Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan
Question: Is one’s prayer valid if he/she is not able to completely recite Surah Fatiha in 3rd or 4th rakat behind an imam because he went to ruku early? I noticed that many imams recite surah fatiha in loud part (first 2 rakahs) slowly but during 3rd and 4th rakah (silent), they recite fast and I am not able to complete it at normal pace. I have to rush without thinking to complete. This also happens in the final tashahud so I am not able to complete salams on the Prophet PBUH. Is my prayer valid? If I know someone who is going to pray quickly, is it permitted for me to allow him to lead or should I lead the prayer?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith.
Your prayer is valid in the scenarios you describe.
Fatiha Behind the Imam
In the Hanafi school, it is sinful to recite the Fatiha behind the Imam in any raka of any prayer: rather, the follower simply remains silent.
So there is no problem if the imam recites Fatiha quickly.
The Final Tashahhud
If the imam makes his closing salams, the follower should make sure he finishes the tashahhud itself (up to the shahada: Ashhadu an laa ilaha illa Allah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasuluh), as reciting up to that point is wajib. He should then also make his closing salams.
The reasoning is that, although immediately following the imam is wajib, one does not leave a current wajib for another one, so one does not miss the wajib of finishing the tashahhud for the wajib of immediately following the imam in his closing salams.
Once the follower has finished the tashahhud itself, if the imam then makes his closing salams, the follower should stop reciting and make his salams with the imam, since sending the blessings upon the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the final du`a of the prayer are both sunnas, while it is wajib to immediately follow the imam, and one does leave a sunna in order to fulfill a wajib, which is of higher priority.
Who Should Lead the Prayer
The basic criteria for this is not how fast or slow one prays, but rather who best knows the legal rulings of the prayer and who has more Qur’an memorized.
[Shurunbulali, Nur al-Idah; Ala al-Din Abidin, Hadiyya Ala’iyya]
And Allah knows best.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani