Iqamah: Is it obligatory before a congregation?

Q297 :We were about to offer prayers in congregation at the office, when the telephone rang. The imam answered it while iqamah was being said. When he had finished, he asked for the iqamah to be said again. Should he have done that, considering that we were only three persons joining the prayer?

A297 : The iqamah, or a shortened call to prayer, is said immediately before an individual or a congregation start their prayer. It serves to put the worshipper in a frame of mind most suitable for his worship. It is recommended or encouraged, i.e. sunnah, not obligatory. If a person does not say it, or if the congregation start without any one of them saying it, that does not detract in any way from the validity of the prayer. If one has said iqamah and then something took place to delay him from starting his prayer, it is open to him to decide whether he wants to say the iqamah again or not. However, if the distraction is short, then the iqamah need not be said again. Suppose that when the imam answered the telephone, he explained to his caller that he was just about to pray and he would return the call after he had finished, then it would have been more appropriate if he started the prayer without repeating the iqamah. On the other hand, if the caller was his boss and he wanted to ask him about a certain matter and the telephone conversation took a few minutes, then repeating the iqamah is perhaps more preferable.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )