Congregation: Who should lead the prayer?

Q120 :What are the criteria to choose someone to lead a congregational prayer? If you enter a mosque and find that in the absence of the regular imam, someone is leading the prayer whom you know to be unsuitable, should you join them or not?


A120 : If a group of people is offering prayer together, they should choose someone from among them to lead the prayer. The one to be chosen is the one who recites the Qur'an best or the one who has learned more of the Qur'an by heart. If two people are of the same ability in this respect, then the elder of the two is to be chosen. No one may lead 'another in his own home' or place of authority without the latter's permission. What this means is that if two or three people are offering prayer in the home of any one of them, then the house owner or occupier should lead the prayer, unless he permits one of them to lead. Moreover, it is the congregation who chooses the imam, not the imam who imposes himself on them. From another point of view, it is permissible that a young boy leads a group of adults in prayer, and a blind man leads a group of people all of whom enjoy a good eyesight. There is nothing wrong if either the imam or the one being led by him offers his prayer seated for a good reason, nor with either of them having had dry ablution while the other having had normal ablution. Either the imam or the one following him may be a traveller or offering voluntary prayers while the other is resident or offering obligatory prayer. Again, the imam may be a person who has a lesser standing in society than the people being led by him. All such situations are acceptable. If you come to the mosque and you find that the congregation is being led by someone whose conduct leaves something to be desired, you should join the prayer because it remains valid. It is much better that you show that you are one of the group than to pray alone. Moreover, if you had offered your obligatory prayer and went into a mosque or joined some people in a certain place and you found the people were about to offer the same obligatory prayer you have offered, you should join them. You must not appear to be isolating yourself from a congregation. Such a situation is liable to raise questions about your decision.


Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )