Answered by Shaykh Arsalan Haque
Question: Assalamu alaikum wa Rahmatullah. Is reciting Qunut during a congregation of fajr prayer mandatory for a follower when the imam is reciting it? In Malaysia where Shafi’i fiqh is predominant an imam during fajr prayer recites Qunut. Is my prayer void if I do not recite Qunut and not raising my hands during the recitation?
Answer: Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
In the Shafi’i school, it is recommended [mustahabb] to raise the hands and supplicate with the Qunut Supplication during the second rak’ah of the Fajr prayer, after straightening up from the bowing position. If one omits this sunna, deliberately or forgetfully, it is recommended [mustahabb] that one performs a prostration of forgetfulness at the end of one’s prayer.
The Qunut Supplication must comprise of Allah’s praise, supplication, and salah on the Prophet, his family, and his companions (may Allah bless them and grant them peace). Any formula containing these is sufficient to fulfill the basic sunna. However, the optimal way to supplicate is by using the words that were taught by the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
When praying in a congregation, the imam should recite the Qunut Supplication out loud. When the imam supplicates, the followers should say ameen out loud. When he praises Allah, the followers should softly repeat whatever he says. Alternatively, they may choose to listen quietly or softly repeat ash-had (I testify) after every statement of praise.
As for what the followers should do when the imam sends salah on the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), there is a difference of opinion about this. Some have said that they should simply say ameen. Others have said they should also pronounce salah on the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) along with the imam. Yet others have said that it’s best to do both.
Imam al-Nawawi says in Minhaj al-Talibin:
“It is recommended to perform the Qunut Supplication after straightening up from the bowing position in the second rak’ah of the Fajr Prayer … According to the sound opinion, it is [also] recommended:
a. to send salah on the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) at the end;
b. to raise the hands, but not to wipe the face with them;
c. for the imam to recite the Qunut Supplication out loud;
d. for the follower to say ameen for the supplication, and pronounce Allah’s praise.”
And Allah most certainly knows best.