Answered by Dr. Abdullah bin Bayyah | Translated by Suhaib Webb
Is it okay to commence a gathering with recitation of the first chapter of the Qur’an, al-Fatiha (the Opening)?
Reciting the Qur’an is encouraged and not restricted to a specific time or place. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) says,
“[…] so recite what is easy [for you] of the Qur’an.” (Qur’an, 73:20)
The bounties of reciting the Qur’an are plentiful! There are ten good deeds for each letter recited, as noted by the Prophet ﷺ who said, “I did not say that alif, lam and mim are one letter. But, alif is a letter, lam is a letter and mim is a letter.” (Tirmidhi)
Abu Sa’id al-Khudari (`alayhi as-salaam – may Allah be pleased with him) relates from the Prophet ﷺ who related from his Lord (swt), “Whoever is so occupied with the Qur’an and My remembrance that he fails to supplicate to Me, I will grant him that which is better than those who supplicate.” (Tirmidhi)
These proofs establish that reading the Qur’an is one of the most virtuous and most encouraged actions.
There is no text that sanctions reciting the Qur’an during a gathering at any one time—upon its inauguration, during it, or at its conclusion. If a person does so, contending that it is from the sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ, or a religious obligation, then he has contradicted Islamic Law. However, if he does so seeking the blessings of reading the Qur’an, then there is nothing wrong with that, God willing, according to the sound opinion which we have chosen.
This issue is a contentious one and revolves around what is known as “al-Bid’a al-Idaafiya.”1 Most of the Maliki scholars disliked Bid’a Idaafiya, while other scholars considered this act, in particular, to be covered by the general evidences (that encourage one to read the Qur’an without restriction). In such situations, scholars such as al-Shafi’i, al-`Izz al-Din ‘Abdul al-Salam and al-Qaraafi, from the Maaliki rite, applied the following legal axioms: “What is established by a general evidence, then its origin is permissibility or the presumption of continuity (istishaab).” Based on that, there is no problem (with taking either opinion). What should be stressed is that there should be no contention amongst the Muslims regarding this.
Anas (God be pleased with him) related from the Prophet ﷺ, “Do not hate one another, do not be jealous of one another, and do not desert one another.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
Whoever wants to want to recite al-Fatiha (at such a gathering), then he should not be prohibited from doing so. Nevertheless, he should not claim that it is a sunnah – that the Prophet ﷺ began his gathering with it – because that is incorrect. With that in mind, if it is recited, seeking the blessings of the Qur’an and God’s favors and rewards, then there is nothing wrong with that, God willing.
Allah knows best,
Dr. ‘Abdullah bin Bayyah
Translated and Abridged by Suhaib Webb
- “This is a type of innovation which is added to a sanctioned act, such as making the ritual remembrance after prayer in unison in a loud voice. While the ritual is sanctioned, the method is not.” – Suhaib Webb ↩