In point 3 you say that when Surah Al-Faatihah is recited silently, one may also recite it. Surely this is not an option. One must also recite it otherwise how would one’s prayer be valid.
Indeed the recitation of Surah Al-Faatihah is essential in every rak`ah and, moreover, there is no reason why every individual should not recite it, especially when the Imam is reciting it silently. I also believe that if a person does not recite it, his mind is likely to wander away from his sala’h. However, the point actually is whether or not the recitation of Surah Al-Faatihah by each person, individually is obligatory in those rak`ahs in which the Imam is reciting it silently. My answer to this question is “No”. To fully understand my answer, please consider the following points sequentially:
According to the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) and a number of narratives ascribed to him, recitation of Surah Al-Faatihah is essential in every prayer;
In congregational prayers, the Imam must, therefore, recite Surah Al-Faatihah, whether silently or audibly, as the case maybe, according to the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh);
The followers should also recite Surah Al-Faatihah in prayers in which the Imam recites silently, as there is no reason in not doing so. However, this recitation of the followers is not obligatory, as the recitation of the Imam is, in fact, on behalf of all the followers as well.
Thus, even though the Surah should, generally, be recited in every rak`ah. Yet it may be held that the recitation of the Imam suffices for the followers and, therefore, it is not obligatory for the followers to recite the Surah, individually. On the other hand, it may be held that the followers are to make their own recitation of the Surah, and if they do it not, then their rak`ah shall stand incomplete.
As I have stated earlier, my point of view in this regard is that the followers should, normally, make their own recitation of the Surah, when the Imam is reciting it silently, as there is no reason of not doing so. Yet, this recitation of the followers is not obligatory.
28th July 1999