Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalam alaikum
We arrived in the mosque to pray congregational prayer but the Imam already made the salutations. We also saw some latecomers who caught some rak’ats in the prayer. Should we have chosen one of the latecomers to be our Imam?
According to the Hanafi school, you cannot join in congregation with a person who is making up his missed cycles (rak`ats). This is because he is, legally, basing his prayer on the imam’s, and congregants with the imam cannot lead others at the same time.
In your situation, therefore, you would appoint an imam between yourselves and make up the prayer in a second congregation, away from the mihrab (and main congregation) and without another call to prayer (adhan).
[Mulla Khusro, Durar al-Hukkam; Tahtawi, Hashiyat al-Tahtawi `ala Maraqi al-Falah]
And Allah Most High alone knows best.
[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Tabraze Azam was born and raised in Ipswich, England, a quiet town close to the east coast of England. His journey for seeking sacred knowledge began when he privately memorized the entire Qur’an in his hometown at the age of 16. He also had his first experience in leading the tarawih (nightly-Ramadan) prayers at his local mosque. Year after year he would continue this unique return to reciting the entire Quran in one blessed month both in his homeland, the UK, and also in the blessed lands of Shaam, where he now lives, studies and teaches.