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Congregational prayers » Conditions of the imam of congregational prayers → ← Qadha prayers » Lapsed (qaḍāʾ) prayers of a father that are obligatory (wājib) on the eldest son

Congregational prayers » Congregational prayers (ṣalāt al-jamāʿah)

Ruling 1379. It is recommended to perform the daily prayers in congregation, and it is recommended more to perform ṣubḥ, maghrib, and ʿishāʾ prayers in congregation, especially for the neighbours of a mosque and for those who can hear the adhān of a mosque. Similarly, it is recommended for the other obligatory prayers to be performed in congregation; however, the legality (mashrūʿiyyah) of performing in congregation the prayer for ṭawāf and ṣalāt al-āyāt – except for lunar and solar eclipses – is not established.

Ruling 1380. It has been reported in authentic traditions that a prayer performed in congregation is better than performing it twenty-five times on one’s own.

Ruling 1381. Not attending congregational prayers due to indifference about it is not permitted. And it is not befitting for one not to attend congregational prayers without a valid excuse.

Ruling 1382. It is recommended that one delays his prayer in order to perform it in congregation. A short congregational prayer is better than a long prayer performed on one’s own. Furthermore, a congregational prayer is better than a prayer performed on one’s own at the start of its prescribed time; however, it is not known whether performing congregational prayer after the prayer’s prime time is better than a prayer performed on one’s own within its prime time.

Ruling 1383. When congregational prayers are being performed, it is recommended that a person who has performed his prayers on his own performs them again with the congregation. And if he later realises that his first prayer was invalid, his second prayer will suffice.

Ruling 1384. If an imam or follower has performed a prayer in congregation and he wants to perform it again in congregation, then although this act is not established as being recommended, there is no problem in him doing so with the intention of rajāʾ.

Ruling 1385. If a person is so obsessively doubtful (muwaswis) in prayers that it invalidates his prayers, and if he becomes free of doubt only when he performs his prayers in congregation, he must perform his prayers in congregation.

Ruling 1386. If a father or a mother commands their child to perform prayers in congregation, the recommended precaution is that he should perform them in congregation. In fact, if his father or mother’s command is due to their compassion for him, and if his opposition to it annoys them, it is unlawful for him to oppose.

Ruling 1387. Based on obligatory precaution, recommended prayers cannot be performed in congregation in any situation; however, ṣalāt al-istisqāʾ, which is performed to invoke rain, can be performed in congregation. The same applies to the prayers that were obligatory and have become recommended due to some reason, such as the Eid al-Fiṭr and Eid al-Aḍḥā prayers that were obligatory when the Imam (ʿA) was present and are recommended during his occultation.

Ruling 1388. When the imam of a congregational prayer is leading a daily prayer, one can follow him for performing any of the daily prayers.

Ruling 1389. One can follow the imam of a congregational prayer who is performing the qaḍāʾ of his own or someone else’s daily prayer about which he is certain. However, if he is performing such a qaḍāʾ prayer as a precautionary measure [as opposed to being certain about it being a qaḍāʾ prayer], then it is not permitted to follow him unless the follower is also performing his prayer as a precautionary measure and the reason for his precaution is the same as that of the imam’s;(1) and if the follower has another reason for his precaution as well, he can still follow.

Ruling 1390. If a person does not know whether the prayer of the imam is an obligatory daily prayer or a recommended prayer, he cannot follow him.

Ruling 1391. For a congregational prayer to be valid, it is a condition that there is no obstruction between the imam and the follower, nor between the follower and another follower who is the link between him and the imam. The meaning of ‘obstruction’ here is something that separates them, irrespective of whether it is an obstruction to seeing, such as a curtain, wall, or similar thing, or it is not an obstruction to seeing, such as glass. Therefore, if during the entire prayer or a part of it there is such an obstruction between the imam and the follower, or the follower and another follower who is the link, the congregation becomes invalid. Women are exempted from this rule, as will be mentioned later.

Ruling 1392. If on account of the first row being long those who are standing at either end of the row do not see the imam, they can still follow. Furthermore, if on account of any of the other rows being long those standing on either side of it do not see the row in front of them, they can also follow.

Ruling 1393. If the rows of a congregation extend to the door of the mosque, the prayer of someone standing in front of the door behind the row is valid. Also, the prayer of those who follow behind him is valid. In fact, the prayer of those who are standing on either side and are linked to the congregation by means of another follower is also valid.

Ruling 1394. If a person who is standing behind a pillar is not linked to the imam by another follower from either the left side or the right, he cannot follow.

