacher online, and you can also listen to the skilled Quranic reciters and copy their way of recitation.

In any case, it is impermissible for you to recite the Quran incorrectly and mispronounce its words while you can recite it correctly through learning. Hence, you are obliged to recite only what you can recite correctly until you learn the correct pronunciation of the rest of the Quran. However, if you cannot learn the correct pronunciation due to your tongue-tie problem, then if most of what you recite is correct, some scholars held that you are allowed to recite as such and that those mistakes are excused. Al-Ghazaali  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote:

The person who mispronounces most of the words of the Quran and can learn the correct pronunciation should refrain from reciting the Quran until he learns the correct recitation because he bears a sin for the mispronunciation. However, if he is unable to learn the correct pronunciation due to a physical defect in his tongue and he pronounces most of the words incorrectly, then he should refrain from reciting and strive in learning the Faatihah correctly. However, if he pronounces most of the words correctly and cannot learn the correct pronunciation of the rest, then there is no harm for him to recite the Quran; nevertheless, he should not raise his voice during the recitation so that none but him would hear it. It should be noted that the other scholarly view that holds that such a person should refrain from reciting the Quran even in private is justified as well. However, if this is the utmost ability of the person and he finds comfort in reciting the Quran and is keen to recite it, then I believe that there is no harm for following the other scholarly view (that he may recite it quietly allowing none but him to listen to the recitation). [Ihyaa’ ʻUloom Al-Deen]

As for learning the Arabic language, you should know that it is a collective obligation on the broader Muslim community; if some Muslims learned it, then the rest shall be relieved of it. As for the Muslim individual, he is obliged to acquire the minimum knowledge of the Arabic language that enables him to carry out the religious obligations properly such as the obligatory prayer and thikr (remembrance of Allaah) because they must be performed in Arabic and are invalid if performed in any other language. Imaam Ash-Shaafiʻi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, “It is incumbent on every Muslim to learn of the Arabic language what enables him to perform his religious obligations...

Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said:

The Arabic language itself is from the religion, so having knowledge of it is a religious obligation because understanding the Quran and the Sunnah is an obligation. Moreover, the religion cannot be understood except by understanding the Arabic language, and that without which an obligation cannot be fulfilled is itself obligatory. There are two aspects of this religious obligation; learning it is partly a collective obligation and partly an individual obligation.

It is advisable that you seek a reliable translation of the meanings of the Quran in your own language; this is one of the effective means to help you learn the Arabic language. For more benefit, please refer to fatwa 90680.

Allaah knows best.

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