Answered by Shaykh Abdurrahman ibn Yusuf Mangera
I have a friend who is a very slow reader in prayer. For example when the imam has done salam he is still reading durood. What should he do: stop reading durood and do salam with imam or carry on reading until after he’s finished and then do salam?
In the name of Allah, the Inspirer of truth
Yes he should make salams with the imam and should not complete his Salawat or du’a.
Allama Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) writes in his Radd al-Muhtar that one can only delay in following the imam when there is the recital of a wajib like tashahhud concerned. For example, if the imam stands up and a follower has not yet completed his tashahhud he can complete it, then stand up and continue with the imam.
However in the case of the salawat and final du’a which are both (confirmed) sunnas [sunna mu’akkada], the follower will leave them and make the salams with the imam.
Delaying the salams with the imam in this case is strongly disliked [makruh tahrimi].
The rule is that following the imam is wajib, and can only be delayed when trying to complete another wajib like tashhahud, not due to a sunnah.
[Faraz adds: This is despite the serious importance given to confirmed sunnas in the Hanafi school. Normally, leaving a sunna even once without an excuse is blameworthy, and making it a habit is sinful. However, in the case of following the imam, the legal principle that, “The lesser of two matters is left for the higher,” is applied.]
And Allah knows best.
Shaykh Abdurrahman ibn Yusuf