Should the Imam Recite the Basmalah Aloud at the Beginning of the Surah After the Fatiha? [Shafi’i School]

Answered by Ustadh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalamu `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

According to the Shafi`i school, when reciting the surah after the recitation of al-Fatihah in the prayer, should an imam recite the basmalah aloud? Also, does this ruling depend on the riwayah/qira’ah one is reciting in?

Answer: Assalamu ‘Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu,

Ruling:

It is recommended for a person reciting a Surah after the Fatiha to recite the basmalah aloud at its beginning. The school’s position is based in part on numerous narrations that indicate that the Prophet (peace be upon him) and/or his companions (may Allah be pleased with them) recited the basmalah aloud. One such report indicates that numerous companions criticized Mu’awiyah for failing to recite the basmalah aloud while leading them in prayer; when he led them again, he recited it (Hakim, Daraqutni). The school also holds that it was the position of the majority of scholars from amongst the companions, successors, jurists and reciters.

Application:

This applies:
– Whether or not one is the Imam, or praying alone
– If one is in a prayer in which reciting aloud is recommended
– Whether or not one is starting from the beginning of a Surah
– Irrespective of the specific Qira’ah (recitation) being followed
– To every Surah other than Surah Tawba (9) (impermissible according to Ibn Hajar at the beginning, disliked from elsewhere in the Surah; disliked according to Ramli at the beginning, recommended from elsewhere in the Surah)

The Basmalah in the Shafi’i School:

The basmalah is considered a verse of each Surah other than Surah 9 (Tawba). If one recites a Surah without the basmalah, his recitation of the Surah would not be considered complete.

The Basmalah as a Verse and Reciting Aloud:

Imam al-Nawawi notes that there is no connection between reciting aloud and the issue of whether or not the basmalah is a verse. Some who hold that it ought to be recited silently consider it a sunnah like the other opening invocations, and not Qur’anic. Others hold that it should be recited silently even though they consider it Qur’anic. Others, like the Shafi’i position outlined above, hold that it is Qur’anic and should be recited aloud.

Sources: al-Majmu’, I’anatul Talibin, Mughni al-Muhtaj’ al-Hawashi al-Madaniyyah

wassalam,

Shuaib Ally