1. It is the duty of the muqtadis to choose the person who possesses the best characteristics from among all those who are present and to appoint him as the imam. If there are several people who are worthy of imaamat and they are all equal, then they should act according to the decision of the majority. That is, they should choose the person whom the majority of the people prefer. If they choose someone who is less capable despite there being a person who is more capable, they will be guilty of abandoning the sunnah.
2. The person who is most worthy of imaamat is that person who has a thorough knowledge of the masa’il of salaat as long as he does not have any outward characteristics of fisq (immorality), he knows the specified number of verses for recitation, and recites the Quran correctly. After him, the person who recites the Quran according to the rules that have been laid down. Thereafter, the person who is the most pious. Thereafter, the person who is the most senior in age. Thereafter, the person who is most courteous. Thereafter, the person who is the most handsome. Thereafter, the person who is the most noble. Thereafer, the person who has the best voice. Thereafter, the person who is the most well-dressed. Thereafer, the person who has the largest head as long as it is in proportion to his body. Thereafter, preference is given to the muqeem over the musafir. Thereafter, the person who was born as a free person. Thereafter, the person who made tayammum for hadath-e-asghar is given preference over the person who made tayammum for hadath-e-akbar. But according to some, the person who made tayammum for hadath-e-akbar is given preference.
The person in whom two qualities are found is given preference over the person in whom only one quality is found. For example, the person who knows the masa’il of salaat and also recites the Quran correctly has preference over the person who only knows the masa’il of salaat and cannot read the Quran correctly.
3. If jama’at is made in a house, the person whose house it is has more right of imaamat over the others. Thereafter, the person whom he appoints as an imam. However, if the owner of the house is a jaahil, and the other persons have knowledge of the masa’il, they will have the right of imaamat.
4. If there is an imam who is appointed in a particular musjid, then in his presence no one else has the right of imaamat. However, if he appoints anyone else as the imam, there will be no harm in this.
5. In the presence of the Qadi, i.e. the ruler of the Islamic state, no one else has the right of imaamat.
6. It is makruh-e-tahrimi to make imaamat without the happiness of the people. However, if that person is the most qualified person for imaamat, i.e. no one else has the qualities of imaamat as he possesses, then it will not be makruh for him. Instead, whoever is unhappy with his imaamat will be in the wrong.
7. It is makruh-e-tahrimi to appoint a faasiq or a bid’atee as an imam. However, if (Allah forbid) there is no one else apart from these people, then it will not be makruh. In the same way, if the bid’atee or the faasiq is a powerful person and they are unable to remove him, or there is a fear of great discord or dissension, even then it will not be makruh on the muqtadis.
8. It is makruh-e-tanzihi to appoint the following persons as an imam: (a) a slave who is regarded as a slave in Islamic jurisprudence and not the one who is bought at the time of a famine,etc. even if he has been freed, (b) a villager, (c) a blind person who is not conscious of the laws of purity and impurity, (d) a person who cannot see well at night, (e) a waladuz zina, i.e. a person who was born out of an illicit relationship. However, if all these persons are possessors of knowledge and virtue, and people do not mind appointing them as imams, then it will not be makruh. It is also makruh-e-tanzihi to appoint a handsome youth whose beard has not appeared as yet, and also a person who has no intellect.
9. It is wajib on all the muqtadis to be in conformity with the imam in all the fara’id and wajibaat of salaat. However, it is not wajib to be in conformity with him in the sunnats. Based on this, if the imam is a follower of the Shafi’i school of thought and he raises his hands at the time of going into ruku and coming up from ruku, then it is not necessary for the Hanafee muqtadis to raise their hands. This is because the raising of the hands is sunnah even according to them. Similarly, if the Shafi’i imam reads the qunut in the fajr salaat, it is not necessary for the Hanafee muqtadis to do the same. However, since qunut is wajib in witr salaat, and the Shafi’i imam will read it after standing up from ruku, the Hanafee muqtadis should also read it after the ruku.
10. It is makruh-e-tahrimi for the imam to recite very long Surahs which are more than the recommended amount, or to stay for very long periods in the ruku and sajdah postures. Instead, the imam should take into consideration the need, necessities, and weakness of the muqtadis. He should make his qira’ah after taking into consideration the condition of the person who is the weakest of all of them. In fact, if there is a great urgency, it will be preferable for him to make his recitation even shorter than the recommended amount. This is so that people do not find any difficulty which could be a cause for a decrease in the jama’at.
11. If there is only one muqtadi who is a male or an immature boy, he should stand in line with or slightly behind the imam to the right of the imam. It is makruh to stand on the left hand side of the imam (or directly behind him – in this case).
12. If there is more than one muqtadi, they should stand behind the imam. If there are two muqtadis, it would be makruh-e-tanzihi for them to stand on either side of the imam. And if there are more than two muqtadis, it would be makruh-e-tahrimi to do so. This is because when there are more than two muqtadis, it is wajib for the imam to stand in front.
13. At the time of commencing the jama’at there was only one muqtadi and he stood to the right of the imam. Thereafter, more muqtadis joined the jama’at. The first muqtadi should step back so that all the muqtadis could get together and stand behind the imam. If he does not move back, the other muqtadis should pull him back. But if the muqtadis unintentionally stand to the right and left of the imam and do not pull the first muqtadi back, then in this case the imam should step forward so that all the muqtadis could get together and stand behind him. Similarly, if there is no place to move backwards, it will be the duty of the imam to step forward. But if the muqtadi is unaware of the masa’il, as is generally the case today, then it will not be advisable to move him because it is possible that he may do something which may break his salaat.
14. If the muqtadi is a woman or an immature girl, she should stand behind the imam irrespective of whether there is only one woman or several women.
15. If there are different types of muqtadis, i.e. a few men, a few women and a few children, then it is the duty of the imam to arrange their saffs in the following order: firstly he should arrange the saffs of the men, thereafter the saffs of the immature boys, thereafter the saffs of the women, and lastly the saffs of the immature girls.
16. It is the duty of the imam to straighten the saffs. That is, he should stop the people from standing unevenly, and he should order them to stand straight. They should stand next to each other and should not leave any gaps within the saff itself.
17. It is makruh for a person to stand alone in a saff. Instead, in such a case, he should pull a person back who is standing in the saff in front of him and make him stand in line with him. But if there is the possibility that the person will disrupt his salaat or take this unkindly, then he should not do this.
18. It is makruh to stand in a new saff if there is place in the first saff. Once the saff is complete, then only should one stand in a new saff.
19. It is makruh-e-tahrimi for a man to make imamat of women in a place where there is no other man or where there is no mahram female such as his wife, mother, sister, etc. If there is another man or mahram female, it will not be makruh.
20. A person is offering the fard of fajr, maghrib or esha salaat alone and he is offering his salaat silently. If a person joins him and follows him while he is in this salaat, then there are two alternatives in this: (i) this person makes this intention in his heart that he is now becoming the imam so that his salaat may be offered with jama’at, (ii) he does not make this intention but continues thinking to himself that although this person has come and stood behind me, I am still offering my salaat alone. In the first case, the moment he makes his intention, it will be wajib for him to start reciting in a loud voice. If he had already recited a part of Surah Faatihah or any other Surah silently, he should start reciting them aloud the moment he makes his intention. This is because it is wajib on the imam to make the qira’at in a loud voice for the fajr, maghrib and esha salaats. As for the second case, it is not wajib to make the qira’at in a loud voice and even the salaat of that muqtadi will remain valid. This is because it is not necessary for the imam to make an intention of imamat in order for the salaat to be valid.
21. If the imam or the munfarid is offering his salaat at home or in an open field, it is mustahab for him to place an object which is equal to one arm or more in length and equal to one finger or more in thickness in front of him either on his right or left side. This object is called a sutra. However, if he is offering his salaat in a musjid or in a place where people will not pass in front of him, then there is no need to do this. The sutra of the imam will suffice for all the muqtadis. Once the sutra has been placed, there is no sin in walking beyond the sutra. But if someone walks within the sutra, he will be committing a sin.
22. A laahiq is that muqtadi who misses a few or all his rakaats after having joined the jama’at, irrespective of whether he has an excuse or not. Example where he has an excuse: he falls asleep in his salaat and thereby misses a few rakaats, or he is unable to make ruku and sajdah because of the large number of people, or his wudu breaks and while he is gone to make his wudu he misses a few rakaats. (In salaatul khauf, the first group is regarded as the laahiq. Similarly, the muqeem who follows an imam who is a musafir and who is making qasr, is regarded as a laahiq after the completion of the salaat of the imam). Example where he has no excuse: he goes into ruku or sajdah before the imam and even comes up before him, on account of which his rakaat is not considered to be valid. With regard to that rakaat, he will be regarded as a laahiq. It is wajib on the laahiq to complete the rakaats which he had missed first. After completing them, he should join the jama’at if it is still in progress, if not, he should offer the balance of his salaat as well.
23. The laahiq will also be regarded as a muqtadi for the rakaats which he had missed. That is, just as a muqtadi does not make qira’at but merely stands silently, the laahiq will also do this. And just as the muqtadi does not make sajdah-e-sahw when he makes any mistake, so is the case with the laahiq.
24. The masbuq, i.e. the one who has missed a few rakaats, should join the imam and offer whatever is left of his salaat with the jama’at. Once the imam completes his salaat, the masbuq should stand up and complete the rakaats which he had missed.
25. The masbuq has to offer his missed rakaats as a munfarid with qira’at. And if he makes any mistake in these rakaats, it is also necessary for him to make sajdah-e-sahw.
26. The masbuq should offer his missed rakaats in the following order: he should first offer those rakaats in which there is qira’at and then those which have no qira’at. As for the rakaats which he has offered with the imam, he should sit for them accordingly. That is, after counting the rakaats, he should make his first qa’dah after the one that is second. He should make his last qa’dah after his third rakaat if the salaat is a three rakaat salaat (such as maghrib). Examples: a person joined the jama’at for zuhr salaat when three rakaats had already been completed. When the imam makes salaam at the end of the salaat, this person should stand up and offer the three rakaats which he missed in the following manner: in the first rakaat he should recite Surah Faatihah, another Surah, make his ruku and sajdahs and then sit down for his first qa’dah. He has to sit down because this rakaat is regarded as his second rakaat after combining it with the rakaat that he had offered with the imam. Thereafter, he should offer his second rakaat and recite Surah Faatihah and another Surah in it as well. After this second rakaat he should not sit down because this rakaat is regarded as his third rakaat after joining it to the previous two. Thereafter, he should offer his third rakaat without reciting another Surah after having recited Surah Faatihah because this rakaat was not a rakaat of qira’at. After this rakaat, he should sit down because this is his last qa’dah.
27. A person is a laahiq and a masbuq as well. Example, he joined the jama’at after a few rakaats and after joining in, he also misses some rakaats. He should first offer those rakaats which he missed after joining, i.e. in which he was a laahiq. However, he should offer these as if he is following the imam, i.e. he should not make qira’at and he should offer his salaat in the same order as that of the imam. Thereafter, if the jama’at is still in progress, he should join it. If not, he should also offer the balance of his salaat after having read those rakaats in which he was a masbuq. Example: a person joined the asr salaat after one rakaat. Upon joining the jama’at, his wudu broke so he went to repeat his wudu. In the meantime, the salaat ended. He should first offer those three rakaats which he missed out after having joined the jama’at. Thereafter, he should offer the one rakaat which he had missed before joining the jama’at. He should offer those three rakaats as a muqtadi, i.e. he should not make qira’at and he should sit down after the first of those three rakaats. This is because this is the second rakaat of the imam and he (imam) had sat in this rakaat. Thereafter, he should not sit in the second rakaat because this is actually the third rakaat of the imam. Thereafter, he should sit down in the third rakaat because this is actually the fourth rakaat of the imam and he had sat in this rakaat. Thereafter, he should offer that rakaat which he had missed before joining the jama’at, and he should also sit in this rakaat because it is his fourth rakaat. He also has to make qira’at in this rakaat because he is a masbuq in this rakaat and a masbuq is regarded as a munfarid in the rakaats which he missed.
28. It is sunnah for the muqtadis to follow the imam in all the postures without any delay. The takbeer-e-tahreemah, ruku, standing after ruku, sajdahs – all have to be carried out with the imam. In other words, every act has to be carried out simultaneously with every act of the imam. However, if the imam stands up from the first qa’dah before the muqtadis could complete their at-tahiyyaat, the muqtadis should complete their at-tahiyyaat first and then stand up. Similarly, if the imam makes salaam in the last qa’dah before the muqtadis could complete their at-tahiyyaat, they should complete their at-tahiyyaat first and then make salaam. However, if the muqtadis have not read their tasbeehs in the ruku and sajdahs, they should still stand up with the imam.