Offering congregational prayers behind a Sunni Imam

Question 237: Salam, wanna ask if I am praying behind a Sunni imam then do i need to recite all in my own words or its same like as behind a Shia imam, any other difference?

Answer 237: Congregational Prayers is one of the most important recommended acts, and it is one of the greatest Islamic rites. Great emphasis has been laid on it in the narrations. It is recommended that obligatory prayers, especially the daily prayers, are performed in congregation, and more emphasis has been laid on congregational prayers for Fajr, Maghrib and Isha, and also for those who live in the neighborhood of a mosque, and are able to hear its Adhan.[1]

There is no problem in attending Sunni congregational prayers; it is permissible and there are some reports according to which one who stands in the first row of their congregational prayers is like one who has offered his prayers standing behind the Holy Prophet (S) in the first row.[2]

In any case, if possible, one should offer his prayers according to Shia way and if there is no need for Taqiyah (dissimulation) and one offers his prayers in Sunni way, he must repeat his prayers. Of course, there are some scholars who are of the view that if the conditions for practicing Taqiyah are not met, one must repeat his prayers under all circumstances.

Index: Some grand religious authorities have also replied to the same question. Their answers are as follows:[3]

Grand Ayatollah Khamenei (may Allah grant him long life): In the said case, if using turbah is not in opposition with practicing Taqiyah, it is necessary to do Sajda on something which is allowed for prostration.

Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi (may Allah grant him long life): If you are associating with them, there is no problem in offering prayers with them to protect yourself provided that they do not express enmity against Shia. However, doing Sajda on carpet is not allowed except where one practices Taqiyah in Sunni mosques.

Grand Ayatollah Noori Hamedani (may Allah grant him long life): If possible, one should do Sajda on things which are allowable for Sajdah but there is no problem in offering prayers behind a Sunni prayer leader and one is not, in the said case, required to repeat his prayers.

Grand Ayatollah Safi Golpaygani (may Allah grant him long life): If you are not in the state of Taqiyah, it is not sufficient and it would be necessary to repeat the prayers.

According to Khoei (ra) and Tabrizi (ra): “It is permissible to go to Sunni mosques and offer congregational prayers with Sunnis provided that one himself should engage in reciting Hamd and Surah.”[4]

Tabrizi (ra): “If a person stands at a place in a Sunni mosque where part of the floor is covered with stone (slates), it is mandatory to do Sajda on the same stone.”[5]

Sayyid Sistani (ha) says: It is permissible but you must recite Hamd and Surah yourself even though the recitation may be in low voice.[6]

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answer:

Index: The differences and similarities between Shia and Sunni, answer 187.

Index: Shia Believe Ahlus Sunnah are Muslim not Kafir!, answer 203.

Index:  Saying Āmīn during prayer in validate the prayer, answer 017.

Index: Number of things which invalidate the prayer, answer 547.

Index: Miss a Sunni Imam in Ruku in congregational Prayer, answer 270.

Index: Qualification of an Imam of congregational prayers, answer 021.

[1] . Imam Khomeini, Tauzihul Masail (with annotation), vol.1, pg.767-768, Issue No.1399.

[2] . Kulayni, Muhammad bin Ya’qub, Al-Kafi, vol.3, p. 380, Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyah, Tehran, fourth, 1407 A.H. The Arabic version of the tradition is as this: (عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع قَالَ: مَنْ صَلَّى مَعَهُمْ فِي الصَّفِ الْأَوَّلِ كَانَ كَمَنْ صَلَّى خَلْفَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلی الله علیه وآله و سلم)

[3] . This question has been sent to the offices of grand Ayatollah Khamenei, grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, Grand Ayatollah Saafi Gulpaigani and Grand Ayatollah Noori Hamedani, may Allah grant them long life.

[4] . Khoei, Sayed Abul Qasim, Serat al-Najat (with connotation by Tabrizi), vol.3, pg.74, Al-Muntakhab Publication Office, qom, 1st edition, 1416 A.H.

