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Is it prescribed for the imam to greet the people in the mosque when he comes in?

Question: 212039

We have an imam in the mosque; when he enters the mosque from behind the people, the mu’adhdhin gives the iqaamah (call immediately preceding the congregational prayer) straight away, and the people make room for him to pass, and he does not greet anyone standing in the rows until he reaches his place at the front of the mosque. I advised him to greet the worshippers when he enters the mosque, so that he may earn the love of the worshippers, and so that Allah, may He be exalted, might bless us with paradise for spreading the greeting of salaam as our Messenger (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) taught us. But his response to me was that this is not the Sunnah, and the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) did not do that, and there is no evidence that he (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) did that. So what should I do? We disagreed, and I asked him for evidence to that effect, and he replied that during the iqaamah it is not permissible to greet anyone with salaam, because the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) did not do that.

So my question is:

If this imam right in what he says? Is it permissible for the imam to come from behind the worshippers and from a distance when the iqaamah is being given for the prayer?

Praise be to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah and his family.


It is prescribed
for the one who enters the mosque – whether he is the imam or one of the
worshippers – to greet the people in the mosque with salaam, because of the
general meaning of the hadiths that have been narrated concerning this
matter. For greeting with salaam generates love and harmony among people,
and not greeting with salaam generates ill feeling, resentment and grudges
among people.

In the answer to
question no. 114225 we stated that the view of most
of the scholars is that it is permissible to greet with salaam a person who
is praying so long as that will not lead to distraction or cause one who
lacks knowledge to spoil his prayer.

Shaykh Ibn Baaz
(may Allah have mercy on him) was asked:

If a person
enters the mosque, should he greet the people with salaam?

He replied: He
should greet the people in the mosque with salaam. If there is someone in
the mosque, he should greet him with salaam before he starts to pray. He
should say salaam, then start his prayer, whether it is a prayer to greet
the mosque (tahiyyat al-masjid) or regular Sunnah prayer. If the
people in the mosque are busy, he should still greet them with salaam, even
if they are reading Qur’an. The one who is reading can pause, say “Wa
‘alaykum as-salaam,” then resume his reading.

End quote from

Fataawa Noor ‘ala ad-Darb

Shaykh ‘Abd
al-Kareem al-Khudayr (may Allah preserve him) was asked:

Some people,
when they enter the mosque, give the greeting of salaam, even though the
people who are there may be busy, praying or reading Qur’an. Should one give
the greeting of salaam in this instance, and what about returning the
greeting on the part of the one who is there?

He replied:

If the Prophet
(blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) was greeted with salaam whilst he
was praying, he would return the greeting with a gesture. So the one who
enters the mosque should give the greeting of salaam; one who is reading
Quran should return the greeting, one who is sitting there should return the
greeting, and the one who is praying should also return the greeting, with a
gesture. End quote.

It is not
appropriate to be hasty in passing judgement before examining the matter,
and describe every action for which one does not know of specific evidence
as being an innovation. A scholar may reach a conclusion, based on his
examination of the shar‘i texts, that a particular action serves a clear
interest, and there is nothing in the shar‘i texts to the contrary; rather
the general shar‘i guidelines support it in principle and point to it. Thus
is more akin to al-maslahah al-mursalah
(consideration of public
than to innovation (bid‘ah).

See the answer
to question no. 160876

If someone
researches the question of whether the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah
be upon him) greeted his companions (may Allah be pleased with them) every
time he entered the mosque, perhaps he will not find any evidence to that
effect, so he may think that doing that is an innovation. Hence, if he is an
imam, he may enter the mosque and the people may make room for him, and he
may pass between their rows and their groups, whilst they are looking at
him, not speaking and not greeting them with salaam, on the grounds that
this is contrary to the Sunnah and is, in his mind, an innovation which it
is not permissible to do! Such ijtihad is subject to further review:
spreading the greeting of salaam is a Sunnah and is more emphatically so in
the mosque; there is nothing wrong with greeting someone who is praying; and
greeting with salaam is one of the greatest means of spreading love and
affection among people. So it is prescribed to do it, especially if not
doing it may generate ill feeling and resentment. Paying attention to all of
these factors is part of the Sunnah and is part of Islam.

If we may
sometimes refrain from doing something that is recommended and prescribed,
for fear that it may undermine some clear interest, then doing something
which is supported by the shar‘i texts in general terms – rather the shar‘i
texts emphasise the importance of spreading it and doing it at all times,
even if there is no proof that it should be done at a particular time or in
a particular situation – in accordance with the general guidelines and in
accordance with a clear interest, is more appropriate.

Yes, if the imam
enters the mosque when the mu’adhdhin is giving the iqaamah for the prayer,
and the people are busy getting up to pray and straightening their rows,
then there is no blame on the imam or anyone else if he enters the mosque
without saying salaam. The matter is broad in scope.

With regard to
the issue of entering from the back of the mosque, and making his way to the
mihrab, this depends on the design of the mosque and its doors that lead to
the outside. If the mosque has a door at the front which is nearer to the
mihrab than the rear doors, then it is preferable to enter from that door,
and is less likely to lead to stepping over people and pushing through the
rows, unless the rear door is easier for the imam and more accessible to

Whatever the
case, such an action should not be the cause of disputes, differences and
division. The members of the congregation should not condemn the imam for
such matters, especially if he thinks that what he is doing in this instance
is the right thing, and that is not his usual habit or attitude with people
in other situations, and he does not usually refrain from greeting people
with salaam. Rather he is only refraining from giving the greeting of salaam
in this situation on the basis of his misunderstanding of the Sunnah. So
such a person should not be condemned or criticised for such an attitude;
rather he should be given sincere advice and the matter should be discussed
with him, and if it does not become clear to him that it is contrary to the
Sunnah, then we hope that there will be no blame or sin on him.

And Allah knows


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