Make the niyyat (intention) that you are praying behind and following the Imam who is leading the Salat. It is not necessary to know his name, however, you should know that you are following that particular Imam.
Your Salat will not be counted as Salat al-Jamaat if you do not make the intention of following the Imam, this is important.
The follower must say the Takbiratul Ihram after the Imam, so as to maintain his Salat al Jamaat.
Listen to the Imam
In the first two Rak’at, the Imam will read Surah al-Fatiha and one more complete Surah of the Holy Qur’ an.
If you are praying the Salat of Fajr, Maghrib and ‘Isha, then the Imam will be reciting these Surahs out loud, thus, you should keep silent, and listen to his recitation.
In the Salat of Zuhr and ‘Asr, the Imam will be reciting in a quiet whisper and you will not recite anything out loud, however, it is Mustahab that you recite any Dhikr of Allah (swt).
Recite Everything Else in Jamaat
Apart from the two Surahs which the Imam alone will recite, you must independently recite all the other things in the Salat.
You must pray the Dhikr of Ruku, Sujud, Tashahhud, Salam, and all the Takbirs, etc.
So remember, that a Ma’mum is exempted from reading only the two Surahs in the first two Rak’at.
Follow the Imam
The Ma’mum must say theTakbiratul Ihram (the first) after the Imam has said it.
If you say it simultaneously with the Imam or before, then there will be no Jamaat for you.
Then, in every act, follow the Imam. When the Imam goes into Ruku ‘ Sujud, or rises, do it either with him or after him; but do not precede him. This is important as far as the acts are concerned.
However, in the case of the recitations like the Dhikr in Ruku’, Sujud, Qunut, etc., you may precede the Imam, even the Salam to complete the Salat.
- A very important thing to do if you arrive late and find the Imam in a Ruku position, is to say something like, “Ya Allah, Ya Allah” (God is Great..) or “Allah Ma3 Al-Sabereen” (God is with the Patient ones..”)