Question # 320: BaarakAllaahu Feekum. If my husband stands to do a 5th rakat and we alert him but he continues and does a 5th rakat are we supposed to follow him in this mistake? I sat down and did my tashahud and tasleem did I do something wrong? In majmoo fatawa 14/19 of Shaykh Uthaymeen rahimahullaah it said if you know the Imaam makes a mistake then you should give the salaam can you explain this please ? My husband said as there is no hadith for me to follow this stance I should follow him even in this mistake, is he correct? JazakAllaahu khayr; Assalaamu ‘Alaykum w Rahmatullaahi w Baarakatuh.

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: Adding an extra rak‘ah to the salah will in most cases be unintentional; if however it is performed deliberately, then the prayer is invalidated. However, when its unintentional, there can be three situations, either a) the Imam realizes the mistake during that additional rak‘ah, b) the Mussaleen praying behind the imam realize the mistake during that additional rak‘ah, or c) no one realizes until after the prayer is finished (i.e., after tasleem) or the Mussaleen follow the Imam out of ignorance.

In case of (a), the Imam must sit down immediately (from whichever position he is in this additional rak’ah) and recite the tashahhud if he did not do so in the previous rak‘ah and make sujood al-sahw (prostration of forgetfulness) after the salaam. In case of (b), the Mussaleen praying behind the Imam should alert him immediately by saying Subhan-Allah so that he can sit back down; however, if the Imam does not pay any attention to them and thinks he has not made a mistake, then they should not follow him (else their prayer will be invalid) and choose one of the two options: i) wait for the Imam until he says the salaam, or ii) say the salaam before the Imam (although it is better to wait). In case of (c), the prayer is valid and the sujood al-sahw should be performed.

Long Answer: If either the imam or the one who is praying behind an imam adds an extra rak‘ah deliberately, knowing that it is additional, his prayer is invalidated; but hardly anyone does that.

But if the addition to the prayer was by mistake, then either the worshipper (whether he is an imam, praying behind an imam or praying on his own) realizes that it is something additional during the extra rak‘ah, in which case he must sit back down immediately, otherwise his prayer will become invalid, because he deliberately added something to the prayer. He must also recite the tashahhud if he did not do so previously and prostrate twice (the two prostrations of forgetfulness) after the salaam.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: The phrase “if he realizes” means: if he realizes that it is something additional during the additional rak‘ah itself.

The phrase: “he should sit back down immediately” means: as soon as he realizes it, and he should not delay; even if he remembers whilst bowing that this is an additional rak‘ah, he should sit down.

Some seekers of knowledge may think that the ruling on this issue is the same as the ruling on one who stands up following the first tashahhud and thinks that if he has stood up for the extra rak‘ah and started to recite, it is haram for him to sit back down. This is a mistaken notion, because one should never continue with the additional rak‘ah. As soon as he realizes, he must sit back down, in order to put a stop to this additional rak‘ah, because if he continues with it when he is aware of it, he will be adding something to the prayer deliberately, which is not permissible and renders the prayer invalid.

The phrase “must also recite the tashahhud if he did not do so previously” means: when he realizes that he is doing something additional and sits back down, then he should recite the tashahhud, unless he recited it before he stood up for this additional rak‘ah. But this begs the question: is it possible that anyone could get up to do another rak‘ah after reciting the (final) tashahhud?

The answer is yes, it is possible, if he recited the tashahhud in the fourth rak‘ah, then he got confused and thought that it was the second rak‘ah, so he got up for what he thought was the third rak‘ah, then after standing up he realized that this was a fifth rak‘ah and that the tashahhud he had recited was the last tashahhud. The words “he should prostrate and say the salaam” clearly mean that he should prostrate (the two prostrations of forgetfulness) before the salaam. This is the adopted view, because they do not think that the two prostrations of forgetfulness should be done after the salaam, except in the case where one has said the salaam before completing the prayer. But in all other cases, it should be done before the salaam. However, the more correct view, which was favored by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah, is that two the prostrations of forgetfulness for adding something to the prayer should be done after the salaam in all cases.

If a person gets up for a third rak‘ah in Fajr prayer, …he should sit back down even if that is after bowing; he should sit back down, recite the tashahhud and say the salaam, then do the two prostrations of forgetfulness and say the salaam again, according to the more correct view, which is that in this case the prostration should come after the salaam. (ash-Sharh al-Mumti’)

But if the worshipper did not realize that he had done something extra until after he had finished the prayer, then in this case his prayer is valid and the two prostrations of forgetfulness should come after the salaam, for the extra actions that occurred during the prayer. It is said In Majmoo‘ Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen: …If a person does an extra rak‘ah in his prayer, and does not realize until he has finished the rak‘ah, then he must do the two prostrations of forgetfulness; these two prostrations should come after saying the salaam at the end of the prayer. The evidence for that is the fact that when the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) offered a prayer with five rak‘ahs, and they told him about that after the salaam, he prostrated twice. As he prostrated after the salaam, and did not say that the two prostrations for having added this rak‘ah should come before the salaam, we know that the two prostrations for having added something to the prayer should come after the salaam. This is also supported by the hadith of Dhu’l-Yadayn.”

[If the people praying behind the Imam realizes that the imam has stood up for a fifth rak’ah by mistake, they] should alert him so that he can sit back down. If he does not sit back down because he thinks that he is right, it is not permissible for the one behind him who knows that it is a fifth rak’ah to follow the imam and stand up with him, because by doing that he will have added a rak’ah to his prayer, knowingly and deliberately, which invalidates the prayer.

Rather the one who is praying behind him should sit and recite the tashahhud then say the salaam or wait for the imam and say the salaam with him.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah was asked about an imam who stood up for a fifth rak’ah and the people said Subhan-Allah but he did not pay any attention to them and he thought that he had not made a mistake. Should they stand up with him or not? He replied: “If they stand up with him because they did not realize (it was a mistake) then their prayer is not invalidated, but if they know then they should not follow him, rather they should wait for him until he says the salaam, or say the salaam before him, but it is better to wait. (Majmoo’ al-Fataawa).

It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah li’l-Ifta’: “As for the one who is praying behind an imam and is certain that the imam is doing an extra rak’ah – for example – it is not permissible for him to follow him in that; if he follows him knowing that it is extra and knowing that it is not permissible to follow him, then his prayer is invalidated. But if he does not realize that it is extra, then he may follow him, and this also applies if he does not know of the ruling… If a person in the congregation knows that his imam has stood up to offer an extra rak’ah such as a fifth rak’ah in a four-rak’ah prayer, he should say tasbeeh. If the imam sits back down, all well and good, otherwise he should sit and wait for the imam, and say the salaam with him.”

(The above reply is based on various answers provided by Islam Q&A on the topic)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam