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New Muslim Asks: Can I Say The Prayer in English?

06 May, 2020
Q I'm having a hard time learning to pray in Arabic. Can I pray in English?


Short Answer:

  • Yes. You may pray in any language you understand when you first begin praying.
  • You can use a Quran with transliteration of the Arabic alongside the words in your own language. With time, it will be easier to say those prayers in Arabic. 

Asalamu Alaikum,

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.

Dr. Shabir Ally from Let the Quran Speak addresses this question in the video below

New Muslim Asks: Can I Say The Prayer in English?


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Safiyyah Ally: Okay, Dr. Shabir, here’s a question: I’m a fairly new Muslim and I don’t know Arabic is it acceptable to pray in English?

Dr. Shabir Ally: The simple answer is yes. And that is based on the fact that God understands all languages.

And while Muslims have traditionally prayed in Arabic and there’s certain beauty in the fact that Muslims have maintained the same expressions which are reported as having been the expressions used by the Prophet (peace be upon him) in his prayer.

And, of course, the Quran has really been retained in the Arabic language that to being incorporated in the prayers.

That it does not make it necessary, that beauty and elegance and so on of having the unified Muslim body all praying in the same language does not make it necessary.

Imam Abu Hanifah, one of the great jurists of Islam, has actually held that people could pray in Persian.

And he said that in fact, those who are originally Persian should pray in Persian even if they know some Arabic.

Because when they pray in their own language the prayer will be more meaningful to them.

But despite that, it became commonplace for Muslims to teach their children to pray in Arabic even though they’re not Arabic speakers.

And they would not sometimes know what they’re saying. They would just memorize the words.

How to Pray in English?

Now, how can somebody pray in English today?

Well, most handbooks of the Muslim prayer are written with what is to be … first of all, if it’s written for English readers, all of the explanations and instructions are given in English.

But when it comes to what to recite, what to recite is written three ways.

Often at first, it’s written in Arabic script.

Second, the Arabic words are spelled out using English script.

And then a third, the English translation of what is to be recited is given.

So, one can start by reciting the English translation.

And then maybe at a second stage, one might start reciting the Arabic words, following the English script.

And then maybe, later on one would learn the Arabic language to be able to recite the Arabic script as well.

And Allah knows best.

I hope this helps.

Salam and please keep in touch.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

New Muslims – All You Need in Your New Life

How Do Muslims Pray? (Part 1)

Why Do We Pray?