Short Answer: Arabic is a difficult language for native English speakers to learn. So it is certainly okay to perform salah in English while you are learning. As for supplications, this can be done in any language any time. Finally, you can read a translation of the Quran in English or whatever language one is most familiar with.
Salaam alaykum, peace be with you.
Thank you so much for submitting this question to us.
First of all, I would like to say alhamdulillah – praise God – that He has guided you to be drawn to the beautiful faith of Islam.
I am humbled that you reached out to us at About Islam. May Allah continue to guide you and may He help you to find other Muslims who will be willing to help you on your journey.
It is wonderful that you have been putting an effort into learning Arabic. It is a difficult language for native English speakers to learn.
While there is some truth in that the brain is able to adapt to new languages easier when a person is younger, you are certainly still capable.
I do encourage you to keep trying to learn. If nothing else, there are many benefits to the health of the brain in learning new languages.
That being said, it seems that a few misconceptions should be cleared up.
Reading Quran in English
I would like to start by addressing the issue of reading the Quran in Arabic.
I am guessing that when you were told you should only be reading the Quran in Arabic, there was a misunderstanding. The reason I say this is because, strictly speaking, the Quran only exists in Arabic.
The Quran, of course, has been translated into many languages many times over. You can read three different translations in English and they can all say different things due to the simple reason that translation is not an exact science. However, every version of the Quran that exists in Arabic is identical.
This is why Arabic is so important to Islam – it provides unity in worship.
However, it is perfectly acceptable to read translations of the Quran in English or whatever language one is most familiar with.
Praying in Arabic
As to praying, there are many Muslims who say that salah – the ritual prayer that is done five times daily by Muslims – should be in Arabic.
However, Imam Abu Hanifa, one of the most famous early Islamic scholars, said that one can pray in his or her own language because it makes prayer more meaningful.
No matter which way you approach the topic, it is certainly okay to perform salah in English while you are learning.
When I was a new Muslim I would go one line at a time in Arabic and say the remainder in English until I memorized one line. Then I would learn one more, etc.
About Islam has a great video that talks about this topic in more detail.
As for du’a, another type of prayer, often translated as “supplication,” this can be done in any language any time.
Du’a is prayer in the way a lot of people from a Christian background would be familiar with.
It’s “free form,” so to speak. When you’re praying for help from God, or praying for a certain outcome in an event in your life. This is du’a.
I hope that I was able to help you. Please do reach out to us with any more questions.
May Allah continue to guide you in your interest in Islam. Ameen.
I hope this helps.
Salam. Please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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