Chapter Eleven: the Function of the Imam

11.1 The office of Imam

On leading the prayer and judgements concerning the imam and those who pray behind an imam

[This chapter clarifies who is the best person to be the Imam and who it is disliked to have as Imam. When someone prays alone, that takes the place of the group. It also clarifies one who joins alone on the night of rain. The judgement of the one following is that he recites with the Imam when it is silent and he stands at the right of the Imam when he is alone.]

11.1a. The best one to be Imam

The man who should lead a group of people in prayer is the best and most knowledgeable one among them.

[The one who leads them is the one with the greatest virtue, i.e. if a group gather, and all are excellent and one is more so, he is the one who is entitled to be Imam. It is said that the amount of knowledge has to do with the excellence.]

11.1b Women cannot be Imams

Women cannot lead the prayer. This is the case whether the prayer is fard or nafila and whether the group in question are men or women.

[ As the woman does not lead the prayer, neither does the hermaphordie. If either of them lead the prayer, the prayer must always be repeated according to the Maliki School whether those following are like them or not. Their own prayers are valid, even if they intend to be the Imams. Abu Ibrahim al-Andalusi disagrees with that and says, "Any woman or a hermaphordite like her who resembles a woman who leads a prayer must repeat it within the time. Know that actual being a male is a precondition for the validity of being an Imam. ]

11.1c. Non-Muslims cannot be Imams

[In addition to this precondition, there is another precondition, which is being a Muslim. The Imamate of an unbeliever is not valid.]

11.1d. Imams must be adults

[Also maturity is a precondition and it is not valid for a child to be the Imam of an adult in the obligatory prayer because the child is doing nafila and nafila does not make someone following in a fard prayer valid. ]

11.1e. Imams must be sane

[Another precondition is sanity. The imamate of a madman is not valid.]

11.1f. The Imam must know the prayer and be upright

[Another precondition is knowledge. The prayer is not valid except lead by someone with recitation, fiqh, uprightness and the ability to perform the pillar sof the prayer. The one who is ignorant of recitation or fiqh cannot validily lead in prayer someone who has knowledge. As for someone who is illiterate like him, that is valid when there is no one present who can read.]

11.1g. The Imam must have good character

[By good character is meant lack of impiety connected to the prayer. The impiety in the person who is impious towards it is someone who intends to be an Imam through pride and so his imamate is not valid. As for the impiety of the limb, like the fornicator, it is disliked for him to be the Imam but his prayer is valid as opposed to what is followed by the author of al-Mukhtasar that it is invalid by such an impious person. ]

11.1h. Ability

[Similarly invalid is the imamate of the one who is unable to perform some of the pillars of the prayer which are fard for the one who is able to. ]

11.1i. Congruence

[There must be congruence in the one followed, i.e. the person, place and time. Doing dhuhr behind someone doing 'Asr is not valid nor the reverse, nor performing a prayer behind someone making one up or the reverse, nor Dhuhr of Saturday behind Dhuhr of Sunday nor the reverse. ]

11.1j. Agreement of madhhab

[The agreement of the school of the one following with the Imam in obligatory parts. So it is not valid to follow someone who omits the recitation in the last two or fails to rise from ruku' or prostration, for instance, and residence and freedom in Jumu'a. So the imamate of the traveller is not valid except when he is the khalif. What is meant by a traveller is the one outside of the land of the Jumu'a by a farsang. The Imamate of a slave on Jumu'a is not valid, and the Jumu'a must be repeated if that is possible.]

11.1k Reciting with the Imam

People praying behind an imam should recite to themselves when he recites to himself

[It is related that this means that the judgement of the one following the Imam is that it is recommended for him to recite with the Imam in what the Imam says silently. That is since lack of recitation is a means to thinking and whispering.]

11.1l. When the Imam recites aloud

but should not recite with him when he recites outloud.

