We mentioned earlier that there are some errors that the Imaams make, and there are errors that the people make.
As for the errors of the Imaam:
Sermons During theTaraweeh
Rushing the Taraweeh
A lot of the Imaams rush greatly during Taraweeh, to the point that the people praying behind them are unable to be tranquil, and it makes things difficult for the elderly, the weak, the sick and so on. This contradicts the trust that was bestowed upon them, for indeed the Imaam has a trust and must do what is best for those he leads in prayer. If he were praying by himself he is free to do what he pleases, he may pray quickly in a manner that does not negate tranquility, and if he wishes he may prolong the prayer. If however he is the Imaam, he must do what is best for those whom he is leading.
The people of knowledge have explicitly stated that is Makrooh for the Imaam to pray so quickly that it prevents those following him, or some of them, from performing the Sunan of the Salaat, so how can he pray so quickly that it prevents them, or some of them, from performing what is obligated?!
Praying Consecutively without Breaking the Prayer with Tasleem.
Likewise some of the Imaams pray the Taraweeh in the manner that the Messenger of Allah - صلى الله عليه وسلم - used to pray the Witr sometimes; he would pray five or seven Rak'aat in a row without sitting except at the end, or nine Rak'aat sitting only after the eighth, reciting the Tashahhud, then getting up and praying the ninth. Some Imaams do this for Taraweeh. I do not know that this has been transmitted from the Prophet - صلى الله عليه وسلم - when he lead the people as the Imaam during the prayer. He only used to practice this is his own home. So this practice - even though it has a basis in the Sunnah; that a person prays Witr with five or seven Rak'aat without sitting except at the end, or prays nine, sitting at the eighth, reciting the Tashahhud without giving the Salaam, then getting up and praying the ninth, then reciting the Tashahhud and giving the Salaam - even though it does have a basis, but for the Imaam to practice this in Ramadaan confusing the people? People enter the prayer intending to pray two Rak'aat. Some people may also need to leave after praying two or four Rak'aat after the Imaam gives the Salaam. Some people may need to leave to relive themselves from the discomfort of urine or otherwise, so if the Imaam is praying five, seven or nine Rak'aat consecutively it would be difficult for them.
If the Imaam is doing this to teach the Sunnah, we say to him; 'Teach the Sunnah with your speech, say; 'The Messenger - صلى الله عليه وسلم - used to pray the Witr by praying five or seven Rak'aat without sitting except at the end, and he used to pray nine Rak'aat only sitting at the eighth, then reads the Tashahhud without giving the Salaam, then gets up and prays the ninth Rak'ah, then sits and reads the Tashahhud and gives the Salaam.' He should not practice this with the Jamaa'ah who are unaware of this, or people who join the Salat late and get confused or are put through hardship.
Furthermore, to this day I do not know that the Messenger - صلى الله عليه وسلم - prayed Witr with the people in this manner.
As for the errors by those who are led in Qiyaam:
Not Completing the Prayer with the Imaam
You find some people cutting the Taraweeh, they pray two of four Rak'aat in one Masjid and then move to another, wasting time by doing so. They lose out on tremendous rewards, rewards which the Messenger described as:
"Whoever stand in prayer with the Imaam until he leaves would be rewarded with a whole nights prayer."
This is indeed a great depravation.
Preceding the Imaam in Actions of the Prayer
Likewise you will find some of those who are led in prayer fall into error regarding following the Imaam, you find some of them preceding the Imaam [i.e. like bowing before the Imaam bows etc]. It has been authentically reported that the Prophet - صلى الله عليه وسلم - said:
"Doesn't the one who raises his head before the Imaam fear that Allah would turn his head into that of a donkey's, or that Allah changes his appearance to that of a donkey."
Holding the Mushaf for the one being Lead in the Prayer.
Our opinion is that the one being lead in prayer should not hold the Mushaf except if there is a necessity, such as an Imaam who is not a proficient memorizer requesting from someone to hold the Mushaf and follow up on him and correct him if he errs in the recital. As for other reasons then it is not befitting because one would be preoccupied mentally as well as physically [i.e. by turning over pages etc] for no need. One also leaves off the Sunnah of putting the right hand over the left hand over the chest. So one should not do so unless for a need as I have already pointed out.
Delaying Joining the Salah until the Imaam makes Rukoo'
The esteemed Shaykh Ibn 'Uthaymeen, may Allah reward him, was asked:
If the Taraweeh or qiyaam prayer commences, there are some people who wait until the Imaam makes Rukoo' before they enter the Salaat and make Rukoo'. Is this practice correct?
Likewise if the Imaam completes a Rak'ah and stands for the second, some people remain seated until he is close to making Rukoo' and then stand to make Rukoo' with him. Is this permissible?
As for delaying entering the Salaah until the Imaam makes the Takbeer for Rukoo' – this practice is not correct. Rather I am at a standstill from giving a ruling; is this person's Rak'ah correct or not, because this person purposefully intended a delay which consequently did not give him the opportunity to read the Fatihah – and reading the Fatihah is from the pillars of the prayer, it must be established by the Imaam, the one lead by an Imaan, and one who is praying on his/her own. So the fact that this person remains outside the prayer until the Imaam makes Rukoo', then enters the prayer to make Rukoo' – without a doubt this is incorrect, and dangerous for this person’s prayer, or at least a danger for the Rak'ah that he/she may or may not have caught.
As for paying the Takbeer with the Imaam while seated, then when the Imaam approaches the Rukoo' he/she gets up and makes Rukoo' with him – there is no problem with this, because the Taraweeh are a Naafilah [optional/noncompulsory – refer to Usoolul Fiqh for comprehensive definition]. The Messenger - صلى الله عليه وسلم - when he made Takbeer and standing was difficult upon him, he would start sitting and recite, and when he is close to Rukoo', he would get up and recite whatever was made easy from the Quran and then make Rukoo'. [Collected by al Bukhaaree in the Book of Adhaan; Chapter: If a Person makes Rukoo' Before reaching the Line.]
Likewise if a person makes Rukoo' with the Imaam, then the Imaam stands for the second Rak'ah while he sits until the Imaam is close to making Rukoo' then stands and makes Rukoo' with him, all this there is no problem with it.
Ref: Majmoo’ Fataawaa ibn 'Uthaymeen: # 361