The Group Prayer and the Imam

The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari

by Imam Bukhari
Translated by: Ustadha Aisha Bewley

Chapter 15: The Group Prayer and the Imam

I: The obligatory nature of the group prayer

Al-Hasan said, "When someone's mother forbids him to go to the group prayer of 'Isha' out of compassion for him he should not obey her."

618. It is related from Abu Hurayra said that Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "By Him in Whose hand my soul is, I seriously considered ordering someone to collect firewood, ordering the prayer be called, appointing a man to lead the prayer and then coming up behind certain men and burning their houses down about them! By Him in whose hand my soul is, if any of them had known they would find a meaty bone or two good hooves, they would have attended 'Isha'." (Muwatta, Book 8, 3)

II: The excellence of the group prayer

When al-Aswad missed the group prayer, he went to another mosque. Anas came to a mosque where the prayer had been said, did the adhan, stood up and prayed in a group.

619. It is related from 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Prayer in a group is twenty-seven times better than the prayer of a man by himself." (Muwatta, Book 8, 1)

619b. It is related from Abu Sa'id al-Khudri that he heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, "Prayer in a group is twenty-five times better than the prayer of a man by himself."

620. It is related from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The group prayer is twenty-five degrees higher than the prayer in your house or the prayer in your place of business. Anyone who does wudu' and goes to the mosque with no other object than to do the prayer, Allah will raise him up a degree with every step he takes, and a wrong action will fall away from him. When he prays, the angels pray for him all the time he is in his place of prayer, 'O Allah! Forgive him! O Allah! Show mercy to him!' One of you is in the prayer as long as he is waiting for the prayer."

III: The excellence of doing the Fajr prayer in a group

621. It is related that Abu Hurayra said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, "The excellence of the group prayer is twenty-five times that of the prayer of one of you alone. The angels of the night and the angels of the day meet during the Fajr prayer.'"

Then Abu Hurayra said, "If you wish, recite, 'for the recitation of Fajr is witnessed'"  (Muwatta, Book 8, 2)

It is related from 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar, "It is twenty-seven times better."

622. It is related that Umm ad-Darda' was heard to say, "Once Abu'd-Darda' came home angry. I said, 'What has made you angry?' He said, 'By Allah, the only thing I see the community of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, still doing is praying in a group.' "

623. It is related from Abu Musa that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The people who get the greatest reward for the prayer are those who live furthest away and then the next furthest. Someone who waits for the prayer so that he can pray it with the Imam has a greater reward than someone who prays and then goes to sleep."

IV: The excellence of doing Dhuhr early in its time

624. It is related from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "If a man who is walking along on a road finds a thorny branch in the road and removes it, Allah thanks him for doing it and forgives him." Then he said, "There are five categories of martyr: someone killed by the plague, someone killed by an abdominal disease, someone who drowns, someone who is killed by a collapsing building and the martyr killed fighting in the way of Allah." He also said, "If people knew what was in the call to prayer and the first row, and they could find no other way to it than to draw lots for it, they would draw lots for it. And if they knew what was in doing Dhuhr at its time, they would race each other to it. And if they knew what was in the prayers of 'Isha' and Subh, they would come to them even if they had to crawl." (Muwatta, Book 8, 6)

V: The reward for footprints left

625. It is related from Anas that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "O Banu Salima, do you not expect something for the footprints you have left?"

Mujahid said about His words, "We record what they send ahead and what they leave behind" (36:12) means "their footprints."

It is related from Anas that the Banu Salima wanted to move from their place and settle in the vicinity the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, but the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, disliked the idea of them moving to Madina, and said, "Do you not expect a reward for your footprints?" Mujahid said that their footprints mean the marks the feet leave on the ground as they walk."

VI: The excellence of praying 'Isha' in a group

626. It is related from Abu Hurayra that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "There is no prayer heavier on the hypocrites than Fajr and 'Isha'. If they only knew what is in them, they would come to them even if they had to crawl. I seriously considered ordering the mu'adhdhin to give the iqama, instructing a man to lead the people in prayer, and then taking a burning torch and setting fire to those who had not yet gone out to the prayer."

VII: Two or more makes a group

627. It is related from Malik ibn al-Huwayrith that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "When it is time for the prayer, then the two of you should give the adhan and the iqama and the elder should act as the Imam."

VIII: Someone who sits in the mosque waiting for the prayer and the excellence of mosques

628. It is related from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The angels pray for every one of you as long as you remain in the place in which you prayed and do not break wudu', saying, 'O Allah, forgive him! O Allah, show mercy to him!'' Each of you is in the prayer as long as he is waiting for it and there is nothing but the prayer preventing him from going to his family." (Muwatta, Book 9, 54)

629. It is related from Abu Hurayra that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "There are seven whom Allah will shade with His shade on the day when there is no shade but His shade: a just Imam, a youth who grows up worshipping Allah, a man whose heart is attached to the mosque, two men who love each other for the sake of Allah alone, meeting for that reason and parting for that reason, a man who refuses the advances of a noble and beautiful woman, saying, 'I fear Allah', a man who gives sadaqa and conceals it so that his left hand does not know what his right hand gives, and a man who remembers Allah when he is alone and his eyes overflow with tears."

630. Anas was asked, "Did the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, wear a ring?" He said, "Yes, he delayed the 'Isha' prayer until the middle of the night and then prayed. Then he he turned his face to us after he had prayed and said, 'The people have prayed and gone to sleep, but you were in prayer the whole time you were waiting for it.'" Anas said, "It is as if I could see the white glint of his ring on that day."

IX: The excellence of someone who goes to the mosque in the morning and the evening

631. It is related from Abu Hurayra that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah will prepare a residence in the Garden for anyone who goes to the mosque morning and evening each morning and evening that they go."

X: Once the iqama has been given, there is no prayer except the obligatory prayer

632. It is related that Malik ibn Buhayna said, "The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, passed by a man...."

(By another isnad) A man of the Azd called Malik ibn Buhayna said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, saw a man praying two rak'ats after the iqama for the prayer had been given. When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, finished, the people surrounded him and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to him, 'Does Subh have four rak'ats? Does Subh have four rak'ats?'

It was corroborated by Ghandar and Mu'adh from Shu'ba in Malik. (Two other isnads given)

XI: What can keep a sick man from attending the group prayer

633. It is related that al-Aswad said, "We were with 'A'isha and we discussed being constant in the prayers and honouring them. She said, 'When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was ill with the illness from which he died and it was time for the prayer and the adhan was given, he said, "Tell Abu Bakr to lead the people in prayer. He was told, "Abu Bakr is a tender-hearted man. If he stands in your place, he will not be able to lead the people in the prayer." He repeated what he had said and they repeated what they had said. He repeated it a third time and said, "You are the companions of Yusuf! Tell Abu Bakr to lead the people in prayer." So Abu Bakr came out and prayed. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, felt better and came out walking between two men. It is as if I could see his legs dragging because of the pain of the illness. Abu Bakr wanted to draw back and the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, indicated to him, "Stay in your place." Then he was brought until he sat beside him.' "

Al-A'mash was asked "Was the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, praying with Abu Bakr following his prayer and the people praying following the prayer of Abu Bakr." He indicated yes with his head

Part of it is related from al-A'mash. Abu Mu'awiya added, "He sat to the left of Abu Bakr and Abu Bakr prayed standing."

634. It is related that 'A'isha said, "When the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, became seriously ill and his pain was intense, he asked his wives for permission to be looked after in my house and was given permission. He came out between two men, with his feet dragging along the ground. He was between al-'Abbas and another man.'

'Ubaydullah said, "I mentioned to Ibn 'Abbas what 'A'isha had said and he said to me, 'Do you know who the man was whom 'A'isha did not name?' I said, 'No.' He said, 'It was 'Ali ibn Abi Talib.'"

XII: The dispensation to pray at home when it is wet or when there is a good reason for it

635. It is related that Nafi' said, "Ibn 'Umar gave the adhan on a cold, windy night and then said, 'Pray in your homes.' Then he said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to tell the mu'adhdhin to say, 'Pray in your homes' when it was a cold, wet night."

636. It is related from Mahmud ibn ar-Rabi' al-Ansari that 'Itban ibn Malik used to lead his people in prayer. He was a blind man and he said to the Messenger of Allah, "Messenger of Allah, my eyesight is weak and sometimes it is dark and there is flood -water, so, Messenger of Allah, pray in my house so that I can use it as a prayer-place." The Messenger of Allah came to him and said, "Where would you like me to pray?" He pointed out a place in the house. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, prayed in it.

XIII: Can the Imam lead only those who are present in prayer? Should he give a khutba on the day of Jumu'a if it is raining?

637. It is related that 'Abdullah ibn al-Harith was heard to say, "Ibn 'Abbas addressed us on a muddy day and when the mu'adhdhin reached 'Come to prayer,' he ordered him to say, 'Pray in your houses.' Some people looked at others as if to say they did not like it. He said, 'It seems that you dislike this? One better than me did this,' meaning the Prophet. 'It is a bounden duty and I was most reluctant to bring you out.' "

It is related that Ibn 'Abbas said something similar although he said, "I did not want you to feel you were doing wrong and therefore to come, covered with mud up to the knees."

638. It is related that Abu Sa'id al-Khudri said, "A cloud came and it rained to the exent that the roof, which was made of palm branches, leaked. The iqama for the prayer was given and I saw the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, prostrate in the water and mud. I could see the mark of the mud on his forehead."

639. It is related that Anas was heard to say, "A man of the Ansar said, 'I am unable to come and pray with you.' He was a large man. He prepared some food for the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and invited him to his house. He spread out a straw mat for him, wetting one side of it. He prayed two rak'ats on it." A man from the family of al-Jarud asked Anas, "Did the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, pray the Duha prayer?" He said, "That day was the only time I ever saw him pray it."

XIV: When food has been served and the iqama for the prayer has been given.

Ibn 'Umar used to have the evening meal first. Abu'd-Darda' said, "It is part of a man's understanding to attend to his need so that he can attend to his prayer with a clear heart.

640. It is related that 'A'isha was heard to say that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "If the evening meal is served and the iqama for the prayer is given, have the meal first."

641. It is related from Anas ibn Malik that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "If the evening meal has been served, then have it first before you pray Maghrib and do not rush your meal ."

642. It is related from Ibn 'Umar that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "If your evening meal has been served and the iqama for the prayer is given, then have the meal first and finish it without rushing it."

When food was served to Ibn 'Umar and the iqama was given, he would not go to the prayer until he had finished, even if he heard the Imam reciting.

Ibn 'Umar said that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "When one of you is eating, he should not rush but should eat as much as he needs to, even if the iqama of the prayer is given.

Another isnad.

XV: When the Imam is called to the prayer with something to eat in his hand

643. It is related from Ja'far ibn 'Amr ibn Umayya said that his father said, "I saw the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, eating a shoulder from which he was cutting pieces. He was called to the prayer and stood up and put the knife down and prayed without doing wudu'.

XVI: Someone who is doing something in the house and the iqama is given for the prayer and he goes out

644. It is related that al-Aswad said, "I asked 'A'isha, 'What did the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to do in his house?' She said, 'He would do the household chores, i.e. serve his family. When it was time for the prayer, he would go out to the prayer.' "

XVII: Someone praying in front of people for no other reason than to teach them how the Prophet did the prayer and his sunna

645. It is related that Abu Qilaba said, "Malik ibn al-Huwayrith came here to our mosque and said, 'I shall pray in front of you and what I intend by this prayer is to pray in the way that I saw the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, praying.'" Ayyub said to Abu Qilaba, "How did he pray?" He said, "He prayed in the same way as our shaykh here." The shaykh would sit back after raising his head from the prostration before he stood up after the first rak'at.

XVIII: People of knowledge and excellence have more right to lead the prayer

646. It is related that Abu Musa said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was ill and his illness became much worse, so he said, 'Tell Abu Bakr to lead the people in prayer.' 'A'isha said, 'Abu Bakr is a gentle man. If he stands in your place, he will not be able to lead the people in the prayer.' He said, 'Tell Abu Bakr to lead the people in prayer.' and she repeated what she had said. He said, 'Tell Abu Bakr lead the people in prayer. You are the companions of Yusuf!' So he led the people in prayer during the lifetime of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.

647. It is related that 'A'isha, Umm al-Mu'minin, said, "In his illness, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'Tell Abu Bakr lead the people in prayer.'" 'A'isha said, "I said, 'If Abu Bakr stands in your place, he will not be able to make people hear because of his weeping, so tell 'Umar to lead the people in prayer.'" 'A'isha said, "I said to Hafsa, 'Say to him, "If Abu Bakr stands in your place, he will not be able to make the people hear because of his weeping, so tell 'Umar to lead the people in prayer."' Hafsa did it and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'Stop this! You are the companions of Yusuf! Tell Abu Bakr to lead the people in prayer.' " Hafsa said to 'A'isha, "I have never got any good from you."

