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Section I: The Congregational Prayer

Firstly: The Merit of the Congregational Prayer
The congregational prayer [465] Ibn Taymiyyah says: “Scholars are in agreement that it is one of the most confirmed acts of worship, one of the most splendid acts of obedience, and one of Islam’s greatest rites.” (Majmu` al-Fatawa, 23/222) has many merits, including: The congregational prayer is better than praying alone by 27 degrees. Whoever prays `isha’ in congregation is like one who stands half the night in prayer, while one who prays fajr in congregation is like one who stands the entire night in prayer. Whoever performs wudu’ meticulously then walks to offer the prescribed prayer with a group, congregation, or in the mosque has his sins forgiven by Allah.
Secondly: The Wisdom behind Congregational Prayer
Some of the wisdoms behind offering prayer in a congregation include: Planting the seeds of friendship and love in the Muslim community, for it is a means for them to get to know one another. Manifesting one of the greatest of Islam’s rites. Conditioning the Ummah of Islam to unity and avoiding differences. Conditioning Muslims to exercise self-control, for following the imam in prayer trains him in self-control. That Muslims feel equal. Following up on the affairs of Muslims: helping the ill and poor, advising those who are careless about prayer, and teaching those who don’t know the rulings related to prayer. When a Muslim sees other Muslims striving in worship, this encourages him and increases his own morale and striving. Muslims gathering at specific times trains them to respect timing.
Thirdly: The Ruling of the Congregational Prayer The ruling of the congregational prayer for men
Praying in congregation is an individual obligation upon men. This is the position of the Hanbali school, some Hanafis, and one position among Shafi`is and a group of the Salaf. It is the position of choice of al-Bukhari, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Hazm, Ibn Taymiyyah, [466] Ibn Hazm and Ibn Taymiyyah go further, indicating that prayer in congregation is a condition for its validity. According to them, if a man deliberately avoids the congregation and prays alone without an excuse, his prayer is invalid. Ibn Baz, and Ibn `Uthaymin. The ruling of the congregational prayer for women
It is mustahabb for women to pray in a women’s congregation. [467] Though the congregation is not emphasised for women as much as it is for men. This is the position of the Shafi`i and Hanbali schools and a group of the Salaf. It is the position of choice of Ibn Hazm, Ibn al-Qayyim, and Ibn Baz.
Fourthly: The Ruling Related to Communities that do not Offer the Congregational Prayer
If people in a particular locale refuse to establish the congregational prayer, they are fought. This is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence.
Fifthly: The Merit of Walking to the Mosque and Awaiting Prayer Whoever goes to a mosque in the morning or evening, Allah prepares hospitality [468] Hospitality is what is prepared for a guest upon his arrival and when he is settled. The original meaning is food offered to a guest. for him every time he goes in the morning or evening. The greatest reward for prayer is for those who walk the farthest distance. For every step taken, one causes a sin to depart from him and the other raises his rank. Steps taken to the mosque are used by Allah to erase sins and raise one’s rank.
Sixthly: The Proper Way to Walk to the Mosque Walking to the prayer with serenity and dignity while having wudu’
It is mustahabb that one walk to the mosque while having wudu’ and with serenity [469] Serenity here means that one is not hurried and that one avoid nonsense. and dignity. [470] Dignity is through posture, lowering the gaze and voice and following one’s path without looking about, etc. Al-Nawawi says: “The position of our school is that the sunnah is for one intending to pray in congregation to walk with serenity whether one fears missing the opening Allahu Akbar or not. This has been related by Ibn al-Mundhir (on the authority of Zayd ibn Thabit and Anas), Ahmad, and Abu Thawr. It is the position of choice of Ibn al-Mundhir. Ibn al-`Abdari ascribed it to most scholars. According to Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Umar, al-Aswad ibn Yazid, `Abd al-Rahman ibn Yazid (both of whom were Followers), and Ishaq ibn Rahawayh, one walks quickly if he fears missing the opening Allahu Akbar.” (Al-Majmu`, 4/207) Not clasping the hands
It is makruh to clasp one’s hands when praying and when on one’s way to the mosque. This is the position of the Shafi`i and Hanbali schools and the position of choice of Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Baz, and Ibn `Uthaymin. Entering the mosque with the right foot
One enters the mosque with the right foot. After sending blessings upon the Prophet ﷺ one says: “I seek refuge in Allah the Greatest, in His Noble Countenance, and in His Pre-Eternal Sovereignty from the accursed devil. O Allah! Open the doors of Your mercy for me!”
Seventhly: Women Attending Congregation in the Mosque and Its Conditions It is generally permissible for women to attend congregational prayers in the mosque, even though their prayer at home is better and more meritorious. This is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence. [471] Hanafis have a dispensation permitting old women to attend the fajr, maghrib, `isha’, and Eid prayers. They differ regarding the zuhr, `asr, and Friday prayers. As for young women, they do not allow them to attend the mosque. Conditions on women going to the mosque
o That she not be perfumed or adorned.
o That she have her husband’s permission. Ibn Rajab related consensus on this. The ruling of a husband permitting his wife to go to the mosque when she asks
Scholars are divided according to two positions regarding the ruling of a husband permitting his wife to go to the mosque when she asks: [472] Ibn Rajab says: “This must be conditioned upon him not fearing temptation or harm.” (Fath al-Bari, 5/319)
The first position: It is mustahabb for a husband to permit his wife to attend prayer in the mosque if she asks and is safe from temptation. It is not prohibited for him to prevent her. This is the position of the Maliki, Shafi`i, and Hanbali [473] The Hanbalis explicitly mention that it is makruh to prevent her from going to the mosque. schools, and is said to be the opinion of scholars in general.
