In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Most Merciful
What should you do when you arrive late to the prayer while the Imaam is in Tashahhud?
By Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-’Uthaymeen may Allah have mercy on him
Question: What is the correctness of the statement of one who says that when you enter the masjid (late for salah) with a jamaa’ah while the imaam is in the position of the last Tashahhud that you should wait until he makes tasleem then begin a new congregation?
Answer: This is correct and its evidence is the statement of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him),
من أدرك ركعة من الصلاة فقد أدرك الصلاة
“Whoever catches a unit (before rising from rukoo’) of prayer then he has caught the prayer.” [Narrated by Abu Hurayrah and collected by Nisaa’ee and others]
In this instance (as mentioned in the question) the person has not caught a unit of prayer and arrived at the time of the last tashahhud. Since he did not catch a unit then he has not caught the prayer.
Now, if he were to pray with his companions – who entered along with him – then they should begin the prayer. As for if they came and the imaam was still in the unit (before rising from rukoo’) then it is better to enter the prayer with the imaam. Rather, it is obligatory to enter along with the imaam, even if he missed most of the prayer.
That is because of the hadith, “Whoever catches a unit from the prayer then he has caught the prayer.”
If you enter the masjid and the imaam is in the last tashahhud, then it is not a condition for you to wait for him to make tasleem. Rather, if the masjid is wide and you go to a side of the masjid without causing confusion to others, then you can begin praying before the imaam makes tasleem. There is nothing wrong with that. As for if you came and the masjid is small, then do not commence the prayer until the imaam has made tasleem.
Source: Silsilah Liqaa’aat al-Baab al-Maftooh: #9
Translated by: Abu Awzaa’ee AbdusSalaam
الفقير الى الله