U B S C R I B E T O
N E W S L E T T E R
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Stress on Congregational Prayers and its Excellence
The fact that both, the Qur'an and Sunnah, have laid great stress on
the congregational prayer and described its unique excellence, shows that the fard prayer
is meant to be offered collectively, and no one in the Islamic community should even think
of observing it individually unless one has to do so on the account of a genuine reason.
The Qur'an says:
and bend down in ruku with those who bend down in
ruku." [Al-Baqarah 2:43]
Arguing from this verse, the commentators are generally of the view
that prayer has to be offered collectively. The importance of the congregational prayer in
Islam is so great that the Muslims have been enjoined to observe it even in the
battlefield where danger to life is extreme. The Qur'an has prescribed the following way:
" And when you, O Prophet, are among the Muslims and are going to
lead them in salah (in a state of war), let a party stand behind you, carrying their
weapons with them. When they have made their prostrations, they should fall back and let
another party of them, who have not yet offered salah, say it with you and they too,
should be on guard and keep their weapons with them." [An-Nisaa 4:102]
The Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, also has greatly
stressed the offering of prayer in congregation and described its unique merit and
excellence. For instance, he said:
"Nothing is harder on the hypocrites than the Isha and Fajr
prayer; had they known of the great rewards that Allah would bestow for those prayers they
would never had missed them even if they had to come to the masjid on their knees."
Then he said, "I wish I should tell a Mua'dhin to pronounce the iqamah and appoint
someone as Imam in my place, and I should myself go and set fire to the houses of those
who do not come out even after hearing the adhan. (Bukhari, Muslim).
"Offering the prayer in congregation carries 27 times greater
reward than offering it alone individually." (Bukhari, Muslim)
According to Sayyidna Anas, Radi-Allahu anhu, the Holy Prophet,
Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said: "The person who offers his prayers continuously
for 40 days without missing the first takbeer, is granted a two-fold immunity by Allah:
immunity from Hell-fire and immunity from hypocrisy. (Tirmidhi)
According to Sayyidna Abdullah bin Masoud, Radi-Allahu anhu, the
Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said: "O Muslims! Allah has prescribed
paths of right guidance for you among which is the offering of the daily prayers in
congregation in the masjid, which is the offering of the daily prayers in congregation in
the masjid; if you start saying your prayers individually at home, as so-and-so does, you
will be forsaking the Sunnah of your Prophet, and if you forsake the Sunnah of your
Prophet, you will certainly be going astray." (Muslim)
According to Ubayy bin Ka'ab, Radi-Allahu anhu, the Holy Prophet,
Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said: "If the people come to know of the great rewards
and benefits of the congregational prayer, they would never stay back but would rush to
the masjid for it. The first row merits the highest reward. Two persons praying together
merit greater reward than the same praying individually, the rule being that the bigger
the congregation the higher its worth in the Sight of Allah." (Abu Dawud)
Sayyidna Usman, Radi-Allahu anhu, has reported that he heard the
Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, say: "The person who observes the Isha
prayer in congregation, will have the reward and blessings of staying up half the night in
prayer, and the one who observes the Fajr prayer in congregation will have the reward and
blessings of staying up the whole night in prayer." (Tirmidhi)
Regulations for Making Rows
Utmost care has to be exercised to keep the rows straight and
balanced. The Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has instructed: "Keep your
rows straight and balanced in the prayer, for proper alignment is a necessary condition of
observing the prayer well." (Bukhari, Muslim)
The front rows should be filled and completed first. The followers
should stand behind the Imam in a balanced way, equally on the right and left, keeping him
in the middle in front.
If there is a single follower, he should stand on the right of the
Imam with his heels a little behind the Imam. It is undesirable for a single follower to
stand behind the Imam in a separate row.
If the followers are more than one, they should invariably stand
behind the Imam; it is undesirable for two or more followers to stand beside the Imam on
his right or left.
If at the beginning of the prayer, there is only one follower and
later on one or more follower joins in, they should either pull the first follower back in
the row, or the Imam should step forward and let the followers make a row behind him.
If the front rows are complete, and there is no room for a late
comer, he should avoid standing alone behind, but should pull a person back from the front
row and make a separate row at the back.
If there is room for a late comer to stand in the front row, it is
undesirable for him to stand alone at the back.
If a person who has offered a fard prayer alone, finds that the same
fard prayer is being offered collectively, he should join the congregation, unless it is
the Fajr, or Asr, or Maghrib prayer; the reason is that no prayer is valid after the Fajr
or Asr prayer and Maghrib having 3 rak'ahs cannot be counted as a nafl prayer, for the
prayer offered in congregation by the person will have nafl status and not fard, because
he has all ready offered his fard prayer individually.
If a person is offering a fard prayer and than finds the same prayer
being held in congregation, he should abandon his prayer and join the congregation. If,
however, it is the Fajr prayer and he has performed the sajdah of the second rak'ah, or in
case of other prayers the sajdah of the third rak'ah, he should complete his prayer
independently. If at the end he finds that the congregational prayer is still in progress,
he may join it provided it is the Zuhr or Isha prayer only.
If a person had started a nafl prayer and than finds a fard
congregational prayer due to begin, he should pronounce salutation after two rak'ahs and
join the congregation.
If a person has started the first four sunnah of the Zuhr or Friday
prayer, and then finds the Imam standing up for the fard congregational prayer, he should
pronounce salutation after two rak'ahs and complete them after observing the fard prayer
When Imam has stood up for a fard prayer, the sunnah prayer should
not be started. However, in view of the great importance of the sunnah rak'ahs of the Fajr
prayer, one may offer them even if there is a hope of gaining a single rak'ah of the fard
If a fard congregational prayer is in progress, one may observe the
sunnah rak'ah, if one so likes, in a place outside the masjid; if this is not possible,
one may observe them in a corner of the masjid, away from the congregation; if this is
also not possible, the one should join the congregation instead, for it is undesirable to
offer a prayer independently in a place here a congregational fard prayer is in progress.
If due to some reason, one is late for a congregational prayer and
has no hope of gaining the prayer, one should hasten to the masjid because it is expected
that Allah will not deprive rewards and blessings of congregational prayer. Holy Prophet,
Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said: "The person who preformed his wudu well, then
went to the masjid, and found the prayer to have been preformed already, he will get the
same reward from Allah as those who were tended as observed the prayer in congregation
without any decrease in there rewards."
The person who joins the Imam in the ruku position is deemed to have
gained that rak'ah; if he joins later, he will have to complete the rak'ahs that he has
For a congregational prayer to be valid, there has to be at least
one follower beside the Imam. In the Friday prayer, however, there should be at least two
followers beside the Imam.