Question: Should the imam extend the time required to bow for someone joining late?
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate,
Assalamu ‘alaykum dear brother in faith,
Lengthening the First Rak’a Of the Fajr Prayer
It was the Sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) to extend the length of the first rak’a of the Fajr prayer over that of the second. This was for the purpose of facilitating people to catch the congregational prayer. [Related by Bukhari and Muslim, from the hadith of Abu Qatadah]
This lengthening is specific to the Fajr prayer due to it being a time of sleep and inattentiveness. This is by agreement of the three Imams. [Marghinani, Hidaya 1:479] [‘Ayni, Binaya 1:309]
Lengthening Other Parts of the Prayer
Beyond that, it is permitted to lengthen the bowing (ruku’), and even the final sitting, up to a duration of three additional tasbihs, so long as it does not burden the congregation.
The imam should keep his focus on Allah at all times and make the intention to help a fellow believer upon good. [Ibn ‘Abidin, Hashiya]
Allah says, “Cooperate with one another in goodness and righteousness, and do not cooperate in sin and transgression” [Quran 5:2]
And Allah, Most High, knows best.
[Ustadha] Iman Badawi
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani