Saying the Final Salams in Prayer behind an Imam

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat answers doubts about saying the final salams behind an imam.

I have suffered from OCD in religious matters for over a year now. I used to repeat my salah and wudu due to confusion, doubts, etc., but I am getting better and your website has helped a lot. I am also receiving professional help for this. Recently, when I went for Friday prayer in congregation, I fell behind in the last sitting recitation and when imam said first salam, I was still reciting durood.

As a female, I couldn’t see the imam but I am guessing, I would have started saying my salams three seconds after he finished saying his. I am usually very anxious in the prayer about making a mistake and I got confused at that point between wajib and confirmed sunna. Later I realized that I have done something prohibitively disliked and I have repented to Allah for it.

I converted to Islam over 13 years ago and have only recently started going in congregation for jumu‘a with my husband. I know from your website that if you do something prohibitively disliked then you should repeat prayer within its time and it’s recommended to repeat the prayer after its time.

I would like to do what is recommended but I am not sure whether it’s waswas from shaytan as I have repeated salahs in the past which I know now that I should not have. If I repeat it, do I pray two rakas as in jumu‘a or four as in dhuhr?

Also, once I and my husband were praying together in the house while he was the imam and I said salam by mistake just before he said it. I don’t remember at all which salah it was. What should I do in that case?

Jazak Allah khayr.

I pray you are well.

You do not need to repeat any of these prayers. Please take a course on the rulings of purity and prayer. Learning with a skilled and experienced teacher will go a long way in helping you deal with OCD issues related to the prayer.

What occasionally happens to people with OCD is that they give excessive importance to certain details when learning by themselves, or with some someone who is not experienced. Sound knowledge is an essential step towards recovery, as the intense urges to do something can be dismissed much more easily when one knows how it should be done properly.

The Closing Salam

The dominant position in the school is that you say the closing salam at the same time as the imam. There is another position which states that it is done once the imam has concluded his.

The detail you mentioned about repeating the prayer only applies if someone deliberately did something disliked in the prayer – not if it was done by accident. Based on this we have three scenarios for the final salam:

  1. Saying the salam before the imam. This is excused, as any mistakes behind the imam are compensated for by his presence.
  2. Saying the salam at the same time as him. This is the proper way to end the prayer. If, however, one joined late and has units to make up, then this salam would require a sujud of forgetfulness to compensate. If you started your prayer at the same time as the imam there is no issue here at all.
  3. Saying the Salam after the imam. This is a valid position, and doing such a thing would not have a consequence on the prayer. The same detail for the latecomer applies here too.

As a general rule, if you have not finished the tashahhud when the imam says the salam, finish it and end your prayer, even if it takes a bit longer. If you have finished your tashahhud, say the salam with the imam. (Ibn Abidin, Radd al Muhtar)

This is an area where people frequently get confused. Don’t worry about it. Keep going with your treatment, take the course, and ask Allah for relief.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.


Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

How Should We Greet Each Other?

Answered by Sidi Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalamu Alaikum

I hope this mail will find you in good health. I would like to know as Muslim greeting which one is better? Salamun Alaikum or Assalamu Alaikum and why? What about verse 53:6.

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I hope you are in the best of health and spirits insha’Allah.

It suffices to say, “Salamun Alaikum”, however, it is better to attach the two letters, alif and lam, at the beginning in order to say, “Assalamu alaikum”. [al-Fatawa  al-Hindiyya/Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim]

Qur’anic Usage of Salam

There are a number of verses in the Qur’an which contain the phrase “Salamun Alaikum”, amongst them:

[1] Surat al-An`am (6), verse 54;

[2] Surat al-A`raf (7), verse 46;

[3] Surat al-Zumar (39), verse 73;

The Sunna Form of saying the Salam

The Fatawa Hindiyya states that, “it is optimal for the person initiating the greeting to say ‘Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh’ and for the person replying to do so with the words, ‘Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh’”; Imam Nawawi mentions in his Gardens of the Righteous (Riyad al-Salihin) that this form is recommended.

The reason we use the form with the alif-lam is because it is the sunna as established from numerous prophetic narrations. Furthermore, even the Prophet Adam (Allah bless him and give him peace) used this form when told to greet the angels, as narrated by both Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim in their respective books, on the authority of the noble Companion Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him).

And Allah knows best.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani