bismillahi al-rahman al-rahim

This is lesson number 19 from the Hanbali fiqh lessons. Since these issues come up frequently, I thought I would post them here as well.

(b: ... ) are notes from Al-Raud Al-Murbi
(m: ...) are notes from the translator

Translated from Al-Hijawi’s Zad Al-Mustaqni`, with notes taken from Al-Buhuti’s commentary Al-Raud Al-Murbi` and other traditional sources.
This is a work in progress, and has been sent out as part of a series of lessons concerning Hanbali `ibadat.

Please see end of document for full copyright notice.

The Imam

Determining precedence
The best to lead the prayer is:
        (1) the best in recitation who is knowledgeable in the fiqh associated prayer then (b: if they are equal in recitation) the most knowledge in fiqh (b: If they have two people who are good with fiqh and recitation, the one who is superior in fiqh or in recitation is given precedence. If they are both good with recitation, the one with better recitation is given precedence over the one who memorized more. Someone who is good with the Qur’an but does not know the rulings associated with prayer is given precedence over someone who knows fiqh but does not know proper recitation. If there are two people who know the rulings associated with prayer and one of them knows the rulings better than the other, he is given precedence because his knowledge has an influence in achieving the complete perfection of the prayer)
        (2) then (b: if  they are equal in recitation and fiqh:) the eldest;
        (3) then the most noble (b: and they are the Qurashis, with Banu Hashim having precedence over the rest of Quraysh)
        (4) then the eldest with respect to emigration (b: or Islam)
        (5) then the most godfearing
        (6) then (b: if they are equal in all that preceded) they choose by lottery

The inhabitant of a house and the imam of a mosque (b: if they are qualified to lead the prayer) have the most right (b: of those present, even if one of the others is better with recitation or fiqh), except for someone with authority.

A freeman, a city dweller, a resident, someone with vision, someone circumcised, and someone who has clothes (b: meaning: two garments and something covering his head) is better than their opposites. (b: So:
        (1) freeman are given precedence over slaves or the partially-freed
        (2) city dwellers over a nomads or those raised in the wilderness
        (3) residents over travelers
        (4) those with eyesight over the blind
        (5) the circumcised over the uncircumcised
        (6) those with clothes as we mentioned over someone who has covered the `aurah and one of his shoulders
        (7) partially-freed slaves over totally-owned
        (8) those who made wudu over those who made tayammum
        (9) those renting houses in the rented house over the person they rent the house from
        (10) those lending a house in the house they lent over the person they lent it to)

(b: It is offensive for someone to else lead without the permission of the superior person.)

People invalid to pray behind
It is absolutely invalid to pray behind:
        (a) someone morally corrupt (b: whether the corruption is from the perspective of actions or beliefs, except during Juma` and `Eid), just as behind a non-believer (b: whether lack of belief is known during the prayer or after finishing it)
        (b: But it is valid to prayer behind someone who disagrees in branch (m: non-`aqidah) issues.
If the imam intentionally omits something that only he believes is obligatory, his prayer and the followers’ prayer is invalid; but if it is obligatory only according to the follower, he does not repeat the prayer.
Whoever omits something that is an integral [rukn], condition [shart], or obligatory [wajib] that is disagreed about, and does not omit out of interpretation [ta’wil] or following a scholar [taqlid] must repeat the prayer)
        (b) or behind a woman (m: There is an opinion in the madhhab that is overruled that states that during Tarawih it is permissible for a woman to lead men if none of the men can recite Qur’an correctly, but she must stand behind the men and she must recite silently. I mention this only to clarify that it is indeed an opinion in the madhhab and that it is overruled)
        (c) or a man behind hermaphrodite (b: or a hermaphrodite behind another hermaphrodite)
        (d) a youth for someone mature (b: during an obligatory prayer; it is valid for a youth to lead adults in supererogatory prayers and when leading other youth)
        (e) someone mute (b: even for someone else like him; this is because something obligatory [fard] in the prayer has been nullified without bringing something in its place)
        (f) someone incapable of bowing, prostrating, or sitting (b: except by someone like him)
        (g) or incapable of standing, except for the imam of the neighborhood when the end of this defect is expected, and then it is recommended that they pray behind him seated. it is obligatory for them to complete the prayer standing behind if their imam began praying with them standing and later the defect occurred and so he sat.

It is valid for someone who is incontinent to pray behind someone like him.

It is not valid to knowingly pray behind someone with ritual impurity or with inexcusable filth. If the imam and the follower are ignorant of this until the prayer ends, only the follower’s prayer is valid.

(b: If the imam finds out that during the prayer has unintentionally omitted something obligatory, or has doubts that an integral [rukn] or condition [shart] for him leading the prayer has been nullified: the followers prayer is validin contrast to the imam not covering himself or facing the qiblah because these are not usually hidden.)

It is not valid for an “illiterate”someone who does recite Al-Fatiha correctly, or makes idhgham (m: this is when there are two letters similar in the place of articulation or manner of articulation, and so the first letter is pronounced the same way as the second) in the wrong place, or replaces letters (b: such as someone who changes the ra to a ghayn, with the exception of replacing the dad of “al-maghdubi” and “al-dalin” with a za), or makes grammatical mistakes in such a way that it nullifies the meaning (b: if it does not nullify the meaning the person is not considered illiterate)to lead except someone like him. (b: Nor is it valid for someone incapable of obligatory invocations to lead someone who is capable.)
When someone illiterate is able to fix his problem (m: and he does not do so) his prayer is invalid (b: and so is the prayer of anyone who prayed behind him since he has omitted an integral [rukn] while being able to bring it.)

When it is offensive to be an imam
If is offensive for someone to lead when:
        (1) he makes grammatical mistakes (b: that do not nullify the meaning. If the meaning of something other than Al-Fatihah is nullified, it does not bar him from leading the prayer as long as it is not done intentionally.)
        (2) he stutters on the fa’ or the ta
        (3) he does not pronounce some of the letters (b: such as qaf and dad and it is valid for him to lead the prayer, whether a foreigner or an Arab. And likewise: it is valid for the following to lead, though offensive, if he is: blind, deaf, uncircumcised, missing both hands through amputation, missing one or two legs through amputation provided he can stand, or epileptic.)
        (4) he leads one or more foreign woman [ajnabiyah] unaccompanied by a man (b: so there is no offensiveness when he leads female kin or non-kin women accompanied by a man)
        (5) the majority dislikes him for a valid reason.

Things which are valid
It is valid for an illegitimate child or a soldier to lead the prayer providing their religion is sound.

It is valid for someone making up a prayer to lead someone praying the current prayer to be lead, and the opposite.

It is not valid for someone praying a supererogatory prayer to lead someone praying an obligatory prayer (b: but it is valid for someone praying a supererogatory behind an imam praying obligatory is valid), nor for someone to pray Zuhr behind someone praying `Asr and others.

Translated from Al-Hijawi’s Zad Al-Mustaqni`, with notes taken from Al-Buhuti’s commentary Al-Raud Al-Murbi` and other traditional sources. This is a work in progress, and has been sent out as part of a series of lessons concerning Hanbali `ibadat.

Translation and notes © Musa Furber 1422 AH / 2002 CE. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Copyright owner