الحمد لله رب العالمين، وصلى الله وسلم على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين، أما بعد
Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalaanee (rahimahullaah) mentioned some of the virtues and benefits associated to praying in the congregational prayer, he listed them as follows:
- Responding to the Mu-adhin with the intention of praying along with the congregation.
- Setting out early to it in its initial time.
- Walking calmly to the Masjid.
- Entering the Masjid whilst making supplication.
- Praying the tahiyya upon ones entry – all that being for the intention of prayer along with the congregation.
- Awaiting the congregational prayer.
- The salaat of the Angels upon him and their seeking forgiveness for him.
- Their witnessing of him (as being present).
- Responding to the iqaamah.
- Being safeguarded from satan, for he flees at the onset of the iqaamah.
- Standing awaiting the commencement of the Imaam or entering along with him in any condition/state he finds him to be upon.
- Attainment of the opening takbeer in a like manner.
- Straightening the rows and filling the gaps.
- Answering the Imaam when he says: “sami’ Allaahu liman hamidah” (Allaah listens and responds to the one who praises Him).
- A safeguard from forgetfulness in most cases; as well as alerting the Imam if he forgets by way of Tasbeeh or to open up (to reveal or disclose) upon him.
- The attainment of khushoo’ and safety from what would otherwise be a distraction – in most cases.
- The improved betterment of the condition/state (of a person) in most cases.
- The encompassment of the Angels of him.
- The practice of the correct mode of recitation, as well as learning the pillars and the portions.
- Manifesting the religious rites of Islaam.
- Satan’s constraint at the assembly upon performing worship, as well as mutual co-operation upon obedience and the active liveliness of the sluggish one.
- Being safeguarded from the attributes of the hypocrites and from the bad suspicion of others that he has directly abandoned the prayer.
- Returning the salaam upon the Imaam.
- Having benefitted from their collective gathering upon supplication and dhikr (remembrance) and the reinstatement of complete blessing upon the one who fell deficient.
- Establishing the regulation of harmonious familiarity between the neighbours and acquiring their mutual acquaintance during the prayer times.
So these are twenty five qualities in each of which there has appeared a command or a desirous attraction that is specific to it, whilst there remains from them two affairs that are specific to the loud prayers and they are: observing silence during the recitation of the Imaam as well as listening to it. Likewise the ta’meen (saying Ameen) along with his saying Ameen – in order that it should coincide with the pronouncement of ‘Ameen’ by the Angels.
(Taken from: Fathul Baaree Sharh Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree vol 2 p.174)
 Al-Fath ‘alal Imaam – or to open up to or to reveal and disclose to the Imam, its technical definition is: when those in the congregation dictate an aayah (of a Soorah) to the Imaam at a point at which there is a standstill. Imaam An-Nawawee (rahimahullaah) said: “If the Imaam falters (is speechless) and the recitation comes to a standstill with him, then it is desirable for someone in the congregation to dictate unto him. Likewise if he is reciting from a passage; so he errs and moves onto other than it – then it is desirable to dictate to him.” (Mawsoo’ah Al-Fiqhiyyah vol 32 p.13 & p.16)
Shaikh Muhammad bin Saalih Al-‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) said:
“Al-Fath ‘alal Imaam is obligatory in (Soorah) Al-Faatihah; meaning: if the Imaam forgets an aayah from Al-Faatihah or a word from Al-Faatihah or a letter from Al-Faatihah; then it is obligatory upon whoever is behind him to open (reveal/disclose upon him) because the recitation of Al-Faatihah is a pillar from the pillars of the prayer, the prayer is not correct except by way of it, due to the statement of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa ‘alaa aalihi wa sallam):
((There is no prayer for the one who does not recite the Faatihah (opening chapter) of the Book.))
So it is upon them to reveal/disclose to the Imaam and that they respond to him – however; it should be done with calm composure and that he who responds should be one person. Since if those that respond to him are numerous; then their voices will vary – hence the Imaam will not understand what is upon him. As for outside of Al-Faatihah; then if he changes the meaning; then it is likewise obligatory to respond; and if he does not change the meaning then the affair in that regard is easy; if they respond; then that is better and if they do not respond then there is no harm upon them. It likewise befits that none should go forth in being the Imaam except the one who is worthy of that; in the sense that he conveys The Speech of Allaah, The Mighty and Majestic in the clear Arabic language; because the Qur’aan was revealed in the clear Arabic language – just as He, The Mighty and Majestic said:
((And indeed; it is a revelation from the Lord of the creation. The Trustworthy Spirit descended with it. Upon your heart – so that you may be of the warners. In clear Arabic language.)) (Ash-Shu’araa: 192-195 )
Likewise it is not obligatory that the person (responding) recites with tajweed (recitation accordance to set rules) in accordance with the well known principles, rather if he determines the letters and words along with the I’raab (desinential inflection) then that suffices as the tajweed (here) is not but the beautification of the recitation – and is not obligatory.”