How should one follow an imam who is leading Salat while sitting?


If an imam is compelled to lead a Salat while sitting down, how should those following him pray? This issue was raised before Huzooraa, who gave the following guidance: 

“We find the sunnah and the practice of the Holy Prophetsa regarding this issue clearly laid out in ahadith. Hence, it is mentioned in the ahadith of Sahih al-Bukhari, reported by Hazrat Aishara and Hazrat Anasra, that in the early years of his prophetic mission, the Holy Prophetsa once fell off a horse. Hence, he led the Salat while sitting down. When the Holy Prophetsa realised that the Companions were about to pray behind him while standing as usual, he indicated to them that they should sit down. Upon completing the Salat, the Holy Prophetsa addressed them and said that an imam is appointed so that he may be followed. Thus, they should pray in the same manner as the imam prays. 

“However, during the final illness of the Holy Prophetsa, after which he passed away, he had instructed Hazrat Abu Bakrra to lead the prayers. Later, when he recovered somewhat, he went to offer the congregational Salat and offered it while sitting down to the left of Hazrat Abu Bakrra [who was standing]. 

“Hazrat Aishara states that at that moment, the Holy Prophetsa was leading Hazrat Abu Bakrra who was leading the rest of the people in prayer. 

The fact is that the people were also following the Holy Prophetsa; however, since the Holy Prophetsa was unable to pronounce the takbir etc. loudly due to his illness, Hazrat Abu Bakrra was conveying the voice of the Holy Prophetsa to the people as a mukabbir

“It is especially noteworthy here that the Holy Prophet’ssa sitting to the left of Hazrat Abu Bakrra indicates that the Holy Prophetsa was the imam of that Salat because the imam is always on the left and the one following him, on the right. 

“We also find the practice of the Holy Prophetsa in this regard. Hence, once, when the Holy Prophetsa was offering the Tahajud prayer, Hazrat Ibn Abbasra came and stood on his left. The Holy Prophetsa held his head and moved him to his right. 

“Hazrat Imam Bukharirh has copied a saying of his teacher, al-Humaidi, in this regard, which states that the initial instruction of the Holy Prophetsa was that when an imam prays while sitting down, those following him should do the same. However, later on, the Holy Prophetsa led a Salat while sitting down and the companions who were following him, prayed while standing. The Holy Prophetsa did not instruct them to sit down. A binding precedent was formed on the basis of the latter practice of the Holy Prophetsa and his latter practice was that when an imam is compelled to pray while sitting down, those following him should pray while standing up as usual. 

“Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra once stated in this regard: 

‘As I am suffering from gout-related pain, I cannot deliver the sermon while standing up. Likewise, I cannot lead Salat while standing up. The Holy Prophetsa initially instructed that if an imam is unable to lead Salat while standing up, then those following him should also pray while sitting down. However, he later changed this directive under the instruction of God Almighty and said that if an imam is compelled to pray while sitting, those following him should not sit and should offer the Salatwhile standing up as usual. Thus, as I am unable to lead the Salat while standing up, I will lead it sitting down. You should pray standing up.’ (Al Fazl, Lahore, 3 July 1951, p. 3)

“Thus, if an imam is compelled to pray while sitting down, those following him should pray while standing up as usual.”

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