What Is the Ruling on Following the Imam’s Movements in Prayer?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Ustadh Sufyan Qufi


I know that saying the opening Takbir before the Imam means I’m not part of his congregation, but is there any consequence in my saying it after he has finished it?

I know that following the Imam without undue delay is wajib, but does that only refer to the movements, or do I have to repeat the various Takbiraat for every movement simultaneously with him?


In the name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

Uttering the opening Takbir after the Imam is better and more cautious than uttering it simultaneously with the Imam. Uttering it simultaneously with the Imam remains valid. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

The difference of opinion between Abu Hanifa and his two companions (Allah be pleased with them) is about what is better to do, not about the validity of the prayer. [Ibid]

Uttering the opening Takbir after the Imam was the position of the two companions of Abu Hanifa, Qadi Abu Yusuf, and Imam Muhammad.  Uttering it simultaneously was the position of Abu Hanifa. [Ibid]

To utter the opening Takbir after the Imam properly, you will have to utter the first letter of the Takbir (the Alif of Allah) right after the last letter of the Takbir of the Imam (the Ra of Akbar).

To utter the opening Takbir simultaneously with the Imam properly, you will have to do it as if you were a ring following the movement of the finger wearing it. [Ibid]

The Legal Reasoning behind These Rulings

The difference of opinion stems from what is understood and entailed by how the word “iqtida” in the Arabic language.

For the two companions, following the Imam (“iqtida” in arabic) is only realized when the follower performs his actions after the Imam. Performing one’s action along with the Imam is not following him. For Abu Hanifa, the word “iqtida” which is usually translated as following the Imam, means, in reality, to partake, to join in with the Imam. And this participation is only realized when the follower’s actions are performed simultaneously with the Imam. [Kassani, Badai’ al-Sanai’]

It is better to perform all the actions within the prayer simultaneously with the Imam. This includes the Takbirs after the opening Takbir and before the final salams. There is consensus in the Hanafi school about this issue.[Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

As for the final salams the difference of opinion between the Abu Hanifa and his two companions (Allah be pleased with them) is the same as the difference of opinion they had regarding the opening Takbir. [Ibid]

And Allah knows best.

[Ustadh] Sufyan Qufi
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Sufyan Qufi is an advanced seeker of knowledge, originally from Algeria, who grew up in France. He began searching far and wide for answers to the fundamental questions of life and was disappointed at the answers he found.

Then he connected with various traditional teachers and gradually connected with SeekersGuidance. He embarked on his journey of learning through the various teachers at SeekersGuidance, including his mentor Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

He studied numerous texts in Islamic Law, Theology, Hadith, and other areas with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and other teachers, including Shaykh Abdurrahman al-Sha‘ar, Shaykh Ali Hani, and others.

He is an active instructor at SeekersGuidance and answers questions through the SeekersGuidance Answers Service.