When should a ma’mum ruku’? Is it when the imām says his takbir, or at once after the takbīr?
When we are solāt following the imām, when should we start to ruku’? Should we bow when we hear the imām say Allāhu Akbar or during that or after he has finished saying it?
In the Name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful,
All the Praise is to Allāh. May Blessings of Allāh and Peace be upon His Messenger
IT is prescribed for the ma’mum behind the imām is to follow him, not to do anything before him or at the same time as him, or to delay doing it; rather he should do all actions straight after his imam does them or else the solat is invalid.
This is indicated in the hādith of Anas ibn Mālik and Abu Hurayrah (radiallāhu`anhum), according to which the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu `Alayhi Wa Sallam) said:
“The imām is only appointed to be followed, so when he says takbīr, then say takbīr; when he ruku’, then ruku’ (and do not ruku’ until he ruku’); when he says Sami ‘Allāhu liman hamidah, then say Allāhumma Rabbāna laka’l-hamd. If he prays standing, then pray standing.”
[Narrated by al-Bukhari (378) and Muslim (417); the phrase in brackets was added in the version narrated by Abu Dawud (603)]
The words of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam ): “when he bows, then bow and do not bow until he bows”, and the same with regard to sujud, indicate that the person who is praying behind the imam should not start to move to the next part of the solat until after the imam has done it. So he should not ruku’ until the imam ruku’, and he should not sujud until the imam sujūds.
This is stated clearly in the hadith of al-Bara’ ibn ‘Azib (radiallāhu`anhu) who said:
When the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu `Alayhi Wa Sallam) said “Sami ‘allāhu liman hamidah,” no one of us would bend his back until the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu `Alayhi Wa Sallam) had gone down in sujud, then we would go down into sujud after him.
[Narrated by al-Bukhari (811) and Muslim (474)]
Al-Nawawi (Rahimullāh) said in: This hādīth shows that this is one of the etiquettes of solāt and it is Sunnah for the one who is performing solat behind the imam not to start going down (for sujūd) until the imam has placed his forehead on the ground.
Based on this, it is prescribed for the one who is following the imām is to follow his imām straight after he has moved to the next part of the solāt. So what counts is the action of the imam, not his takbir. This applies to those who can see the imam. As for the members of the congregation who cannot see him, then they should follow his words, and they should start to move to the next part of the solāt after the imam finishes saying the takbir.
And Allāh Almighty Knows best.
[Excerpted from Fatwa No: 38634 Islam QA]