Praying Behind the People of Innovation | 6 | ‘To pray behind every righteous person or wicked sinner’
by The Albaani Blog
Questioner: Many of the practising brothers who are keen in sticking to the Sunnah frequently ask about praying behind Imaams who are innovators, from the Ash’aris or, if the term is correct, the extreme Sufis, those who say that it is permissible to seek succour from other than Allaah in those things which only Allaah is capable of, and that leaving off praying behind them will at most times lead to an abandonment of the Jamaa’ah, because most of the Imaams with us are from the people of innovation, except for a few.
Another Person: Allaah’s Aid is sought.
Al-Albaani to someone who entered the gathering: Welcome.
Questioner: So what do you say, may your excellence continue.
Al-Albaani: We’ve answered this more than one time, [saying] that prayer …
Someone who enters: As-Salaamu alaikum.
Al-Albaani: Wa alaikumus-Salaam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu.
I hold, and knowledge is with Allaah, following on from what those who came after inherited from the Salaf, that it is legislated to pray behind every righteous person and wicked sinner, and to pray over every righteous person and wicked sinner and that the prayer performed behind such Imaams is correct.
As long as we, or at the very least as long as the one who is praying [behind that person], holds–and we stipulate the [following] condition–that whatever innovation or innovations the Imaam is upon, he has not left the fold of Islaam and [has not left being regarded as from amongst] the Muslims. He is an innovator, but without doubt and for a surety, not every innovator is a disbeliever, this is for sure. And if the situation is as such, then the one giving the the question [which you put] must place a check there and he must be precise, and this is what I am doing, so I say:
If the one praying behind an Imaam who is an innovator, whether that Imaam is a Sufi, or a Maaturidi, or an Ash’ari or … or, and so on to whatever other names the groups and parties have, if the one praying [behind such a person] holds that this Imaam who is an innovator has not left [the state of] being a Muslim, then the previous principle is employed, ‘To pray behind every righteous person or wicked sinner.’
And if he holds the opposite, that the Imaam has disbelieved, then it clearly goes without saying that praying behind him is not allowed.
But at the same time we warn [the people] from rushing to issue fatwas declaring a [single] Muslim to be a disbeliever, let alone Muslims, just because they fell into an innovation even if this innovation, as they say today, is one connected to aqidah. So one must take one’s time and be patient and not rush into issuing fatwas declaring others to be disbelievers.
Yet at the same time, we say that it is upon a Muslim to choose that the Imaam he prays behind is upon the Sunnah and correct aqidah and worship and manners, if he is able to, and if not, if the situation is that he has to choose between praying alone at home or praying behind that Imaam who has his innovations, then praying behind that Imaam is more fitting than praying alone …
Questioner: In order to preserve what is good …
Al-Albaani: Yes, thereafter along with that I say that if the person really is asking this question out of piety and devoutness, then I say, the door to devoutness is vast, when you come back from the mosque pray it again with your family.
Questioner: As occurred with some of the Salaf in times past.
Questioner: He said, ‘Those who delay the prayers from their appointed times …’
Al-Albaani: It is as such, [delaying] the prayer from its time. This is our answer in this issue.
Questioner: And the one he prayed behind the Imaam would be counted as optional.
Al-Albaani: Optional, yes.
Questioner: May Allaah bless you.
Al-Albaani: And you.
Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 754.