Maalik Ibn Buhainah [RA] said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) once saw a man doing two Rakah Salaat while the Iqaamah of the obligatory Salaah is being recited. Having done the obligatory Salaat, people gathered around the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). He then said to the man: Does dawn Salaah consist of four Rakahs? twice [reproaching him] [Bukhari].
This hadeeth indicates that joining the Imaam in Salaah once the Iqaamah is recited is better than doing the two prior-Sunnah Rakahs of dawn Salaah. In case there is no time, one could do the Sunnah Salaah after the obligatory one has already been performed, as affirmed in the authentic ahaadeeth. Abu Hurairah (RA) related that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: When the Iqaamah is recited, no one performs but the obligatory Salaah [Muslim). This hadeeth states clearly the prohibition of commencing any Sunnah [or Naafilah] Salaah when the Iqaamah is being recited.
This opinion is held by Ash-Shaafiee and the Jumhoor (majority of scholars) Ibn Abdil Barr held the same opinion. He said: In controversial matters, the strongest of all opinions is the one which has a proof from the Sunnah. [I believe that] when Iqaamah is being recited, no one should commence a Naafilah Salaah but after doing the Obligatory one for the Iqaamah statement "Hayya Alas Salaah": that is: come to Salaah urges a Muslim to occupy himself with performing the obligatory Salaah. Accordingly, occupying one self with that which is obligatory is better than anything else. AI-Qaadee presented a rationale for this prohibition that through the passage of time people would believe in the obligation of preceding the obligatory Salaah with Nafilah.
An-Nawawee, however, believed that this rationale is untrue. He said: The real rationale is to free one self from any other act to be fully occupied with the obligatory Salaah from its beginning. If one occupied oneself with the Naafilah, he would miss Takbeeratul Ihraam with the Imaam; accordingly, he would miss a part of the Obligatory acts which have more right to be done perfectly. AI-Qadee stated another rationale which is to maintain theunity of Muslims with their Imaam.
This leads us to the other mistake of many Muslims when they come to the mosque and see that the Imaam had already begun the Salaah; they move aside and do Sunnah Salaah so quickly without concentration then join the Imaam, maybe, at the end of his Salaah. Doing so, they think they have won the rewards of both Salaahs, which is impossible. This act indicates their lack of knowledge and misunderstanding for the rulings of their religion.
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited