Friday, 24 August 2018

Reading Fateha Behind Imam in Salat

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

والصلاة والسلام على نبيه الكريم

وعلى اهل بيته الطيبين الطاهرين المظلومين

والعاقبة للمتقين

The issue of reading Fateha behind the Imam in Salat is a matter of controversy between the Ahnaf and some of the other madhahib. Admittedly, both sides of this debate have strong arguments. One of the strongest proofs in this mas’ala is the Hadith of sayyidina Ubada b. al-SamitRA:
عَنْ عُبَادَةَ بْنِ الصَّامِتِ، قَالَ صَلَّى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم الصُّبْحَ فَثَقُلَتْ عَلَيْهِ الْقِرَاءَةُ فَلَمَّا انْصَرَفَ قَالَ ‏‏ إِنِّي أَرَاكُمْ تَقْرَءُونَ وَرَاءَ إِمَامِكُمْ قَالَ قُلْنَا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِي وَاللَّهِ ‏ قَالَ ‏ فَلاَ تَفْعَلُوا إِلاَّ بِأُمِّ الْقُرْآنِ فَإِنَّهُ لاَ صَلاَةَ لِمَنْ لَمْ يَقْرَأْ بِهَا
Ubadah bin as-Samit narrated: Allah’s Messenger (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) prayed the Subh prayer, and he had difficulty with the recitation. When he turned (after finishing) he said: “I think that you are reciting behind your Imam?” He said: We said: “Yes, Messenger of Allah, by Allah!” He said: “Do not do that, except for Umm al-Kitab, for there is no Salat for one who does not recite it.” (Jami al-Tirmidhi #311)
So while the general rule is that it is forbidden to recite anything while one is praying behind an Imam, the necessary exception is the recitation of Surat al-Fatiha. The Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) emphasized this point, and even stated that the prayer is invalid without its recitation. But when one does recite the Fateha while praying behind an Imam, one should recite it silently, as sayyidina Abi HurayraRA explained:
اقْرَأْ بِهَا فِي نَفْسِكَ
“Recite it to yourself” (Sahih Muslim)
The Sunna is to recite the Fateha in each and every rak’a of the Salat, whether one is an imam, ma’mum, or munfarid (praying individually):
أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَانَ يَقْرَأُ فِي الظُّهْرِ فِي الأُولَيَيْنِ بِأُمِّ الْكِتَابِ وَسُورَتَيْنِ، وَفِي الرَّكْعَتَيْنِ الأُخْرَيَيْنِ بِأُمِّ الْكِتَابِ
The Prophet () uses to recite Al-Fatiha followed by another Sura in the first two rak`at of the prayer and used to recite only Al-Fatiha in the last two rak`at of the Zuhr prayer (Sahih al-Bukhari)
As for the Ayah of the Quran which is the primary evidence of the Ahnaf:

وَإِذَا قُرِئَ الْقُرْآنُ فَاسْتَمِعُوا لَهُ وَأَنصِتُوا لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ۞

And when the Quran is recited then listen to it and pay attention so that you may obtain mercy

(Sura 7:204)

The command is general and of course must be observed not only in the prayer but whenever the Quran is recited the people are obligated to remain silent and listen to it attentively. However, this does not negate the necessary exception of reading Fateha in the prayer, even when praying behind the Imam, because that is one of the requirements for the validity of the Salat. In other words, without the Fateha there is no Salat, since the Fateha is one of its main components. Just as there can be no meal without food, similarly, there can be no Salat without reading the Fateha.

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