What Happens if the Imam Breaks his Wudu in Salat

What Happens if the Imam Breaks his Wudu in Salat


What happens if the Imam breaks his Wudhu in the middle of Salat? What do you do? (Because this happened in school and I was just wondering whether or not anything special would happen).


In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

If the ablution (wudu) of the Imam breaks whilst in Salat due to some reason, then it is preferable for him to come out of Salat (by undertaking an act which invalidates the Salat), and restart it after performing ablution (wudu). The followers can also resume their Salat with a new Imam, or wait for him.

However, if the Imam wishes, he can appoint one of the followers as a successor, and go and perform his wudu. But there are certain strict and complicated guidelines for this, which must be adhered to in order for the Salat to be Valid.

The following is the procedure for appointing a successor (khalifa):

If the Wudu of the Imam is nullified due to a reason which is beyond human control, such as: exiting of blood or passing of wind, etc.., then he can appoint one of the followers as his successor by indicating to him or drawing him towards the Mihrab. He must not talk, as that will invalidate every body’s Salat.

It is preferable to appoint someone who joined the Jama’ah from the very beginning (Mudrik), although it is permissible to appoint a latecomer (masbuq) also.

If a Masbuq is appointed as a successor, then the Imam should indicate to him the number of Rak’ats he still has to perform. He should do this by means of his fingers. If he has one Rak’at left, he should lift one finger, and if two Rak’ats, two fingers. If he has to perform a Ruku, he should place his hand on his knees. If he has to make a Sajdah, he should place his hand on his forehead, and so on…

This Masbuq will lead the Salat until he reaches Salam, where he will appoint a Mudrik to complete the Salat, after which he will complete his own Salat.

If the Imam’s Wudu breaks and he leaves the Masjid without appointing anyone as his successor, the salat of all the followers will become invalid. The appointment must be made before the Imam leaves the Masjid.

If the Imam appointed such a person as his successor who does not possess the requirements to be an Imam, for example, a insane person, an immature child or a woman. In this case, the Salat of the whole congregation will become invalid. (See: Radd al-Muhtar 1/599, Heavenly ornaments 783 & other Fiqh references).
This ruling has been taken from the incident recorded by Imam al-Bukhari (Allah have mercy on him) of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (Allah be leased with him), when he appointed the blessed Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) as his successor in Salat. The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) had gone to the tribe of Bani Amr for a particular reason. (Sahih al-Bukhari, no.684)

As you can see that the rules relating to appointing a successor are complicated and detailed, and because of people not knowing the rules, the possibility of making an error is very likely. It is therefore superior, as mentioned earlier, not to continue the Salat, rather to come out of Salat by performing Salam and restart the prayer.

And Allah Knows Best

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK

Question #: 6188
Published: 25/03/2004

Related Answers