13 Oct Learning How to Pray Part 8
Times During Which It Is Not Permissible to Offer the Supererogatory Prayers
A Muslim may offer a supererogatory prayer at any time, except at such times during which it is prohibited to offer them, as they are generally times specified for prayers offered by some non-Muslims. During these times, he is only allowed to make up for the obligatory prayers he may have missed or the supererogatory prayers which are offered for a reason, such as the prayer of tahiyyatul-masjid, ‘‘greeting the mosque”, a prayer which consists of two units and is performed upon entering the mosque and there is enough time to perform it before the obligatory prayer commences. A Muslim may, however, invoke Allah and recite supplications at any time.
These times are as follows:
1 From the time following the Fajr prayer until the sunrises above the horizon by the length of a spear, a short period of time specified in Islamic Law and is equal to approximately twenty minutes in countries with a temperate climate.
2 From the time the sun is at its zenith until it declines westward from the middle of the sky. This is a short period of time preceding the beginning of the time of the Dhuhr prayer.
3 From the time following the ‛Asr prayer until sunset (45 min before sunset)
The Congregational Prayer
Allah I commands Muslim men to perform the five obligatory prayers in congregation and promises them a great reward for doing so. Mentioning the reward of the congregational prayer, the Prophet r once said, “The reward for a prayer offered in congregation is twenty-seven times greater than that offered by a person alone.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 619; Saheeh Muslim: 650)
The congregational prayer can be established by at least two people, one of them acts as the prayer leader (imaam). However, the larger the congregation, the dearer it is to Allah.
Following the Imam in Prayer
This means that those praying behind the imaam must do the same as he does during the prayer by observing all the prayer movements and taking all the prayer postures, such as bowing and prostrating, immediately after him. They must not engage in any movement or posture before him or differ with him in this respect in anything whatsoever.
The Prophet r said, “The imaam is to be followed. Say Allaahu akbar when he says it, and do not say it until he says it first. Bow when he bows, and do not bow until he has done so first. When he says, sami‛-Allaahu liman hamidah (Allah listens to him who praises Him),’ say, “Rabbanaa wa lak-al-hamd (Our Lord, to You is due all praise).’ Prostrate when he prostrates, and do not prostrate until he has done so first” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 710, Saheeh Muslim: 414 and Sunan Abu Daawood: 603)
Who Should Lead the Prayer?
Generally speaking, the person who knows the Qur’an the best should be given preference in leading the prayer. If those present are equal in that respect, then the one who is best informed in the rules of religion , as the Prophet r said, “ Let him act as imaam to a congregation who knows the Qur’an by heart the best; and if all present should be equal in that respect, then let him perform who has the deepest knowledge of the Sunnah…”(Saheeh Muslim: 673)
Where Does the Imaam and Those He Leads Standing Prayer?
The imaam stands in front of those he leads in prayer (ma’moomoon; singular: ma’moom /follower). The followers, standing shoulder to shoulder, form straight lines behind him, and the front rows should be filled and completed first. If there is only one follower (ma’moom), he positions himself to the right of the imaam.
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