Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
Answering your question, the Fatwa Center at Islam Q and A, states:
Ibn Qudamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “When the iqamah for prayer is given, do not be distracted from it by Sunnah prayer, whether one fears missing the first rakah or not. This is the view of Abu Hurairah, Ibn Umar, Urwah, Ibn Sirin, Said ibn Jubayr, Ash-Shafi`i, Ishaq and Abu Thawr.” (Al-Mughni, 1/272)
Some of the scholars also quoted this hadith as evidence that the person who is offering a sunnah prayer when the iqamah is given should cut short that prayer.
Al-Hafizh al-Iraqi said: “His words ‘there is no prayer’ may be interpreted as meaning that he should not start a sunnah prayer in that case; or it may be interpreted as meaning that he should not be distracted by a sunnah prayer, and if he had started it before the iqamah then he should cut it short so that he can catch up with the opening takbir [with the imam], or that it is invalid in and of itself even if the worshipper does not cut it short. It may be understood as meaning both of these.”
Sheikh Abu Hamid, one of the Shafi`is, said that it is better to stop the sunnah prayer if completing it means that he is going to miss the opening takbir with the imam. (The words of al-Iraqi were quoted by Ash-Shawkani in Nayl al-Awtar, 3/91).
This was also stated in a fatwa issued by the Standing Committee on Scientific Research and Fatwas, when they were asked if it is permissible to cut short a sunnah prayer and join the opening takbir with the imam, or one should complete the sunnah prayer, they replied,
Yes, if the iqamah for an obligatory prayer is given, then you should cut short your sunnah prayer so that you can join the opening takbir with the imam, because it was proven that the Prophet said: “If the iqamah for prayer is given, then there is no prayer but the prescribed prayer.” (Fatawa al-Lajnah ad-Daimah lil-Buhuth al-Ilmiyyah wal-Ifta, 7/312)
Sheikh Ibn Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said that the correct view is that if the iqamah for prayer is given while the person is still in the first rakah of a sunnah prayer, then he should cut it short; if that happens when he is in the second rakah then he should complete it quickly and not cut it short.
He said (may Allah have mercy on him): What we think concerning this matter is that if you are in the second rakah, then you should complete it quickly, but if you are in the first rakah, then you should cut it short. Our evidence for that is the words of the Prophet him: “Whoever catches up with one rakah of the prayer has caught up with the prayer.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
So the person who has prayed a rakah before the iqamah for prayer is given has caught up with a rakah that is free of any impediments, which here means the iqamah for prayer, so he has caught up with the prayer by doing a rakah before the prayer becomes disallowed, so he should complete it quickly… Then he said: This is the view that reconciles all the evidence. (Ash-Sharh al-Mumti, 4/238)
If he cuts short the sunnah prayer, he should do so without saying the tasleem (salutation).
The Standing Committee on Scientific Research and Fatwas was asked: If the iqamah for prayer is given and there is a person who is doing two rakahs of sunnah prayer or “Greeting the Mosque”, should he cut short his prayer so that he can offer the obligatory prayer with the congregation? If the answer is yes, then should he say the tasleem (salutation) when cutting short his prayer, or should he cut it short without the tasleem?
They replied: What is believed to be the most correct of the two scholarly views is that he should cut short that prayer, and there is no need to say the tasleem when doing so. Then he should join the imam.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.