We recite Surah Fatiha in every Salah as there is a hadith of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) that makes it a Wajib act. But are we required to pray Surah Fatiha in front of the Imam?
7 Fard acts of Salah
1. Individual Prayers
It is a Wajib act of Salah for a person to recite Surah Fatiha when offering Salah in his or her individual capacity.
There is a well-known Hadith attributed to Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) that defines that Surah Fatiha (Ummul Quran) should be recited in order to perform Salah.
Sahi Muslim 394 – لاَ صَلَاةَ لِمَنْ لَمْ يَقْتَرِى بِأَمَّ الْقُرْآنِ
Prophet Muhammad said, “Whoever prays without reciting Al-Fatiha, his prayer is ineffective”. -756 of Sahih al-Bukhari.
2. 1st School of thought
One school of thought says that because there is a Hadith to support it, we should not interrupt those who are reciting Fatiha behind the Imam.
Once Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) struggled to recite while guiding the Sahaba who were saying Salah behind him.
Prophet Muhammad asked: “I think that you are reciting behind your Imam?”
Sahaba رضي الله عنهم said: Yes.
Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said: “Do not do that, except for Surah Fatiha, for there is no Salah for one who does not recite it.”
Jami at-Tirmidhi 311
3. 2nd School of thought
Another school of thought says that we shouldn’t recite Surah Fatiha in front of the Imam since there is a verse in the Holy Quran that supports this position.
Be silent and pay close attention as the Quran is recited so that you may receive mercy. – Al-A’raf 7:204
4. Your Choice
The third school of thought contends that Surah Fatiha should not be recited behind the Imam when he is speaking aloud. However, you should say it behind the Imam if his recitation is not heard. Personally, I subscribe to this line of thinking.
Whatever religious tradition you adhere to is supported by persuasive arguments made by well-known religious figures. There is no need for one group to disparage the other or to harbor animosity toward one another as a result.