Allah Taala commands us in the Holy Quraan: "When the Quraan is read, listen to it with attention and hold your peace: that ye may receive mercy." (Verse 204, Surah Al-A'araaf)
Many commentators like of Mujaahid, Ibn Juraij and Saeed ibnul Musayib (R.A) are of the opinion that the above verse also refers to the period of the Jumuah Khutba and Salaat. ( Tafseer Ibn Katheer - vol 2)
Rasulullah Sallallaahu-alaihi-wasallam has also mentioned: "When one of you enters the masjid whilst the imaam is on the pulpit (delivering the khutba) then he should not perform any salaat nor should he speak until the imaam completes (the sermon)." (Tabrani)
A hadith in Musnad Ahmad also suggests that when one enters the Musjid for Salaatul-Jumua and the imaam has already commenced the sermon, then one should sit down and listen attentively to the sermon and not perform any salaat. ( Musnad Ahmad pg. 75, vol 5)
The above has been the practise of many eminent Sahaba (R.A.) and Tabi'een such as Hazrat Umar (R.A), Uthman (R.A), Ali (R.A), Ibn Abbas (R.A), Imam Malik, Laith, Abu-Hanifa,Thawri, Ibn Sireen (R.A). ( Sharh Muslim -Pg 287, vol 1 / Musannaf ibn abi Shaiba Pg.20, vol 2 )
However, Imaam Shafie and Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal (R.A), are of the opinion that it is mustahab (preferable) for one who arrives after the imaam has commenced his sermon to perform his Tahiyyatul-musjid. (Sharh-Muslim- Nawawi p.g 287) They have based their view on the strength of an incident that occurred with Hazrat Sulaik Al-Ghatfani (R.A).
Hazrat Jabir R.A narrates that Sulaik Al - Ghatfani entered whilst Rasulullah Sallallaahu-alaihia -wasallam was delivering the Friday sermon and sat down. Rasulullah Sallallaahu-alaihi wasallam enquired of him if he had performed his salaat.When he replied in the negative, Rasulullah Sallallaahu-alaihi wasallam then ordered him with the following:
a) to stand up
b) perform 2 rakaats( nafl-salaat)
c) keep the salaat brief Kitaabul-Jumuah - Sahih Muslim P.g 287, Vol-1)
The majority of the scholars who do not hold the same view as Imaam Shafie & Ahmad bin Hanbal (R.A ), explain the above hadith to be a special case concerning Hazrat Sulaik (R.A.) only.
This line of reasoning has been supported by a narration of Hazrat Abu Saeed Al-Khudri R.A that Rasulullah Sallallaahu-alaihi wasallam had ordered him to offer his 2 rakaats of salaat. He (Sallallaahu-alaihi wasallam) encouraged the sahaaba to be charitable towards him, upon seeing his down-trodden condition. ( Kitaabul- Jumua, Nasaai -Pg.208, vol 1) Hence the deduction of these scholars indicates that the reason for Rasulullah Sallallaahu-alaihi wasallam's ordering him to perform his salaat was for the sahaaba to notice his pitiable, poor and downtrodden condition. In this way Rasulullah Sallallaahu-alaihi wasallam encouraged charity towards him.
Notwithstanding the above incident, Rasulullah Sallallaahu-alaihi wasallam never commanded any other latecomer to stand up and perform his tahiyyatul-musjid, as he commanded Hazrat Sulaik (R.A). There are many incidents which substantiate this view, where a late comer was not commanded by Rasulullah Sallallaahu-alaihi wasallam to offer his salaat. To the contrary he was instructed to sit down and not cause any inconvenience to others. (Nasaai- p.g 207 )
Some narrations also mention that Rasulullah Sallallaahu-alaihi wasallam stopped his sermon, waited for Hazrat Sulaik (R.A) and resumed his sermon after he had completed his salaat.( Musannaf ibn Abi Shaiba-pg.20-vol2) This clearly indicates that Hazrat Sulaik (R.A) did not perform his 2 rakaats during the sermon. Rasulullah Sallallaahu-alaihi wasallam had also asked him to make his salaat brief (whilst he waited for him).This also emphasizes the importance of listening to the sermon.
Infact Rasulullah Sallallaahu-alaihi wasallam prohibited any other activity during the sermon, so that one listens to the advices of the sermon. Even commanding someone with good during the sermon was prohibited, although it is normally wajib act. Hence, if a wajib act was not permitted, then how will a nafl act be given preference over it? (Al bahruraaiq p.g 271 vol 2)
From the above, it can be concluded that it is advisable for the latecomer to sit down and listen to the Friday Sermon and not to engage in any nafl salaat. This viewpoint is strongly supported by the majority of the eminent and pious predecessors.Even, great scholars like Imaam Shafie & Imaam Ahmad bin Hambal are of the opinion that at the most, it is sunnat (and not compulsory) for the latecomer to perform the tahiyyatul-musjid , during the sermon. (Alfiqhul-Islaami wa adillatuhu - p.g 297 vol,2 )
And Allah SWT Knows Best,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai