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Assalamualaikum, I would like to ask Mufti’s opinion regarding the issue that often happen in R&R surau where there are multiple imams and congregational prayers happening at the same time. Is it permissible?


Waalaikumussalam w.b.t.

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

First and foremost, we would like to congratulate you for your apt judgement by asking this question. Undoubtedly, we have received numerous questions asking about praying with two or more imams in R&R surau. Thus, we would discuss this issue in depth to explain the rulings and manners related, in order to answer the questions and confusions arising from this situation.

Congregational prayer is a great sacrament in Islam. Making congregational prayer as a habit, prioritizing it and istiqamah (steadfast) in implementing it are just some of the ways to prove our heart’s piety through actions. Allah SWT states in the Quran:

وَمَن يُعَظِّمْ شَعَائِرَ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّهَا مِن تَقْوَى الْقُلُو

“And whoever honors the symbols of Allah - indeed, it is from the piety of hearts.”

Surah al-Haj (32)

Even if siyaq (context) of this verse is about other form of worships such as hajj, wuquf (staying) in Arafah, throwing of jamrah and a few other acts, but the wisdom is based on the generality of the term used. It is as stated in a famous legal maxim where:

العِبْرَةُ بِعمُومِ اللفْظِ

“Ibrah refers to the generality of the term.”

Due to this, Imam Al-Hafiz Ibn Kathir when commenting this verse said: “Whoever that honours the commandments of Allah.” See Tafsir Al-Quran Al-‘Azhim, Ibn Katsir (5/424).

Thus, making congregational prayer as a habit is one of the examples of honouring Allah SWT’s commandments since it is a type of worship that is sanctioned in Islam. The sanctioning of congregational prayer is as stated in the Quran:

وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَارْكَعُوا مَعَ الرَّاكِعِينَ

“And establish prayer and give zakah and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience].”

Surah Al-Baqarah (42)

According to this verse, it states that congregational prayer is sanctioned because ruku’ (bow) in this verse refers to one of the prerequisites of prayer. Moreover, the phrase bow with those who bow in worship refers to the sanctioning of congregational prayer.

Imam Ibn Kathir in his commentaries of this verse said: Allah commands to bow with those who bow in worship among the people of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH by saying: “Be of you from those people (people that bow in worship) and make yourself as one of them.”. Refer Tafsir Al-Quran Al-‘Azhim, Ibn Katsir (1/245).

The issue of having more than one imam in R&R surau at the same time

Going back to the question asked, we think that this issue that has been happening in most R&R surau is because of the following factors:

First: Confusion Regarding the Laws and Guidelines for Jamak And Qasar Prayer

Some people wanting to perform their prayers in R&R surau are confused about several laws or guidelines pertaining the issue of jamak and qasar. For example, if they are travelling and choose to perform the congregational prayers, they made another congregational prayer when there is already a congregational prayer that is being performed in the surau. They assumed that the congregational prayer that is happening is performed in tamam (complete) while they want to perform the jamak and qasar prayer.

This should not have been an issue because if we follow the right procedure below then it would not be a problem:

  • If someone is travelling and enters an R&R surau and found that there is already a congregational prayer being performed, he is supposed to follow that congregational prayer even if he is travelling.

If he is muwafiq and has been following the imam since the beginning and the imam is performing the prayer in tamam (complete with 4 rakaat), then he must follow the imam until the imam finishes the prayer. This is in accordance with a hadith from Anas bin Malik RA that the Prophet PBUH said:

إِنَّمَا جُعِلَ الإِمَامُ ـ لِيُؤْتَمَّ بِهِ، فَإِذَا كَبَّرَ فَكَبِّرُوا، وَإِذَا رَكَعَ فَارْكَعُوا، وَإِذَا رَفَعَ فَارْفَعُوا

"The Imam is to be followed; if he says Takbir then say Takbir, bow if he bows; raise your heads when he raises his head,”

Sahih Al-Bukhari (733)

The same is said in a narration from Ibn Abbas RA, when he was asked: “Why is the traveller prays four rakaat when he is following an imam that is a resident?” Then Ibn Abbas answered: “That is the sunnah,”. Refer Al-Mughni, Ibn Qudamah (2/64).

However, if he (a traveller) is masbuq late in following the imam a few rakaat, then he must continue his prayer by qasar (shortening his prayer by decreasing the rakaat from four to two) since he is travelling.

Prof Dr Muhammad Al-Zuhaili said: “If someone is travelling and follow an imam that is a resident, then he has to pray tamam (complete or full). This is due to the fact that it is obligatory for the prayer to be complete.”.

