Islamic Laws

Congregational prayers

Introduction

1408. It is Mustahab that obligatory prayers, especially the daily prayers, are performed in congregation, and more emphasis has been laid on congregational prayers for Fajr, Maghrib and Isha, and also for those who live in the neighbourhood of a mosque, and are able to hear its Adhan.

1409. It has been reported in authentic traditions, that the congregational prayers are twenty five times better than the prayers offered alone.

1410. It is not permissible to absent oneself from the congregational prayers unduly, and it is not proper to abandon congregational prayers without a justifiable excuse.

1411. It is Mustahab to defer prayers with an intention to participate in congregational prayers, because a short congregational prayer is better than a prolonged prayer offered alone. It is also better than the individual prayer offered at its prime time. But it is not known whether a congregational prayer offered after the Fadhilat time could be better than the prayer offered alone, within the time of Fadhilat.

1412. When congregational prayers are being offered, it is Mustahab for a person, who has already offered his prayers alone, to repeat the prayers in congregation. And if he learns later that his first prayer was void, the second prayer will suffice.

1413. If the Imam (leader) or the Ma'mum (follower) wishes to join a congregation prayer again, after having already prayed in congregation once, there is no objection if it is done with the niyyat of Raja', since its being Mustahab is not established.

1414. If a person is so obsessed with doubts and anxiety during prayers, that it leads to its invalidity, and if he finds peace only in congregational prayers, he must offer prayers in congregation.

1415. If a father or a mother orders his/her son to offer prayers in congregation, as a recommended precaution, he should obey. And if this order is based on parental love, and if disobedience would cause injury to their feelings, it is haraam for the son to disobey, even if it does not incur the parental wrath.

1416. Mustahab prayers as a precaution cannot be offered in congregation in any situation, except Istisqa prayers (invoked for the rain) or prayers which were obligatory at one time, but became Mustahab later, like, Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Azha prayers, which are obligatory during the presence of Ma'soom Imam (A.S.) and are Mustahab during his occultation.

1417. When an Imam is leading a congregation for the daily prayers, one can follow him for any of the daily prayers.

1418. If Imam of the congregation is offering his own qadha, or on behalf of another person whose qadha is certain, he can be followed. However, if he is offering the qadha, his own or on behalf of the other, as a precaution, it is not permissible to follow him, unless the prayers being offered by the follower is also based on a precaution similar to that of Imam. However, it is not necessary that the follower may not have another reason for precaution.

1419. If a person does not know whether the prayers of Imam is an obligatory daily prayer or Mustahab prayer, he cannot follow him.

1420. For the validity of congregation, it is a condition that there should be no obstruction between the Imam and the follower, nor between one follower and the other follower, who is a link between him and the Imam. An obstruction means something which separates them, regardless of whether it prevents seeing each other, like in the case of a curtain, or a wall, or does not prevent, like in the case of a glass wall.
Therefore, if there is an obstruction, at any time of the prayers, between Imam and the follower or between the followers themselves, thus breaking the link, congregation will be void. But women are exempted from this rule, as will be explained in due course.

1421. If the persons standing at the end of the first row, cannot see the Imam because the line is very long, they can still follow him; similarly if the following rows are very long, and persons standing at the far end cannot see the line before, they can follow the congregation.

1422. If the rows of the congregation extend to the gate of the mosque, the prayers of a person standing in front of the gate behind the line will be in order, and the prayers of those followers who stand behind him will also be valid. In fact, the prayers of those who are standing on either sides, and are linked with the congregation by means of another follower, will also be in order.

1423. If a person who is standing behind a pillar is not linked with the Imam by another follower from either side, he cannot follow the Imam.

1424. The place where Imam stands should not be higher than the place of the follower, unless the height is negligible. And, if the ground has a slope, the Imam should stand at the higher end. But if the slope is so small that people ordinarily consider the ground as flat, there will be no objection.

1425. In the congregational prayers, there is no objection if the place where followers stand is higher than that of the Imam. But if it is so high, that it cannot be considered that they have assembled together, then the congregation is not in order.

1426. If a discerning child, one who is able to distinguish good from evil, stands between two persons in one line, thus causing a distance, their prayers in congregation will be valid as long as they do not have knowledge about that child's namaz having become void.

1427. If after the takbir of the Imam, the persons in the front row are ready for prayers and are about to say takbir, a person standing in the back row can say takbir. However, the recommended precaution is that he should wait, till the takbir of the front row has been pronounced.

