Al-Fatihah and the Prayer
Muslim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet said; ''Whoever performs any prayer in which he did not read Umm Al-Qur'an, then his prayer is incomplete.'' He said it thrice.
Abu Hurayrah was asked, "When we stand behind the Imam!'' He said, "Read it to yourself, for I heard the Messenger of Allah say; ''Allah, the Exalted, said, I have divided the prayer (Al-Fatihah) into two halves between Myself and My servant, and My servant shall have what he asks for.''
If he says,
(All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of existence)
- Allah says, `My servant has praised Me.'
When the servant says,
(The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful)
- Allah says, `My servant has glorified Me.'
When he says,
(The Owner of the Day of Recompense)
- Allah says, `My servant has glorified Me,' or `My servant has related all matters to Me.'
When he says,
(You (alone) we worship, and You (alone) we ask for help)
- Allah says, `This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he
When he says,
- Guide us to the straight path.
- (The way of those on whom You have granted Your grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your anger, nor of those who went astray)
- Allah says, `This is for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for.'''
These are the words of An-Nasa'i, while both Muslim and An-Nasa'i collected the following wording, "A half of it is for Me and a half for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for.''
Explaining this Hadith
The last Hadith used the word Salah `prayer' in reference to reciting the Qur'an, (Al-Fatihah in this case) just as Allah said in another Ayah; `And offer your Salah (prayer) neither aloud nor in a low voice, but follow a way between.` Meaning, with your recitation of the Qur'an, as the Sahih related from Ibn Abbas.
Also, in the last Hadith, Allah said, "I have divided the prayer between Myself and My servant into two halves, a half for Me and a half for My servant. My servant shall have what he asked for.''
Allah next explained the division that involves reciting Al-Fatihah, demonstrating the importance of reciting the Qur'an during the prayer, which is one of the prayer's greatest pillars. Hence, the word `prayer' was used here although only a part of it was actually being referred to, that is, reciting the Qur'an.
Similarly, the word `recite' was used where prayer is meant, as demonstrated by Allah's statement; `And recite the Qur'an in the early dawn. Verily, the recitation of the Qur'an in the early dawn is ever witnessed.` In reference to the Fajr prayer,
The two Sahihs recorded that the angels of the night and the day attend this prayer.
Reciting Al-Fatihah is required in Every Rak`ah of the Prayer
All of these facts testify to the requirement that reciting the Qur'an (Al-Fatihah) in the prayer is required, and there is a consensus between the scholars on this ruling. The Hadith that we mentioned also testifies to this fact, for the Prophet said; "Whoever performs any prayer in which he did not recite Umm Al-Qur'an, his prayer is incomplete."
Also, the Two Sahihs recorded that Ubadah bin As-Samit said that the Messenger of Allah said; "There is no prayer for whoever does not recite the Opening of the Book."
Also, the Sahihs of Ibn Khuzaymah and Ibn Hibban recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said; " The prayer during which Umm Al-Qur'an is not recited is invalid."
There are many other Hadiths on this subject. Therefore, reciting the Opening of the Book, during the prayer by the Imam and those praying behind him, is required in every prayer, and in every Rak`ah.