All praise is due to Allah. We praise Him, seek His assistance and His forgiveness. We believe in Him and place our trust in Him. We seek refuge in Allah from the mischief of our souls and our bad actions. He whom Allah guides, no one can mislead him. And he whom Allah misleads, no one can guide him aright. We bear testimony that there is no god except Allah. He is alone and has no partner and we bear testimony that our leader Muhammad is His servant and messenger.
Last week, we stopped at the act of joining salat which we promised we will treat this week.
Before going into that, let me quickly state that one of the neglected rules in the congregational prayer is making the lines straight. Allah has ordered the proper performance of salah saying “And establishes the salah”. The Prophet (s.a.w) has also said: "Straighten your lines for verily, straightening of the lines is a part of correct performance of salah (iqaamis-salat)". The order to straighten the lines and being mindful of doing so is mentioned in a number of hadiths. It should also be mentioned that this includes not leaving any gap in the lines as it is commonly neglected.
Now, one of the frequently commited errors when joining salat is by going on ruku far from the line of prayer, rushing in order not to miss the rakah.
Abu Bakr (r.a.) at one time joined the Prophet (s.a.w) in salat while in ruku’. He made ruku’ before he reached the line of prayer. He mentioned that to the Prophet (s.a.w) after the salat and the Prophet said: “May Allah increase your eagerness in caring to join salat but do not come doing it again.” (Bukhari).
In this Hadith, Abu Bakr did not want to miss a rakah of salah with the Prophet (s.a.w). He started his salat before he joined the line in ruku’ and then walked while in ruku. He was advised not to do that again. A critical examination of that scenario indicates that Abu Bakr errors were three: rushing to join the salat which we have pointed out as one of the errors we make in salat in past edition of this column; performing ruku outside the line of prayer; and walking while in ruku to be close to the prayer line. The last one would not have been an error if it was one or two steps because there was precedence to that effect (when a worshipper moved backward to form a line of prayer or moved forward to fill a gap; but it becomes an error when the steps are more than two. Those who hold the views of scholars like Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik and Imam Shafi allow Muslims to walk forward to fill in the gaps in lines for prayers, etc. However, the ruling of the prophet that he (Abu Bakr) should not repeat that again, suggests it was not permissible because it was done far from the line of prayer. Filling the gap or moving forward or backward in one or two steps is simply a Makrooh but may not necessarily invalidate the salat. As a result, care must be observed so as not to over-do what is permisible out of unusual circumstances.
For a person who wants to join the jamah when the Imam is in ruku, it is compulsory (fard) to stand and recite takbir-ihram and thereafter stand at least for the duration long enough in which subhanallah could be recited once and then go into ruku.
At this point, there must also be a pause at your ruku before the imam rises from his ruku. This is a valid way of joining salat. If at that point, the imam rises from ruku without you getting a pause on ruku, then you will have to remain in ruku and, from that position, join the congregation as they go into sujud. It should however be noted that, that rakah has been missed and has to be replaced after the imam has completed the second salama. Sheikh Adam Al-Ilory (May Allah bless his soul) specified this in his book on salat.
Another point of note is that the total rakah performed with the Imam will be adjusted with the remainder of the rakah (by way of placing the number of the performed rakah with Imam in front of the missed rakah.) To explain this, taking Maghrib as example: If you joined prior to the completion of the second ruku, you will be considered to have joined the second rakat
Now when the Imam makes the second salama, you have to perform the missed rakah, which in this case is ONE as you performed the ruku of the second rakah with the Imam. The rakah which you performed with the Imam were thus rakat number two and number three
You will adjust the TWO rakah that you performed with the Imam as your first two and perform the last one on your own after the Imam has completed salama.
This is the view of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab, ‘Ali, (May Allah be pleased with them). This is also the view of Imam Nawawii and seems to be stronger, with particular emphasis on “complete whatever you have missed” as opposed to “make it up.” The Hanafeehs school of thought is different. They say you need to make up the first part of the prayer. This is also the view of the Maliks.
In essence, one has to be able to differentiate between order of RECITATION and SITTINGS together with making adjustment for the number of rakah performed with the Imam.
May Allah guide us and grant us success! May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad and his companions