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Hadith Section > A Manual of Hadith > Chapter 08: The Imam (Hadith -- The Traditions)


Chapter 08:
The Imam (Hadith -- The Traditions):


 

(Note: The superscript-numbers [e.g., intention2] that appear in the text [in pink] refer to the numbers of the explanatory footnotes that appear at the end of each Hadith [Tradition].)


1 Abu Musa said,
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, fell ill and his illness became severe; so he said:

"Tell Abu Bakr that he should lead the prayer for the people." 1 . . . So the messenger came to him, and he (Abu Bakr) led the prayer for the people in the lifetime of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him. (B. 10 : 46.)

1 While alive, the Holy Prophet himself acted as imam and led the prayers. During his last illness he became too weak to leave his bed and to go out to pray in congregation; so he directed that Abu Bakr should lead the prayers. This hadith, along with the Holy Prophet's practice, is conclusive proof that the man who held the highest place of honour in the community on account of his righteousness acted as imam, for after the Holy Prophet Abu Bakr was admittedly the most excellent of his followers.


2 Abu Mas`ud said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"The man who knows most the Book of Allah shall act as imam of a people; 2 and if there are persons equal in their knowledge of the Qur'an, then he who has greater knowledge of the Sunnah; and if they are equal in their knowledge of the Sunnah, then he who is first in hijrah; and if they are equal in hijrah,3 then he who is older in years; and a man shall not lead another in prayer in the place where he (the latter) is in authority,4 and no one shall occupy the place of honour in another man's house except with his permission." (M-Msh. 4 : 26.)

2 Evidently what is meant is excellence in knowledge of the Holy Qur'an, not merely its recitation.

3 Precedence in hijrah was an indication of precedence in sacrifices for Islam.

4 Thus the master of the house or the imam of a particular mosque has a greater right to lead the prayers there that a mere visitor.


3 Ibn `Abbas said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"The most virtuous among you shall deliver the adhan, and those having most knowledge of the Qur'an shall act as imams."5 (AD-Msh. 4 : 26.)

5 The mu'adhdhin and the imam, the two office-bearers of the mosque, are thus to be chosen for their moral excellence and knowledge of the Qur'an.


4 Ibn `Umar said,
When the first emigrants came to `Usbah, a place in Quba, before the coming of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, Salim, the slave of Abu Hudhaifah, used to act as their imam, and he had the greatest knowledge of the Qur'an.
6 (B. 10 : 54)

6 A slave became the imam because he excelled others in knowledge.


5 `Ubaid Allah reported that,
He entered upon `Uthman ibn `Affan and he was then besieged (by the rebels). He said, Thou art the imam of the people and to thee has happened what thou seest, and the rebel imam leads our prayers and we consider this to be a sin. He said, Prayer is the best of things which people do; so when people do a good work, do thou also do the good with them, and when they do evil, do thou shun their evil.
(B. 10 : 56.)


6 Abu Hurairah said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"Jihad is incumbent on you under every commander whether he is virtuous or wicked, even though he be guilty of heinous sins; and prayer is incumbent on you behind every Muslim whether he is virtuous or wicked, even though he be guilty of heinous sins;7 and the holding of a (funeral) service on every Muslim is incumbent whether he is virtuous or wicked, even though he be guilty of heinous sins." (AD-Msh. 4 : 26.)

7 No one can be chosen as imam for carrying on jihad or for leading prayers unless he possesses the requisite qualifications, and, therefore, a man who is guilty of heinous sins cannot be chosen for either purpose. But if such a man is chosen by mistake or if he commits such a sin after he has been chosen, he must be followed so long as he is not removed from that office, as no organization can be maintained otherwise.


7 Anas reported that,
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, left Ibn Umm Maktum after him to act as imam of the people, and he was a blind man. (AD. 2 : 64.)


8 It is reported about Umm Waraqah who had learned the Qur'an by heart that,
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, commanded her that she should act as imam of the people of her house, and she had a mu'adhdhin and she used to act as imam of the people of her house.
8 (Ah. VI, 405.)

8 This shows that a woman may act as imam. There is nothing to show that there were no males among the people of her house; on the other hand, it is clearly stated that she had a mu'adhdhin who was evidently a male.


9 Abu Hurairah reported that,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"When one of you leads the prayer for the people, he should lighten it, for among them is the weak one and sick one and the old one; and when one of you prays alone, he may lengthen (it) as he likes." (B. 10 : 62.)


10 Bara' said,
It was the practice that when the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said sami`Allahu li-man hamida-hu, none of us bent down his back (for falling down in prostration) until the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, fell down in prostration, and then we fell down in prostration after him."
(B. 10 : 52.)


11 Abu Hurairah said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"When you come to prayer, and we have fallen down in prostration, fall down in prostration and do not count it as anything, and whoever joins in one rak`ah joins the prayer." 9 (AD-Msh. 4 : 28.)

9 If a man joins the congregational service in sajdah, it should not be counted as a rak`ah, from which it follows that if he joins it in ruku`, it shall be counted as a rak`ah.


12 Samurah said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, commanded us that when we were three, one of us should stand in the front. (Tr-Msh. 4 : 25.)


13 Abu Hurairah said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"Keep the imam in the middle and close the openings." 10 (AD-Msh. 4 : 24.)

10 Hh. 12, 13 give the position of the imam. He should stand in the front, forming a row by himself, and he should also be in the middle, so that the rows behind him should have an equal number of men on his right and left.


14 Ibn `Abbas said,
I said my prayers with the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, on a certain night and I stood on his left, and the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, took hold of my head from behind me and placed me on his right hand, then he said prayers.
11 (B. 10 : 77.)

11 If there are only two men in a congregational service, they should stand in the same row, the imam standing on the left. If, however, a third man joins later, either the imam should go forward and stand in front, or the first follower should step behind, forming with the new-comer a row behind the imam.


15 `A'ishah said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, used to say his prayers at night in his enclosure, and the wall of the enclosure was low, so the people saw the person of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, (standing in prayers), and some people got up and followed him in his prayers.
12 (B. 10 : 80.)

12 This was the Holy Prophet's tahajjud prayer in the mosque during Ramadzan. The enclosure was made of mats. The hadith shows that there is no harm if anything intervenes between the imam and the congregation.

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Hadith Section > A Manual of Hadith > Chapter 08: The Imam (Hadith -- The Traditions)

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