648. It is related from Anas ibn Malik al-Ansari, who used to serve and follow the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and kept him company, "Abu Bakr led the people in prayer during the final illness of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, until Monday came. The people were lined up for the prayer and the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, lifted the curtain of his room and looked out at us while standing there. His face was like a page of the Qur'an. Then he smiled joyfully. We were severely tested by the joy of seeing the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Abu Bakr fell back to join the row thinking that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was coming out to the prayer. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, indicated to us, 'Complete your prayer.' and let the curtain drop. That was the very day he died.' "

649. It is related that Anas said, "The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did not come out for three days. Once after the iqama for the prayer had been given, Abu Bakr went forward." He continued, "The Prophet of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, took hold of the curtain and lifted it. No sight could have been more pleasing to us than the face of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, when his face appeared before us. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, indicated with his hand to Abu Bakr to go forward. Then the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, let the curtain drop and we did not see him again until he died."

650. It is related from Hamza ibn 'Abdullah that his father informed him, "When the illness of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, grew worse, he was asked about the prayer. He said, 'Tell Abu Bakr to lead the people in prayer.' 'A'isha said, 'Abu Bakr is a gentle man. When he recites, he is overcome by tears.' He said, 'Tell him to lead the prayer.' She repeated her words. He said, 'Tell him to lead the prayer. You are the companions of Yusuf!' "

It was corroborated by az-Zuhri.

Another isnad.

XIX: Someone standing beside the Imam if there is a good reason for it

651. It is related that 'A'isha said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, ordered Abu Bakr to lead the people in prayer during his illness, and he led them in the prayer." 'Urwa said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, felt somewhat better and came out when Abu Bakr was leading the people. When Abu Bakr saw him, he fell back, but he indicated to him, 'Remain where you are.' So the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, sat down beside Abu Bakr and Abu Bakr prayed following the prayer of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the people prayed following the prayer of Abu Bakr." (Muwatta, Book 8, 19)

XX: If someone goes forward to lead the people in prayer and the normal Imam comes, his prayer is valid whether he retires or not.

'A'isha related something concerning this matter from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.

652. It is related from Sahl ibn Sa'd as-Sa'idi that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, went to make peace among the Banu 'Amr ibn 'Awf and the time for the prayer came. The mu'adhdhin came to Abu Bakr and asked, "Will you lead the prayer and I will do the iqama?" He said, "Yes." Abu Bakr led the prayer. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, arrived while the people were doing the prayer and went through until he was standing in the row. The people clapped but Abu Bakr did not turn round from his prayer. When the people increased their clapping, he turned and saw the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, indicated to him, "Stay where you are." Abu Bakr raised his hands and praised Allah for what the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had commanded and then fell back until he was level with the row. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, went forward and led the prayer. When he finished, he said, "Abu Bakr, what stopped you from remaining where you were when I commanded you?" Abu Bakr said, "It is not for Ibn Abi Quhafa to pray in front of the Messenger of Allah" The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Why did I see you all clapping so much? If something happens during the prayer, you should say, 'Subhana'llah.' If you say this, attention will be paid to you. Clapping is for women." (Muwatta, Book 9, 64)

XXI: When people are equal in recitation, the oldest of them should be the Imam

653. It is related that Malik ibn al-Huwayrith said, "We went to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and we were a group of young men. We stayed with him for twenty days and the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was merciful. He said, 'When you return to your country, teach them and instruct them. They should pray such-and-such at such-and-such a time and such-and-such a prayer at such-and-such a time. When it is time for prayer, one of you should give the adhan and the oldest of you should be the Imam."

XXII: If the Imam visits people and leads them in prayer

654. It is related that 'Itban ibn Malik al-Ansari was heard to say, "The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, asked for permission to enter and I gave it to him. He said, 'Where would you like me to pray in your house?' I indicated the place I wanted. He stood up and we formed rows behind him. Then he said the salam and so did we."

XXIII: The Imam is appointed to be followed

In his final illness, the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, led the people in prayer while sitting down. Ibn Mas'ud said, "If someone lifts his head before the Imam, he must lower it again and leave it there for the length of time he lifted it. Then he should follow the Imam again." Al-Hasan said, "Anyone who does two rak'ats with the Imam and is unable to go into sajda, should do sajda twice in the last rak'at. Then he should do the sajdas of the first rak'at. If someone forgets to do those sajdas and stands up he should still do them."

