Fiqh of Hadith: Salatul Jamaa’
by Sh. Kifah Mustapha
Abu Hurayrah (RAA) said, "The messenger of Allah said: [By the (One) my soul is in His hand, I have (almost) initiated to order wood to be chopped, then order Salah to be called for (Azan), then order a person to lead people (in prayer), then go back to (some) men and burn their houses on them. By the (One) my soul is in His hand, if someone knew that he will find (at the Mosque) a bone with little meat on it or a nice two (goat) feet, he would have attended Isha (prayer).]"
عن أبي هُريرة رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: (والذي نفسي بيده لقد هممت أن آمر بحطب فيحطب ثم آمر بالصلاة فيؤذَّن لها ثم آمر رجلا فيؤم الناس ثم أخالفَ الى رجالٍ فأحرّقَ عليهم بيوتهم والذي نفسي بيده لو يعلم أحدهم أنه يجد عَرقا سمينا أو مرماتين حسنتين لشهد العشاء).
Praying in a group at the Masjid was a sign of faith in which only people who were known to be hypocrites at the time of the prophet (PBUH) would not attend. The prophet (PBUH) kept mentioning many Hadiths about the rewards of attending the prayer at the Mosque but when none of that worked with these hypocrites the prophet (PBUH) used the language of threatening.
Scholars had different views on the ruling of Salatul Jamaa’ or group prayer:
1. The school of Zahiriyyah led by Imam Daoud and Ibn Hazm said it is an obligation on each Muslim and also a condition for Salah in which Salah would not be accepted except in Jamaa’. Only people with legitimate excuses like illness are allowed not to. One narration through Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal supported this view.
2. The main view by the school of Hanabelah, Imam Awzaiee and Aata’ is that it is an obligation but not a condition for Salah to be accepted. This means that if someone did pray at work or home while able to pray in the Masjid, he will be committing a sin but his Salah would still be accepted.
3. The consensus of early scholars, including the school of Malikiyyah and Hanafiyyah, said it is an obligation to have Salah performed at the Masjid by some people at least (Fardd Kifayah.)
4. The consensus by late scholars said it is a confirmed Sunnah (Sunnah Mouakkadah.) They supported their argument by the same Hadith saying that the prophet (PBUH) himself said he would ask someone else to lead Salah and he would go to those who are not attending. He could have done that after Salah or before.
Things learned from Hadith:
1. The importance of praying in the Masjid Jamaa’.
2. Those who stopped praying in the Masjid completely should revise their decision, they are most likely the ones meant in the threatening language of the Prophet (PBUH.)
3. That it is permissible for the less in qualification to lead Salah in the presence of the more qualified. This is confirmed in other incidents when the prophet (PBUH) prayed behind other people like Abu Bakr.