[5] . Ibid.

[6] . The official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani (ha), Question & Answer » Prayer behind a Sunni Prayer Leader.


Miss Sunni Imam in Ruku in congregational Prayer

Question 270: assalam alaykum. when a shia is in a sunni jamaat prayer And lifts his hands for Qonoot in the second rakaat as they go for rokoo is it still considered as a jamaat prayer?

Answer 270: If you know that if you complete qunut, you will not be able to join the Imam in his Ruku, yet you purposely recite qunut, and miss the Imam in Ruku, your congregational prayer will be void, and should act accordingly to the rules of Furada prayers.

Otherwise, if you are sure that if you recite qunut you will not miss the Imam in Ruku, but when you recite qunut and miss the Imam in Ruku, your congregational prayer is in order.

As you know it is Mustahab that qunut be recited in all obligatory and Mustahab prayers before the Ruku of the second Rak’at. So, if you don’t recite it there would be no problem in it and your prayers would be in order.[1]

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answer:

Index: Number of things which invalidate the prayer, answer 547.

Index: Qualification of an Imam of congregational prayers, answer 021.

Index: The differences and similarities between Shia and Sunni, answer 187.

Index: Offering prayer behind a Sunni Imam, answer 237.


[1] . The official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani (ha), obligatory acts relating to Namaz, issues 1452&1453;  Tawzih al-Masael of maraja’, Vol. 1, issues 1117-1121.


Can an illegitimate child lead congregational prayer

Question 271: A man has been a student at Hawza for 2 years. He reverted in 2011. He has just found out that there might be a problem because his mother never married his father. I have heard, and so has he during his studies, that people cannot pray behind an Imam that is illegitimately born. He’s wondering if there is any point in continuing as a seminary student if people cannot pray behind him? Is it the position of Khamenei and the other Grand Marja that he cannot be an Mola/Sheikh because of this reason? Does his illegitimate birth not count against him because he’s a revert? What is your advice on his continuance in seminary. Can an illegitimate child lead congregational prayer?


Answer 271: Each country has its own special nikah. Islam has respected the law obtained in each country regarding marriage and never considered a child born by such nikah as illegitimate.[1]

If his parents did, according to the rights that were obtained in their country in this regards, their marriage would be considered as valid and he is not illegitimate.

If they didn’t know the rules concerning marriage rights, their child is not considered illegitimate too. It is said to be a child of doubtful nature.[2]

According to common law, if his parents’ relationship is not considered as adultery but, instead it is considered as nikah, their relationship would be valid and the man is not illegitimate as well.

In these previous cases the man can lead congregation prayer.[3]

Otherwise, if they didn’t respect their religious rights (such as Christian, Islam, etc.) and the child was born in this situation and they had committed adultery according to common law he is not able to lead congregation prayer, however he would be able to continue learning and studying Islamic sciences and other acts, which he is allowed to do.

For further information in this regarding, please read the following answer:

Index: Qualification of an Imam of congregational prayers, answer 021.

[1] . Tahzibul Ahkam, Vol. 8, Pg. 29; Al-Tahzib, Vol. 7, Pg. 472, H 99, Wasael al-Shia, Pg. 588, H. 2.

[2] . Ameli, Baha al-Din Muhammad bin Hussain & Sawoji, Nidham bin Hussain, Jame’ Abbai  wa Takmil e an (its completion), annotated, researcher and editior: Mahallati Haeri, Sheikh Ali, Vol. 2, Pg. 280, Manshoorat al-Farahani Institution, Tehran, first edition.

[3] . Ale Usfoor al-Bahrani, al-Hussain bin Muhammad,  Sidad al-Ebad wa Rishad al-Ebad, Pg. 142, al-Mallati, Qom, first edition, 1421 A.H; Jawad, Miftah al-Kiramah fee Sharh e Qawaed al-Allamah, Vol. 10, Pg. 14, al-Nashr al-Islami al-Tabeah Lijama’at al-Modarresin Institution, Qom, first edition, 1419 A.H.


Qualification of an Imam of congregational prayers

Question 021: In our area we don’t have enough Mosques. The students make a Jamaat and among us, one leads the prayer. Usually one student from Saudi Arabia leads the prayer but recently we found out that he is involved in bad activities which is forbidden in Islam. He is the most knowledgeable among us, in terms of deen and he is also Hafiz in Quran. Should we still pray behind him after everything we know about him? What should we do now?

Answer 021:  Justice is one of the conditions that a person who leads the prayer should have. Justice meaning, the person is in a state of heartfelt God-fearing that keeps us from doing any capital (Kabirah) and venial (Saqirah) sin. The following are some conditions an Imam of Jamaat should have:

1) Adult Baligh (must have reached the age of responsibility and puberty). 2) Able to recite his prayers correctly (also to recite its Makhraj correctly). 3) Mu’min (believer) – Shia Ithna Asheri (the Twelver shia Imams). 4) Aaqil (Sane). 5) Of legitimate birth. 6) Aadil (Just). 7) One who has not been committing any capital sin (Kabirah); and whose outward behavior and conduct appears to be in conformity with Shariah. 8) Men should lead women in prayer, according to the obligatory precaution.

If it is not known that the person committed any capital sin or if he committed sin(s) but truly repented from it and obtained the justice after, and have the other conditions of leading the prayer, there would be no problem to offer our prayers behind him. Otherwise, we aren’t allowed.

If a person who once considered an Imam to be ‘Adil, doubts whether he continues to be ‘Adil, he can follow him.[1]

According to Imam Khomeini (ra), there are several conditions for an Imam of Jamà’at. They are: Imãn (or Shi’ah belief), purity of birth (i.e. legitimate birth), sanity and Bulugh (i.e. being of age), when the person following him happens to be of age; rather the Imãmat of a minor even when leading someone like him (i.e. a minor) is difficult (to accept as permissible); rather it is close to declaring it inadmissible. It is also a condition that the Imam must be a male, when the person following him is a male rather, according to the more cautious opinion, in all circumstances.

Another condition is that the Imam must be morally sound, so that it is not permissible to offer prayer behind a profligate or one whose position (as to his being of a legitimate birth) is not known. Adãlat (or moral soundness) is a psychological condition which impels a person to be constantly pious (or God-fearing) and prevents him from the commission of major sins, rather, according to the stronger opinion, even from the commission of minor sins, let alone the persistence in the commission of what are called major sins, and also from the commission of acts which are usually considered as exponent of an irresponsible attitude of their perpetrator towards faith. It is also more cautious to abstain from things repugnant to the ideal of manhood (Muruvvat), though it is not a condition (for an Imam of Jamã’at).

As regards the major sins, they include every sin for which Allah has promised punishment of Fire (or Hell), or a severe punishment (‘Iqãb), or which have been strongly condemned, or there is an evidence of their being more heinous than some of the major sins or their likes, or according to the dictates of reason they are major sins, or there is a consensus in Shari’ah over their being major sins, or it has been mentioned in a textual authority that they are major sins.

According to the stronger opinion, it is permissible to give the charge of leading prayer to a person who himself knows that he is not morally sound, but the followers believe in his being morally sound, though, in such case, it is more cautious to give it up. Anyhow it would be a valid Jamà’at, and shall be governed by all its relevant rules. [2]

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answer:

Index: Number of things which invalidate the prayer, answer 547.

[1] . Imam Khomeini, Tawzih al-masa’il (al-mohasha), vol 1, p 791, question 1453. Ibid, Pg. 790; For further information in this regards, please visit: The official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani (ha), Congregational prayers » Qualification of an Imam of congregational prayers.

[2] . Ibid; Tahrir al-Wasilah of Imam Khomeini (ra), Vol. 1, Conditions for an Imam of Jamã’at.