The second position: It is wajib for a husband to permit his wife to attend prayer in the mosque if she asks and is safe from temptation. [474] This does not mean it is permissible for her to go without his permission. This is the position of Ibn `Abd al-Barr, Ibn Hazm, al-Shawkani, al-Shinqiti, Ibn Baz, and Ibn `Uthaymin.
Eighthly: Performing what is Legislated in Congregation in the Mosque
Whenever the prayers are legislated in congregation, then performing them in the mosque is more meritorious. Ibn Taymiyyah related consensus on this.
Ninthly: How Many People are Required for a Congregation
The minimum number required for a congregation are two: an imam and a follower. Al-Nawawi and Ibn Taymiyyah related consensus on this.
Tenthly: Praying at Local Mosques vs Where There is a Larger Congregation
Scholars are of two positions regarding whether it is more meritorious to pray at a local mosque vs a mosque where there is a larger congregation:
The first position: Praying at a local mosque is superior to praying at a central mosque. This is the position of the Hanafi school, one position among Shafi`is, and the position of choice of Ibn `Uthaymin.
The second position: A mosque with a greater congregation takes priority over a neighbouring mosque. This is the position of the Shafi`i [475] They have two exceptions to this ruling: “First, if the congregation ceases at the close mosque because of his avoidance of it – such as when he is the imam, or because people attend due to his presence – then the close mosque is superior. Secondly, if the imam of the faraway mosque is an innovator (e.g. a Mu`tazili or otherwise), irreligious, or does not believe in the obligation of some of the integrals of prayer, then the close mosque is superior.” (Al-Majmu’ by al-Nawawi, 4/198) and Hanbali [476] Though Hanbalis give priority to a mosque where a congregation is established when he attends over one with a larger congregation or farther away. schools, one position among Hanafis, and the verdict of the Permanent Council.
Eleventhly: Reasons for Avoiding the Congregational Prayer Rain
One of the reasons for avoiding the congregational prayer is rain. [477] Al-Nawawi says: “By the consensus of Muslims, attending the congregation is not required if there is a valid reason.” (Sharh al-Nawawi `ala Muslim, 5/155) This is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence. Mud
One of the reasons for avoiding the congregational prayer is the presence of excessive mud. This is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence. Heavy winds
The presence of heavy winds at night is a reason to avoid the congregational prayer. This is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence. Extreme cold
Extremely cold weather is a reason to avoid the congregational prayer. This is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence, and it is the position of Ibn Hazm. The presence of food
One of the reasons for avoiding the congregational prayer is the presence of food that one desires. This is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence, is the position of a group of the Salaf, and is the chosen position of Ibn Hazm. Having to answer the call of nature
Holding back one’s urine or bowel movement is a reason to avoid the congregational prayer. This is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence. Illness
This will be discussed in the section on prayers of those who have special needs, particularly when discussing the prayer of the ill. Overwhelming fatigue
One of the reasons for avoiding the congregational prayer is overwhelming fatigue and tiredness if one were to wait for the congregational prayer. This is explicitly mentioned by Shafi`i and Hanbali jurists, and it is the position of choice of Ibn `Uthaymin. Fear
One of the reasons for avoiding the congregational prayer is fear for one’s life or property. This is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence. Eating garlic, onions, and similar substances
Scholars are of two positions regarding the ruling of attending the congregational prayer after eating onions, garlic, and similar things:
The first position: It is makruh to attend the mosque after eating garlic, onions, and similar things. [478] Everything foul smelling takes the same ruling, such as cigarette smoke, etc. This is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence.
The second position: It is haram to attend the mosque after eating garlic or onions. This is one position according to Malikis, a narration from Ahmad, the position of the Zahiri school, and the position of choice of Ibn Jareer and Ibn `Uthaymin.
Twelfthly: Repeating the Prayer in Congregation
It is sunnah for one who has offered the prayer to repeat it in congregation if the iqamah is given for it in a mosque. This is the position of the majority: the Malikis, Shafi`is, and Hanbalis. [479] The maghrib prayer is an exception according to Malikis and Hanbalis. It is the position of choice of Dawud.
Thirteenthly: Multiple Congregations and Repeating the Congregational Prayer Multiple congregations simultaneously or one after another
Offering multiple congregations is not legislated in a single mosque. Similarly, offering multiple official congregations one after another is not legislated in a single mosque.
Consensus on the prohibition of offering multiple congregations simultaneously in a single mosque was related by Ibn `Arafah, Abu al-Qasim ibn al-Hubab, Jamal al-Deen ibn Zaheerah, and `Aleesh.
Consensus on the prohibition of offering multiple official congregations one after another was related by al-Sa`di al-Maliki, al-Ghassani, and al-Shawkani. Repeating the congregational prayer in a mosque for a reason
If the mosque does not have an official imam
If the mosque does not have an official imam, [480] Such as a mosque in a market or mosques found in alleyways or on routes. it is not makruh to offer a second, third, or greater congregation. This is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence. [481] Repeating the congregational prayer is not makruh according to Hanbalis except in the three (sacred) mosques.
If the mosque has an official imam
If one misses the congregational prayer with the official imam, it is legislated that he repeat it with another congregation. This is the positon of the Hanbali school, a group of the Salaf, Dawud al-Zahiri, and the position of choice of Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Baz, and Ibn `Uthaymin.


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