Ruling 1395. The place where the imam stands must not be higher than the place of the follower; however, there is no problem if the difference is insignificant. Similarly, if the land slopes and the imam stands at the end that is higher, there is no problem as long as the slope is not big.

Ruling 1396. There is no problem if the place of the follower is higher than the place of imam; however, if the difference is such that it cannot be said they are joined, then the congregation is not valid.

Ruling 1397. If the link person in the congregation is a mumayyiz child – i.e. a child who is able to discern between right and wrong – then, in the event that the people in the congregation do not know his prayer is invalid, they can join with him. The same applies if the link person is not a Twelver (Ithnā ʿAsharī) Shia, in the event that his prayer is valid according to his religious denomination (madhhab).

Ruling 1398. If after the imam says takbīrat al-iḥrām those standing in the front row are ready to perform the prayer and are close to saying their takbīrat al-iḥrām, then someone standing in the next row can say his takbīrat al-iḥrām. However, the recommended precaution is that he should wait until those in the front row have completed their takbīrat al-iḥrām.

Ruling 1399. If a person knows that one of the front rows of a congregation is invalid, he cannot follow in the other rows. However, if he does not know whether or not their prayers are invalid, he can follow.

Ruling 1400. If a person knows that the imam’s prayer is invalid – for example, he knows that the imam has not performed wuḍūʾ even though the imam himself may not be aware of this – he cannot follow.

Ruling 1401. If after prayers a follower realises that the imam was not a just person, or that he was a disbeliever, or for some reason his prayer was invalid – for example, he performed it without wuḍūʾ – his prayer is valid.

Ruling 1402. If during prayers one doubts whether or not he joined the imam, in the event that he becomes confident by means of some indications that he joined, he must complete the prayer in congregation; otherwise, he must complete the prayer with the intention of performing it on his own.

Ruling 1403. If during prayers a follower makes the intention to perform the prayer on his own without any legitimate excuse, the validity of his congregational prayer is problematic [i.e. based on obligatory precaution, his congregational prayer is not valid]. However, his prayer [performed on his own, as opposed to his congregational prayer] is valid unless he does not act in accordance with the duty of one who performs prayers on his own, in which case based on obligatory precaution he must perform the prayer again. However, if he has added or omitted something, which if he had a legitimate excuse for doing would not invalidate the prayer, then it is not necessary for him to perform the prayer again. For example, if from the outset of the prayer he did not intend to perform it on his own, and he did not recite qirāʾah, and during rukūʿ he decided to perform the prayer on his own, then he can complete the prayer with the intention of performing the prayer on his own and it is not necessary for him to perform it again. The same applies if he performed an additional sajdah with the intention of following the congregation.

Ruling 1404. If after the imam has recited Sūrat al-Ḥamd and the other surah a follower makes the intention to perform the prayer on his own due to a legitimate excuse, it is not necessary that he recites Sūrat al-Ḥamd and the other surah. However, if he does not have a legitimate excuse or he makes the intention of performing the prayer on his own before the completion of Sūrat al-Ḥamd and the other surah, then based on obligatory precaution it is necessary that he recites all of Sūrat al-Ḥamd and the other surah.

Ruling 1405. If during congregational prayers one makes the intention of performing the prayer on his own, he cannot change it back to congregational prayers. The same applies, based on obligatory precaution, if he becomes unsure about changing his intention to performing the prayer on his own and later decides to complete his prayer in congregation.

Ruling 1406. If during congregational prayers a person doubts whether or not he has made an intention to perform the prayer on his own, he must assume that he has not made such an intention.

Ruling 1407. If a person joins congregational prayers when the imam is in rukūʿ, then even if the dhikr of the imam has finished his congregational prayer is valid and he is regarded as being in his first rakʿah. However, if he bows down to the extent that is required for rukūʿ but the imam is no longer in rukūʿ, he can either complete his prayer on his own or break his prayer in order to join the next rakʿah.

Ruling 1408. If a person joins congregational prayers when the imam is in rukūʿ and he bows down to the extent that is required for rukūʿ but doubts whether or not he joined when the imam was in rukūʿ, in the event that his doubt arises after the completion of rukūʿ, his congregational prayer is valid; otherwise, he can either complete his prayer on his own or he can break his prayer in order to join the next rakʿah.

Ruling 1409. If a person joins congregational prayers when the imam is in rukūʿ and before he bows down to the extent that is required for rukūʿ the imam raises his head from rukūʿ, he has [three] choices: [one,] to complete the prayer on his own; [two,] to follow the imam and proceed to sajdah with a general intention of attaining proximity to Allah (qaṣd al-qurbah al-muṭlaqah) [i.e. with the intention of attaining proximity to Allah without specifying any particulars about the sajdah, such as it being a sajdah of the prayer], and when the imam stands [for the next rakʿah] he says takbīr again with the intention that the takbīr is his takbīrat al-iḥrām which he has renewed as well as a general dhikr, and he then performs the rest of the prayer in congregation; [three,] to break his prayer in order to join the next rakʿah.

