When a person enters the Masjid (mosque) and finds people reciting Tashahhud, should he wait until they finish or should he join them in congregational Salah?
Fatwa no. 4397
Q: Once I went to the Masjid (mosque) to offer `Asr (Afternoon) Prayer, and I found that they had finished three Rak`ahs (units of Prayer) and were in the Sujud (prostration) position of the fourth Rak`ah. In this case, should I join them or wait until they finish Salah?
A: In this case, you should join them then complete Salah from the point where you joined them and make up for what you missed.
If you find that they have risen from the Ruku` (bowing) position of the last Rak`ah, then join them and make up for the parts you missed after the Imam recites Taslim (salutation of peace ending the Prayer).
This is due to what is related by Abu Dawud (may Allah be merciful with him) on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, <<When you come to prayer while we are prostrating ourselves, prostrate yourself and do not count it as one Rak`ah. Whoever catches a Rak`ah of the Prayer, in fact catches the Prayer>>.
Also because of the general meaning of what has been narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim (may Allah be merciful to them) on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with them) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, <<When the words of Iqamah are pronounced, do not come to (prayer) running, but go with tranquility, and pray what you are in time for, and complete what you have missed…>>
May Allah grant us success! May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and Companions!
Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta’
Member Member Deputy Chairman Chairman
`Abdullah ibn Qa`ud `Abdullah ibn Ghudayyan `Abdul-Razzaq `Afify `Abdul-`Aziz ibn `Abdullah ibn Baz
 Abu Dawud, vol. 1, p. 206, Book on Salah
 Imam Ahmad, vol. 2, p. 237; Al-Bukhari, vol. 1, p. 55, Book on Adhan; Muslim, vol. 2, p. 422; Abu Dawud, vol. 1, p. 135, Book on Salah; Al-Tirmidhy, vol. 2, p. 149, Book on Salah; Al-Nasa*y, vol. 2, p. 114, Book on Imamate; and Ibn Majah, vol. 1, p. 255, Book on Masjids.