The Rulings on Reciting Surah Al-Fatihah during the Funeral prayer based on the four classical schools, Ibn Qayyim, Ibn Taymiyyah, and modern scholars.

In the name of Allah,


Regarding the recitation of Surah Al Fatiha in the funeral prayer, the scholars had different opinions. Three positions exist. According to Abu Haneefah and Maalik, it is not mustahabb under any circumstances. According to some of the companions of al-Shafa’i and Ahmad, reciting al-Fatihah is required[i].


Al-Ahnaaf’s evidence for not reciting Al-Faatihah in the funeral prayer


Yahya related to me from Malik from Said ibn Abi Said al-Maqburi from his father that he had asked Abu Hurayra, “How do you pray over the dead?” and Abu Hurayra replied, “By the Life of Allah, I will tell you! I follow with the family and when the corpse is put down I say ‘Allah is the greatest praise Allah and ask for blessings on His Prophet. Then I say, ‘O Allah, he is Your slave and the son of Your male slave and Your female slave. He used to testify that there is no god but You and that Muhammad is Your slave and Your Messenger, and You know that best. O Allah, if he acted well, then increase for him his good action, and if he acted wrongly, then overlook his wrong actions. O Allah, do not deprive us of his reward, and do not try us after him.’[ii]


In his book Ahkaam Al-Janaa’iz, Shaykh Al-Albaani, may Allah have mercy upon him, stated regarding it that “its chain of transmission as Mawqoof is highly authentic.”


It was further established that Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah have mercy on him, did not recite Al-Fatiah during the funeral prayer. According to Naafi, ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Umar did not recite the Quran during the funeral prayer.

“Umar ibn Al-Khattab, Ali ibn Abi Taalib, Ibn ‘Umar, and Abu Hurayrah may Allaah be pleased with them were among those who did not recite Quran in the burial prayer and denounced it,” Ibn Battaal, may Allah have mercy upon him, said in Sharh Al-Bukhari.  [End quote][iii]


The Hanafis further say:

After the first Allahu akbar, one is to recite the opening glorification. According to Hanafi jurists, there is no issue for someone who intended it as a recitation(surah Al fatiah) to distance themselves from the various opinions of the scholars. Given this, it has also been argued that the most accurate view is that if one recites it with the intention of recitation, then it is detested, but not if one recites it with the intention of the opening glorification[iv].


The fourth-century Tunisian Maliki scholar Ibn Abi Zayd Al Qaywarani said:


The pillars of the Janaza prayer are five:

1. Standing.

2. The ihram, i.e. the intention

3. The salam.

4. Supplication.

5.The takbirs[v].


Those who hold it to be desirable and not obligatory are ibn Qayyim and his teacher Shaykh Ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on them). Ibn Qayyim mentions in Zaad Al Maad that after the first takbeer in the funeral prayer, Ibn ‘Abbaas recited Al Fatiha aloud to indicate to the congregation that it was desirable.


The Prophet (may Allah send greetings upon him) is said to have given the order, though the reliability of this narration’s chain is questionable. Al Fatiha is not required to be recited at the funeral prayer, according to our teacher. It is desirable instead[vi].


Reading Al-Fatiah Is obligatory


Talhah Bin ‘Abdillah Bin ‘Awf reported:

“I prayed behind Ibn ‘Abbas (R.A) over a Janazah. He loudly recited al-Fatihah and another surah, enabling us to hear him. After the prayer, I held his hand and asked him about that and he said, ‘I only raised my voice for you to learn the true guidance (in this regard).’ ”In another narration,

“So that you will know that it is Sunnah.”[vii]


On this hadith, At-Tirmidhi remarked:


This hadith is genuine and hasan. Reading al-Fatihah after the first Takbir is therefore per the belief of several ‘ulama from the companions of the Prophet and others. Ahmad, Ash-Shafi, and Ishaq all hold this opinion. Since the Janazah prayer is primarily for praising Allah, praying for His Prophet (H), and making duas for the dead, according to certain ‘ulama, there is no reading from the Qur’an during this time. This is the viewpoint of ath-Thawrl and others from al-Kufah.” [viii]


Imam as Shawkani mentions another proof for this in his book:

‘Al-Shafi’i added that it is Sunnah for the Imam to silently read Surah Al-Fatihah after the First Takbir during the funeral prayer’.