[It is disliked to recite when he recites outloud, even if he cannot hear his voice, according to the text. If he recites with him, what he has done is bad, but his prayer is not invalidated. The basis for this is the words of the Almighty, "When the Qur'an is recited, then listen to it and be silent." Al-Bayhaqi reported from Mujahid that the Messenger of Allah was reciting in the prayer and he heard one of the Ansar reciting, and then the words of the Almighty were revealed: down, "When the Qur'an is recited, then listen to it and be silent." They related it from Mujahid from another path that he said it was during the khutba on Fridaya, and another path has the prayer and the khutba.]

11.2 Late-comer making up missed prayer

11.2a. Catching the prayer

If you catch one or more rak'ats of a group prayer then it is as if you have caught the whole prayer.

[If you catch one or more rak'ats of the obligatory prayer or another prayer prescribed in a group like the'Ôids, with the Imam, is judged to have caught the prayer. The Muwatta' has the words of the Prophet, "Whover catches a rak'at of the prayer had caught the prayer," i.e. he is obliged what the is obliged of the Imam in the prostration of forgetfulness. He does not follow anyone else nor repeat his prayer in another group. He says the salam to the Imam and to the one of his left and he obtains a reward similar to the reward of those who were present from its beginning. It is 27 degrees higher. This is when he misses the rest of it by necessity, not from choice. Abu Hanifa says that he obtains the excellence of the group. It is the literal meaning of the words of the author and agrees with its explanation.

What we said indicates catching one rak'at of the ikhtiyari time is in the position of catching all the prayer in negating the sin, even if he delays the ikhtiyari. Also no one said that one who misses part of the prayer with the imam repeats it to obtain the benefits of the group. This is clear in the rest of his words. Catching the rak'at with the Imam" is by placing the hands on the knees , meaning he bows over so that if he wanted to place his hands on his knees, he could certainly do that and the Imam would not rise from ruku' before he placed his hands on his knees.

The judgement of the one who misses a rak'at or more with the Imam is that he did performs what he missed with the Imam.]

11.2b. Making up the missed recitation

You then make up the rak'ats you have missed after the imam has said the salam, making your recitation in them outloud or silent in the way that the imam did.

[What the Imam recited of the Fatiha and the sura, he recites as the Imam recited: what he did silently he does silently and what he did outloud, he does outloud. If he sits in the place, he is permitted to sit, even if he is alone, by catching two rak'ats, then he stands with a takbir. If he sits in a place where it is not permitted do sit, even if alone, by catching one or three rak'ats wth him, he stands without a takbir. It is the famous position as opposed to Ibn al-Majishun. It is as he thought that the takbir is for moving to a pillar of the prayer. The author of at-Tiraz mentioned from Malik in al-'Utibiyya the position that if he sits in the second, he stands without a takbir. He said that it is based on the fact that he is making up the two previous ones and that which begins the first is the takbir al-ihram.]

11.2c. Making up other actions

The other aspects of the prayer such as your standing and sitting are done as if you were continuing a prayer you had started by yourself.

[He builds on what he has done. He prays like someone who prays until the end of his prayer and then remembers that he has missed some of the prayer. This has three forms because he either remembers what would invalidate one, two or three rak'ats by omitting prostration, recitation of the Fatiha or something else which would invalidate the prayer. ]

11.3 Repeating the Prayer

If you have already done the prayer by yourself you can do it again with a group in order to get the benefit there is in doing that

[ If you have prayed the obligatory prayer alone outside one of the three mosques (Makka, Madina and al-Aqsa), where there is no regular Imam and the Iqama was not given while you were in the mosque, it is recommended that you repeat what he prayed in the group, even in the daruri time. The repeating is for the sake of the excellence of the group which is limited by not being outside of the time of the prayer. If it is outside of the time of the prayer, it is not repeated.

The group consists of two and more, and so there is no repeating with one until he is a regular Imam.

If the iqama of the prayer is called while someone is in the mosque, he joins it. The Mudawwana states: "If anyone hears the iqama and has already prayed alone, it is not obligatory for him to repeat it unless he wishes, even if he is in a mosque which he has entered with the Imam. The intention of the one who has prayed alone who repeats it in the group is to obtain the excellence reported in that by the Prophet, "The group prayer is 27 degrees better than the pray alone." The prayer which is repeated for the excellence of the group is general in every obligatory prayer.]

11.3b The case of Maghrib

except in the case of Maghrib.

[If he were to repeat it with the Imam, he bows an even number, and does it as nafila. If he does not remember until he has prayed three with him, when the Imam says the salam, he does a fourth after it as nafila. If he does not remember until he has prayed with the Imam, he does not repeat it. It is also said that he does repeat it. He is not asked to repeat Maghrib for the group because if it is repeated, it becomes even. Maghrib is three so that the number of rak'ats of the day and night will be odd. According to the words of the author, he repeats Isha', even if he has done the witr. The well-known position is that it is not repeated if he has done the witr for the joining of the two witrs in the night according to one of two statements by Sahnun that he repeats the witr when he repeats 'Isha'.]

11.3c. Only one group prayer

If you have caught one rak'at or more of a group prayer then you should not do that prayer again with another group.

[ i.e it is forbidden for him, even if the second group is greater in number that more excellent and forfearing. It is the well-known position, i.e. because the excellence for which repeating is prescribed has been obtained, even if the prayer begins with the excellent, and the large group is better. However, this excellence is not prescribed for the sake of repetition. Ibn Habib said, "The excelence of the group is have number and the excellence of the Imam is based on what is stated by the Prophet, "The prayer of a man with another man is better than his prayer alone, and his prayer with two men is better than his prayer with one man, and what is more is more beloved to Allah Almighty," i.e. wherever he is, that is the case. So this would mean whoever prays with a group should repeat it with a better group, or the one who prayed with an imam should repeat it with a better imam. This is not what is meant and it is not what is meant in the hadith. This hadith indicates the encouragement to pray in a group or in large group. Then the author explains what is understood by his words, to make it clearer.]

11.3d. When it is allowed

But if you have only caught the sujud or the tashahhud then you can, if you want, do that prayer again with another group.

[ He can choose between two things: either building on his ihram or stopping and joining another group if he hopes to catch it. If he does not hope to catch it, then he completes his prayer and does not stop it. This is in respect of the one who has not prayed before that. As for the one who has prayed before that, and not caught the group prayer except for this amount, he does two, i.e. it is desirable after the salam of the Imam. He does two when the prayer is one after which nafila is permitted, as in at-Tata'i. According to Ibn al-Qasim, he absolutely stops, whether he began the prayer with the intention of the fard or nafila, i.e. after the two raka'ts, and does not complete his prayer.

Opposite that is what Malik related in al-Mabsut about his intention when he joined the Imam was to make it Dhuhr with four and his prayer at home nafila, then he must complete it and it is up to Allah to make the fard whichever of them He wishes. If he does not mean to negate the first, then the first is adequate and he does not have to complete this one.]

11.4 Positions behind an Imam

Then there are six positions regarding someone following the Imam regarding whether he is alone, or other men or women are with him.

11.4a. Two men

If there is just one man with the imam he stands on the imam's right.

[If there is one man or a child who understands the prayer, i.e. grasps that obedience is rewarded and disobedience is punished. Otherwise he is only a child. It is desirable for such a person to stand with the Imam to his right and a little bit behind him so that the Imam can be distinguished from the follower. It is disliked to be level. The fact that his place is to the right is based on what is in the Sahih that Ibn 'Abbas said, "I spent the night in the house of my aunt, Maymuna, and the Messenger of Allah rose to pray and I stood at his left and he moved me with his hand behind his back to the right side.

11.4b. Two men or more men

Two men or more stand behind the imam.

[This is based on what is in Muslim where Jabir said, "The Messenger of Allah stood to pray and I went and stood at the left of the Messenger of Allah and he took my hand and brought me round to stand at his right Then Jabir ibn Sakhr came and stood at the left of the Messenger of Allah and he took our hands and pushed us until he had us stand behind him."]

11.4c. Women

If there is a woman there as well she stands behind the men.

[If there a woman, she stands behind the men because of what is in Muslim where Anas said, "When I was an orphan in our house, I prayed behind the Messenger of Allah and Umm Sulaym was behind us."]

11.4d. A man and a woman following the Imam

If there is just one man and a woman praying with the imam, the man stands on the imam's right and the woman stands behind them.

[The man, or the child who understands the act of worship, stands to the right and the woman stands behind them based on what is in Anas where the Messenger of Allah prayed with him and his mother or aunt and he made him stand to his right the woman behind him. The judgement regarding a group of women with the Imam is the same of a man is with one woman with them. That is indicated in the chapter of Jumu'a where he says that the women should be behind the rows of men. ]

11.4e. A man and a woman

If a man prays with his wife, she stands behind him.

[Qadi Ibn al-'Arabi says that the clearest in it is that the husband is like the man. Allah Almighty says, "Dwell, you and your wife, in the Garden." She does not stand to his right, meaning it is disliked for to her do that. He should indicate to her to go back but the prayer of neither is invalidated by being level unless there is invalidation by impurity.]

11.4f. A boy and man

A young boy with a man stand side by side behind the imam as long as the boy is sensible enough not to run off and leave the man he is standing with on his own.

[ When there is a child and a man, they stand behind the imam based on the previous hadith of Anas, but it is limited by the people of the school to when the boy is sensible and he understands the reward of the one who completes the prayer and the wrong action of the one who stops. If the boy does not understand what was mentioned, the man stands to the right of the Imam and the child is left to stand whereever he wishes.

The judgment of these ranks is that it is recommended. Whoever disagrees with the order and prays otherwise has nothing against him unless that the woman goes forward to the rank of the man or in front of the Imam. It is like a man who goes ahead of the imam–that is disliked without excuse. When a woman goes in front of the Imam, his prayer is not invalidated nor the prayer of anyone with him unless he takes pleasure in looking at her or touching her. The statement that it is invalid by pleasure or looking is weak since there is no touching nor ejaculation. If the one following an Imam goes in front because of an excuse, like the lack of space in the mosque, it is permitted for him without dislike.]

11.5 The Imam's single prayer

11.5a. The Imam's prayer is a group prayer

The prayer of the regular imam when he is alone is considered as a group prayer.

[The regular imam is the one who is appointed by the ruler or his representative or the waqif (trustee) or group of Muslims in any permitted or disliked manner because the precondition of the waqif demands that he be followed, even if he is disliked. It is like that with the ruler or his representative, even if they command something disliked in one of two positions. It is the same whether the position of the imamate is in an actual mosque or is a judgement, and thus ships are included in it, and any place in which there is normally a group prayer.

On his own he considered to achieve the group prayer in its excellence and judgement. Therefore another group prayer is not repeated and it is not held in that mosque again. Whoever prays alone repeats it with him, but with the precondition that the prayer is within its normal time and people expect it normally, with the intention of the Imam, the adhan and the iqama. He can join prayers alone on the night of rain because the difficulty in respect of it and he says, "Allah hears whoever praises him," and does not add, "Our Lord, praise is yours," i.e. that is disliked.]

11.5b. No two prayers in the mosque

It is disliked for there to be two group prayers for any one prayer in any mosque that has a regular imam.

[Before, after or with the regular imam according to the position of the schoool that it is unlawful for anyone to pray the prayer while the regular Imam is praying it, alone or in a group, because that would lead to mutual hate and dispute between the Imams and the splitting of the community whereas the Shari'a commands harmony.

11.5c If someone has has already prayed he cannot be Imam

Anyone who has already prayed a particular prayer cannot then be the imam for that same prayer for anyone else.

