Is it sunnah according to our school for the imam only to get up once the Iqaama is completed?
When the iqamah is given the imam may either already be in the masjid, or not. If he is already in the masjid, the stated position of our madhhab is that both the imam and the congregation will stand up after the iqamah is completed. However, the proof generally advanced for this position is, according to Imam Nawawi (Sharh al-Muhadhdhab 3:233) a weak hadith.
Amongst our fuqaha Shaykh Abu Hamid al-Isfarayini applies the same rule (of standing up after completion of the iqamah) to the situation where the Imam is not yet in the masjid. This position, Imam Nawawi points out (Sharh al-Muhadhdhab 3:235), appears to stand in contrast to the authentic hadith of Abu Qatadah documented by Bukhari (no. 637) and Muslim (no. 604) which states: “When the iqamah is made, do not stand up until you see me.”
Imam Nawawi mentions that in determining when the congregation should rise, eminent Shafi’i muhaddithun such as Imam Bayhaqi (al-Sunan al-Kubra 2:20) and Imam Baghawi (Sharh al-Sunnah 2:312) have set store by this hadith of Abu Qatadah in terms of which it is not the completion of the iqamah that should signal the moment to rise, but rather when the imam is seen to enter. Since it is established that Sayyiduna Bilal used to wait for RasuluLlah sallaLlahu `alayhi wasallam to appear before beginning the iqamah, it may be gathered that his entry would coincide more or less with the beginning of the iqamah.
In the case of an imam who, like RasuluLlah sallaLlahu `alayhi wasallam, has already performed his sunnah salah at home, entry might be taken in its full literal sense, since the imam would in this case proceed directly to the place where he will lead the salah. With an imam who will first perform his sunnah, it would be not his entry, but rather his proceeding to the mihrab that would signal the moment to rise.
Answered by Shaykh Taha Karaan
Dar Al-’Ulum al-Arabiyyah wal-Islamiyyah