Sūrah Fātihah, no doubt, is a necessary part of the
prayer according to the established Sunnah of the Prophet (sws). However,
whether it should be recited or heard in congregational prayers is something
which has been left open and no ruling has been given by the Sharī‘ah. That is
why you see differences of opinion in this issue. Scholars have adopted various
ways. This is quite alright. The problem creeps in when the followers of one way
start condemning the other way. In matters that have actually been left to the
discretion of a person, this attitude is not correct. One should adopt the way
which appeals to one’s intellect the most.
Personally, I follow the way of Imam Mālik, Imam Ibn
Taymiyyah and Imam Ahmad in this matter.
According to them, a person should recite Sūrah Fātihah when the imam is silent
(Zuhr and ‘Asr prayers) and he should just listen when the imam recites (Fajr,
Maghrib and ‘Ishā prayers).