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Pray behing sinning Imam

Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,

As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.  (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)


One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:

brother i live in a city where most of the mosques are led by people who believe in blind following of imams (hanafi,maliki etc)they are not convinced with authentic hadiths (bukhari,muslim etc)if it goes against their maslak and try to question the authenticity of the muhaddis themselves,saying what is the proof that imam bukhari was correct ,did he recieve any revealation? at the same time they quote bukari/muslim their friday sermons but only the hadiths which complies with their maslak.
i am really tired with their tricks and do not feel like to pray behind them,because i see them deserting the sunnah of our prophet (s.a.w) just to follow their imams(maslak)which has not been commanded by ALLAH. will i be sinning of not praying in jamaat if i do not pray behind them? 


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Pray behind sinning Imam

In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol, no person,  no grave, no prophet,  no imam,  no dai,  nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.


First and foremost brother, all the major accepted schools of thought, Hanafi, Shafei, Hanbali and Maliki, follow and obey the Quran and the Sunnah.  All the four major schools of thought have absolutely no difference on any of the important subjects of Islam like ‘Aqeedah’, ‘Emaan’, the concept of the Hereafter, etc.  Even on the matters of ‘Fiqh’ or Islamic Jurisprudence, these four major schools of thought agree on almost 95-98% of the matter.  The slight difference of opinion they might have is on the smallest of matters of jurisprudence like whether to hold hands straight or folded, or to say ‘ameen’ aloud in prayers, or how many days can a traveler pray shortened prayers, etc.  Even when forming their opinions on these matters of jurisprudence, they base their opinion in guidance and light of the nothing except the Quran and the Sunnah. 


Dear and Beloved brother in Islam, the deen or ‘way of life’ called Al-Islam is vast and guides its followers on every single aspect of ones life.  Included in this vastness is that at times, there are more than one permissible way to do something.  As believers, we should respect the opinion of each of these eminent scholars and jurists in Islam because each of them provide evidence for their opinion from the Quran and Sunnah, and instead of restricting ourselves to only one opinion, we should study the opinion and evidence of each of these eminent jurists, and settle for the opinion which we find to be closest to the guidance of the Quran and the Sunnah.


The difference between the opinions of any of these eminent jurists is never between right and wrong, but rather between good and best; simply because each of them have based their opinion on their understanding of the Quran and Sunnah!   


Your Question: will i be sinning of not praying in jamaat if i do not pray behind them? 

Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 2527  Narrated by Abu Hurayrah

The Prophet (saws) said: ‘Striving (Jihad) in the path of Allah is incumbent on you along with every ruler, whether he is pious or impious; the prayer is obligatory on you behind every believer, pious or impious, even if he commits grave sins; the (funeral) prayer is incumbent upon every Muslim, pious and impious, even if he commits major sins.’


Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.663         Narrated by Abu Hurayrah

Allah's Messenger (saws) said, "If the Imam leads the prayer correctly then he and you will receive the rewards; but if he makes a mistake (in the prayer) then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be his."


Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, the eminent companion of the Prophet (saws) says: "If anyone would like to meet Allah tomorrow as a Muslim, he should persevere in observing these five prayers (in congregation) whenever the call for them is made, for Allah has chosen for your Prophet the way of Right Guidance. And the [five prayers in congregation] are part of this right guidance. If you were to pray them in your houses, as this man who stays behind in his house, you would be leaving a Sunnah of your Prophet (saws). If you leave the Sunnah of your Prophet (saws), you would go astray. Verily, I have seen a time when no one stayed away from them [the congregational prayers] except for the hypocrites who were well known for their hypocrisy. A man would be brought, supported by two people [due to his weakness] until he was placed in a row."

Related by Muslim.


Beloved brother, regardless of who is chosen or appointed to lead the congregational prayers, we as believers are commanded to pray behind the chosen or appointed ‘imam’.  It would not behove or befit a believer who sincerely believes in Allah and the Last Day to leave prayer in congregation just because he does not agree with the opinion of the chosen ‘imam’.


Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allah’s Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me alone.  Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.


Your brother and well wisher in Islam,




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