Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: What would be the ruling for praying behind someone who –

1) Does not have a beard
2) Is not wearing a prayer cap

3) Is not dressed at his best (i.e. clothes only covering awrah)
4) With parts of clothes folded e.g. folding the sleeves, folding trousers above ankles etc.
5) All the 4 combined together

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

The ruling for praying behind someone who:

1) Does not have a beard

Shaving off the beard is disliked and sinful according to the Hanafi school, yet merely disliked (and not sinful) according to the Shaf’i school. So while the imam should certainly keep a beard, praying behind an imam without a beard is valid and, in light of the difference of opinion, one would not need to make up that prayer.

For the legal verdict of this issue according o the Shaf’i school, please see the following:

The Ruling of Shaving and Shortening the Beard in the Shafi`i School

2) Is not wearing a prayer cap

Not wearing a prayer cap in the prayer is slightly disliked (makruh tanzihan) for men. Hence praying behind such a person is valid and not a problem.

3) Is not dressed at his best (i.e. clothes only covering awrah)

This is an issue of proper comportment/etiquette (adab): As long as his nakedness (`awra) is completely covered, the prayer of such a person, as well as of those behind him, is valid. Yet this is certainly not ideal, and the congregation should – if possible – offer the imam a proper garment, or else select another person to lead the prayer (if doing so doesn’t lead to dispute).

4) With parts of clothes folded e.g. folding the sleeves, folding trousers above ankles etc.

According to some scholars, this is also an issue of adab (as long as it doesn’t lead to fiddling around in the prayer, which is severely disliked). Hence, praying behind such a person is valid.

5) All the 4 combined together

The prayer is valid and would not need to be made up. However, such an imam should be advised (with adab!) to take the prayer seriously and adopt the utmost manners and etiquette for the prayer, which is intimate discourse with the Divine.

[Shurunbulali, Ascent to Felicity, Maraqi Falah; Hashiyat Tahtawi; Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

And Allah knows best.
wassalam
Faraz

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

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