Ruling on the pause made by Imam after reciting Al-Fatihah
Q: What is the ruling on the pause made by the Imam after reciting Al-Fatihah? I was told that this pause is an act of Bid`ah (innovation in Islam).
A: According to the authentic Hadith, it is an act of Sunnah to make two pauses while offering Salah (Prayer): the first pause is made after Takbirat-ul-Ihram (saying: “Allahu Akbar [Allah is the Greatest]” upon starting Prayer). This pause is called Saktat Al-Iftitah (pause for reciting supplication when starting the Prayer). The second pause is made after finishing recitation and before bowing down for Ruku` (bowing). This pause separates between recitation and Ruku`. It has been also narrated that a pause should be made after reciting Al-Fatihah. However, the Hadith narrated in this regard has been classified as weak. There exists no explicit Hadith to support this. It is better not to make this pause. Since this matter is debatable, there is no ground for considering it as a Bid`ah. There is no blame if one makes this pause as some scholars consider it desirable to do so.
The Ma’mum (a person being led by an Imam in Prayer) should recite Al-Fatihah at the time when the Imam makes pauses. In case the Imam does not make pauses in Salah (Prayer), the Ma’mum should recite Al-Fatihah even if the Imam is reciting. Then, he should start listening to him. Addressing his Sahabah (Companions), the prophet (peace be upon him) stated: Do you recite the Qur’an while praying behind your Imam? The Companions said: “Yes, we do.” The Prophet (peace be upon him said: “Recite Al-Fatihah only, for there will be no reward for one who does not recite it in Prayer.”
Narrated by Imam Ahmad and Al-Tirmidhy with a good Sanad (chain of narrators).This is as far as Jahri Salah (Prayer recited out loud) is concerned. As for Sirri Salah (Prayer with subvocal recitation), the M`amum should recite Al-Fatihah and some Ayahs of the Qur’an in the first and second Rak`ah of the Zhuhr (Noon) and `Asr (Afternoon) Prayers. Allah alone grants success.