655. It is related that 'Ubaydullah ibn 'Abdullah ibn 'Utba said, "I visited 'A'isha and said, 'Will you tell me about the illess of the Messenger of Allah.' She said, 'The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, became very ill and asked, 'Have the people prayed?" We said, "No, they are waiting for you." He said, "Put some water into a container for me." ' She said, 'We did it and he washed and then tried to get up but he passed out. Then he came to and said, "Have the people prayed" We said, "No, they are waiting for you, Messenger of Allah." He said, "Put some water into a container for me." ' She said, "He sat up and washed and then tried to stand up and passed out. Then he recovered and said, "Have the people prayed?" We said, "No, they are waiting for you Messenger of Allah." He said, "Put some water into a container for me." He sat up and washed and then tried to stand up and passed out. Then he recovered and said, "Have the people prayed?" We said, "No, they are waiting for you Messenger of Allah." The people were waiting in the mosque for the Prophet, peace be upon him, for the'Isha' prayer. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, sent for Abu Bakr to lead the people in the prayer. The messenger went to him and said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, orders you to lead the people in the prayer." Abu Bakr, who was a tender man, said, "'Umar, you lead the people in the prayer." 'Umar said to him, "You are more entitled to do it." Abu Bakr led the prayer during those days. Then the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, felt better and came out between two men, one of whom was al-'Abbas, for the Dhuhr prayer. Abu Bakr was leading the prayer. When Abu Bakr saw him, he began to fall back but the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, indicated to him that he should not do so. He said, "Sit me down beside him." They sat him down beside Abu Bakr.' "

He said, "Abu Bakr began to pray following the prayer of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the people followed the prayer of Abu Bakr. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was sitting down."

'Ubaydullah said, "I visited 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas and said to him, 'Shall I tell you what 'A'isha related to me about the illness of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace?' Ibn 'Abbas said, 'Go on,' and I told him her hadith. He did not disacknowledge any of it although he said, 'Did she name to you the man who was with al-'Abbas?' I said, 'No.' He said, 'It was 'Ali.' "

656. It is related that 'A'isha, Umm al-Mu'minin, said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, once prayed in his room when he was ill. He prayed sitting down and some people prayed behind him standing. He indicated to them to sit down. When he had finished, he said, 'The Imam is only appointed to be followed. When he goes into ruku', go into ruku', and when he rises, rise and if he prays sitting down, pray sitting down.' " (Muwatta, Book 8, 18)

657. It is related from Anas ibn Malik, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, fell off his horse when riding, and his right side was grazed, so he did one of the prayers sitting down, and we prayed behind him sitting down. When he had finished he said, 'The Imam is appointed to be followed. If he prays standing, then pray standing, and when he goes into ruku', go into ruku', and when he rises, rise, and when he says, "Allah hears whoever praises him," say, "Our Lord, praise belongs to you," and if he prays standing, pray standing, and if he prays sitting down, then all of you pray sitting down.' " (Muwatta, Book 8, 17)

Humaydi said, "His words, 'If he prays sitting down, pray sitting down' referred to his earlier illness. Then after that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, prayed sitting down and the people behind him were standing and he did not order them to sit. It is the latest of the actions of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, which should be acted upon.'"

XXIV: When should those behind an Imam go into sajda?

Anas said, "Go into sajda when he goes into sajda."

658. It is related that al-Bara', and he was not a liar, said, "When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah hears whoever praises him," none of us bent his back until the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had gone into sajda. Then we would go into sajda after him."

Something similar to this related from Abu Ishaq.

XXV: The wrong action of someone who raises his head before the Imam

659. It is related that Abu Hurayra was heard to say that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Do not those of you who raise their heads before the Imam fear lest Allah turn their heads into donkey-heads or that Allah will make their shape that of a donkey?"

XXVI: A slave or mawla (freed slave) leading the prayer

'A'isha's slave, Dhakwan, led her in the prayer, reading from a copy of the Qur'an. Is it permitted for a bastard, a Bedouin or boy who has not yet reached puberty to lead the prayer following the statement of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, "The person among them who knows more of the Book of Allah should lead them"?

660. It is related that Ibn 'Umar said, "The first Muhajirun came to al-'Usba, a place at Quba', before the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, arrived. Salim, the mawla of Abu Hudhayfa, used to lead them in prayer. Of them, he had the most knowledge of the Qur'an."

661. It is related from Anas that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Listen and obey, even if an Abyssinian with a head like a raisin is appointed over you."

XXVII: If the Imam does not complete the prayer properly and those behind him do

662. It is related from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "They (the Imams) pray for you. If they are correct, you and they have the reward. If they make a mistake, you have the reward and the penalty is theirs."

XXVIII: The imamate of someone who is subject to fitna or an innovator

Al-Hasan said, "Pray and he will pay the price of his innovation."

663. It is related that 'Ubaydullah ibn Khiyar went to 'Uthman ibn 'Affan when he was under siege and said, "You are the Imam of all the Muslims and yet see what has happened to you. An Imam following fitna is leading us in prayer and we are therefore forced into wrong action." He said, "The prayer is the best action people can do. If people do good actions, do good actions with them. If they do bad actions, avoid their bad actions."

Az-Zuhri said, "We do not think that anyone should pray behind an effeminate man except when there is no other option."

664. It is related that Anas said to Abu Dharr: See 661.

XXIX: Standing on the right of the Imam, level with him, when there are only two persons

665. It is related that Ibn 'Abbas said, "I spent the night in the house of my aunt Maymuna and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, prayed 'Isha' and then came and prayed four rak'ats and then slept. Then he got up and I came and stood at his left and he moved me to his right. He prayed five rak'ats and then prayed two and then slept until I heard him snore (or breathe heavily). Then he went out for the prayer."

XXX: If a man stands to the left of the Imam, the Imam should move him to his right, and that does not invalidate the prayer of either of them

666. It is related that Ibn 'Abbas said, "I slept at the house of Maymuna on a night when the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was with her. He did wudu' and then stood up and prayed and I stood at his left. He took me and moved me to his right and prayed thirteen rak'ats and then slept until he was exhaling deeply. When he slept, he exhaled deeply. Then the mu'adhdhin came to him and he went out and prayed without doing wudu'.

Slighty different isnad.

XXXI: When the Imam has not made the intention of leading the prayer and then people come and he leads them

667. It is related that Ibn 'Abbas said, "I spent the night with my aunt and the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, got up to pray in the night and I got up to pray with him. I stood on his left and he took my head and made me stand on his right."

XXXII: When the Imam makes the prayer long and a man has something he must do and leaves and then prays separately

668. It is related that Mu'adh ibn Jabal used to pray with the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and then return and lead his people in the prayer.

669. From 'Amr: see 668 (Then it continues), "He prayed 'Isha' and recited al-Baqara. A man left and it seemed as if Mu'adh disliked that. This reached the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and he said, 'You are trying them too much. You are trying them too much,' three times, or he said, 'A causer of trial! A causer of trial! A causer of trial!' And he ordered him to recite two suras from the middle of the Mufassal.'" 'Amr said, "I do not remember which they were."

XXXIII: The Imam making the standing short, but doing full ruku' and sajda

670. It is related from Abu Mas'ud, "A man said, 'By Allah, Messenger of Allah, I only fail to attend the morning prayer because so-and-so makes the prayer too long for us.' I have never seen the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, more angry in giving admonition than he was that day. Then he said, 'Some of you make things difficult for people. Any of you who of you lead people in prayer should make it short. Among you there are those who are weak, old and have things they must do.' "

XXXIV: When praying alone, you can lengthen the prayer as much as you wish

671. It is related from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "When any of you leads other people in prayer, you should shorten it for among you are the weak, the sick and the old. When you pray by yourself, you can lengthen it as much as you wish." (Muwatta, Book 8, 14)

XXXV: Complaining about an Imam when he makes the prayer long

Abu Usayd said, "My son, you have made it too long for us!"