1428. If a person knows that the prayers of one of the rows in front is void, he cannot follow the Imam in the back rows, but if he does not know whether the prayers of those persons are in order or not, he may follow.

1429. If a person knows that the prayers of the Imam is void - like, if he knows that the Imam is without Wudhu, though the Imam himself may not be mindful of the fact, he cannot follow that Imam.

1430. If the follower learns after the prayers, that the Imam was not a just person ('Adil), or was a disbeliever, or his namaz was void for any other reason, like, having no Wudhu, his own namaz will be valid.

1431. If a person doubts during namaz whether he has followed the Imam or not, he will rely upon the signs which satisfactorily lead him to believing that he has been following. For example, if he finds himself listening silently to the Qir'at of Imam, he should complete the prayers with the congregation. But if he is in a situation where no such decision can be made, he should complete his prayers as one offered individually (i.e.Furada).

1432. If a person decides to separate himself during congregational namaz into the niyyat of Furada without any excuse, his congregational prayers will be incorrect, but his namaz will be valid. Except when he has not acted according to the rules related to Furada prayers, or if he has committed an act which invalidates Furada prayers, like having performed an extra Ruku.
In fact, in certain situation, his prayers will be valid even if he has not followed the rules of Furada. For example, if he did not have the intention from the beginning to separate himself, and therefore did not recite Qira't, and decided in Ruku, his prayer will be valid when converted to Furada.

1433. If the follower makes an intention of Furada after the Imam has recited Surah al-Hamd and the other Surah, because of some good excuse, it will not be necessary for him to recite Surah al-Hamd and the other Surah. But if he makes the intention of Furada before Imam has completed Surah al-Hamd and the other Surah, it will be necessary for him to recite the part recited by the Imam.

1434. If a person makes the intention of Furada during the congregation prayers, he cannot revert back to congregational prayers again. But, if he is undecided whether he should make the intention of Furada or not, and eventually decides to end the prayers with congregation, his prayers with the congregation will be in order.

1435. If a person doubts whether he had made an intention of Furada during the congregational prayers, he should consider that he had not made the intention.

1436. If a person joins the Imam at the time of Ruku, and participates in Ruku of the Imam, his prayer is in order, even if the Zikr by the Imam may have come to an end. It will be treated as one Rak'at. However, if he goes to Ruku and misses Imam's Ruku, he can complete his prayers as Furada.

1437. If a person joins the Imam when he is in Ruku, and as he bows, he doubts whether or not he reached the Ruku of the Imam, his congregational prayer will be valid if that doubt occurs after the Ruku was over. Otherwise, he can complete his prayers with the niyyat of Furada.

1438. If a person joins the Imam when he is in Ruku, but before he bows to Ruku, the Imam raises his head from his Ruku, that person has a choice either to complete his prayers as Furada, or to continue with the Imam upto Sajdah, with the niyyat of Qurbat. Then when he stands, he can do takbir other than Takbiratul Ihram, as a general Zikr, and continue with the congregation.

1439. If a person joins the Imam from the beginning of the prayers or during the time ofSurah al-Hamd and the other Surah, and if it so happens that, before he goes into Ruku, Imam raises his head from Ruku, his prayers will be in order.

1440. If a person arrives for prayers when the Imam is reciting the last tashahhud, and if he wishes to earn 'thawab' of congregational prayers, he should sit down after making niyyat, and pronouncing takbiratul ehram, and may recite tashahhud with the Imam, but not the Salam, and then wait till the Imam says Salam of the prayers. Then he should stand up, and without making niyyat and takbir, begin to recite Surah al-Hamd and the other Surah treating it as the first Rak'at of his prayers.

1441. The followers should not stand in front of the Imam, and, as an obligatory precaution, when the followers are many, they should not stand in line with Imam. But if there is only one male follower, he may stand in line with Imam.

1442. If the Imam is a male and the follower is a female, and if there is a curtain or something similar between that woman and the Imam, or between that woman and another male follower, and the woman is linked to the Imam through that male, there is no harm in it.

1443. If after the commencement of the prayers, a curtain or something similar intervenes between the follower and the Imam, or between one follower and the other, through whom the follower is linked to the Imam, the congregation will be invalidated, and it will be necessary for the follower to act according to Furada obligation.

1444. As an obligatory precaution, the distance between the place where the follower performs Sajdah, and where the Imam stands, should not be more than a foot, and the same rule applies to a person who is linked with the Imam through another follower standing in front. And the recommended precaution is that the distance between the rows should be just enough to allow a person to do Sajdah.

