Q. If a Musaafir does not know the status of the Imaam, whether he is a Muqeem or a Musaafir, and he follows him, what is the shariah ruling? This happens many a time in airports, bus stations, or even shopping centers.
A. If a traveller (Musaafir) follows an Imaam in Salaah without knowing if the Imaam is a traveller or not, the traveller will simply make an intention of following the Imaam in a Fardh Salaah. He does not have to mention the number of Rakaats that he is performing behind the Imaam.
After the Imaam completes the Salaah, if it becomes known that the Imaam is a traveller, then the follower’s Salaah (as a traveller) will be valid. This is usually announced by the Imaam at the end of the Salaah.
However, if it becomes known that the Imaam is not a traveller and the traveller performed a shortened Salaah behind the Imaam, the traveller must repeat the Salaah as a full Salaah. (Fataawa Fareediyyah 3/80-81)
Allah Ta’ala Knows Best
Mufti Ismaeel Bassa