Praise be to Allaah.
Whoever wants to pray in a mosque in congregation has to go
to the mosque, because if he follows the imam in his home this is not prayer
in congregation, even if he can see the imam and congregation. Shaykh Ibn
‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) has spoken in detail on this
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in
his commentary on Zaad al-Mustaqni’:
The phrase “and the same applies if he is outside and sees
the imam or the congregation” means that a person’s following the imam is
valid if he is outside the mosque, on condition that he can see the imam or
the congregation. The apparent meaning of the author’s words is that it is
not conditional upon the rows (of worshippers) being uninterrupted. So if it
is assumed that a person is a neighbour of the mosque and he can see the
imam or the congregation from his window and he prays in his house, and
there is someone with him so that he is not praying alone, then it is valid
for him to follow this imam, because he can hear the takbeer and see the
imam or the congregation.
The apparent meaning of the author’s words is that he has to
see the imam or congregation throughout the entire prayer, so that he will
not miss following the imam. The view of our madhhab is that it is
sufficient for him to see them for part of the prayer.
So, if he is outside the mosque, two conditions must be met:
1 – That he can hear the takbeer
2 – That he can see the imam or the congregation, either
throughout the entire prayer, according to the apparent meaning of the
author’s words, or for part of the prayer, according to the view of our
The apparent meaning of his words is that it is not essential
for the rows (of worshippers) to be uninterrupted, if the person is praying
outside the mosque. This is the view of our madhhab.
The second view – which is that of the author of al-Muqni’,
is that the rows (of worshippers) must be uninterrupted, and that it is not
valid for one who is outside the mosque to follow the imam unless the rows
are joined to one another, because what counts in congregational prayer is
for all the worshippers to be doing the same things at the same time,
following one imam in one place. But we say that if the imam and the
worshippers are in the same mosque, and there are two other worshippers in
another room between which and the mosque there is some distance, and
another two in a third room, undoubtedly this is splitting up the
congregation, especially according to the view of those who say that prayer
in congregation must be offered in the mosque.
The correct view with regard to this matter is that it is
essential for those who follow the imam from outside the mosque there should
be no interruption in the rows; if there is any interruption in the rows
then their prayer is not valid.
For example: there are buildings around the Haram, in which
are apartments in which people pray. Those people can see the imam or the
congregation for all or part of the prayer. According to the words of this
author, their prayer is valid, but we say to them: if you hear the iqaamah
then you can stay where you are and pray with the imam, and not come to
According to the second opinion, the prayer is not valid,
because the rows are interrupted. This is the correct view, which refutes
the fatwa that stated by some contemporary scholars, that it is permissible
to follow the imam in a prayer that is being broadcast. He wrote an essay
concerning that, entitled al-Iqnaa’ bi Sihhat Salaat al-Ma’moom khalfa
al-midhaa’. This view implies that we need not pray Jumu’ah in the
Friday mosques, rather we can follow the imam of al-Masjid al-Haraam,
because in that way we will have a larger congregation and that will be
better, even though the one who follows a prayer broadcast on the radio
cannot see the congregation or the imam, and if it comes by TV which
broadcasts the prayer live, it is more likely to be appropriate.
But this is undoubtedly a false view, because it leads to
abolishing of prayer in congregation and Jumu’ah prayer, and the rows (of
worshippers) are interrupted in this case, and it does not achieve the
purpose for which the Lawgiver enjoined prayer in congregation and Jumu’ah
The one who follows a broadcast prayer is not praying behind
an imam who is in front of him, rather there is a huge distance between
them, and this opens the door to evil, because the one who is careless about
Jumu’ah prayer could then say that so long as it is valid to follow a prayer
broadcast on the radio or TV, then I am going to pray at home, with my son
or brother etc, and we will form a row.
But the correct view is that it is not valid to follow the
prayer outside the mosque unless the rows are uninterrupted, and two
conditions must be met:
That the worshipper can hear
That the rows be uninterrupted.
With regard to seeing
the imam or congregation, this is a matter that is subject to scholarly
debate. But so long as the takbeer can be heard and the rows are
uninterrupted, then it is valid to follow the imam. Based on this, if the
mosque is full and the rows are uninterrupted, and people pray in the market
places and outside shops, there is nothing wrong with that.
Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 4/297-300.
And Allaah knows best.