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In the terms of Salaah, Imaam is the leader of the congregational prayer. He should be sufficiently versed in the techniques of Salaah, as well as have ample knowledge of the Glorious Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (s.'a.s.).
According to the Sunnah, the honor of leading Salaah is offered to the most versed, and the best reciter of the Book of Allah. Ibn Mas'uud reported the Prophet said:
"The person who is most versed in Allah's book should act as Imaam for the people, but if they are equally versed in reciting, then the one who has most knowledge regarding Sunnah; if they are equal regarding Sunnah, then the earliest one to emigrate; if they emigrated at the same time, then the earliest one to embrace Al-Islaam. No man must lead another in prayer where the (latter) has authority, or sit in his place of honor in his house without his permission." (Muslim)
An Imaam should be aware of the Muqtadee, the follower, by being easy on him. The follower should not be burdened with long recitations. In Hadeeth the Prophet said:
"Whenever one of you leads the prayer he should ease because there are the weak, the disabled and the aged. When he prays by himself, he may prolong as he wishes." (Al-Bukhaaree/Muslim)
But "easiness" in Salaah doesn't mean omitting or decreasing the basic elements of Salaah. That is utterly condemned. In the famous Hadeeth, known as Hadeethul Museeu Salaatahu, The One Who Mis-performed His Prayer, Abu Huriarah related the Prophet was present in his Masjid, when a man entered and offered the prayer. He then came to the Prophet and greeted him; after responding to his greeting, the Prophet said to him:
"Repeat your Salaah, for it was not performed well." The man went and repeated his Salaah, then he returned to the Prophet and greeted him. The Prophet responded to him and asked him to go back once again and repeat his Salaah. The man repeated his Salaah for the third time and requested: "O Messenger of Allah! Teach me the right way of performing the Salaah." The Prophet responded: "When you intend to offer the Salah, first perform your Wuduu well, then face the Qiblah and begin your prayer with Takbeer, Allaahu Akbar, then recite a passage from Al-Quran that you may find easy (or, recite Al-Faatihah and after it some easy passage), then bend down in Rukuu'u and observe it with perfect peace, then stand up erect, then go down in Sujuud and offer it with perfect peace, then rise from Sujuud and sit upright, and then complete your Salaah in the same manner with perfect calmness and tranquility." (Muslim)
The Prophet, who was a master teacher, wanted to stress that Salaah is not to be regarded as a burden which has to be thrown off one's head as quickly as possible, but it is an act of supreme worship of Allah, and must be offered in full consciousness, peacefully, leisurely and with due attention to all actions and movements. He asked the person to repeat his Salaah because a Salaah that is not performed with due attention was deemed by him to have not been performed at all.
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