Congregational Prayers
Question :

During congregational prayers, if I am to continue prayers while the imam is reciting the tashahhud and tasleem of the last rakah (unit), I put my hands on the floor, raise my knees and wait for the imam, but do I have to wait until he finishes the tasleem, or can I stand up when he starts the tasleem?

Answer :

It is better to wait for the imam of the congregational prayer to end his prayer, but one may leave the congregation and continue his prayer alone before that.

Breaking the Congregational Prayer
Question :

Someone joins the congregational prayer while the imam is in the bowing position, but he later changes his intention not to follow the imam. He subsequently decides to follow him again during the same prayer. Can he do so?

Answer :

If he intended to break the congregational prayer and pray alone, and then he or the imam had performed an act of prayer, then he has left the congregational prayer and must complete his prayer alone. Rather, the same is the case if neither of them performed any act, as an obligatory precaution.

Joining the Congregation
Question :

Can I join the congregational prayer in the prostration of the first Raka'a but not consider that as the first Raka'a for myself, or is that only allowed when I am sure the imam is in the last Raka'a ?

Answer :

Yes, you can and that is not limited to the last Raka'a.

Joining the Congregation
Question :

Is it possible to join in the 4th Raka'a of the imam after the bowing has already been completed? If so, then how?

Answer :

Yes, it is possible to join after the last bow by reciting Takbeeratul-Ihram ("Allahu Akbar") and following the imam in prostration until the imam finishes the prayer. The prayer is continued - without counting the prostration with the imam as part of the first raka'a - by standing for his first raka'a without reciting Takbeeratul-Ihram again.

Joining from a Distance
Question :

Is it true that if the congregational prayer is some distance away and I come into the prayer hall and the Imam is in the bowing position, I can do Takbeeratul-Ihram and bow down where I am and walk in the state of bowing to join the congregation?

Answer :

When present in the place of congregational prayer, one can recite Takbeeratul-Ihram - even if not close to the group of the congregation - and walk even during prostration to join the congregation.