Answered by Ustadh Sufyan Qufi
What should I do if I arrive for the funeral prayer late and one or more Takbirs have already been performed?
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
I pray this finds you in the best of states.
If the latecomer reaches the congregation for the funeral prayer after being absent during the first Takbir of the Imam then the latecomer should not enter the prayer right away but should wait for the next Takbir of the Imam at which point the latecomer will utter his own Takbir and join the prayer. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
Then, after the Imam finishes the prayer, the latecomer will make up the Takbirs that he has missed in order to utter in total four Takbirs (counting in them the Takbir(s) that the latecomer has been able to perform with the Imam). [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
It is allowed to utter the missed Takbirs alone without the supplication for the deceased, especially if one fears that the deceased will be removed from the ground as it is a condition for the validity of the funeral prayer for the deceased to be on the ground. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
The Reasoning behind the Ruling
The reason for the ruling above is that each Takbir of the funeral prayer has the status of a cycle (rak’at) of a regular prayer. And for a regular prayer, the latecomer does not start by making up the cycles that he has missed but rather joins the Imam in the cycle he is currently in, and only afterward will the latecomer make up the missed cycles. The same goes on for the latecomer of a funeral prayer. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
Consequences for Not Following This Ruling
If the latecomer does not follow this ruling and joins directly the congregation by uttering the opening Takbir alone then this Takbir is not taken into account and has to be made up with the other missed Takbirs. If the latecomer fails to do so his funeral prayer is invalid because each Takbir of the funeral prayer is obligatory. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
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.