Ruling 1410. If a person joins a congregational prayer from the beginning or during Sūrat al-Ḥamd and the other surah, and if it so happens that before he goes to rukūʿ the imam raises his head from rukūʿ, his congregational prayer is valid.

Ruling 1411. If a person arrives when the imam is saying tashahhud at the end of the congregational prayer, in the event that he wants to earn the reward of congregational prayers, he must make the intention, say takbīrat al-iḥrām, and sit down; and he can say tashahhud with the imam with a general intention of attaining proximity to Allah [i.e. with the intention of attaining proximity to Allah without specifying any particulars about the tashahhud, such as it being a tashahhud of the prayer]. However, based on obligatory precaution, he must not say the salām. He must then wait until the imam has said the salām, stand up, and without saying takbīr or making the intention again, he must recite Sūrat al-Ḥamd and the other surah and count that rakʿah as his first.

Ruling 1412. A follower must not stand in front of the imam. In fact, the obligatory precaution is that if there are a number of followers, they must not stand in line with the imam; however, if the follower is the only person, there is no problem if he stands in line with the imam.

Ruling 1413. If the imam is a man and the follower a woman, there is no problem if there is a curtain or something similar between the woman and the imam, or between the woman and another follower who is a man and who is the link between the woman and the imam.

Ruling 1414. If after a congregational prayer has commenced a curtain or something similar intervenes between a follower and the imam, or between a follower and another follower who is the link between him and the imam, then the congregational prayer becomes invalid [for the follower who is separated from the congregation] and it is necessary that the follower acts according to the duty of one who performs prayers on his own.

Ruling 1415. The obligatory precaution is that between the place where a follower performs sajdah and the place where the imam stands there must not be a gap of more than the [largest normal](2) step of a person.(3) The same applies with regard to a follower who is linked to the imam by another follower in front of him. And the recommended precaution is that between the place where a follower stands and the place where another follower stands in front of him, there should not be a gap of more than the space needed for a person to perform sajdah.

Ruling 1416. If a follower is linked to the imam by a person on either his right or left side and he is not linked to the imam from the front, then based on obligatory precaution there must not be a gap of more than a step [as defined in the previous ruling] between himself and the follower on his right or left side.

Ruling 1417. If during congregational prayers a gap of more than one step [as defined in the Ruling 1415] occurs between a follower and the imam, or between a follower and a person who is the link between him and the imam, he can continue his prayer with the intention of performing it on his own.

Ruling 1418. If the prayer of all those standing in the first row comes to an end and they do not immediately join the imam for the next prayer, the congregational prayer of those in the next row becomes invalid. In fact, even if they join immediately, the validity of the congregational prayer of those on the next row is problematic [i.e. based obligatory precaution, it is not valid].

Ruling 1419. If a person joins in the second rakʿah, it is not necessary that he recites Sūrat al-Ḥamd and the other surah; however, he will follow the imam in qunūt and tashahhud with the imam. And the obligatory precaution is that when he says tashahhud he must sit [in a squatted position] such that his fingers and the balls of his feet are on the ground and his knees are off the ground, and after tashahhud he must stand up with the imam and recite Sūrat al-Ḥamd and the other surah; if he does not have enough time to recite the other surah, he must complete Sūrat al-Ḥamd and perform his rukūʿ with the imam; and if he does not have enough time to recite all of Sūrat al-Ḥamd, he can discontinue reciting it and perform rukūʿ with the imam. However, the recommended precaution in this situation is that he should complete his prayer with the intention of performing it on his own.

Ruling 1420. If a person joins the imam when he is in the second rakʿah of a four rakʿah prayer, then in his second rakʿah – which is the third rakʿah of the imam – he must sit after the two sajdahs, say tashahhud to the extent that is obligatory, and then stand up. And in the event that he does not have enough time [in his third rakʿah] to say al-tasbīḥāt al-arbaʿah three times, he must say it once and join the imam in rukūʿ.

Ruling 1421. If the imam is in the third or fourth rakʿah and a follower knows that if he joins and recites Sūrat al-Ḥamd he will not be able to join the imam in rukūʿ, then based on obligatory precaution he must wait until the imam goes into rukūʿ and then join.

