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The other day I prayed behind a Shi'a Muslim without realizing and I noticed a little later that he was Shi'a. The prayer I followed didn't seem like the usual prayer I normally follow behind Sunni Muslims. I didn't notice all the differences, but I was worried I, as a Sunni Muslim, hadn't completed my prayers 'properly.'

Do Sunnis find it acceptable to pray behind Shi'ites, or vice-versa? And is their salah accepted?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

According to this article (sunni view),

Some Shia are considered Muslims, and some Shia are considered Kufaar

that page goes on explaining that if one adheres to one of these, one is considered kuffar (not my belief, I am summarizing what is being said in that page)

  1. Belief that their imams are superior to even one prophet
  2. Belief that a person after Muhammad (s.a.v) received revelation from Allah like a Prophet.
  3. Believing tahreef of Qur'an. (Claiming Qur'an is tempered with)
  4. Cursing the sahabah (This item is somewhat complicated and too big to explain here)
  5. Other strange beliefs (Ali is God, Angel Jibraeel made a mistake, Allah lies etc.) (Very uncommon)

My interpretation: There is not a clear-cut answer to this question. If you judge that your Imam doesn't adhere to anything that would make him kufaar, there is no problem.

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And what if I am am simply following behind a brother I just met, I don't want to have to grill him on those points, before I pray behind him. –  Pureferret Jul 24 '12 at 17:58
    
@Pureferret Get there early and move to the front. ;) –  user206 Jul 25 '12 at 12:52
    
@user791022 According to that article I mentioned, historically various Shia sects held many strange beliefs, however, mainstream Shia today don't believe in these things. It wouldn't be right to generalize the issue by saying Shia believe Allah lies. –  yasar11732 Sep 13 '12 at 12:10
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Fataawa (Ruling) of Shaykh Ibn Baaz (vol. 2, p. 396) “It is not permissible to pray behind any of the mushrikeen, including those who seek the help of anyone other than Allaah and seek support from him, because seeking help through anyone other then Allaah, such as the dead, idols, the jinn, etc. is shirk, the association of others with Allaah, glorified be He.” And he said: one should not pray behind any imaam who is known to exaggerate concerning the Ahl al-Bayt (members of the Prophet’s household). If no such thing is known about him or any other Muslim, then it is OK to pray behind them.

Islam Q&A (islamqa . com)

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

Edited for Elaboration: The above is a fatwa, or a ruling, given by a scholar of Islam. Some of the Shia do things that are not permissible, things that are acs of kufr (disbelief) such as

1) Calling upon Ali, Hussein and Fatima along with Allah 2) Believing that the Angel Gabriel made a mistake when he brought down the revelation to Muhammad (Peace be upon him) - [they believe the revelation should have been given to Ali] 3) They curse the companions of the Prophet

These are only a few things that some of the Shia are known to do.

So in the above fatwa, the scholar of Islam is saying that "one should not pray behind any imaam who is known to exaggerate concerning the Ahl al-Bayt (members of the Prophet’s household). If no such thing is known about him or any other Muslim, then it is OK to pray behind them."

Many shia, if not all, exaggerate concerning the family of the Prophet to the extent that their entire religion is based on praising members of his family and cursing his companions. In addition to that, and more importantly, they believe many things that are contradictory to what Allah revealed, such as (as mentioned previously), the belief that the Angel Gabriel made a mistake and brought the revelation to the wrong person.

Tawheed has several elements, all pointing back to Allah as the One Supreme and Sovereign God of all. When you begin calling upon the dead family members of the Prophet, asking them for aid and help, you take yourself away from Tawheed and out of Islam. You set up rivals with Allah. When you curse those whom Allah has blessed, you commit kufr (disbelief). When you say that Gabriel "made a mistake" - you certainly become a disbeliever, as to Allah belongs all perfections and His angels are obedient and do not make mistakes.

Note that in the end, the scholar said "If no such thing is known about him or any other Muslim, then it is OK to pray behind them"

I hope this helps you further understand, if even a little.

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