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What Should the Imām Do If He Loses His Wuḍūʿ?

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn, Imām ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz

Evidence for the immediate severance of the imām’s salāh once he realises his state of impurity and the manner in which the congregation is to proceed forward.

[Q]: One day, I led the congregational ṣalāh. Whilst praying, I remembered that I was not in a state of purity. I did not know what to do at the time. So, confused and embarrassed, I continued leading them in prayer. Afterwards, I repeated my ṣalāh but I never informed them of my actual state as I was too embarrassed. What is the ruling on my actions—may Allāh reward you?

[A]: The prayer of those in the congregation is valid as they were ignorant of your actual state. If the people pray behind a person who remembers that he is in a state of impurity, but he completes his ṣalāh with them, their ṣalāh is still considered valid. As for the imām, he must repeat his ṣalāh. It is obligatory upon him to fear Allāh and sever his ṣalāh immediately should he remember that he has invalidated his state of purity. He must not complete the prayer having either entered an impure state while praying, or after remembering that he is not in a state of purity. Instead, he should cease praying immediately and specify an imām to lead the congregation in his stead. This should be done by saying: “Come forward O so-and-so” referring to one of those standing behind him. This person should then step forward and complete the ṣalāh. This is the correct manner of an imām designating a representative; that is, it is by him saying: “Come forward O so-and-so” [or “O so-and-so, complete the remainder of the ṣalāh with them”1]. Alternatively, if he chooses not to specify a representative and instead simply leaves, then one from among the congregation may step forward and finish the remaining portion of the ṣalāh. Just as ʿUmar (رضي الله عنه) did with ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn ʿAwf (رضي الله عنه) who completed the ṣalāh in his stead when he (رضي الله عنه) was stabbed while leading the congregation. This is the best course of action. If he simply leaves, and a person among them steps forward and leads the prayer, then there is also nothing wrong with this. If they choose to restart the ṣalāh from the beginning, then there is also nothing wrong with this. There is flexibility in this matter. And all praise is for Allāh.2

Imām ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz bin Bāz

[Q]: If the imām invalidates his state of purity while praying, how should he leave the congregation such that another is able to take his place? Should he complete the salāh with them or restart it altogether? If there is no one suitable to lead the prayer in his stead, what should he do?

[A]: If the imām invalidates his ṣalāh, he should immediately stop his ṣalāh saying to the congregation: “Wait for me”, then leave them and perform wuḍūʾ, restarting the ṣalāh from the beginning when he returns. If there is a person behind him that is suitable to take his place, then he may say: “Come forward O so-and-so” or take him by the hand and physically bring him forward so that he may lead the congregation in the remainder of the ṣalāh. When ʿUmar (رضي الله عنه) was stabbed, he took the hand of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn ʿAwf (رضي الله عنه) and brought him forward to lead the people in the remaining portion of the ṣalāh.

The crux of this matter is that any imām who invalidates his state of purity while leading the ṣalah must immediately stop praying and not complete the ṣalah in that state. He should designate a replacement that may complete the ṣalah on his behalf if he is able to do so. Otherwise, they may wait until he has purified himself and return to them at which point they should restart the prayer.3

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn


[1] Source: Liqāʾ al-Bāb al-Maftūḥ 16:76 and Majmūʿ al-Fatāwá 13:349.
[2] Source: Fatāwá Nūr ʿalá al-Darb 12:145.
[3] Source: Fatāwá Nūr ʿalá al-Darb Li-ibn Bāz 12:138-139.

Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: March 23, 2024
Edited: March 23, 2024


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