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Recitation Behind the Imām – Perspectives from the Four Madhhabs

Prayer hall of Qarawiyyin Masjid, Fez, MorroccoBy Mufti Ebrahim Desai

Edited by IlmGate

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Allah Ta’ala states in the Holy Quran:

“When the Qur’an is recited, then listen attentively to it and remain silent so that mercy be shown to you.” (Surat al-A’rāf, 204)

According to Imam Abu Hanifah, the muqatadi (person following the Imam in salah) must neither recite Surah Fatihah nor any other Surah. The above verse regarding listening attentively and remaining silent applies to the person performing salah as well as to others.

Imam Muslim (vol.1, p.174) reports an authentic Hadith in which Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “Remain silent when the Imam is reading.”

Not only did Imam Muslim report this Hadith, but he specifically mentioned that it is authentic; the general context will include those salah in which the recitation is audible as well as those in which it is silent.

According to Imam Ahmad it is not wājib (compulsory) to recite neither Surah Fatiha nor any other Surah in salah while following an Imam.

According to the old ruling of Imam Shafi’ī, it will be wājib for a person to recite form the Qur’an behind the Imam in such a salah wherein the recitation is silent (sirri). However, in the audible salah (jahri), recitation will not be wājib. According to his revised opinion, it will be wājib to recite in both types of salah (jahri and sirri).

Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad maintain that recitation of the muqtadi is not fard, but in certain situations, it will be optional.

When the rewards for salah are distributed on the Day of Judgment, they will not be asked whether those who did not perform salah according to their opinion should enter Jannah or not.

(Reference: Anwār al-Bayān / Illuminating Discourses on the Noble Qur’an, p.101-103, vol.4)

The following deals with this issue in details:

The Hanafi School of Thought

In the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifa, Abu Yusuf, and Imam Muhammad, under all circumstances – be it jahri salah or sirri salah, and whether the muqtadi (follower) is listening to the Imam’s qirā’ah (recitation) or not – it is not permissible for the muqtadi to recite Surah Fatiha behind the Imam; in fact it is makrūh tahrīmī.

[The author of] Hidāyah mentions that Imam Muhammad relates it is “good” for the muqtadi to read Surah Fatiha in silent prayers (sirri salah). However, al-Durr al-Mukhtār refutes this report as follows:

Qirā’ah should not be recited by the muqtadi at all. There is unanimous agreement (bil-ittifāq) that one must not recite Surah Fatiha in silent prayers (sirri salah). The report which has been attributed to Imam Muhammad is weak (da’īf). Ibn Humām describes in detail, “…it is makrūh tahrīmī for the muqtadi to recite qirā’ah. However, according to the most authentic view, salah will be correct.

Durr Bihār relates from the Mabsūt of Khawāharzada that the salah will become fāsid, and the muqtadi who recites qirā’ah will become fāsiq (sinful). Numerous Sahabah have related it as “fasād” due to which greater caution lays in it being unlawful (i.e. in ‘adm al-jawāz). Therefore, when the Imam recites qirā’ah loudly, then the muqtadi (followers) should listen; and when the Imam recites qirā’ah silently, then the muqtadi should not speak. The proof of this is stated in a Hadith.

Hadrat Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه reports that we would recite qirā’ah behind the Imam; thereafter, a verse was revealed: “When the Qur’an is recited, listen to it and remain silent.”

Allāmah [Ibn ‘Ābidīn] Shāmi writes in his marginal notes:

  • Author of al-Durr al-Mukhtār wrote “fi sirriyyah” from which it is automatically understood that in loud prayers (jahri salāh) qirā’ah is prohibited (mamnū’).
  • And “bil-ittifāq” refers to the agreement of the three Imams.
  • And the report attributed towards Imam Muhmmad means that it is istihbāb to read Surah Fatiha in silent salah as a precautionary measure (ihtiyātan).
  • And the result of Allamah Ibn Humām’s contradiction was that Imam Muhammad says in Kitāb al-Āthār that we do not deem qirā’ah permissible behind an Imam in any salah at all, whether it is jahri (loud) salah or sirri (silent) salah. And to say there is caution (ihtiyāt) in it is not worthy, for caution (ihtiyāt) is in not reciting qirā’ah, because that is acting upon the stronger of the two proofs. Also, numerous Sahabah have related that salah becomes fāsid by reciting qirā’ah, therefore it is unlawful (which holds the stronger view). (Shāmi, vol.1, p.402)

The Maliki School of Thought

According to Imam Malik, it is also makrūh for the muqtadi to recite Surah Fatiha in jahri salah (loud prayers) – whether or not the muqtadi is listening to the Imam’s qirā’ah. And it is mustahab (desirable) to read Surah Fatiha in sirri salah (silent prayers). It is stated in Kitāb al-Fiqh ‘ala al-Madhāhib al-Arba`ah:

“Maliki say that it is makrūh for the muqtadi to recite qirā’ah in jahri salaah even if one is not listening to the Imam’s qirā’ah or if the Imam has paused/silenced.” (vol.1, p.254)

It is stated in Sharh Saghīr of Allāmah Dardīr:

The fourth fard of salah for the Imam and individual is to recite Surah Fatiha, but not for the muqtadi because the Imam undertakes the responsibility of reciting Fatiha on behalf of the muqtadi.

Silent qirā’ah behind an Imam in a sirri salah (silent prayer) is mustahab (desirable), and also in the last rakāt of Maghrib, and in the last two rakāts of Isha.

The Shafi’ī School of Thought

Imam Shafi’ī’s former opinion was that Surah Fatiha is not wājib upon the muqtadi in jahri salah. Nevertheless, during the last stages of his life (two years before his death whilst in Egypt), Imam Shafi’ī [formed his revised] opinion that it is wājib upon the muqtadi to recite Surah Fatiha in a jahri salah. And according to [the Shafi’ī scholars], fatwa is upon this latter opinion. As for sirri salah (without any contradictory opinions) it is wājib upon the muqtadi to recite Surah Fatiha. It is written in Muhazzab:

Is it wājib upon the muqtadi to recite Fatiha? In this series, it will be observed:

– If it is sirri salah, then Fatiha is wājib.

– If it is jahri salah then there are two opinions:

1. Imam Shafi’ī has said in Kitāb al-Umm and Buwaytee that it is wājib.

2. And Imam Shafi’ī’s old opinion is that the muqtadi should not recite qirā’ah. Imam Nawawi says that we have mentioned earlier that our madhhab is that “Fatiha is wājib upon the muqtadi in all rakāts of both sirri (silent) and jahri (loud) salah; and this is the correct madhhab in our opinion.”

The Hanbali School of Thought

In the opinion of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, if the muqtadi is listening to the Imam’s qirā’ah in jahri salah, then it is not jā’iz to read Fatiha. And if the muqtadi is so far that the Imam’s recitation cannot be heard, then it is jā’iz (permissible) to recite Fatiha. Furthermore, it is mustahab (desirable) to recite Fatiha in sirri salah and between the Imam’s silent pauses in jahri salah. It is written in Mukhtasar al-Kharqi:

When the muqtadi is listening to the Imam’s qirā’ah, then he should not read Surah Fatiha or any other Surah; whereas, to recite in between the Imam’s silent pauses and in sirri salah (silent prayers) is mustahab (desirable). Hence, if the muqtadi did not recite Fatiha, his salah is complete because ‘for whosoever is an Imam, the Imam’s qirā’ah is also his qirā’ah.’ And if the muqtadi is not listening to the qirā’ah due to distance, then one should recite Surah Fatiha.

(Reference: Adalla-e-Kāmila: Yani Ghair Muqallidoun kai 10 Sawālāt aur un kai Tehqīqī Jawābāt, by Shayk al-Hind Hadrat Mawlana Mahmud Hasan Deobandi, p.60-64)

Ahadith/ Narrations:

Regarding this issue, two types of Hadith have been mentioned.

1. Those Hadith from which we understand that a muqtadi can recite Fatiha.

2. Those Hadith from which we understand that a muqtadi should not recite Fatiha, instead he should remain silent.

The Statements of the Sahabah رضي الله عنهم About Not Reciting Behind the Imam

When Hadrat ‘Atā bin Yasār enquired from Hadrat Zayd bin Thābit رضي الله عنه concerning reciting behind the Imam, he replied, “There is no recitation whatsoever behind the Imam.” (Muslim, vol.1, p.410)

Hadrat Jābir رضي الله عنه mentioned, “There is no salah for him who does not recite Surah Fatiha in salah, except for the one who performs salah behind an Imam (he will not even recite Surah Fatiha when following the Imam)” (Tirmidhi).

Imam Tirmidhi says that this Hadith is Hasan and that from this Hadith Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal deduced that the salah of the person who does not recite Surah Fatiha will not be valid when he performs salah individually.

Imam Tahāwi has narrated from Hadrat Ali رضي الله عنه that the person who recites the Qur’an while following the Imam is not a follower of the natural Dīn.

Hadrat Abdullah bin Mas’ūd رضي الله عنه is reported to have said, “Remain silent for the recitation of the Qur’an because salah is an occupation and the Imam will suffice for you.”

Hadrat Abdullah bin Mas’ūd رضي الله عنه is also reported to have said, “If only the mouth of that person who recites while behind the Imam is filled with soil.”

Abu Jamra asked Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas رضي الله عنه whether he should recite the Qur’an while behind the Imam. He replied in the negative.

Hadrat Abdullah bin Umar رضي الله عنه never recited Qur’an behind the Imam and when it was asked of him whether one should recite, he replied, “When any of you perform salah behind an Imam, then the recitation of the Imam will suffice for him as well.”

These Hadith together with the Qur’anic verse in Surat al-A’rāf, “When the Qur’an is recited, then listen attentively to it and remain silent so that mercy be shown to you,” establish the rule that the muqtadi should listen to the Imam’s qirā’ah and keep silent [according to the conclusion of the Hanafi school].

(Reference: Anwār al-Bayān / Illuminating Discourses on the Noble Quran, vol.4, p.101-103)

It is compulsory for a muqallid (adherent of a particular madhhab) to follow the ruling of his madhhab. He cannot do as he likes.

 

Courtesy of Darul Iftaa, Madrasah In’āmiyyah

Note: This article was edited for spelling, grammar, and style in addition to a new title.

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