Performance of the prayer together with the other Muslims in congregation at Mosques is a duty required from every male Muslim of sound mind. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says:
“ …And bow down your heads with those who bow down (in worship)” (Qur’an 2:43).
Much emphasis has also been made by the Prophet ﷺ about the Congregational Prayers as can be gathered from the following authentic sayings:
1. “Performing prayer in congregation is 27-times better than prayer performed on individual basis”(Reported by Imam Bukhari).
2. “Ibn Maktum said: I told the Messenger of Allah that I am blind and my house is faraway and I have no suitable guide to the mosque.. do I not have permission to pray at home? The Prophet ﷺ, asked me: ‘Do you hear the call to the prayer?’ I answered: Yes, and the Prophet ﷺ then said to me: ‘Respond accordingly (by coming to the mosque)‘” (Reported by Imam Muslim).
3. “If there happens to be (even) three persons in a village, desert or jungle and they do not pray in congregation, Satan would surely dominate them. So, observe your prayers in congregation, for certainly, the wolf devours the lonely sheep” (Reported by Abu Dawoud).
4. “I swear by Allah in Who’s possession is my life. I feel like asking for firewood to be gathered and order for the prayer to be held and the call for prayer (Adhaan) to be announced and then ask someone to lead the prayer, and I go after those who failed to join the congregational prayer and set fire to them while they are in their houses” (Reported by Imam Bukhari).
By virtue of the above quoted Qur’anic verse as well as the various sayings of the Prophet ﷺ, congregational prayer is incumbent upon every male Muslim unless a person is excused from doing so as a result of one or more of the following reasons:
It is permitted for women to attend the congregational prayers at the mosques and their husbands may not prevent them from doing so unless it is feared that harm will come to them. However, it is preferable for women to perform prayers at their homes.
The Prophet ﷺ says: “Do not prohibit women to attend prayer at mosque, but prayer at their homes is better for them” (Reported by Imam Ahmad).
If, however, women decide to go out for prayer at the mosques, they should neither dress nor perfume themselves in a manner that may attract the attention of men. At the mosques, it is an established tradition that women perform their prayers preferably in their own partition behind the rows of men.
Purpose of the Congregational Prayer
Performance of the prayer in congregation is a great Islamic practice through which equality and justice are made manifest. Here, the ruler and the subject, the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the powerful and the down-trodden, the influential and the wretched all assemble in rows shoulder to shoulder in front of Allah, the Almighty, with neither differences nor distinctions between them – all of them servants of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). They meet on common ground in the houses of Allah thinking only of Him in humility in due regard to the following verse of the Qur’an:“Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you” (Qur’an 49:13).
Islam is a religion of great social order and when a Community of Muslims in a given area meet at the Congregational Prayers five times each day, then certainly we can imagine the innumerable benefits that could be derived – people knowing each other; people learning each other’s affairs; people meeting their leaders and community heads; people discussing and solving their day-to-day problems; people cooperating etc. Thus, cohesiveness, unity, love and brotherhood become truly evident among the Muslim community.
In an Islamic state, the head of the state or his representative is supposed to lead the five daily congregational prayers at the central mosque of the capital city as was the practice of the Prophet ﷺ, in the first Islamic state established at Medina. The leader or head of the Islamic State would, of course, be a person of unquestionable integrity, known to be more knowledgeable than his subjects and above all righteous.
Persons wishing to perform a congregational prayer would choose from amongst themselves an Imam (leader) who has the qualities described above and who would stand in front of the others at the center of the row.
After the second call for the prayer (Iqamah) is performed, the Imam turns towards the congregation and would endeavor to straighten out the row(s) and urge the congregation to stand close to each other as much as possible. These acts were established practices of the Prophet ﷺ as can be noted from the following sayings:
“Straighten your rows and stand close to each other in prayer…” (Reported by Imam Bukhari).
“You shall have to straighten your rows in prayer or else Allah will create differences among you”(Reported by Imam Bukhari).
The Imam, thereafter, starts the prayer with the words of “Takbiiratil Al-Ihraam” as usual and the congregation would follow suit. The congregation would then proceed to complete the prayer as discussed in detail earlier.
RULINGS ON CONGREGATIONAL PRAYERS
By unanimous agreement, it is more preferable for women to pray at home, But a requirement for men to pray at the masjid. (There is hikmah: women take care of the household and family, and it would be difficult for her to attend the prayerin congregation with the children. The Prophet ﷺ gave them the reward for going to the masjid while praying at home.)
Ibn Abi Makhtoum, the blind sahabi, asked the Prophet ﷺ if he could pray at home, and the Prophet ﷺ said that he can pray at home, but then he immediately called him back and asked, “Can you hear the adhan?”Ibn Abi Makhtoum replied yes, and the Prophet ﷺ told him that he must go to the masjid.
To establish a congregation, only two people are needed: imam and ma’moom. Sometimes the Prophet ﷺ would pray at night, and Ibn Abbas would come and pray with him in congregation. Once he stood on his left, and the Prophet ﷺ moved him to the right of him.
People lining up in congregational salat
Shoulder to shoulder and foot to foot. Men line up first and then the women in the back. It is better to keep the children scatter in the line and with the parents.
Congregational salat for Women
It is permissible for women to attend the congregational salat. For their own sake and the reward, it is better for them to pray at home. What if a woman desires to go to the masjid? Legally, the husband cannot say no to her. She can go for fajr and isha to the masjid. The Prophet ﷺ said, “You are not allowed to forbid the female servants of Allah from attending the houses of Allah.”
Women making their own Jamaa’ at home
It is permissible for women to pray in congregation among themselves. Their leader should stand in the middle of the row according to the narration regarding Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) which indicates that she used to lead women in prayer and would stand with them in the middle of the row. This has been narrated by ‘Abdur Razzaq in Al-Musannaf 3/141 and Daraqutni 1/404, and is authentic due to evidences for it.
Congregational salat for a latecomer
If the person catches the last ruku’, then the person has caught the congregational salah. If the imam is in the final sujood or tashahhud, you should still join the congregation, and after the imam says salaam, continue with your salah.
More than one congregational salat in one masjid
At the same time: No! If you come late during the taraweeh time, do not start the congregational salah. There should not be two jama’ah at the same time. They can join the imam who is praying taraweeh and pray isha.
Imam and Ma’moom
The congregation can be made up of two people. A husband and wife can be jama’ah, and the wife should stand behind her husband in a second line.
Rules of the Imam
The imam should be,
Imam who already did his salat earlier
Yes. The hadeeth of Mu’adh ibn Jabal who would pray with the Prophet ﷺ and then lead the salah in his community.
Salat in the house of a host
If you are visiting someone, then the host should lead the salah even if he was the least qualified unless he gives you permission to lead the salah. Do not embarrass the host and ask someone other than the host to lead the salah.
Imam takes care of the alignment of the lines before he starts his salat.
The Prophet ﷺ would go through the lines himself or he would assign people in each line to check the lines.The imam should look around and check the lines.
Rules of the Ma’moom
Lining up behind the imam
If it is one individual: the man lines up next to the imam on the right side of the imam. Women pray behind the men. If the children can keep position in salah, then put them in one line, but if they are going to be distracting, then keep them with the adults. If the child keeps moving positions, then keep the adults in one line with the child in front of the parent.
The ma’moom reciting Surah in his/her salat
He should recite Fatiha and another surah in the silent salat, and the Fatiha only in the salat done aloud.
Making Up for Missed Salat.
The Ma’moom as the latecomer (Masbooq) & Etiquette of the latecomer for salat (al-Masbooq)
Abu Hurayrah narrated, the Messenger ﷺ said:
“When you hear the Iqamah, walk your way to the Salat place with tranquility and dignity, and do not hurry up. And whatever portion of the Salat you get (with the Imam) offer it, and complete afterwards whatever you missed.”
1. He should walk with tranquility to the line, not run.
2. Place and steady himself in line
3. He should not stand alone behind the lines
4. Start with the opening takbir (takbeeratul ihram)
5. Do his moving takbir (if needed)
6. Follow the imam in whichever stage he may be
7. When the imam gives his tasleem, the masbooq should stand up to make up for the missed rak’ahs
8. Join the position of the imam in whatever position he is in. Join immediately in the position he is in.
Joining in the Congregation