1445. If a follower is linked to the Imam by means of a person, on his either side, and is not linked to the Imam in front, the obligatory precaution is that he should not be at a distance of more than a foot from his companions on either side.

1446. If during the prayers, a distance of one foot occurs between the follower and the Imam, or between the follower and the person through whom he is linked to the Imam, he (the follower) will be isolated and can, therefore, continue as Furada.

1447. If the prayers of all the persons who are in the front row comes to an end, and if they do not resume congregational prayers, the congregational prayers of the person in the back rows will be void. In fact, even if they resume, the validity of congregational prayers of the people in the back rows is questionable.

1448. If a person joins the Imam in the second Rak'at, it is not necessary for him to recite Surah al-Hamd and Surah, but he may recite qunut and tashahhud with the Imam, and the precaution is that, at the time of reciting tashahhud, he should keep the fingers of his hands and the inner part of his feet on the ground and raise his knees.
And after the tashahhud, he should stand up with the Imam and should recite Surah al-Hamd and Surah. And if he does not have time for the other Surah, he should complete Surah al-Hamd, and join the Imam in Ruku, and if he cannot join the Imam in Ruku, he can discontinue Sura al-Hamd and join. But in this case, the recommended precaution is that he should complete his prayers as Furada.

1449. If a person joins the Imam when he is in the second Rak'at of the namaz having four Rak'ats, he should sit after the two Sajdah in the second Rak'at, which will be the third of the Imam, and recite Wajib parts of tashahhud, and should then stand up. And if he does not have time to recite the Tasbihat Arba'ah thrice, he should recite it once, and then join the Imam in Ruku.

1450. If Imam is in the third or fourth Rak'at, and one knows that if he joins him and recite Surah al-Hamd he will not be able to reach him in Ruku, as an obligatory precaution, he should wait till Imam goes to Ruku and then join.

1451. If a person joins the Imam when he is in the state of qiyam of third or fourth Rak'at, he should recite Surah al-Hamd and the other Surah, and if he does not have time for the other Surah, he should complete Surah al-Hamd and join the Imam in Ruku. But if he has no time even for Surah al-Hamd, he may leave it incomplete and join Imam in Ruku. But in this case, the recommended precaution is that he should change to Furada.

1452. If a person who knows that if he completes Surah or qunut, he will not be able to join the Imam in his Ruku, yet he purposely recites Surah or qunut, and misses the Imam in Ruku, his congregational prayer will be void, and should act accordingly to the rules of Furada prayers.

1453. If a person is satisfied that if he commences a Surah or completes it, he will be able to join the Imam in his Ruku, provided that the Surah does not take very long, it is better for him to commence the Surah or to complete it, if he has already started. But if the Surah will take too long, till no semblance of congregation exists, he should not commence it, and if he has commenced it, he should not complete it.

1454. If a person is sure that if he recites the other Surah, he will be able to join the Imam in Ruku, and then if he recites the Surah and misses the Imam in Ruku, his congregational prayers are in order.

1455. If Imam is standing, and the follower does not know in which Rak'at he is, he can join him, but he should recite Surah al-Hamd and the other Surah with the niyyat of Qurbat though he may come to know later that the Imam was in the first or second Rak'at.

1456. If a person does not recite Surah al-Hamd and Surah, under the impression that the Imam is in the first or second Rak'at, and realises after Ruku that he was in the third or fourth, his prayers are in order. However, if he realises this before Ruku, he should recite Surah al-Hamd and the other Surah, and if he does not have sufficient time for this, he should act according to rule no. 1451.

1457. If a person recites Surah al-Hamd and Surah under the impression that the Imam is in the third or fourth Rak'at, and realises before or after Ruku that he was in the first or second, his (i.e. the followers') prayers are in order, and if he realises this while reciting Surah al-Hamd and the other Surah, it will not be necessary for him to complete them.

1458. If a congregational prayer begins while a person is offering a Mustahab prayers, and if he is not sure that if he completes his Mustahab prayers, he will be able to join the congregational prayers, it is Mustahab to abandon the Mustahab prayers, and join the congregational prayers. In fact, if he is not certain that he will be able to join the first Rak'at, he should follow this rule.

1459. If a congregational prayer begins while a person is offering a prayer of three or four Rak'ats, and if he has not gone into Ruku of the third Rak'at, and is not sure whether upon completion, he will be able to join the congregational prayers, it is Mustahab to end the prayers with the niyyat of Mustahab prayers of two Raka'ts, and join the congregational prayers.

