While offering prayers following imam, if imam by mistake concludes the prayers for Esha.
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:
While offering prayers following imam, if imam by mistake concludes the prayers for Esha with three rakaaths instead of four, should the rest continue the prayer with the fourth rakaath or should we stop along with imam and start again?
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Imam makes error in prayer
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 none worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.
If the imam leading the congregational prayer forgets some word or passage, or makes a mistake while reciting the Glorious Quran during the salah, there is absolutely no harm if one amongst the believers praying behind him alerts the imam by reciting the relevant verse of the Quran.
But if the Imam leading the prayer makes a movement error (like standing up for the third rakah in a four-rakah prayer without sitting for the small tashahud, etc.), the believers praying behind the imam must alert their imam by declaring subhanallah; if one amongst the men did not alert the imam or if there are only women in the congregation, the women are to alert the imam of his error by the clapping of their hands.
Fiqh-us-Sunnah Fiqh 2.86
It is permissible for men to say subhanallah and for women to clap to alert the imam leading the prayer to a mistake he might have made in the prayer. Sahl ibn Sa'd as-Sa'di relates that the Prophet (saws) said: "If someone is faced with something during the salah, he should say 'subhanallah.' Clapping is for the women and saying subhanallah is for the men."
Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and an-Nasa'i.
Your Question: While offering prayers following imam, if imam by mistake concludes the prayers for Esha with three rakaaths instead of four, should the rest continue the prayer with the fourth rakaath or should we stop along with imam and start again?
If the imam leading the four-rakah Isha prayer sits down after the third rakah instead of standing-up for the fourth rakah, the believers praying in the rows behind the imam must declare aloud Subhan-Allah to alert the imam regarding his error in prayer.
Upon realizing the error at the declaration of Subhan-Allah by the believers in the rows, the imam must stand up and lead the believers in the fourth rakah of the prayer, and perform the sajdah-sahu (prostration of forgetfulness) at the end of the prayer.
If for any reason the imam leading the four-rakah Isha prayer concludes the prayer by offering only three-rakahs instead of the four required; after the three-rakah prayer has been concluded, the believers must immediately bring the discrepancy of the imam to his attention. The imam should then stand up again, declare the takbeer and lead the believers in the missed fourth rakah in congregation, and perform the sajdah-sahu (prostration of forgetfulness) at the end of the prayer.
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."
Your Question: should the rest continue the prayer with the fourth rakaath or should we stop along with imam and start again?
Fiqh-us-Sunnah Fiqh 2.52a
It is obligatory to follow the imam and forbidden to precede him
Abu Hurairah reports that the Prophet (saws) said: "The imam is selected to be followed; therefore, do not differ with him. When he makes the takbir, make the takbir; when he goes into ruku', make ruku' when he says 'Allah hears him who praises Him,' say 'O Allah, our Lord, to You belongs the Praise; when he goes into sajdah, make sajdah; if he prays sitting, then all should be sitting."
Related by Bukhari and Muslim.
Abu Hurairah reports that the Prophet (saws) said "the imam is to be followed. If he makes the takbir, make the takbir, and do not make the takbir until he does so; when he goes into ruku', make ruku', and do not perform ruku' until he does so; when he goes into sajdah, make sajdah, and do not make sajdah until he does so."
Related by Ahmad and Abu Dawud.
When one prays behind an imam in congregational prayer, one must follow every action of the imam in the prayer. If the imam were to make an error in prayer, the believers are only allowed to declare aloud Subhan-Allah and alert the imam that he has apparently made an error in prayer. The believers are commanded to follow every action of the imam in the prayer, and regardless of the error the imam were to make in the prayers, the believers praying behind him are not to abandon him for any reason whatsoever.
Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allahs 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,