Answered by Ustadh Sufyan Qufi
I pray very slowly and take a long time. I (a female) decided to pray in the mosque today.
1. I realized the imam would say “Allahu Akbar” many times. Having very little concentration, I’d lose track of my own prayer. Is my prayer still valid?
2. As I mentioned, I take a while to pray…The imam finished the prayer while I was still in my second cycle (it was Zuhr). Does this affect my prayer or anyone else’s
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
I pray this finds you in the best of states.
Yes, your prayer is valid, and the prayers of the other believers are unaffected. [Shurunbulali, Nur al-Idah]
As long as you are reasonably confident (certainty is not needed) that you have prayed a Zuhr prayer of four cycles behind the Imam without performing actions of the prayer before him, you can rest assured that your prayer was valid. [ibid]
The reason for this ruling is that you have performed all the obligatory actions of the prayer (i.e., standing, bowing, prostrating…in a state of ritual purity…) without committing any of its invalidators (such as losing your wudu, uttering worldly talk, excessive movements…). [ibid]
How to Properly Follow the Imam According to the Hanafi School
The rulings regarding following the Imam are derived from what is understood and entailed by the word “iqtida” in the Arabic language.
For the two companions of Abu Hanifa, Qadi Abu Yussuf, and Imam Muhammad, 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. [Kasani, 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]
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.