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Should I Read Al-Fatihah Behind the Imam?

05 March, 2018
Q I'm a bit confused about what to do while the imam is reciting loudly during congregational Prayers. Am I expected to recite silently? Is the Imam's recitation sufficient for every follower? If I don't have to recite during Salah, what can I engage myself with? I sometimes lose concentration.


In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

1- During the imam’s recitation of the Qur’an, a worshiper should listen attentively and reflect on the Qur’anic verses the imam reads.

2- According to some scholars, the imam’s recitation of Al-Fatihah is sufficient for the worshiper too.

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Answering your question, Dr. Wael Shehab, PhD in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar University and currently the Imam of the Downtown Toronto Masjid in Canada, states:

In prayer, one is to maintain concentration (khush`) and reflect on the adhkar and tasbih he says.

When one prays in congregation, he should listen to the recitation of the imam and reflect on what the imam reads from the Qur’an. Allah says, “So when the Qur’an is recited, then listen to it and pay attention that you may receive mercy.” (Al-A`raf 7:204)

According to some scholars, the imam’s recitation of Al-Fatihah is sufficient and people who pray behind him are not required to read it.

Abu Bakr Al-`Arabi, as stated in Sheikh Sayyed Sabiq’s Fiqh As-Sunnah, says:

What we see as the strongest opinion is that one must recite during the prayers in which the imam’s recital is subdued. But, during the Prayers where the imam recites aloud, one may not recite.

Almighty Allah knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.