He added: “If (the traveller) he follows the imam that is also a traveller unknowingly (with no prior knowledge) of the imam’s niat (intention) then he can ta’liq (binds) his intention as such: “If he (the imam) is praying qasar then I’m also praying qasar and if he prays tamam them I’m also praying tamam.”

According to the strongest opinion by Islamic scholars, the ta’liq is valid and accepted. Thus, if the imam prays tamam he follows praying tamam and if the imam prays qasar he follows praying qasar. This is due to the fact that the traveller could pray qasar. Refer Al-Mu’tamad fil Feqh Al-Syafi’e, Dr. Muhammad Al-Zuhaili (1/475).

  • However, if someone that is a resident (is not travelling) and follows a congregational prayer and found out later that it is done in qasar, then after the imam finishes the prayer he has to continue his prayer and completes his rakaat since he doesn’t fulfil the prerequisites to perform qasar

The confusion about the laws and guidelines regarding praying for travellers in R&R surau is being addressed with the publication of numerous articles by R&R management with the cooperation of State Mufti Department and State Islamic Religious Department.

The Ruling of a Resident Makmum Following a Travelling Imam

In this issue, there is a hadith that we can refer to. It is from Imran bin Husain, where he said:

غَزَوْتُ مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَشَهِدْتُ مَعَهُ الْفَتْحَ فَأَقَامَ بِمَكَّةَ ثَمَانِيَ عَشْرَةَ لَيْلَةً لاَ يُصَلِّي إِلاَّ رَكْعَتَيْنِ وَيَقُولُ ‏ يَا أَهْلَ الْبَلَدِ صَلُّوا أَرْبَعًا فَإِنَّا قَوْمٌ سَفْرٌ

I went to war with the Prophet PBUH and I was with him in Fathu Makkah (the opening of Makkah). He stayed in Makkah for 18 days and didn’t pray except for two rakaat. And the Prophet PBUH said: “O residents of Makkah pray four rakaat, indeed we are from the travellers,”

Sunan Abu Dawud (1229)

According to this hadith, it is understood that a resident of some place can follow an imam that is travelling and is praying qasar. However, he has to complete the rakaat after the imam has finished the prayer (the remaining two rakaat not done by the imam).

Furthermore, it is also considered ijma’ (consensus) by Islamic scholars. This is as stated by Imam Ibn al-Munzir:

وأَجمَعُوا عَلَى أَنَّ المُقِيمَ إِذَا ائْتَمَّ بِالمُسَافِرِ، وَسَلَّمَ الإمَامُ رَكْعَتَين أَنَّ عَلَى المُقِيمِ إِتمَام الصَّلَاة

They (the scholars) has discussed and decided that a resident when he is a makmum to a travelling imam, after the imam has given the salam and finishes the prayer after the second rakaat, for the makmum that is a resident he has to complete his prayer. Refer Al-Ijma’, Ibn Al-Munzir (1/41).

Second: Situations Where the Surau Is Unconducive

Sometimes, people choose to pray alone in R&R surau using the excuse of the small space provided, or he’s unsure whether the prayer that is being performed is qasar or tamam, or other excuses.

Whereas, if we study the hadiths that mentioned about congregational prayers, they state that it is much better than praying alone. Ubai bin Kaab RA narrated that the Prophet PBUH said:

وَصَلاَةُ الرَّجُلِ مَعَ الرَّجُلِ أَزْكَى مِنْ صَلاَتِهِ وَحْدَهُ وَصَلاَةُ الرَّجُلِ مَعَ الرَّجُلَيْنِ أَزْكَى مِنْ صَلاَتِهِ مَعَ الرَّجُلِ وَمَا كَانُوا أَكْثَرَ فَهُوَ أَحَبُّ إِلَى اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ

“A prayer of someone with another man is better than the prayer of a man by himself. The prayer of a man with two other man is better than the prayer of two men. And if it is of more people then it is preferred by Allah”

Sunan Al-Nasaie (843)

It’s undeniable that sometimes the praying space provided is too small to accommodate many people especially during festive seasons and the school holidays. However, it should not be a barrier for us in performing congregational prayer.

Consequently, we encourage the congregational prayer to still be performed but it should be simplified in terms of the prayer itself and the zikr and the doa after prayer. In a hadith from Abu Mas’ud, the Prophet PBUH said:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّ مِنْكُمْ مُنَفِّرِينَ، فَمَنْ أَمَّ النَّاسَ فَلْيَتَجَوَّزْ، فَإِنَّ خَلْفَهُ الضَّعِيفَ وَالْكَبِيرَ وَذَا الْحَاجَةِ

“O people, indeed there’s among you that made others run (made others dislike) from congregational prayer. Whoever be an imam, then simplify it. Indeed, behind you there are people who are weak, elderly and people with other affairs.”

