Make the niyyat (intention) that you are praying behind and following the Imam who is leading the Salat. It is not necessary to know his name, however, you should know that you are following that particular Imam.
Your Salat will not be counted as Salat al-Jamaat if you do not make the intention of following the Imam, this is important.
The follower must say the Takbiratul Ihram after the Imam, so as to maintain his Salat al Jamaat.
Listen to the Imam
In the first two Rak’at, the Imam will read Surah al-Fatiha and one more complete Surah of the Holy Qur’ an.
If you are praying the Salat of Fajr, Maghrib and ‘Isha, then the Imam will be reciting these Surahs out loud, thus, you should keep silent, and listen to his recitation.
In the Salat of Zuhr and ‘Asr, the Imam will be reciting in a quiet whisper and you will not recite anything out loud, however, it is Mustahab that you recite any Dhikr of Allah (swt).
Recite Everything Else in Jamaat
Apart from the two Surahs which the Imam alone will recite, you must independently recite all the other things in the Salat.
You must pray the Dhikr of Ruku, Sujud, Tashahhud, Salam, and all the Takbirs, etc.
So remember, that a Ma’mum is exempted from reading only the two Surahs in the first two Rak’at.
Follow the Imam
The Ma’mum must say theTakbiratul Ihram (the first) after the Imam has said it.
If you say it simultaneously with the Imam or before, then there will be no Jamaat for you.
Then, in every act, follow the Imam. When the Imam goes into Ruku ‘ Sujud, or rises, do it either with him or after him; but do not precede him. This is important as far as the acts are concerned.
However, in the case of the recitations like the Dhikr in Ruku’, Sujud, Qunut, etc., you may precede the Imam, even the Salam to complete the Salat.
If you forgetfully rise from Ruku’ or Sujud before the imam, you must return to the Ruku ‘ or Sajdah position (as the case may be) provided that the Imam is still in that position.
How to Joing the Salat Jamaat once it has started Already?
If you arrive late to pray and the Imam has already begun the salat you can join the prayer as Salat Al-Jamaat under the following circumstances.
1) The Imam is still standing in prayer
2) The Imam is still in Ruku and hasnt gotten up from this position.
- A very important thing to do if you arrive late and find the Imam in a Ruku position, is to say something like, “Ya Allah, Ya Allah” (God is Great..) or “Allah Ma3 Al-Sabereen” (God is with the Patient ones..”)
By saying the above will signal the Imam to stay in this position for a slightly extra time to allow you the time to Join the Salat. You should very quickly perform your intention and Do Takbiratul Ihram (Aloud) stand still for about one second prior to proceeding to the Ruku Position.
This will then mean you have joined the Salat and that Rakat you entered in will now be considered as your First Rakat.
It is important that you should now continue the Salat in the correct sequence that you entered.
For example: If you entered the Salat either when the Imam was Standing or In Ruku and once you go to the Seated Position you find that the Imam stayed in the seated position to perform the second, third or fourth Tashhud then you should not recite Tashhud with the Imam, rather put yourself into a position where you are preparing to Stand up but stay seated in a mid Seated/Rising position waiting for the Imam to either stand up or say his Salaams (ie: Finish Prayer) and then continue with the Salat in its correct sequence.
It is very important to note that if the Imam did rise up that is after reciting Tashahud meaning that he was in the second Rakat then you will continue with your second Rakat and perform your Tashahud while the Imam is in the Third Ruku.
If the Imam enters the Third Ruku and is praying Salat Al-Magrib then you would stand up and finish your third Rakat once the Imam finishes reciting Salaams in the Seated Position after Tashuhud. Also taking note that you would prepare yourself in a mid seated (Seated)/Standing position waiting for the Imam to recite Salaams.
Can I pray Megrib Prayers during Isha Salaat Al-Jamaat?
You are allowed to join a congregational prayers and pray your Mehgrib Prayers while the Imam is praying the Isha Prayers. Again you must continue your sequence in the correct order and finish your prayers at the third rakat.
It is important to know that after you finish your Magrib Prayers you can immediately stand up and join the Salat again as your Isha Prayers in congregation so long as the Imam hasn’t risen up from his Seated position in the forth Rakat.