What should a person whose wudu is invalidated while performing a prayer do?

Details of the Question

What should a person whose wudu is invalidated do when he is following an imam or when he is leading the prayer?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

A person whose wudu is invalidated while performing a prayer should salute and exit the prayer. As a matter of fact, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated the following in a hadith:

"When one of you breaks his wudu during prayer, he should leave the prayer. If it is a prayer in congregation, he should hold his nose and then leave." (Abu Dawud, Salah 236, no: 1114)

The reason why he is asked to hold his nose is to give the congregation the impression that his nose is bleeding. This is in accordance with good manners.

If the wudu of the imam breaks while he is leading the prayer, he can pull somebody from the congregation to the mihrab and appoint him as the imam acting as if his nose is bleeding, etc. When the prayer starts, somebody that has the necessary conditions of being an imam can lead the prayer. It is not permissible for a person who does not have the necessary conditions of being an imam to lead the prayer by replacing the imam.   

The imam whose wudu is invalidated needs to act carefully and choose a person who has been following him since the beginning of the prayer. A person who has joined the congregation after the first rak'ah and has not performed some part of the prayer is not chosen as the imam unless it is compulsory. If something like that happens, when the prayer is completed, the imam who has been appointed to replace the imam chooses a person to finish the prayer before saluting. When the new imam salutes, he stands up and completes his prayer.

If the person who has replaced the imam whose wudu has been invalidated does not exactly know which rak'ah of the prayer it is and needs to ask the imam about it, the imam tries to inform him through signs which rak'ah it is. If it is not possible and if the imam speaks, the prayer is invalidated and needs to be performed again. 

If the person whose wudu has been invalidated leaves the mosque or moves forward if the prayer is performed in an open area, the prayer is invalidated. However, if somebody from the congregation starts to lead the prayer before the imam who has not appointed anybody to replace him leaves the mosque, the prayer is valid and it does not have to performed again.  

If there is only one person except the imam, he moves to the place of the imam and completes the prayer.

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