Sahih Al-Bukhari (704)

The Ruling for More Than One Congregational Prayer at The Same Place

In this issue, we analysed a few statements from fuqaha in their books, and we found that they specified the issue of the place where the prayer is performed as follows:

First: Mosque

The mosque that is referred to here is an official mosque that is provided for Muslims to pray the five daily prayers, the Friday prayer and others with its own official appointed imam. The fuqaha discussed the ruling of having two imams performing congregational prayer at the same time.

Imam Al-Ramli from Syafiite scholars said:

وتكره إقامة جماعة بمسجد غير مطروق له إمام راتب من غير إذنه قبله أو بعده أو معه ، فإن غاب الراتب سن انتظاره 

It is undesirable to perform congregational prayers in mosques other than mathruq (situated in public passage) that has its own official appointed imam, without permission (from the congregational prayer), before it, after it or at the same time (simultaneously). If the appointed imam is not there, then it is recommended to wait for him (to perform the congregational prayer). Refer Nihayah Al-Muhtaj, Al-Ramli (2/141).

However, some fuqaha from Malikiyyah uses Allah SWT’s statement:

وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مَسْجِدًا ضِرَارًا وَكُفْرًا وَتَفْرِيقًا بَيْنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

“And [there are] those [hypocrites] who took for themselves a mosque for causing harm and disbelief and division among the believers,” 

Surah Al-Taubah (107)

Imam Al-Qurthubi in his commentaries on the verse said: “The meaning of the phrase ‘for causing division among the believers’ is dividing their congregation and splitting up from the Prophet PBUH.”. This shows the most important maqasid (objective) in the sanctioning of congregational prayer is to unify the hearts of believers under the word of Allah SWT (Islam) and obedience.

He also said: Imam Malik comments on the verse saying: “There cannot be two congregation in one mosque with two imams,”. (This opinion) is different from the majority of other scholars. It is also said that Imam Al-Syafi’e also prohibits this, as it would ruin the word of Allah and nullify the lesson (of congregational prayer). Refer Al-Jami’ Li Ahkam Al-Quran, Al-Qurthubi (8/174).

Second: Al-Mathruq Mosque

Al-Mathruq mosque means a mosque that is provided where there is a passage of people coming and going, for example, at the market. The contemporary meaning includes surau in shopping malls, at rest and recreation areas (R&Rs) and the like.

Imam Al-Ramli said:

أما المسجد المطروق فلا يكره فيه تعدد الجماعات ولو كان له إمام راتب ووقع فيه جماعتان معا

For al-mathruq mosque (where there is a passage of people coming and going) then it is not undesirable to have multiple congregational prayers there. Even if the mosque has its own official appointed imam. (And it is not undesirable) to have two congregational prayer in it simultaneously.

He also added: “The opinion in tatimmah that states it is undesirable to have two congregation (prayer) at the same place is only at mosques that are not al-mathruq.”. Refer Nihayah Al-Muhtaj, Al-Ramli (2/141).

As a conclusion in this issue, we think that there should be a differentiation between official mosques that has its own management committee, official appointed imams by department of religion with R&R surau that are similar to the term al-mathruq mosque according to feqh books.


According to the discussion above, it is permitted to have multiple congregational prayers at the same time in R&R surau in general. This is due to the fact that it does not has its own official appointed imam and it does not have the characteristics of an official mosque. Nevertheless, to gain the great rewards of performing congregational prayer and at the same time honouring one of the great sacraments and unification in Islam, and to avoid the confusion of having multiple imams, it is better to perform the congregational prayer the way that we have explained earlier.


Lastly, we would like to emphasize that praying congregationally with only one imam at one time is preferable. In honouring the sacrament of Islam where the unification of its ummah would be made visible through the act of congregational prayer. Having multiple imams at the same time would give an impression of division and disunion in the hearts of the believers.

The Prophet PBUH said:

وَلاَ تَخْتَلِفُوا فَتَخْتَلِفَ قُلُوبُكُمْ

“Don’t be divided among you, surely it will divide your hearts,”

Sahih Muslim (432)

To end this piece, may Allah SWT unite the hearts of all Muslims in obeying His commands especially in performing the congregational prayer together. May Allah give us all the true understandings in Islam. Ameen.