Becoming an imam is not something that can be done carelessly. An imam of prayer must obey certain manners. The following are 7 manners of becoming the imam of prayer and its verses:
1. Prioritizing who lives in the place
It is better if the person who becomes an imam is a person who resides. If he is a comer, then it is better to prioritize a person who has lived in the area for a long time first, unless that person is indeed unable or inviting by himself.
The Prophet shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said:
وَلا يَؤُمَّنَّ الرَّجُلُ الرَّجُلَ فِي سُلْطَانِهِ , وَلا يَقْعُدْ فِي بَيْتِهِ عَلَى تَكْرِمَتِهِ إِلا بِإِذْنِهِ
“Do not come forward to become an imam of prayer in another person’s authority place, and do not sit in another person’s house and in that person’s special chair, except it is permitted by him.” (Hadith Muslim no. 673)
2. Lightening the prayer
An imam should think of the congregation who is old and has the other needs. Do not prolong the prayer only because of his own desire, meanwhile the congregation’s affairs are blocked.
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ إِذَا صَلَّى أَحَدُكُمْ لِلنَّاسِ فَلْيُخَفِّفْ فَإِنَّ مِنْهُمْ الضَّعِيفَ وَالسَّقِيمَ وَالْكَبِيرَ وَإِذَا صَلَّى أَحَدُكُمْ لِنَفْسِهِ فَلْيُطَوِّلْ مَا شَاءَ
From Abu Hurairah radhiyallahu anhu, he said, “The Prophet shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, ‘If the one of you prays and becomes an imam for many people, then he should lighten the prayer, because there are who are weak, sick, old among them. If the one of you prays alone, then he should prolong it at will’.” (This hadith was narrated by Imam Bukhari in his Shahih (2/199), no 703; Imam Muslim in his Shahih (4/184), no. 467 and there is an additional of ash shaghir (some are small))
3. Raising the voice when takbeer
An imam should also raise his voice when takbeer so that people who are in the back row can hear his voice. This is in accordance with what the Prophet had exemplified.
From Sa’id bin al-Haris, he said:
صلي لنا أبو سعيد فجهر بالتكبير حين رفع رأسه من السجود وحين سجد وحين رفع وحين قام من الركعتين حتى قضى صلاته على ذلك وقال إني رأيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم هكذا يصلى
“Abu Sa’id did the prayer for us, then he hardened his takbeer when he raised his head from prostration, when prostration, when he got up from prostration, when he got up from the second rakaat until he finished his prayer. Then he said, ‘I saw the Prophet shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam did the prayer like this’.”
In the story of Imam Muslim from Jabir bin Abdillah, he said:
صلى بنا رسول الله الظهر وأبو بكر رضى الله تعالى عنه خلفه فإذا كبر كبر أبو بكر يسمعنا
“The Prophet saw did the Zuhr prayer with us and Abu Bakar was behind him. When he was takbeer, then Abu Bakar was takbeer until we heard it.”
4. Straightening the rows
Before starting the prayer, the imam should tell the congregation to straighten the rows. The Prophet himself would not start the prayer before the congregation straightened the rows.
كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَمْسَحُ مَنَاكِبَنَا فِي الصَّلَاةِ وَيَقُولُ اسْتَوُوا وَلَا تَخْتَلِفُوا فَتَخْتَلِفَ قُلُوبُكُمْ
“The Prophet shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam rubbed our shoulders in the prayer (when we were going to pray) and explained: Straighten it and do not bent your rows so that it causes your hearts quarreling.” [Hadith Muslim]
Anas bin Malik radhiyallahu ‘anhu said, “One of us sticks his shoulder to his friend’s shoulder, his foot with his friend’s foot.” In a narration, it is said, “I have seen one of us stick his shoulder to his friend’s shoulder, his foot with his friend’s foot. If you do it today, surely they are like a wild donkey (do not like that).”
5. Do not pray for yourself
An imam should not specialize the prayer only for himself. Besides slowing down the prayer because he prays for himself in the prayer, this will also cause the congregation annoyed.
حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ الْمُصَفَّى الْحِمْصِيُّ حَدَّثَنَا بَقِيَّةُ بْنُ الْوَلِيدِ عَنْ حَبِيبِ بْنِ صَالِحٍ عَنْ يَزِيدَ بْنِ شُرَيْحٍ عَنْ أَبِي حَيٍّ الْمُؤَذِّنِ عَنْ ثَوْبَانَ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لَا يَؤُمُّ عَبْدٌ فَيَخُصَّ نَفْسَهُ بِدَعْوَةٍ دُونَهُمْ فَإِنْ فَعَلَ فَقَدْ خَانَهُمْ
“A servant is not allowed to be an imam then specializing himself in a prayer without including others, if he keeps doing it then he has betrayed them.” [Hadith Ibn Majah no. 913]
6. Taking sutrah
In Islam, the obligation to take sutrah is in the hands of the imam of prayer. This has also explained by the Prophet. Among others are hadith of Ibn Umar radhiyallahu ‘anhu:
لاَ تُصَلِّ إِلاََّ إِلَى سُتْرَةٍ ، وَ لاََ تَدَعْ أَحَدًا يَمُرُّ بَيْنَ يَدَيْكَ، فَإِنْ أَبَى فَلْيُقَاتِلْهُ، فَإِنَّ مَعَهُ القَرِيْنَ
“Do not pray, except by using sutrah (barrier). And do not let someone pass in front of you. if he does not want to, then forbid him, indeed jinn is with him.”
7. Advising the congregation
Before starting the prayer, the imam should also advise the congregation so that they do not precede the imam in the prayer movements. This is the part of the knowledge that should be taught by imam.
Imam Ahmad said, “Imam (is) a person that is the most worthy in advising the people who pray behind him, and forbids them from preceding him in bowing or prostration. Do not bow and prostration simultaneously (together) with the imam. However, he should order them to bow and prostration, rise up and get down (that is done) after the imam. And he should be kind in teaching them, because he is responsible for them and will be asked for the responsible tomorrow. And imam should improve his prayer, complete and strengthen it. And it should become his concern, because, if he does the prayer well, then he also gets the same reward as the people who pray behind him. Otherwise, he sins as their sins, if he does not complete his prayer.”
Those were the 7 manners of becoming the imam of prayer and its verses that need to be noticed. Becoming an imam means having a great responsible, therefore, learn each manners first so that it is in accordance with the teaching of the Prophet saw.