Reciting Sūrah Fātihah in the Prayer
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

We recite Sūrah Fātihah in every prayer. Should we recite it when we offer our prayers in congregation behind the Imam as I have learned that it is necessary and that without its recitation, the prayer is incomplete? What should we do in the prayers of Zuhr and ‘Asr as these are silent prayers? Some scholars say that Sūrah Fātihah should be recited after the Imam and some say that it is not allowed with the Imam as it is necessary to listen to the Imam quietly and with attention. So what should I do?


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 matter1. 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).



1. Sayyid al-Sābiq, Fiqhu’l-Sunnah, 1st ed., vol. 1, (Kansas City: Manar International, 1997), p.174


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