Should I recite the Fatiha behind the imam in congregation?

Should I recite the Fatiha behind the imam in congregation?

There are different opinions and evidences in the four schools of thought.

1. Hanafi: Do not recite the Fatiha in any congregational prayer

According to the Hanafi school of thought, you do not recite the Fatiha behind the imam, whether it is a silent prayer (Dhur and Asr) or a vocalised prayer (Fajr, Maghrib, Isha).  The Hanafi school have their evidences for this. It says in Surah al Araf, in the Quran:

So, when the Quran is recited, listen to it, and be silent that you may receive mercy. (7:204)

2. Maliki: Recite the Fatiha only in the silent congregational prayers (Dhur and Asr)

According to the Maliki school of thought, you recite the Fatiha behind the imam during silent prayers. However, during vocalised prayers, you remain silent and listen to his recitation. This is opinion I personally follow because it gives you more khushoo during your salah. If you are standing silently, the shaytan will distract you and your mind will drift. It is better to occupy your mind with Allah Almighty and the words of the Quran than other things. So I would advise worshippers to recite the Fatiha behind the imaan during silent prayers. This is also one of the opinions within the Hanafi school.

3. Shafi: Recite the Fatiha in all congregational prayers

In the Shafi school, you recite behind the imam during all prayers, whether they are silent or vocalised. They follow the opinion that it is incumbent on all worshippers to recite the Fatiha.

Ubaadah ibn as-Saamit (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

We were behind the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) in Fajr prayer. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) recited, and he found it difficult to recite (due to interference).

When he finished praying he said: “Perhaps you were reciting behind your imam?”

We said: Yes, O Messenger of Allah.

He said: “Do not do that, apart from the Opening of the Book (Fatihah), because there is no prayer for the one who does not recite it.” (Abu Dawood)

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.