Q. I was told that there is a hadith that said that “prayer without Surah Fatiha is invalid” and as such we should also recite it in the Janazah salaah although Imam Hanifa does not do it. I have heard that all the other schools of thought agree on this. Can you explain?
A. If we use this hadith as a proof for reciting sura Fatiha in Salaah Al Janaza then it means that there should also be recitation of the holy Qur’an in it since the Prophet (S.A.S) said, ‘There is no salaah except with Sura Fatiha and another sura with it’. (Tirmizi, Ibn Maja).
Similarly if Salaah Al Janaza is deemed to be a salaah like the other salaah then the need may also be there to have ruku, sujood, tashahud etc. in it, but this is not the case.
As such, it is important to know that ‘Salaah Al Janaza’ is in reality ‘a supplication for the deceased and a means of interceding for him. In this regard, Hafiz Al Aini has stated, ‘The Prophet (S.A.S.) named these specific actions which are done for the deceased ‘Salaah’ although there is no ruku and sujood in it. This usage of the word ‘Salaah’ has not been used in its real sense, nor is it used because of a joint meaning. Instead, it has been used figuratively. (Umdatul Qaari Vol. 8 Pg. 122).
In a riwayat narrated from Abdullah bin Masood (R.A.), he said Salaah al Janazah is a supplication and there is no recitation. One should make the takbeer like that of the Imam and then chose the best of words to say. (Al Badi’u, Awjazul Masalik commentary of Muatta Imam Malik Vol. 4 Pg. 231).
Moosa Al Juhani has narrated that he asked Hakam, Shabi, Ata and Mujahid about the Salaah of Janaza, if there was any fixed recitation. They replied, ‘No’ you are an intercessor, so intercede with the best of that which you know. (Awjazul Masalik commentary of the Muatta of Imam Malik).
It is also written in Awjazul Masalik Vol. 4 Pg. 231, ‘The statement of the Prophet (S.A.S.) that there is no Salaah except with sura Fatiha’, does not include the Salaah of Janaza because this Salaah is not a Salaah in reality, it is a supplication and a means of seeking forgiveness for the deceased. Don’t you see that it does not have the postures which are essential for Salaah, like that of ruku and sujood. It is named Salaah due to the fact that in it there is supplication’. (Awjazul Masalik).
With respect to the act of reciting sura Al Fatiha in the Janaza prayer, this has been the position adopted by Imam Shafi, Ahmad and Ishaq.
From among the proofs which has been used by these scholars is the narration of Abdullah bin Abbas (R. A.) which has been related by Talha bin Abdullah bin Auf who says, ‘I perform salaah behind Ibn Abbas on a deceased and he recited sura Al Fatiha. After doing so, he (Ibn Abbas) said that he read it so that they may know it is a Sunnah’. (Bukhari).
However, there have been a great amount of scholars who have adopted the position that sura Fatiha or any part of the Qur’an should not be recited in the salaah of janaza.
These scholars state that there are a great amount of narrations which contradict the action of Ibn Abbas and they outweigh the few traditions which narrate that sura Fatiha was recited in Janaza Salaah.
In this regard, it is narrated that Abdullah bin Masood (R.A.) was asked about Salaah Al Janaza, should one recite Quran in it? He said, ‘The Messenger of Allah (S.A.S.) has not specified for us any statement or any recitation in it’. (Umdatul Qaari Vol. 8 Pg. 141; Awjazul Masalik Vol. 4 Pg. 231)
It is reported from Abdur Rahman Bin Awf and Ibn Umar (R.A.) that both these sahabahs (companions) said, ‘There is no recitation of Quran in Salaah Al Janaza’. (Awjazul Masalik Vol. 4 Pg. 231)
Ibn Abi Shaiba has narrated in his Musannaf, from Abu Zubair from Jabir (R.A.) who said, ‘The Messenger of Allah (S.A.S) did not fix for us any specific recitation upon the deceased. Abu Bakr and Umar (R.A.) also did not make anything specific’. (Awjazul Masalik Vol. 4 Pg. 231)
Amr bin Shuaib from his father from his grand father states that it is narrated from thirty companions of the Prophet (S.A.S.) that they did not establish any fixed recitation in the salaah of janaza. (Awjazul Masalik Vol. 4 Pg. 231)
Abul Minhaal said, ‘I asked Abul A’aliyah about the recitation of sura Al Fatiha in Janaza Salaah’. He said, ‘Sura Fatiha is read only in those Salaah where there is ruku and sujood’. (Awjazul Masalik Vol. 4 Pg. 231).
There have been many sahabahs (companions of the Prophet (S.A.S.)) who held this position like Ibn Awf, Umar bin Khattab, Ali, Ibn Umar, Abu Hurairah,.
From among the Tabieen who held this position are:
Ata, Tawoos, Saeed bin Musayyab, Ibn Sereen, Saeed bin Jubair, Salim, Ibraheem, Shabi, Hakam. Ibn Munzir states that this is also the opinion of Mujahid, Hammad, Sufyaan Thawri, Imam Malik, Imam Abu Hanifa and the scholars of Koofa. Imam Malik (A.R.) said, ‘The recitation of sura Fatiha in the salaah of Janaza is not practiced by those in our City (of Madina). (Umdatul Qaari Vol. 8 Pg. 139).
Imam Tahawi has stated that it is possible that a few sahabahs who may have read sura Fatiha in Janaza salaah would have done so for the purpose of a supplication and not for recitation of the Qur’an. (Umdatul Qaari Vol. 8 Pg. 141).
From this explanation, it is clearly seen that a great amount of the sahabahs as well as the scholars from among the Tabieen held the position that sura Fatiha should not be read in salaah al janaza. Imam Malik (A.R.) made it clear that during his time it was not practiced by the people of Madina.
Imam Malik has also mentioned the narration of Abu Hurairah (R.A.) in his Mu’atta showing that he, Abu Huirairah read the janaza salaah and did not recite sura Fatiha. (Muwatta Pg. 209).
He also narrated from Nafi that Abdullah bin Umar (R.A.) did not recite any part of the Qur’an (i.e. sura Fatiha or any other sura) in the Janaza salaah. (Mu’atta Pg. 210).
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan