The Qur’an is the word of Allah. It came to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) through the Angel Jibril in the Arabic tongue. It is very important that a Muslim read the Qur’an in its original authentic language. There is a great blessing in reading the Qur’an in Arabic.
The translations of the Qur’an are not called the Qur’an and thus Prayer is not valid if the imam recites translations of the Qur’an. They are only the translations of the meaning of the Qur’an. The translations are not the words of Allah; they are the words of human beings who explain the words of Allah in their own language according to their own understanding and ability to translate.

In Prayer, the imam must read the Qur’an in Arabic. Non-Arabic-speaking Muslims must try to understand the Qur’an either by learning the Arabic language or by reading its meaning through some good translations and commentaries. While performing Tarawih Prayer, there should be some time after Prayer for translating what has been recited in Prayer.

Sheikh Hussain Halawah, the secretary general of the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) and Imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of Ireland (ICCI) states: Recitation in Prayer must be in Arabic and if the Prayer is performed while the imam recites the Qur’an in any language other than Arabic, this Prayer is not valid. Also, reciting the Qur’an in Prayer in its original language is one of ta`abuddi (a divine command that requires showing submission and surrender) commands that we received through tawqif (revelation). There are a lot of countries that do not speak or understand Arabic where the imams used to recite the Qur’an in Arabic, which recitation caused the hearts of the non-Arabic-speaking Muslims as well as non-Muslims to be affected.

All non-Arabic-speaking Muslims in the West can overcome this problem by making circles after or before the Prayer for translating and commentating on the verses recited in Prayer.

We also call upon Muslims in the West to try their best to learn and understand Arabic, the language of the Qur’an. They also must do their best to follow the guidance that they receive from the Qur’an. The Islamic centers as well as Muslim da`is (callers to Islam) in the West should do their best to teach Arabic to the Muslim generations.

Moreover, Sheikh `Abdul-Majeed Subh, a prominent Al-Azhar scholar, adds: Reciting the Qur’an in Prayer in any language other than its original language renders the Prayer invalid. Translations of the Qur’an cannot be called Qur’an and thus the Qur’an cannot be substituted by translations no matter how accurate they are.

However, imams can overcome the problem by delivering a lesson after or before the Prayer explaining the meanings of the verses that have been recited. This is because translations of the Qur’an are not Qur’an; rather they are exegeses for some apparent meanings of the Qur’an.

According to my personal experience, reciting the Qur’an affects the hearts of non-Arabic-speaking Muslims and non-Muslims, and I know many who after listening to Qur’an embraced Islam after being affected by its recitation and guidance.

So, those imams should recite the Qur’an in Arabic and be assured that their recitation will affect the second and third generations as well as other generations.

Regarding the issue of reciting the Qur’an in other languages in Tarawih Prayer, Dr. Ahmad Gaballah, Vice president of the UIOE and member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), states: Tarawih Prayer is one of the ta`abuddi acts that should be performed according to what is revealed in the Islamic Shari`ah. The door of ijtihad (personal reasoning) has been opened in many issues but regarding ta`abbudi commands they cannot be changed and we must strictly observe them in the same way they are revealed and delivered to us by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). When the word Qur’an is pronounced, it refers to the Glorious Book of Allah that is revealed to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in Arabic. The Qur’an cannot be substituted by translations, no matter how accurate they are. Arabic is the language of the Qur’an and reciting it in Arabic should be strictly observed.

However, it is preferable and highly encouraged to explain the meanings of the Qur’an in the local language to young Muslims who do not speak or understand Arabic.

The same situation happens in India, Pakistan, Iran, and elsewhere. But Muslims there love to listen to Qur’an in Arabic despite not being able to understand it.

The problem could yield a positive side as it would encourage many willing Muslims to learn Arabic.