Shafaqna (Shia International News Association) – The Grand Ayatollah Sistani answered some questions regarding Congregational Prayers.According to Shafaqna the questions and answers are as follows:
Question 1: Please let me know Friday Prayer is mustahab or wajib and whether it is sufficient for Zuhr prayer? Kindly, answer with details.
Answer: Friday prayers consists of 2 Rak’ats like Fajr prayers. The difference between these two prayers is that Namaz-e-Jumuah has two sermons before it. Namaz-e-Jumuah is Wajib Takhyiri, which means that we have an option to offer Jumuah prayers, if its necessary conditions are fulfilled, or to offer Zuhr prayers. Hence, if Namaz-e-Jumuah is offered then it is not necessary to offer Zuhr prayer.
Question 2: What are the necessary qualifications of a prayer leader?
Answer: The Imam of the congregational prayers should be adult, sane, ithna Ashari Shia, adil (just), of legitimate birth and with correct recitation. Furthermore, if the follower is a male, the Imam also should be a male. To follow a boy of ten years of age is a matter of Ishkal.
Question 3: Can one say one’s congregational prayer behind a Sunni Imam with the intention of Jama’at (congregation)? And should one recite al-hamd on his own?
Answer: It is permissible to offer prayer in their congregational prayer. However, it is obligatory upon you to recite al-Hamd and Sura-e Tawhid yourself – be the recitation in low voice though.
Question 4: Some times, I see a group of believers say prayer collectively. As far as I know that kind of prayer is called ‘congregational prayer’. Let me know what the procedure of congregational prayer is.
Answer: If there are two or more people, they can conduct a congregational prayer. The important requirement here is that the person who is going to lead the prayer (imam) must fulfill certain conditions. Those taking part in congregational prayers shall receive added thawab (reward from God) especially when the imam is a learned man and there are more people praying congregationally.
Question 5: I am 19 years old and a convert to Islam of five months. My question is, being a practitioner of Twelver Jaf’ari Islam is it permissible for me to pray behind a Sunni Imam for Salaatul-Jummah and for regular congregational prayers, and is it required to prostrate on Turbah inside a mosque?
Answer: Taking part in Friday and congregational prayers of the Ahl-e Sunnat is permissible in areas where Taqiyah (dissimulation) is required. If you are not going to face a problem, you should, as far as possible, prostrate on a stone or anything upon which Sajda (prostration) is permissible. Prostration on carpets in the case of Taqiyah or out of necessity is permissible and there would be no objection in it. But if you are not offering your prayers with them out of Taqiyah it is not necessary to attend their congregational prayers and you can offer your prayers separately.
Question 6: Which is better, prayering in congregation or praying individually?
Answer: Praying in congregation (jama’at) is preferable to praying individually. Its preference is stronger in the dawn, sunset and night prayers. A noble hadith says: “A salat [in congregation] behind a learned scholar is like [praying] a thousand cycles; and behind a Qurayshi is like [praying] a hundred cycles.” As the number of the worshippers increases, the preference [and the reward] also increases.
Source: Ayatollah Sistani