[Anyone who has prayed an obligatory prayer alone or in a group, as Imam or following, cannot lead that prayer which he repeats. It is known from the school that it is not permitted for someone doing a fard prayer to follow someone doing a voluntary one and is repeating that in which he led a group if they wish, which is the approved position of the school, or individuals. Ibn Habib says "individuals" and it seems that he noted the school of the opponent because the first prayer is allowed by ash-Shafi'i and others. When they repeat it in a group, they become like the one who prayed in a group and then repeated in another group.]

11.6 How to follow the Imam

11.6a. Following the Imam in the sujud of forgetfulness

If the imam leaves out something in his prayer and does the sujud of forgetfulness those behind him follow him even though they themselves have not left anything out.

[ It is obligatory that the one following follow him, even if he did it before him. The question has different cases. If he caught all the prayer with him, he is obliged to follow him in every aspect, whether prostration before or after. If he preceded him, then he must either have a rak'at with him or not. If he had a rak'at with him and his prostration is before, then he prostrates with him. If it is after, he does not prostatate with him and waits for him sitting, according to what is in the Mudawwana. They said that he is silent and does not say that tashahhud with him. If he differs and prostrates, then his prayer is invalid. If he is ignorant, 'Isa said that he always repeats it. He said in al-Bayan, and it is the most comparable on the basis of the school is that it is because he has introduced into the prayer what is not part of it. Ibn al-Qasim has excused it when it is ignorance and says that its judgement is that of forgetfulness to observe the one who says that he ust prostrate with the Imam.

If he does not do a rak'at with him, he does not consequently prostrate afterwards. As for the prostration before, Ibn al-Qasim said that he does not follow him. If he differs and follows him, then his prayer is invalid, whether intentional or by ignorance, not by oversight. The basis is in what ad-Daraqutni reported that the Prophet said, "There is no oversight against the person following the Imam. If the Imam forgets, then it is against him and whoever follows him." In the two Sahih collections is that the Prophet said, "The Imam is made to be followed int he states of the prayer."]

11.6b. Not preceding the Imam

No one should raise their head before the imam nor do any of the actions of the prayer until he has done them.

[None of those following the Imam precedes him in ruku', prostration or anything else. If he gets ahead of him, he returns to him thinking to catch him before rising. Is returning sunna or obligatory? Al-Mawwaq confined himself to the second and even if he fails to return, his prayer is valid since he took his oblgiation with the Imam before he rose. Otherwise, it is obligatory for him to return. If he omits it intentionally or by ignorance, then his prayer is invalid, but not by oversight. It is in the position of the one who is crowded and it is an analogy with the lowering.

Not going down before the Imam is based on what is in the Sahih collections that the Prophet said, "Does not the one who raises his head before the Imam fear that Allah will tranform his face into that of a donkey or make his form the form of a donkey?" In the variant of Muslim is that he said, "O people! I am your Imam so do not precede me in bowing, prostration, standing or leaving.

You only do something after he has begun to do it. It is better to do it after he has begun it and to catch him in it. This is outside of the standing up after two rak'ats. In the rak'at, he must not do it until the Imam is already standing. The basis for that is that al-Bara' said, "When the Messenger of Allah said, 'Allah hears whoever praises Him,' none of them moved his back, i.e. stood up until the Messenger of Allah had gone into prostration. Then we went into prostration after him," i.e they delayed beginning their action from when he began it and they begin their action before he finished his prostration. The commentator of the hadith said, "It is forbidden to precede the Imam and to do it at the same time as him, and it is disliked to delay until he moves on to another pillar of the prayer. It is also said that accompanying him is disliked.]

11.6c Beginning the prayer behind the Imam

You begin the prayer after he has begun it,

[The one following begins the prayer with the takbir after the Imam has said it. This is obligatory. This is after he finishes saying the takbir. If he says it before him or at the same time as him, then his prayer is invalid, whether he concludes it before him, with him, or after him. There are six forms of this. If he begins after him and ends before him, it is invalid, and if he ends with him or after him, it is sound. So the forms are nine. The same applies to the salam, although in the case of tahrim, there is no difference between the intentional and the oversight. In the case of the salam, it is confined to the intentional, not to oversight. So his prayer is not invalid by that salam.

