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I hope for an explanation from Mufti regarding the ruling of reciting ta’awwudz or isti’azah before reciting al-Fatihah?



Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

Before we explain regarding the ruling of reciting ta’awwudz before reciting al-Fatihah, we would like to first define the terms of ta’awwudz or isti’azah.

Ta’awwudz or isti’azah means: Asking for protection or seeking refuge. Thus, someone that recites it is asking for protection from Allah SWT from the accursed shaytan’s whispers and harm.

Imam al-Hafiz Ibn Kathir Rahimahullah said: “Isti’azah is asking for help, which is I ask for protection from Allah SWT, from His other creations from among the shaytan that would bring harm to me, my religion or led me away from truth.” Refer Tafsir Al-Quran Al-‘Azhim, Ibn Kathir (1/16).


The Sighah for Isti’azah or al-Ta’awwudz

The following are the sighah or speech for isti’azah. Narrated in the hadiths of the Prophet PBUH:

أَعُوذُ بِاللهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ

“I seek refuge with Allah from the accursed shaytan.”

Sahih al-Bukhari (1319)

Another sighah for isti’azah can be found in a hadith from Ummu Mu’minin Saidatina Aisyah R.Anha:

أَعُوذُ بِالسَّمِيعِ الْعَلِيمِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ

“I take refuge in Allah, All-Hearing, All-Knowing from the accursed devil.”

Sunan Abu Daud (785)

Another narration from Saidina Abdullah Ibnu Mas’ud RA, the Prophet PBUH said:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ وَهَمْزِهِ وَنَفْخِهِ وَنَفْثِهِ

“O Allah, I seek refuge in You from the accursed Satan, from his madness, his pride, and his poetry.”

Sunan al-Hakim (1/460)

The Ruling of Reciting Isti’azah before al-Fatihah

In this issue, the fuqaha explains that reciting ta’awwudz before al-Fatihah is an act performed by the Prophet PBUH. However, there are two opinions regarding this issue. We detail it as follows:

First: It is obligatory to recite ta’awwudz before reciting al-Fatihah

This is the opinion of the great tabiin scholars such as Imam ‘Atha’ bin Abi Rabah, Sufyan al-Thauri and Imam al-Auzai’e. This is also the opinion chosen by Imam Ibnu Hazm al-Andalusi. Refer Al-Muhalla bi al-Athar, Ibn Hazm (3/247-248).

The scholars that hold this opinion based on the Quranic evidence where Allah SWT states:

فَإِذَا قَرَأْتَ الْقُرْآنَ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ

“So, when you recite the Qur'an, [first] seek refuge in Allah from Satan, the expelled [from His mercy].”

Surah al-Nahl (98)

They state, that the commandment in this verse refers to the ruling of obligation. This is in accordance to the Islamic legal maxim that states: When a command word is used, then it is obligatory, the exception is when there is qarinah that changed it to another ruling.

Second: Reciting isti’azah before al-Fatihah is sunnah.

This is the opinion of majority of the fuqaha from mazhab Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam al-Syafie and Imam Ahmad.

Imam al-Syafie Rahimahullah said: “If someone leave the recitation of isti’azah because of his forgetfulness, ignorance, or on purpose, it is not necessary for him to repeat it or perform sujud sahwi (sajdah of forgetfulness). And I dislike anyone that purposely leave it (the recitation). And I’m inclined towards someone that if he left it in his first rakaat to recite it in the subsequent rakaat. Indeed, the only reason that is stopping me from commanding someone to repeat and recite the isti’azah is because the Prophet PBUH taught the valid conditions of prayer and he did not state the recitation of isti’azah or iftitah. This shows that leaving isti’azah would impairs (defects) someone’s prayer.Al-Umm, Al-Syafie (1/208).

Imam al-Nawawi Rahimahullah said: “Indeed, ta’awwudz is mustahab (sunnah) and not an obligation. It is sunnah for anyone that recites the Quran, whether in his prayer or others. It is ruled sunnah to recite it for every rakaat of prayer in our (Syafi’eyyah scholars) opinion.

A second opinion states that it is sunnah for the first rakaat of prayer. If someone leaves the recitation in the first rakaat of his prayer, then he can recite ta’awwudz in the second rakaat.” See Al-Tibyan Fi Adab Hamalah Al-Quran, Al-Nawawi (pg. 84).

In Minhaj al-Tolibin, he said: “It is sunnah for someone after takbirah al-ihram to recite the iftitah, then he recites ta’awwudz and he should keep his voice down while reciting them. And it is sunnah to recite ta’awwudz in every rakaat according to our mazhab (al-Syafie) and reciting it in the first rakaat is a greatly encouraged.

Al-Syeikh Dr Mustafa al-Bugha Hafizahullah said: “The purpose of reciting ta’awwudz for every rakaat is to separate the recitation of the first and second rakaat.” Refer Ifadah Al-Raghibin Syarh Minhaj Al-Thalibin, Al-Bugha (1/198).

They based their opinion from Allah SWT’s statement:

فَإِذَا قَرَأْتَ الْقُرْآنَ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ 

“So, when you recite the Qur'an, [first] seek refuge in Allah from Satan, the expelled [from His mercy].”

Surah al-Nahl (98)

Imam al-Tobari comments on this verse: “Allah SWT command here is not in the form of an obligation. The commandment is an announcement and ruled it sunnah. The reason is, there is no differing opinions from Islamic scholars that someone that leave the recitation of ta’awwudz before or after reciting the Quran has leave or neglect any of his obligation.” Refer Tafsir Al-Tobari, Ibn Jarir (17/293-294).


According to the above opinions of the fuqaha, we are inclined towards the opinion that states that it is SUNNAH to recite ta’awwudz before al-Fatihah. We agree with the evidence presented by the majority of the scholars. The reason being, after analysing a hadith from the Prophet PBUH, where the Prophet PBUH corrected a man’s prayer saying:

إِذَا قُمتَ إِلَى الصَّلاةِ فَكَبِّر ثُمَّ اقرَأ مَا تَيَسَّرَ مَعَكَ مِنَ القُرآنِ ثُمَّ اركَع

"When you stand for Prayer say Takbir and then recite from the Holy Qur'an (of what you know by heart) and then bow till you feel at ease.”

Sahih al-Bukhari (6667)

In the above hadith, we find that the Prophet PBUH did not ask the man to recite isti’azah, proving that reciting it is not an obligation. Wallahua’lam.