The chain of the aforementioned information is authentic, according to Fathul- Bari’s author[ix].


The Fiqh of Shafi madhab mentions in Ship of Salvation:


Reciting Surah al-Ftiah is wajib after takbrat al-ihram. One should not recite the “dua” iftitah or a surah therein, however, it is mustahabb to say ta’awwudh before it and “Amin” after it[x].


The Hanbali fiqh book says:


It has seven pillars, that is: standing for the required prayer; the four takbirs; reciting the Surah Al Fatiah,  praying to the Prophet (peace be upon him); supplication for the departed; the salaam; and sequence[xi].


Ibn Abbas (R.A.) assertion that it is Sunnah does not imply that it is mustahabb; rather, he is referring to how the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said it. Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:


Al-Faatihah is a pillar or essential part of the funeral prayer because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is no prayer for the one who does not recite the Opening of the Book,” and the funeral prayer is prayer. After all, Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And never (O Muhammad) pray (funeral prayer) for any of them (hypocrites) who dies” [al-Tawbah 9:84].  So Allaah calls it a prayer (salaah). And Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) recited al-Faatihah in the funeral prayer, and said: “So that you will know that it is Sunnah.”[xii]


A similar view is shared by Shaikh ibn Baaz:


The Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions have provided an explanation of the prayer over the dead. The person must say “Allahu Akbar” first (Allah is the Greatest). Then he invokes Allah to protect him from the cursed Satan, then “Bismilldhir-Rahmanir-Rahim” (In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful), and reciting Al Fatihah and a brief Surah or a few verses from the Qur’an. The individual then exclaims “Allahu Akbar” (again) and sends blessings upon Prophet Muhammad( Peace be on him)[xiii].


The strongest and safest position is that Surah Al Fatihah must be recited at the funeral prayer and Allah knows Best. 


Compiled from the Sources:

[i] fatwa number 72221

[ii] Book 16, Hadith 17 Malik Muatta

[iii] 199033

[iv] Noor-al-Idah, Hasan Shurunbulali, A Classical Manual of Hanafi Law. Translated from the Arabic with Commentary and Notes by Wesam Charkawi. Page 296

[v] The Risala Ibn Abi Zayd Al Qaywarani’s Manual of Islamic Law, Translated by Aisha Bewley page 342

[vi] Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya (ZAD AL M AA’D) PROVISIONS OF THE AFTERLIFE, WHICH LIE WITHIN PROPHETIC GUIDANCE, Translation Ismail Abdus Salaam, Dar Al-Kotob Al-llmiyah Publication, 2010, Page 108

[vii] This is a collective report recorded by al-Bukhari, an-Nasal, and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Ahkam ul-Janaiz p. 151).


[ix] Shawkani, Muhammad bin Aliy, (2019). Comprehensive Islamic jurisprudence, According to the Quraan and authentic Sunnah, trans: Abu Aisha Murtadha Salahuddin. Malaysia: Dakwah Corner Bookstore. Page 185

[x] The Ship of Salvation: A classic manual of Islāmic Doctrine and Jurisprudence In Arabic with English text, commentary, and appendices, Edited and translated by: ʿAbdullah Muḥammad al-Marbūqī al-Shāfiʿī. Page 91

[xi] Bidāyat al-ʿĀbid wa Kifāyat al-Zāhid Commencement of the Worshiper & Sufficiency of the Ascetic ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. ʿAbd Allāh al-Baʿli. Page 93

[xii] Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 5/401

[xiii] Fatwa Islamiyah (Islamic Verdicts) Vol 3 From the noble scholars Abdullah bib Baaz, Shaikh Uthaymeen, Ibn Jibreen ( May Allah have mercy on them) along with the permanent committee. Darussalam Publications Page 58

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