Note: When he knows that he has said the tahrim before the imam and wants to say it after him, Malik says that he says the takbir and not the salam because it is as if he has not said the takbir by his disagreement from what he was commanded. Sahnun said that the says the salam because he disagrees about the validity of the first tahrim.]

11.6d. Standing up

stand up after two rak'ats after he has stood up

[i..e it is recommended to stand after the Imam is completely standing.]

11.6e The Salam

and say the salam after he has said the salam.

[This is obligatory. If he says it before him or at the same time, then his prayer is invalid, unless he starts from forgetfulness. Otherwise, he waits until the Imam says the salam and then says the salam after him.]

11.6f. Other actions

As for any other of the actions of the prayer, it is acceptable to do them at the same time as the imam but it is better to do them after him.

[i.e. other than beginning, standing up from two rak'ats, and the salam. These are like going down into ruku', prostration, standing for the second and the fourth. It is permitted to do them at the same time, even though it is disliked, as is shown by the fact that he says, "it is better."]

11.6g. Omissions by the follower

If anything is left out (sahw) by someone praying behind an imam, the responsibility for it is borne by the imam,

[This is like the takbir and the words of the tashahhud or adding a sajda or ruku'. There is no understanding of oversight, and it includes some intentionality, like omitting the takbir or the tashahhud. That is while he is following the imam. If he arrived late and forgets while making up what the missed with the Imam, the Imam is not responsible for it because following has ended and his judgement is that of someone praying alone. Then there are exceptions which he mentioned:]

11.6h. Exceptions

except if it is something like not going into ruku' [Lit. like the rak'at] or sujud or leaving out the "Allahu akbar" that begins the prayer (takbirat al-ihram) or the salam at the end or neglecting to make the intention for that specific prayer.

[ "Like the rak'at" means all that is obligatory except for the Fatiha, and the author did not ennumerate it. That is because all of these are obligations and the obligations do not fall aside by forgetfulness and are not made up by prostration.]

11.6i. A meritorious actions: the Imam changing his position after the prayer

The imam should not stay in the same place after he has said the salam but should move away

[When the Imam has said the salam for the obligatory prayer, he should not remain where he is, whether the prayer is nafila or not, but should move. It is clear in the words of the author that he moves. What is meant is not that he leaves the mihrab. What is meant is to move to the right or left. Al-Uhjuri said that it is enough that he change his place. Ath-Tha'labi said, "This is the sunna."

There is disagreement about the reason for it. It is said that he only deserves the place for the sake of the pryer. When he finishes, he does not deserve it. It is said that the reason is to avoid confusion for the one who arrives. It is transmitted from ash-Shafi'i that he stays firm a little after the salam based on what is in the Sahih of Muslim that when he said the salam, he only sat for as long as to say, "O Allah, You are the Peace and peace is from You.You are blessed, O You with Majesty and Honour."

Then he makes an exception about the Imam moving his place after the salam:]

11.6j. An exception

except if he is in his own place in which case he can do either.

[This means his house while he is resident or his mount while travelling or if he is in some wasteland. It is permitted for him without dislike because he is safe from what might be feared in that.]

Point: Malik and a group of scholars disliked for the Imams of the mosques and groups to make supplication outloud after the obligatory prayers for those who are present so that combine for this Imam the precedence and honour of him establishing himself as a medium between Allah Almighty and His servants to obtain their best interests through him in supplication. Thus he is on the verge of exalting himself and his heart will be corrupted and he will disobey his Lord in this state more than obeying Him. It is related that one of the Imams asked 'Umar ibn al-Khattab for permission to make supplication for his people after the prayer and he replied, "No, I fear that you will become arrogant until you reach for the Pleaides!"

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