1460. If the prayers of the Imam comes to an end, but the follower is still reciting tashahhud or the first Salam, it is not necessary for him to make the intention of Furada.

1461. If a person is behind the Imam by one Rak'at, it is better that when the Imam is reciting tashahhud of the last Rak'at, he (the follower) should place the fingers of his hands and the inner part of his feet on the ground, and raise his knees, and wait till the Imam says Salam of the prayers and then stand up. And if he makes niyyat of Furada at that very moment, there is no harm in it.

Qualification of an Imam of congregational prayers

1462. The Imam of the congregational prayers should be:

Adult (Baligh)

Sane

Ithna 'Ashari Shi'ah

'Adil

Of legitimate birth

Being able to offer the prayers correctly

Furthermore, if the follower is a male, the Imam also should be a male. To follow a boy of ten years of age is a matter of Ishkal.

1463. If a person who once considered an Imam to be 'Adil, doubts whether he continues to be 'Adil, he can follow him.

1464. A person who offers prayers standing, cannot follow a person who offers his prayers while sitting or lying, and a person who offers his prayers while sitting, cannot follow a person who offers his prayers while lying.

1465. A person who offers prayers sitting, can follow another person who offers his prayers while sitting. But if a person offers prayers while lying, for him to follow a person who offers prayers in sitting or lying position is a matter of Ishkal.

1466. If Imam, because of some justified excuse, leads the prayers in a najis dress, or with tayammum, or jabira Wudhu, it is permissible to follow him.

1467. If Imam is suffering from incontinence, whereby he cannot control his urine or excretion, it is permissible to follow him. Moreover, a woman, who is not mustahaza can follow a woman who is mustahaza.

1468. It is better that a person who suffers from blotches or leprosy does not lead the congregational prayers, and, on the basis of obligatory precaution, a person who has been subjected to Islamic punishment should not be followed.

Rules of congregational prayers

1469. When a follower makes his niyyat, it is necessary for him to specify the Imam. But, it is not necessary for him to know his name. If he makes niyyat that he is following the Imam of the present congregation, his prayer is in order.

1470. It is necessary for the follower to recite all the things of the prayers himself, except Surah al-Hamd and the other Surah. However, if his first or second Rak'at coincides with third or fourth Rak'at of the Imam, he should recite Surah al-Hamd and Surah.

1471. If the follower hears Surah al-Hamd and Surah of Imam in the first and second Rak'at of the Fajr, Maghrib and Isha prayers, he should not recite them, even if he may not be able to distinguish the words. And if he does not hear the voice of the Imam, it is Mustahab that he should recite Surah al-Hamd and Surah silently. But if he recites them loudly by mistake, there is no harm.

1472. If the follower hears some words of Surah al-Hamd and the other Surah recited by Imam, he may recite as much as he cannot hear.

1473. If the follower recites Surah al-Hamd and the other Surah by mistake, or recites Surah al-Hamd and Surah thinking that the voice he heard was not the voice of Imam, and if he later realises that it was the voice of Imam, his prayers are in order.

1474. If a follower doubts whether he is hearing the voice of Imam, or if he does not know whether the voice he hears is that of Imam or someone else, he can recite Surah al-Hamd and the other Surah.

1475. The follower should not recite Surah al-Hamd and Surah in the first and second Rak'ats of Zuhr and Asr prayers and it is Mustahab that instead of them he should recite Zikr.

1476. The follower should not say Takbiratul ehram before the Imam. As an obligatory precaution, he should not say the takbir until the takbir of the Imam is completed.

1477. If the follower says the Salam by mistake, before the Imam does it, his prayer is in order, and it is not necessary that he should say Salam again along with the Imam. And even if he says Salam before the Imam intentionally, there is no objection.

1478. If a follower recites other parts of prayers other than Takbiratul ehram before the Imam, there is no objection. But, if he hears them being recited by the Imam, or if he knows when Imam is going to recite them, the recommended precaution is that he should not recite them before the Imam.

1479. It is necessary for the follower that, besides that which is recited in the prayers, he should perform all acts like Ruku and Sajdah with the Imam or a little after him, and if he performs them before the Imam, or after a considerable delay, intentionally, his congregational prayers becomes void. However, if he converts to Furada, his prayers will be in order.

1480. If a follower raises his head from Ruku before the Imam by mistake, and if the Imam is still in Ruku, he (the follower) should return to Ruku, and then raise his head with the Imam. In this case, the extra Ruku, which is a Rukn, will not invalidate the prayers. However, if Imam raises his head before the follower reaches him, as a precaution, the prayer of the follower will be void.

1481. If a follower raises his head by mistake, and sees that the Imam is in Sajdah, as a precaution, he should return to Sajdah, and if it happens in both the Sajdah, the prayers will not be void, although a Rukn has been added.

1482. If a person raises his head from Sajdah before the Imam by mistake, and as he returns to Sajdah he realises that the Imam has already raised his head, his prayer is in order. But, if it happens in both the Sajdah, as a precaution, his prayer is void.

1483. If a follower raises his head from Ruku or Sajdah before Imam by mistake, and does not return to Ruku or Sajdah forgetfully, or thinking that he will not reach the Imam, his congregational prayer is in order.

1484. If a follower raises his head from Sajdah and sees that the Imam is still in Sajdah, he joins the Imam in Sajdah thinking that it is Imam's first, and later realises that it was actually Imam's second, the follower should consider his own Sajdah also as second. But if he goes into Sajdah thinking that it is the second Sajdah of Imam, and later learns that it was Imam's first, he should join Imam in that Sajdah, and also in the subsequent one. In both the cases, however, it is better that he prays again, after completing the congregational prayers.

1485. If a follower goes to Ruku before the Imam by mistake, and realises that if he raises his head, he may reach some part of the Qir'at (surah) of the Imam, and if he does so, then goes to Ruku again with the Imam, his prayers are in order. And if he does not return intentionally, his prayers are void.

1486. If a follower goes to Ruku before Imam by mistake, and realises that if he returns to the state of Qiyam, he will not reach any part of the Qir'at of Imam, if he raises his head just for the sake of offering prayers with the Imam, and then goes to Ruku again with Imam, his congregational prayers are in order. Also, if he does not return (to the state of Qiyam) intentionally, his prayers will be in order, and will become Furada.

1487. If a follower goes to Sajdah before the Imam by mistake, and if he raises his head with the intention of joining Imam, and doing Sajdah with the Imam, his congregational prayers are in order. And if he does not return intentionally, his prayers are in order, but it will turn into Furada.

1488. If Imam mistakenly recites qunut in a Rak'at which does not have qunut, or recites tashahhud in a Rak'at which does not have tashahhud, the follower should not recite qunut or tashahhud. But, he cannot go to Ruku before the Imam or rise before the Imam rises. In fact, he should wait till the qunut or tashahhud of Imam ends, and offer the remaining prayers with him.

Guidelines for Imam and the follower

1489. If there is only one male follower, it is Mustahab that he stands at the right hand side of Imam, and if there is only one female follower, she will stand in the same direction, but slightly behind so that when she goes to Sajdah, her head is in line with Imam's knees.
If there is one male, and one or more females in the congregation, the male will position himself to the right of Imam, and the females will all stand behind Imam. When there are many men and one or many women in the congregation, men will stand behind Imam, and women will stand behind the male followers.

1490. If Imam and the followers are both women, the obligatory precaution is that all of them should stand in a line, and the Imam should not stand in front of others.

1491. It is Mustahab that the Imam positions himself in the middle of the line, and the learned and pious persons occupy the first row.

1492. It is Mustahab that the rows of the congregation are properly arranged, and that there be no gap between the persons standing in one row; all standing shoulder to shoulder.

1493. It is Mustahab that after the Qadqa matis salah' has been pronounced, the followers should rise.

1494. It is Mustahab that the Imam of the congregation should take into account the condition of those followers who may be infirm or weaker, and should not prolong qunut, Ruku and Sajdah, except when he knows that the people following him are so inclined.

1495. It is Mustahab that while reciting Surah al-Hamd and the other Surah, and the Zikr loudly, the Imam of the congregation makes his voice audible. But care must be taken to see that the voice is not abnormally loud.

1496. If Imam realises in Ruku, that a person who has just arrived wants to join him, it is Mustahab that he prolongs the Ruku twice over. He should then stand up, even if he may realise that another person has also arrived to join.

Things which are Makrooh in congregational prayers

1497. If there is vacant space in the rows of the congregation, it is Makrooh for a person to stand alone.

1498. It is Makrooh for the follower to recite the Zikr in the prayers in such a way that Imam hears them.

1499. It is Makrooh for a traveller, who offers Zuhr, Asr and Isha prayers in shortened form (two Rak'ats), to follow a person who is not a traveller. And it is Makrooh for a person who is not a traveller to follow a traveller in those prayers.