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Question: What is the Criteria of an Imam in Salah?

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Shafiifiqh.com


Who is allowed to lead the prayer and who is it permissible for us to pray behind.


الحمد لله رب العالمين ، وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين، وبالله التوفيق

It is not permissible and invalid to follow an imam who is:

· A person who is known that his salah is invalid like a non-Muslim, one who is insane, a person in a state of ritual impurity (hadath) or who has filth (najasah) on his body or clothing.

· A follower who has belief that his imam’s salah is invalid, such as a Shafiʿi following a Hanafi who touched his private parts. The muʿtamad view of the madhhab is according to the madhhab of the follower (al-Minhaj 1: 231). However, there is second opinion in our school, and that is the ruling is according to the madhhab of the Imam of Salah, and this is the opinion of Imam al-Qaffal, al-Manṣūṣ and the Jumhur (majority). (al-Najm al-Wahhāj: 2: 347).

· A person following another person (muqtadi) or a person who is compulsory for him to repeat his salah,

· A woman or hermaphrodite leading men,

· Someone who omits or mispronounces a letter of the Fatiha leading someone who knows it, or a mute, or someone who slurs the words so the letters are indistinct from one another, or someone with a lisp.

If after the prayer one finds out that the imam was one of the above, then one must make up the prayer, unless the imam had filth upon him that was concealed, or he was in a state of ritual impurity, in which cases one doesn’t need to make it up. (al-Minhaj 1: 231, Reliance of the Traveller)

It is permissible for:

· A person performing wudhu (ablution) to follow a person performing tayammum (dry ablution) or wiping the khuff (leather socks).

· A person standing to follow the one who is sitting or one who is reclining while leading the Salah.

· A free adult person to follow a mumayyiz child or a slave.

· Non blind to follow the blind, also for the healthy person to follow a person with incontinence of urine (with all its conditions), and a non-bleeding woman to follow a woman who is mustahadah ghayr mutahayyirah (unconfused vaginal bleeding). (al-Minhaj: 1: 232)

والله تعالى أعلم

Allah Most High knows best.

Answered by:

Abdullah Muhammad al-Marbuqi al-Shāfiʿī

Checked by:

Al-Ustadh Fauzi al-Shāfiʿī

This answer was collected from Shafiifiqh.com which was a repository of Islamic answers as per the Shafi’i madhhab. The website no longer functions. At its peak, many ‘ulama were involved with the site including Shaykh Mawlana Taha Karaan, Shaykh Abdul-Fattah ibn Abdullah, and Shaykh AbdurRagman Khan.

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