to summarize what is written below: when the Imam recites aloud, remain silent. when the Imam recites silently, you recite. this is what Imam Abu Hanifa would have followed.
The Necessity of al-Faatihah, and its Excellence
He would vehemently emphasise the importance of this soorah, saying: "There is no prayer for the one who did not recite [in it] the opening chapter [at least]"129, and in another saying: That prayer is not sufficient in which a man does not recite the Opening of the Book130. He also said: He who performs a prayer in which he does not recite the Opening of the Book, then it (i.e. the prayer) is deficient, it is deficient, it is deficient, incomple
te.131. He also said:
Allaah the Blessed and Exalted has said: "I have divided the prayer132 between Myself and My servant, into two halves: half of it is for Me and half is for My servant, and My servant shall have what he has asked for." Then the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: Recite! The servant says "Praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the Worlds"; Allaah the Exalted says "My servant has praised Me". The servant says, "The Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy"; Allaah says, "My servant has extolled Me". The servant says "Master of the Day of Judgment"; Allaah the Exalted says, "My servant has glorified Me". The servant says, "It is You (alone) we worship and it is You (alone) we ask for help"; [He says:], "This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall have what he has asked for". The servant says, "Guide us to the Straight Path, the Path of those whom You have favoured, not of those who receive Your anger, nor of those who go astray". [He says:], "All these are for My servant, and My servant shall have what he has asked for."133
He also used to say: Allaah did not reveal in the Torah or the Gospel anything like the Mother of the Qur'aan. It is the Seven Oft-Repeated134[and the Grand Recitation which have been bestowed upon me].135
He (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) commanded "the one who prayed badly" to recite it in his prayer136, but said to one who could not remember it, Say:
(I declare Allaah free from all defects; all Praise be to Allaah; none has the right to be worshipped but Allaah; Allaah is the Greatest; there is no might or power except by Allaah)137.
He also said to "the one who prayed badly": If you know some of the Qur'aan, then recite it, otherwise praise Allaah, declare His Greatness and declare that none has the right to be worshipped but Allaah;138
The Abrogation of Recitation behind the Imaam in the Loud Prayers
He had given permission for those being led by the Imaam to recite Soorah al-Faatihah in the loud prayers, when once:
"he was praying Fajr and the recitation became difficult for him. When he finished, he said: Perhaps you recite behind your imaam. We said: "Yes, quickly139, O Messenger of Allaah." He said: Do not do so, except for [each of you reciting] the opening chapter of the Book, for the prayer is not valid of the one who does not recite it.140
Later, he forbade them from reciting in the loud prayers at all
"He finished a prayer in which he was reciting loudly (in one narration: it was the dawn prayer) and said: Were any of you reciting with me just now?! A man said: "Yes, I was, O Messenger of Allaah". He said: I say, why am I contended with? [Abu Hurairah said:] So the people stopped reciting with the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) when he was reciting loudly after hearing that from him [but they recited to themselves quietly when the imaam was not reciting loudly]."141
He also made silence during the imaam's recitation part of the completeness of following the imaam, saying: The imaam is there to be followed, so when he says takbeer, say takbeer, and when he recites, be silent142, just as he made listening to the imaam's recitation enough to not have to recite behind him, saying: He who has an imaam, then the recitation of the imaam is recitation for him143 - this applying in the loud prayers.
141 Maalik, Humaidi, Bukhaari in his pamphlet, Abu Daawood & Mahaamali (6/139/1). Tirmidhi declared it hasan; Abu Haatim ar-Raazi, Ibn Hibbaan & Ibn Qayyim declared it saheeh.
142 Ibn Abi Shaibah (1/97/1), Abu Daawood, Muslim, Abu `Awaanah & Ruwayaani in his musnad (24/119/1). It is given in Irwaa' (332, 394).
143 Ibn Abi Shaibah (1/97/1), Daaraqutni, Ibn Maajah, Tahaawi & Ahmad from numerous routes, musnad and mursal. Shaikh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah declared it strong, as in al-Furoo` of Ibn `Abdul Haadi (48/2). Boosayri declared some of its isnaads saheeh. I have discussed it in detail and investigated its routes of narration inthe manuscript version and then in Irwaa' al-Ghaleel (no. 500)
The Obligation to Recite in the Quiet Prayers
As for the quiet prayers, he urged them to recite during them; Jaabir said, "We used to recite behind the imaam in Zuhr and 'Asr: soorah al-Faatihah and another soorah in the first two rak'ahs, and soorah al-Fatihah in the last two."144
However, he dissuaded them from confusing him with their recitation, when:
"he prayed Zuhr with his Companions and said (afterwards): Which of you recited "Glorify the name of your Lord the Most High" (soorah al-A'laa, 87)? Someone said: It was I [but I was only intending nothing but good by doing so]. So he said: I knew that someone was contending with me by it.145 In another hadeeth: "They used to recite behind the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) [loudly], so he said: You have mixed up my (recitation of the) Qur'aan.146
He also said: Truly, the person praying is privately consulting his Lord, so he should be careful about what he consults him with, and you should not recite the Qur'aan loudly over each other.147
He also used to say: Whoever recited a harf (letter) from the Book of Allaah, it will count for him as one good deed, and a good deed is worth ten times over. I do not mean that "alif laam meem" is a harf, but "alif" is a harf, "laam" is a harf, and "meem" is a harf.148
144 Ibn Maajah with a saheeh isnaad. It is given in Irwaa' (506)
145 Muslim, Abu `Awaanah & Siraaj.
146 Bukhaari in his article, Ahmad & Siraaj with a hasan isnaad.
147 Maalik & Bukhaari in Af`aal al-`Ibaad with a saheeh isnaad.
* NB The view of the validity of recitation behind the imaam in quiet but not loud prayers was taken by Imaam Shaafi`i initially, and by Muhammad the student of Abu Haneefah in a narration from him which was preferred by Shaikh `Ali al-Qaari and other shaikhs of the madhhab; it was also the position of, among others, the Imaams Zuhri, Maalik, Ibn al-Mubaarak, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, several of the muhadditheen, and it is the preference of Shaikh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah.
148 Tirmidhi & Ibn Maajah with a saheeh isnaad. Transmitted also by Aajuri in Aadaab Haml al-Qur'aan. As for the hadeeth, "He who recites behind the imaam, his mouth is filled with fire", it is fabricated (mawdoo`) and this is explained in Silsilat al-ahaadeeth al-da`eefah (no. 569) - see Appendix 5.
regarding Imam Abu Hanifa:
1) Abu Haneefah (rahimahullaah)
The first of them is Abu Haneefah Nu'maan ibn Thaabit, whose companions have narrated from him various sayings and diverse warnings, all of them leading to one thing: the obligation to accept the Hadeeth, and to give up following the opinions of the imaams which contradict it:
1. "When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then that is my madhhab
2. "It is not permitted21 for anyone to accept our views if they do not know from where we got them."22
In one narration, "It is prohibited23 for someone who does not know my evidence to give verdicts24 on the basis of my words."
Another narration adds, "... for we are mortals: we say one thing one day, and take it back the next day."
In another narration, "Woe to you, O Ya'qub25! Do not write down everything you hear from me, for it happens that I hold one opinion today and reject it tomorrow, or hold one opinion tomorrow and reject it the day after tomorrow."26
3. "When I say something contradicting the Book of Allaah the Exalted or what is narrated from the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), then ignore my saying.
May Allah Suhannahu wa Ta' Aala guide us all to the straight path and the Sunnah of Rasulullah SallaAllahu Alayhee wa Salaam! AMEEN!