بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Q: We hope to receive, from your eminence, a simplified explanation to the narration, “When the prayer is established (i.e., the iqaamah is called) there is no prayer except the obligatory prayer.”
A: The narration is upon its apparent meaning, and Muslim reported it in his authentic collection. The meaning, “When the prayer is established” i.e., if the caller to prayer starts to call the iqaamah, whoever is praying consequently breaks his voluntary prayer regardless if it be a optional prayer connect to a compulsory or if it’s greeting the masjid he (the praying person) breaks it and busies himself with preparation for entering the obligatory prayer. He does not begin a prayer subsequent to the iqaamah, on the contrary he breaks the prayer he is currently in and is prevented from entering into a new one, due to the obligatory prayer being of greater importance. This is the meaning of this authentic narration from the most valid of the scholars statements.
Some of the people of knowledge say do not break it but complete it briskly. They use as a proof the glorified and exalted’s statement:
يأيها الذين ءامنوا أطيعوا الله و أطيعوا الرسول و لا تبطلوا أعمالكم
“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the messenger and do not nullify your actions.” [Muhammad: 33]
However he who says break it, and it is the correct statement exactly as presented, has responded to the noble verse by stating that it is general and this (the command of the Prophet -sallahu alayhi wa sallam) is specific. Thus the specification takes precedence over the generality and it does not contradict it. This is a significant and well known principle with the people of knowledge in which its examples (regarding its application) are abundant.
It is also said that His statement “…and do not nullify your actions” its intent is the prohibition on nullification of actions by way of apostasy, and this issue is not apostasy. In any case, the verse is general and the breaking of the prayer that one is performing at the time of the iqaamah its evidence is specific and the particularization takes precedents over the general, it does not contradict it.
This is what we believe and accordingly issue verdicts with, that being that if a person praying voluntarily, and the iqaamah is called, he breaks his prayer and does not complete it unless he is at the end of it. He has performed the second bowing (in the second portion or unit of prayer), or is in prostration, or is performing the tashahhud, then he completes it, due to him being in the least part of the prayer and there does not remain except but a small portion than he completes it and this does not contradict the previously mentioned narration. And that is better and it does not oppose the authentic narration.
Translated by Najeeb ibn Yusuf Al Anjelesi