Ruling 1422. If a person joins when the imam is in qiyām of the third or fourth rakʿah, he must recite Sūrat al-Ḥamd and the other surah; and if he does not have enough time to recite the other surah, he must complete Sūrat al-Ḥamd and join the imam in rukūʿ; and if he does not have enough time to recite all of Sūrat al-Ḥamd, he can discontinue reciting Sūrat al-Ḥamd and go into rukūʿ with the imam. However, the recommended precaution is that in this situation, he should make the intention of performing the prayer on his own and complete the prayer.

Ruling 1423. With regard to someone who knows that if he completes the other surah or qunūt he will not be able to join the imam in rukūʿ, in the event that he intentionally recites the other surah or performs qunūt and does not join the imam in rukūʿ, his congregational prayer becomes invalid and he must act according to the duty of one who performs prayers on his own.

Ruling 1424. With regard to someone who is confident that if he starts reciting the other surah or completes it he will be able to join the imam in rukūʿ, in the event that he does not prolong the other surah a lot, it is better that he starts reciting the other surah or completes it if he has started it. However, if he does prolong it a lot, such that it cannot be said he is following the imam, then he must not start it, or, if he has started it he must not complete it; otherwise, his congregational prayer becomes invalid although his prayer [performed on his own] is valid if he acted according to the duty of one who performs prayers on his own, as per the details mentioned in Ruling 1403.

Ruling 1425. With regard to someone who is certain that if he recites the other surah he will be able to join the imam in rukūʿ and he will be able to follow the imam, in the event that he recites the other surah but is unable to join the imam in rukūʿ, his congregational prayer is valid.

Ruling 1426. If the imam is standing and the follower does not know which rakʿah it is, he can join the congregational prayer; and based on obligatory precaution he must recite Sūrat al-Ḥamd and the other surah; however, he must recite them with the intention of qurbah.

Ruling 1427. If a person does not recite Sūrat al-Ḥamd and the other surah thinking that the imam is in the first or second rakʿah, and after rukūʿ he realises that it was the third or fourth rakʿah, his prayer is valid. However, if he realises this before rukūʿ, he must recite Sūrat al-Ḥamd and the other surah; and if he does not have enough time, he must act according to Ruling 1422 mentioned earlier.

Ruling 1428. If a person recites Sūrat al-Ḥamd and the other surah thinking that the imam is in the third or fourth rakʿah, and before or after rukūʿ he realises that it was the first or second rakʿah, his prayer is valid. And if he realises this during Sūrat al-Ḥamd or the other surah, it is not necessary that he completes them.

Ruling 1429. If while a person is performing a recommended prayer a congregational prayer commences, in the event that he is not confident that if he completes the recommended prayer he will be able to join the congregational prayer, it is recommended that he abandons his prayer and joins the congregational prayer even if it is to join it in the first rakʿah.

Ruling 1430. If while a person is performing a three rakʿah or four rakʿah prayer a congregational prayer commences, in the event that he has not gone into the rukūʿ of the third rakʿah and he is not confident that if he completes the prayer he will be able to join the congregational prayer, it is recommended that he completes the prayer as a two rakʿah prayer with the intention of a recommended prayer and joins the congregational prayer.

Ruling 1431. If the imam’s prayer comes to an end and the follower is saying tashahhud or the first salām of the prayer, it is not necessary that he makes the intention of performing the prayer on his own.

Ruling 1432. With regard to someone who is one rakʿah behind the imam, it is better that when the imam says tashahhud of the last rakʿah, he should sit [in a squatted position] such that his fingers and the balls of his feet are on the ground and his knees are off the ground, and he should wait until the imam has said the salām of the prayer and then stand up. And if at that point he wants to make an intention of performing the prayer on his own, there is no problem.

(1) For example, the imam and the follower have deemed it probable that the place where they both performed a previous prayer was usurped, and so they are now performing that prayer again as a precautionary measure.
(2) The words ‘largest normal’ are in keeping with the way this ruling is worded in al-Sayyid al-Sistani’s other works (see Minhāj al-Ṣāliḥīn, vol. 1, p. 245, Ruling 795; al-Masāʾil al-Muntakhabah, p. 171, Ruling 374; Tawḍīḥ al-Masāʾil-i Jāmiʿ, vol. 1, p. 484, Ruling 1710).
(3) In Tawḍīḥ al-Masāʾil-i Jāmiʿ, ‘a large step’ is defined as ‘approximately one metre’ (vol. 1, p. 484, Ruling 1710).
Congregational prayers » Conditions of the imam of congregational prayers → ← Qadha prayers » Lapsed (qaḍāʾ) prayers of a father that are obligatory (wājib) on the eldest son
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