Reciting Al-Fatihah behind the Imam is a controversial issue among Muslim jurists. Sheikh Subh says that “In the loud prayers, the follower recites Al-Fatihah after the Imam recites it and remains silent to listen to the Imam reciting a short passage of the Qur’an.” He means that after the Imam finishes reciting Al-Fatihah, the follower should recite it. This is for sure in case the Imam keeps silent for a while after reciting Al-Fatihah. However, if the Imam continues reciting the short passage of the Qur’an after Al-Fatihah without keeping silent for a while, then the follower should listen to the recitation of the Imam without reciting Al-Fatihah. Sheikh Subh gives preference to one of the opinions of reciting Al-Fatihah behind the Imam in case he keeps silent for a while.
Elaborating on this issue, we’d like to furnish you with the different views regarding reciting Al-Fatihah behind the Imam. According to the hanafi madhhab, the follower should not recite anything (al-Fatihah or short passage of the Qur’an) behind the Imam whether the Prayer is silent or loud. They based their ruling on Almighty Allah’s saying, “When the Qur’an is recited, listen and remain silent that you may attain mercy.” (Al-A`raaf: 204) And the Prophet’s hadith, “Whoever is praying behind an Imam, the Imam’s recital is his recital.“
As for the Shafi`i scholars, they are of the opinion that the follower must recite Al-Fatihah whether the Prayer is silent or loud.
According to the Maliki madhhab, recitation behind the Imam is permissible (mandub) in case the Prayer is silent. But it is reprehensible (makruh) in the case the Imam’s recitation is loud.
As for Hanbalis, the follower’s recitation behind the Imam is commendable (mustahabb) in the case the Prayer is silent and when the Imam keeps silent for a while after reciting Al-Fatihah. But it is reprehensible in the case the Prayer is loud.
So, the follower can act according to any of the above mentioned opinions and there is nothing wrong with that. However, we prefer that if the Imam’s recitation is loud and can be heard, then it is preferable that the follower listens to the Imam’s recitation. But if the Imam’s recitation is silent or is loud but cannot be heard by the follower or the Imam keeps silent for a while after reciting Al-Fatihah loudly, then the follower should recite Al-Fatihah.
Anyway, whether the follower recited Al-Fatihah behind the Imam or not, his Prayer is valid.