672. It is related from Abu Mas'ud, "A man said, 'By Allah, Messenger of Allah, I only fail to attend the morning prayer because so-and-so makes the prayer too long for us.' I have never seen the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, more angry in any situation than he was that day. Then he said, 'O people, some of you make things difficult for people. Any of you who of you lead people in prayer should make it short. Among you there are those who are weak, old and have things they must do.' "

673. It is related that Jabir ibn 'Abdullah al-Ansari was heard to say, "A man was driving two nadiha (agricultural) camels and night had fallen. He found Mu'adh praying and made his camels kneel and joined Mu'adh who was reciting Surat al-Baqara or an-Nisa'. The man left and then heard that Mu'adh had disparaged him. He went to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and complained to him about Mu'adh. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'Mu'adh, are you someone who tries them too much' or 'a causer of trial' three times. 'If only you had prayed using Sabbih isma rabbika (87) and Wa'sh-shamsi wa duhaha (91) or Wa'l-layli idha yaghsha (92). There are old and weak people and those with things they must do who pray behind you.' " I think this is in the hadith.

Sa'id ibn Masruq, Mis'ar and ash-Shaybani corroborated it.

Jabir said, "Mu'adh recited al-Baqara in 'Isha'.

Muharib corroborated it.

674. It is related that Anas said, "The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to make the prayer short, but would do it perfectly."

XXXVI: Someone making the prayer short when hearing a child cry

675. It is related that Abu Qatada said that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "I stand in prayer wanting to make it long but I hear the crying of a child and shorten my prayer disliking to make it difficult for its mother."

Bishr ibn Bakr, Ibn al-Mubarak and Baqiyya corroborated it from al-Awza'i.

676. It is related that Anas ibn Malik said, "I never prayed behind an Imam with a easier or more perfect prayer than that of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. If he heard a child weeping, he would shorten the prayer out of the fear of the mother finding it too much of a trial."

677. It is related from Anas ibn Malik that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "I enter into the prayer wanting to make it long and then, hearing the weeping of a child, I shorten my prayer because I know the intensity of the anxiety of its mother at its weeping."

678. See 677.

The like of it is related from Anas from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, with a different isnad.

XXXVII: When someone prays and then leads the people in prayer

679. It is related that Jabir said, "Mu'adh used to pray with the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and then go to his people and lead the prayer with them."

XXXVIII: Someone calling out the takbir after the Imam so that the people can hear

680. It is related the 'A'isha said, "When the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was ill with his final illness, someone came to him to announce the prayer. He said, 'Tell Abu Bakr to lead the prayer.' I said, 'Abu Bakr is a tender-hearted man. If he stands in your place, he will weep and will be unable to recite.' He said, 'Tell Abu Bakr to lead the prayer.' I said the same again. He said a third or fourth time, 'But you are the companions of Yusuf! Tell Abu Bakr to lead the prayer.' So he led the prayer and the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came out supported between two men. It is as if I could still see his legs dragging along the ground. When Abu Bakr saw him, he started to fall back and the Prophet indicated to him to continue the prayer. Abu Bakr moved back and the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, sat down beside him. Abu Bakr called out the takbir so that the people could hear."

Al-A'mash corroborated it.

XXXIX: A man following the Imam and the people following the one who follows

It is mentioned from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, "Follow me and let those after you follow you."

681. It is related that 'A'isha said, "When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, became gravely ill, Bilal came to him to announce the prayer. He said, 'Tell Abu Bakr to lead the people in the prayer.' I said, 'Abu Bakr is a tender-hearted man. When he stands in your place, he will be not be able to make people hear, so why not tell 'Umar to do it. ' He said, 'Tell Abu Bakr to lead the people in the prayer.' I said to Hafsa, 'Tell him, "Abu Bakr is a tender-hearted man. When he stands in your place, he will not be able to make the people hear, so why not tell 'Umar to do it." ' He said, 'You are the companions of Yusuf! Tell Abu Bakr to lead the people in the prayer.' When he had started the prayer, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, felt better so he came out supported between two men with his feet dragging along the ground until he entered the mosque. When Abu Bakr heard him, he started to fall back and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, indicated to him not to. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came until he sat down on the left of Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr was praying standing and the Messenger of Alla, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was praying sitting down. Abu Bakr followed the prayer of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the people followed the prayer of Abu Bakr."

XL: Should the Imam accept what people say if he is unsure about it?

682. It is related from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, stopped praying after two rak'ats and Dhu'l-Yadayn said to him, "Has the prayer been shortened or have you forgotten?" The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Has Dhu'l-Yadayn spoken the truth?" The people said, "Yes." The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, stood up and prayed another two rak'ats and said the salam. Then he said the takbir and did sajda the same as his previous sajda or a little longer.

683. It is related that Abu Hurayra said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, prayed Dhuhr with two rak'ats. He was told, "You prayed two rak'ats." He prayed two more rak'ats and then said the salam and did two sajdas."

