1407. It is recommended that the obligatory prayers, the daily prayers in particular, be offered in congregation. It is more advocated in the fajr and ‘ishÁ’ prayer, for the neighbours of a mosque, and anyone who hears the adhÁn to attend the congregational prayer. According to certain traditions, it has similarly been advocated for the maghrib prayer.
1408. The congregational prayer is greater in virtue than the individual prayer by twenty four degrees, and is equal to twenty five prayers. A narration to the following effect has been narrated from the messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him and his progeny): For a person who proceeds to a mosque, seeking to offer the congregational prayer, there are seventy thousand rewards for each step he takes, and a (spiritual) status similar to them. If he dies in this state, God delegates seventy thousand angels to proceed to his grave, give him glad tidings, be his companies in the loneliness of his grave, and seek forgiveness for him until the day he is resurrected.
1409. It is not permissible to neglect attending the congregational prayer out of indifference, and it is not beseeming that a person not attend it without justification.
1410. It is recommended to delay one’s prayer in order to offer it in congregation. The delayed congregational prayer is better than the individual prayer offered in its earliest time so long as its prime time has not elapsed. The brief congregational prayer is greater in virtue than the prolonged individual prayer.
1411. When a congregational prayer is established, it is recommended that a person who has already offered his prayer individually, should repeat his prayer in congregation. If it later transpires that his first prayer was invalid, his second prayer will be sufficient.
1412. It is not permissible for the imam or the follower to repeat the prayer he has offered in congregation, in another congregation, unless he entertains the possibility of the first being invalid. However, it is recommended for him to repeat it in another congregation if he is the imam in the second prayer, and there is a person amongst the followers who has not offered his obligatory prayer.
1413. If a person is affected by satanic whispers to such a degree that it renders his prayer invalid, and he is only relieved from the satanic whispers when he offers his prayer in congregation, he should offer it in congregation. Obligatory precaution dictates that he should similarly offer it in congregation even if it does not render his prayer invalid.
1414. If a father or mother commands their child to offer their prayer in congregation, it is forbidden to disobey them if disobedience causes distress to them.
1415. A recommended prayer cannot be offered in congregation, except the istisqÁ’ prayer that is offered for seeking rain, or a prayer that was previously obligatory, but is now recommended owing to a reason, such as the ‘Ðd al-fiÔr and ‘Ðd al-aÃÎÁ prayer that were obligatory in the presence of Infallible Imam (Peace be upon him), and are recommended during his occultation.
1416. If an Imam is offering a congregational prayer of one of the daily obligatory prayers, any of the daily obligatory prayers can be offered behind him.
1417. If the Imam of a congregation is offering a qaÃÁ prayer, whether his own, or another’s, one may follow him in congregation if there is certainty that its ada has not been offered. However, if he is offering the qaÃÁ as a precautionary measure, it is not permissible to follow him in congregation, unless the prayer of the follower too is precautionary, and the source of their precaution is the same.
1418. If one does not know whether the prayer a person is offering is one of the daily obligatory prayers, or a recommended prayer, he cannot follow him in congregation.
1419. One of the conditions for the validity of the congregation is that there should not be a barrier between the imam and the follower, or between any follower and the follower who serves as a link between him and the imam, to a degree that obstructs vision, such as a wall, a curtain or anything similar. Therefore, if during all the states of prayer, or some of them, there is a barrier between the Imam and the follower, or between any follower and the follower that serves as a link between him and the imam, the congregation will be invalid. Women are excluded from this ruling as shall be elaborated later.
1420. If a person is standing on one of the two sides of the first row, and is unable to see the imam due to the lengthiness of the row, he may follow the imam in congregation. Similarly, if a person is standing on one of the two sides of another row, and is unable to see the row ahead, due to the lengthiness of the row, he may follow the imam in congregation.
1421. If the rows of congregation reach the door of the mosque, the prayer of a person who is standing opposite the door, behind the row will be valid. The prayer of those who join the congregation behind him will similarly be valid. In fact, the prayers of those who are standing on either sides and have connection to the congregation are valid.
1422. If a person standing behind a pillar is not connected to the Imam by means of another follower on his left or right side, he cannot join the congregation.
1423. The place of the imam should not be greater in height than that of the follower. However, if the difference is minimal, such as less than one hand span, there is no problem. There shall similarly be no problem if the imam is at the higher part of a sloped land, the slope of which is minimal to the degree that it would be considered flat.
1424. There is no problem if the place of the follower is higher than that of the imam. However, if the place of the follower is higher to the degree that it would be doubtful whether the term “congregation” holds true of it or not, one may not stipulate the intention of congregation.
1425. Obligatory precaution dictates that a congregation may not be followed, if a distance arises between two people standing in one row by means of a person whose prayer is invalid, or a discerning child for whom it is not known whether his prayer is valid or not, and there is no other connection with the congregation.
1426. After the imam has pronounced takbÐrat al-iÎrÁm, and the people of the first row are ready for prayer and for pronouncing takbÐrat al-iÎrÁm, the people in the latter rows may pronounce their takbÐrat al-iÎrÁm. However, recommended precaution dictates that they should wait until the people in the rows in front, who are the means of their connection with the imam have pronounced takbÐrat al-iÎrÁm.
1427. If a person knows the prayer of one of the rows in front of him is invalid, he may not join the congregation in the rows behind it. However, if he does not know whether their prayer is valid or not, he may join the congregation.
1428. If a person knows the prayer of the imam is invalid, for example, he knows the Imam does not have his wuÃÙ, he may not join the congregation, regardless of whether the imam himself is aware of it or not.
1429. If after completing the prayer, a follower realizes that the imam is not just, or is a kÁfir, or that his prayer was invalid, for example, he realizes the imam prayed without wuÃÙ, his prayer will be valid, so long as he has not performed an act that would invalidate an individual prayer even if the act was performed inadvertently, such as performing an additional rukÙÝ.
1430. If a person doubts in the midst of his prayer whether he joined the congregation or not, he should complete it as an individual prayer unless he becomes satisfied by means of some clarifying indicators that he did in fact intend joinining the congregation.
1431. There is no problem if a person switches from a congregational prayer to an individual prayer whilst reciting tashahhud, and before the imam recites the salÁm, so long as he did not join the prayer with the intention of switching later on. The same applies if a person switches from congregational prayer to an individual prayer before reciting tashahhud so long as he has a justifiable excuse. In other than the two aforementioned situations, it will be problematic, regardless of whether he joined the prayer with the intention of switching, or made the intention in the midst of his prayer. However, if a person performs all the acts required for the validity of an individual prayer, his prayer will be valid. The same applies if he switches from congregation to an individual prayer after the place of the qirÁÞah is passed, and he did not begin the prayer with the intention of (switching to) an individual prayer. His prayer will be valid even though he did not execute its qirÁÞah.
1432. If a follower makes the intention to switch to an individual prayer prior to the completion of sÙrat al-fÁtiÎah, and the second sÙrah, he should recite both sÙrat al- fÁtiÎah and the second sÙrah himself, even if the imam has recited a part of them. Obligatory precaution dictates that one should similarly recite them if he makes the intention to switch after the imam has completed his recitation and prior to performing rukÙ.
1433. If a person makes the intention to switch to an individual prayer in the midst of a congregational prayer, he may not change his intention back to congregational prayer. However, if a person wavers between switching to an individual prayer or not, his congregation shall be problematic even if he ultimately decides to complete the congregational prayer.
1434. If a person doubts whether he made the intention to switch to an individual prayer in the midst of his prayer or not, he should assume he had not made such an intention.
1435. If a person joins congregational prayer while the imam is in rukÙ, and he reaches the imam’s rukÙ, his congregational prayer shall be valid even if the imam has completed his dhikr. This will be considered as one rak‘ah. However, if a person bows the required degree for rukÙ, but does not reach the imam’s rukÙ, his prayer will be deemed invalid.
1436. If a person joins a congregational prayer while the imam is in rukÙ, and he bows the required degree for rukÙ, but doubts whether he reached the imam’s rukÙ or not, his prayer will be invalid.