To recite Surah Fatiha in one’s mind in salah behind the Imam

I am a Hanafi. Is it possible to recite Fatiha in my head (without moving the lips or the tongue) when praying behind an Imam?


 Answer:

The view of the Hanafi Madhab with regards to the aforementioned issue is that it is considered Makruh Tahrimi to read Surah Fatiha or any other portion of the Holy Quran behind the Imam whether it is a loud or quiet salah.  However, an opinion of Imam Muhammad raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) is that recitation of Surah Fatiha behind the Imam in loud prayers is Makruh however it is mustuhub (desirable) or mubah (permissible) in quiet prayers.  Some Hanafi scholars choose this opinion of Imam Muhammad raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) in particular if it is for concentration purposes.  However, Ibnul Humam raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) has rejected this opinion of Imam Muhammad.   (Dars Tirmizi p.72 v.2)

Imam Haskafi raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) has said ‘The report which has been attributed to Imam Muhammad raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) is weak’.

Allahmah Ibn Abideen Shami raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) has written:

‘And the report attributed towards Imam Muhammad raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) means that it is mustuhub to read Surah Fatiha in silent salah as a precautionary measure (Ihtiyaatan).  The result of Allahmah Ibn Humam raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) contradiction was that Imam Muhammad said in his in Kitabul Aathaar ‘we do not deem recitation permissible behind an Imam in any salah at all, whether it is loud or quiet salah.  And to say there is caution in it is not worthy, for caution is not reciting because that is acting upon the stronger of the two daleels (proofs).   (Raddul Muhtar p.266 v.2)

Imam Shafi raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) is of the opinion that the recitation of Surah Fatiha in both quiet and loud prayers is wajib (obligatory).   Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad have three opinions with respect to loud prayers.  These being:

  1. Makruh (disliked)
  2. Mustuhub
  3. Mubah

In quiet prayers there are three opinions from Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad:

1.   Wajib

  1. Mustuhub
  2. Mubah                                                           (Dars Tirmizi p.72 v.2)

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in the Holy Quran has said:

‘When the Quran is being recited then listen attentively and remain silent’   (Surah Al Araf v.204)

The Prophet of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) has said: “When you begin your congregational prayers, straighten your rows. Thereafter when the Imaam says the takbeer (i.e. when he says Allahu Akbar aloud) you must also say the takbeer. However, when he begins the recital of the Qur’an, you must remain silent. And when he recites walad daul leen then you should say Aameen”. By performing your salaah in this manner Allah Ta’ala will love you.” (Sahih Muslim p.171 v.1)

Saaiduna Abdullah Ibn Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said:  “Whoever performs salaah behind the Imaam, the Imaam’s qiraat suffices for him”. (Sunan Baihaqi)

Saaiduna Abdullah Ibn Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was asked: “Must the muqtadi recite behind the Imam?” He replied that the qiraat of the Imaam is sufficient for the muqtadi. But if he performs salaah individually, then he must recite qiraat. It was the practice of Saaiduna Abdullah Ibn Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) also that he would not recite Surah Fatiha behind the Imam. (In Aathaarus Sunan p.89 v.1)

The Hanafi reply to the evidence brought forward by Imam Shafi raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) that there is ‘no salah besides Surah Fatiha’ (see Sahih Bukhari) that this hadith is a Khabr Wahid.  A Khabr Wahid is that hadith which does not reach the status of Mutawatir. A Mutawatir is that hadith where there is a group or a large number of narrators that it is impossible for them to agree to tell a lie. Through Khabr Wahid something fardh and compulsory cannot be established.  The most it can establish is something wajib and that is the Hanafi’s view that it is wajib to read Surah Fatiha if you are praying alone. As mentioned above, if you are reading behind the Imam his recitation will be sufficient.  (Hidayah p.104 v.1)

With regards to your question, the opinion of my respected teachers is that it is permissible to read Surah Fatiha in one’s mind as long as the tongue or lips are not moving.

Only Allah Knows Best

Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham