IslamQA

Imaamat Punctuality

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Muftionline.co.za

Q: 

  1. In today’s times we have devices which show time to the second; and such devices(phones, watches,etc) are carried about on  almost every person throughout the working day, since in South Africa people work in accordance with time and are paid accordingly; and it is through such incomes that Imaams are paid their salaries.
  2. There are also contractual obligations in respect of time between Muslim musallees and their employers and between Muslim employers and their employees.
  3. Both the Muslim employer and Muslim employee contribute to the Imaam’s salaries; but more importantly they must be bound by their contractual obligations which involve being punctual.
  4. It is common practice throughout South Africa that Salaah times are fixed to the minute; and this is evident from Maghrib and Fajar more so than the other Salaah times. Hence there is no question that time must be kept to the minute and Imaams must be punctual to the minute for each Salaah.
  5. Salaah is also not lengthy especially Zohar and Asar; due to employment circumstances in our country amongst other reasons.
  6. But some Molanas/ Imaams throw the Sunnah in the face of the congregation (that Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to pitch up later than the scheduled salaah time for Imaamat) to hide behind their own lack of punctuality and discipline regarding respect for time concerning Musallees and their employment related contractual obligations; and such Imaams or Moulanas thereby portray a blunt disregard towards this and hence disrespect the obligations of Musallees and disrespect the arrangement of time set for commencement of Salaah with Jamaat.
  7. Please lay out the conditions under which Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) came later than the arranged time to lead prayers.
  8. Also say what is the Islamic ruling in terms of today’s South African circumstances relating to Musallee’s employment contractual obligations to be punctual , and an Imaam who disrespects such circumstances and selfishly begins Salaah against the arranged times.
  9. Is it better for the Imaam to be punctual or is it acceptable for the Imaam to have the attitude that “if anybody goes ahead to perform the Salaah other than me when I am late; such Salaah is null and void (gone!), you must wait for me!”
  10. This Imaam fails to attend Fajar with Jamaat more than twice a month; recently in the past week its twice or thrice that he failed to attend Fajar in the Mosque. So when Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was late for Salaah, did it ever happen that he never
    pitched up at all for such Salaah (except the time he was on his death-bed)?
  11. Yes there a number of Musalleehs that object against this Imaams failure to be punctual; and they are of the view that such conduct by this Imaam is indeed unacceptable.

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A: 

  1. The Salaah times should be fixed in the Masaajid in order to make it convenient and easy for the congregation to perform their Salaah with jamaat.
  2. The appointed Imaam should act responsibly and ensure that he fulfills the responsibility of Imaamat with punctuality on its allocated time. If the Imaam is not present in the Masjid at the time of Salaah and the Salaah is performed by another musallee, the Salaah will be valid.
  3. On one occasion Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) set out to the tribe of Bani Amr bin Auf to resolve some matter. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) informed the Sahaabah that if he was delayed at the time of Salaah then they should appoint Abu Bakr (Radiyallahu Anhu) to lead the Salaah. From this Hadith we understand that there were fixed times for the Salaah in the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). The trustees should make a condition with the Imaam that if he is not present at the time of Salaah, they will appoint somebody to lead the Salaah.

And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.

عن سهل بن سعد قال : كان قتال بين بنى عمرو بن عوف فبلغ ذلك النبى -صلى الله عليه وسلم- فأتاهم ليصلح بينهم بعد الظهر. فقال لبلال :« إن حضرت صلاة العصر ولم آتك فمر أبا بكر فليصل بالناس». فلما حضرت العصر أذن بلال ، ثم أقام ، ثم أمر أبا بكر رضى الله عنه فتقدم وذكر الحديث. قال فى آخره: « إذا نابكم شىء فى الصلاة فليسبح الرجال ولتصفق النساء ».(السنن الكبرى للبيهقي #5513)

Answered by:

Mufti Zakaria Makada

Checked & Approved:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)

This answer was collected from MuftiOnline.co.za, where the questions have been answered by Mufti Zakaria Makada (Hafizahullah), who is currently a senior lecturer in the science of Hadith and Fiqh at Madrasah Ta’leemuddeen, Isipingo Beach, South Africa.

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