Q: I follow Imam Abu Hanifa (R). When I pray Fard Salah behind any imam I do not recite Surah Fatiha, but my friends who follow other imams do. They told me one Hadith of Prophet Muhammed Sall-Allahu alayhi wa Sallam said “One who does not recite Surah Fatiha his Salah is incomplete”. So please tell me why we don’t recite Surah Fatiha.
A: Haamidaw wa Musalliyaa
The difference of opinion that is found among the imams of Fiqh is based upon, among other things, a difference in the principles that each of the imam’s have in deducing rulings from the sources of Sharia. Similarly the method of interpretation of a Hadith results in different rulings being deduced. This is not objectionable and such differences in interpretation of the words of Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa Sallam even existed among the Companions (R.A.) which were not objected to by Rasulullah Sall-Allahu Alayhi wa Sallam.
With regards to the Fatiha in Salah, whereas there is a Hadith that states that the Salah of a person who does not recite Surah Fatiha in his Salah is invalid, there is also another Hadith that states that when a person performs his prayer behind an imam then the recitation of Surah Fatiha of the imam is sufficient for him. The Hanafi scholars rule that a follower should not recite Surah Fatiha based on the latter Hadith and other similar verses or narrations that indicate towards this. The difference of opinion that exists with regards to raising one’s hands before Ruku is also based on similar narrations that are found in the books of Hadith.
In a nut shell, each of the four schools has the proofs of their rulings and we should follow the school of fiqh that we belong to, without engaging in debates about these matters with those of a different school.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best
Shafiq Jakhura (Mufti)