XLI: When the Imam weeps in the prayer

'Abdullah ibn Shaddad said, "While I was in the last row I heard 'Umar sobbing as he recited, 'I complain of my grief and sorrow to Allah.' (12:86)"

684. See 647.

XLII: Making the rows straight at the time of the iqama and after it

685. It is related that an-Nu'man ibn Bashir was heard to say that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Make your rows straight or Allah cause disagreements between you."

686. It is related from Anas that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Straighten the rows for I can see you behind my back."

XLIII: The Imam facing the people when the rows are straight

687. It is related that Anas said, "When the iqama for the prayer was given, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, would turn round and face us. He said, 'Straighten your rows and stand close together for I can see you behind my back.'"

XLIV: The first row

688. It is related from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The martyrs are: someone who drowns, someone killed by the plague, someone killed by an abdominal disease, someone who is killed by a collapsing building." He also said, "If people knew what was in doing Dhuhr at its time, they would race each other to it. And if they knew what was in the prayers of 'Isha' and Subh, they would come to them even if they had to crawl. If they knew what was in the call to prayer and the first row, they would draw lots for it"

XLV: Making the row straight is part of doing the prayer correctly

689. It is related from Abu Hurayra from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, "The Imam was appointed to be followed so do not differ with him. When he goes into ruku', go into ruku'. When he says, 'Allah hears whoever praises him,' say, 'Our Lord, praise belongs to you.' When he goes into sajda, you go into sajda. If he prays sitting down, then all pray sitting down and make the row straight in the prayer, for making the row straight is part of the beauty of the prayer." (Muwatta, Book 3, 61)

690. It is related from Anas that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Make your rows straight. Straightening the row is part of establishing the prayer."

XLVI: The wrong action of someone who does not make the rows straight

691. It is related that Anas ibn Malik came to Madina, he was asked, "Is there anything you disapprove of since the days you were with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace." He said, "I do not disapprove of anything except that you do not make the rows straight."

Bashir ibn Yasar said, "Anas ibn Malik came to us in Madina."

XLVII: Standing shoulder to shoulder and foot to foot in the row

An-Nu'man ibn Bashir said, "I saw that each of our men would place his heel against the heel of his companion."

692. See 686.   "Each of us would put his shoulder to his companion's shoulder and his foot against his foot."

XLVIII: When a man is standing to the left of the Imam and the Imam moves him behind him to his right, the prayer is sound

693. It is related that Ibn 'Abbas said, "I prayed with the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, one night and stood to his left and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, held me by the back of the head and moved me to his left. He prayed and then lay down. The mu'adhdhin came to him and he got up and prayed without doing wudu'.

XLIX: A woman alone can constitute a row

694. It is related that Anas ibn Malik said, "An orphan and I prayed in our house behind the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and my mother, Umm Sulaym, stood behind us."

L: The right-hand side of the mosque and the Imam

695. It is related that Ibn 'Abbas said, "One night I stood to pray at the left of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and he took me by my hand or arm and stood me on his right. He indicated with his hand for me to stand a little back."

LI: When there is a wall or sutra between the Imam and the people

Al-Hasan said, "There is no harm in praying with a river between you and him." Abu Miljaz said, "The Imam can be followed, even if there is a road or a wall in between as long as the takbir of the Imam can be heard."

696. It is related that 'A'isha said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to pray at night in his room. The wall of the room was low so people could see the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Some people began to pray together with his prayer. The following morning they talked about it and the next night when he got up to pray some more people prayed together with his prayer. This went on for two or three nights. Then, after that, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, remained seated and did not come out. In the morning, the people mentioned this and he said, 'I was afraid that the night prayer would become obligatory for you.' "

LII: The Night Prayer

697. It is related from 'A'isha that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had a mat which he would spread out in the day and use as a screen as night. People gathered to him and prayed behind him.

698. It is related from Zayd ibn Thabit that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, stayed in a small room in Ramadan. (Sa'id said, "I think that he said it was made out of a straw mat.") and he prayed in it during the nights. Some of his Companions would pray together with his prayer. When he became aware of this, he began to pray sitting down. Then he went out to them and said, "I understand what you were doing but, my people, pray in your homes. A man's best prayer is the one he prays in his house with the exception of the obligatory prayer."

Different isnad from Zayd.