The imaam waiting in rukoo’

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Question: Is it legislated for the imaam – whilst in rukoo’ – to wait for those inside the masjid to join him [and the congregation in prayer]?

Response: Yes it is. When the Messenger of Allaah ﷺ had entered the rukoo’ [position], he would not raise his head [from this position] until he could no longer hear the sound of footsteps [approaching]; [so yes], he would wait for those who had [just] entered [the masjid].

Translator’s Note:

Whilst in rukoo’, if the imaam senses someone has entered the prayer hall, then it is recommended that he wait for him – so long as doing so does not cause any difficulty to the rest of the congregation behind him. This is the correct opinion of the Shaafi’iyyah [al-Majmoo’ v4/p230 and Tuhfatul-Muhtaaj v2/p259] and the Hanaabilah [Sharh Muntaha al-Iraadaat v1/p267 and al-Insaaf v2/p170], and both Shaykh Ibn Baaz [Fataawa Noor ‘alad-Darb v11/p258-259] and Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen [ash-Sharh al-Mumti’ v4/p197-198] held this opinion too.

Amongst the evidences from the sunnah, we have the following narration of Anas ibn Maalik, who said:

“I have never prayed behind an imaam who prayed so lightly, yet so perfectly as the Prophet ﷺ. And if he would hear a child crying, he would lighten the prayer, fearing it would tempt his mother [between her prayer and her child].” – al-Bukhaaree, no.676

So here the Prophet ﷺ would lighten his prayer if he heard a child crying, for fear his mother would be tempted between her prayer and her child. And this indicates the Prophet ﷺ changed the form of the prayer for the benefit of the person. The same applies to the imaam waiting for someone who has just entered the prayer hall to join the prayer – for his benefit, so he may attain the reward of catching that rak’ah.

Translation originally published on 25 December, 2015

He is a graduate of the Islaamic University of Madeenah, having graduated from the Institute of Arabic Language, and later the Faculty of Sharee'ah in 2004. He currently resides in Birmingham, UK.