Question # 386: If I am reciting the tashahhud and I have not completed it, and the imam says the salaam (tasleem), should I complete my tashahhud or stop and complete my salaam with imam? Also, I have seen people saying salaam with the imam, is it advisable?

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: Following the imam is obligatory; however, in case of tashahhud if the imam says salaam before the person praying behind him has completed it, then he should not follow him, rather he should complete his tashahhud first. This is because the final tashahhud is one of the pillars or essential parts of the prayer, and it must be completed in full. As for the du’aa seeking refuge with Allah (after tashahhud) from the punishment of Hell, from the punishment of the grave, from the trials of life and death, and from the evil of the Dajjaal, some of the scholars are of the view that reciting this du’aa’ is obligatory. Therefore, in order to be on the safe side, the person who is praying behind an imam should not say the salaam until he has completed the tashahhud and sent blessings upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), and sought refuge with Allah from these four things.

With regard to the offering salaam simultaneously as the imam, it is makrooh to say the first and second salaam at the same time as your imam, but if you say the first salaam after he has said the first salaam and the second salaam after he has said the second salaam, there is nothing wrong with this, but it is better not to say the salaam until the imam has said both.

Long Answer: The final tashahhud is one of the pillars or essential parts of the prayer, and it must be completed in full, because Ibn Mas’ood (رضي الله عنه) said: Before the tashahhud was enjoined upon us, we used to say, ‘Peace be upon Allah before His creation, peace be upon Jibra’eel and Mikaa’eel.’ Then the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) taught us the tashahhud. (Narrated by al-Nasa’i, al-Daraqutni and al-Bayhaqi; classed as sahih by al-Haafiz ibn Hajar in al-Fath and by al-Albaani in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel)

The phrase “before the tashahhud was enjoined upon us” clearly indicates that the tashahhud is obligatory. (al-Sharh al-Mumti’)

Hence if the imam says the salaam before the person praying behind him has completed it, then he should not follow him, rather he should complete his tashahhud first.

It says in Kashshaaf al-Qinaa’: “If the Imam finishes his recitation before the one who is praying behind him and bows, then the one who is praying behind him should follow him, and stop his own recitation, because in his case reciting is mustahabb, but following the imam is obligatory, and there is no conflict between what is obligatory and what is mustahabb, unlike the tashahhud where, if the imam finishes before the one who is praying behind him, the latter should not follow him, rather he should complete the tashahhud when the imam says the salaam, then say salaam, because of the general meaning of the command to recite the tashahhud.”

With regard to the sending of blessings upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), …there is a difference of opinion among the scholars concerning that. Some of them say that it is a pillar or essential part of the prayer, and others say that it is Sunnah and mustahabb.

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) enjoined the one who has completed the final tashahhud to seek refuge with Allah from four things. He said: “When one of you finishes reciting the final tashahhud, let him seek refuge with Allah from four things: from the punishment of Hell, from the punishment of the grave, from the trials of life and death, and from the evil of the Dajjaal.” (Narrated by Muslim)

Some of the scholars are of the view that reciting this du’aa’ is obligatory.

Based on this, then in order to be on the safe side, the person who is praying behind an imam should not say the salaam until he has completed the tashahhud and sent blessings upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), and sought refuge with Allah from these four things.

Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked: During the prayer, the imam said the salaam and I had only completed a small part of al-tahiyyaat. Should I repeat my prayer?

He replied: “You have to complete the tashahhud even if it means that you are a little behind your imam, because the final tashahhud is a pillar or essential part of the prayer according to the more correct of the two scholarly opinions, and it includes sending blessings upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

So, what you have to do is complete it, even if that is after the imam says the salaam. It also includes seeking refuge with Allah from the punishment of Hell, the torment of the grave, the trials of life and death and the trial of the Dajjaal, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) enjoined seeking refuge from these four things in the final tashahhud, and because some of the scholars said that this is obligatory.” (Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn Baaz)

[As for the part two of your question,] doing an action simultaneously with the imam refers either to word or actions, and falls into two categories:

  • The first category is say words simultaneously. This does not matter, except in the case of the takbeerat al-ihraam (opening takbeer) and the salaam (at the end of the prayer). With regard to the first takbeer, if you say takbeer before the imam has completed his takbeerat al-ihraam, you have not entered prayer in the first place, because it is essential to say the takbeerat al-ihraam after the imam has finished saying it completely.

With regard to the salaam, the scholars said that it is makrooh to say the first and second salaam at the same time as your imam, but if you say the first salaam after he has said the first salaam and the second salaam after he has said the second salaam, there is nothing wrong with this, but it is better not to say the salaam until the imam has said both.

  • The second category is to do the actions of prayer simultaneously with the imam, and this is makrooh. For example, when the imam says “Allahu akbar” for ruku’, and starts to bend forward, and you start to bow simultaneously with the imam, this is makrooh, because the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “When he bows, then bow, and do not bow until he bows.” And in sujood when he says takbeer for sujood, if you prostrate and reach the floor at the same time as him, this is makrooh, because the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) disallowed that and said, “Do nor prostrate until he prostrates.”

Following is the Sunnah, and what it means is that a person starts to do the actions of prayer immediately after the imam starts them, but without doing them at the same time. For example, when he bows, you bow, even if you have not completed the recitation that is mustahabb [recommended, encouraged], and even if you have a verse still to go, because that would mean that you are lagging behind, so you do not complete it. In sujood, when the imam rises from his prostration, you follow the imam, and your following him is better than your remaining in prostration making du’aa’ to Allah, because your prayer is connected to the imam, and you are now enjoined to follow your imam. (al-Sharh al-Mumti’)

(The above reply is based on various answers by Islamqa.info 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