What is the decree on performing prayers in congregation according to madhhabs?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Prayers have been performed in congregation since the time of our Prophet (pbuh) due to its superior virtue; and mosques have been built for this purpose; they have become social institutions with many other functions they perform.

The religion of Islam attaches great importance to unity and solidarity. Performing the five daily prayers in congregation (al-Baqara, 2/43) and performing the Friday prayer once a week and the eid prayers twice a year together assume a function such as helping the believers to be aware of one another, to meet and mingle, and to help one another.

In this respect, prayer in congregation assumes a role that strengthens and sustains the desired spirit of unity.

The Prophet (pbuh) always led the five daily prayers as the imam of the congregation from the time it was rendered fard until the end of his life and encouraged Muslims to perform the prayers in congregation. (Abu Dawud, Salah, 49)

There are many hadiths showing the importance of congregation. The Prophet (pbuh) states the following in one of them:

“If three people are in a village or the country and do not pray in congregation, Satan will dominate them. So, do not leave the congregation because the wolf eats only the sheep that leaves the flock.” (Abu Dawud, Salah, 47)

The following is stated in another hadith

“I swear by Allah, in whose hand is my soul, that I thought of ordering the collection of wood for a fire, then ordering adhan to be called to prayer, then ordering a person to become an imam, and then going to those who did not come to the prayer in congregation and burning their houses.” (Bukhari, Adhan, 29, 34; Muslim, Masajid, 251-254)

Thus, he gave a serious warning to those who left the congregation. In addition, in order to encourage people, he stated that the reward of prayer performed in congregation was 27 degrees higher than prayer performed alone (Bukhari, Adhan, 30; Muslim, Masajid, 249)

Based on the hadiths above, and similar hadiths and related verses that indicate the importance of praying in congregation, Hanbalis state that performing the prayer in congregation is fard al-ayn for men, and Shafiis state that it is fard al-kifaya.

According to Hanafis and Malikis, performing the fard prayers in congregation, except for the Friday prayer, is sunnah muakkadah for men who can do it. (Marghinani, al-Hidaya, 1/362; Qasani, Badai’, 1/155; Jaziri, al-Madhahibul-Arba’a, 1/368-369)

In this respect, men should try to perform prayers in congregation unless there is an obstacle to going to the congregation. As a matter of fact, the Prophet (pbuh) states that a person will be raised one degree with every step he takes while going to the mosque, and one of his sins will be erased. (Bukhari, Adhan, 30; Abu Dawud, Salah, 49)

A person who belongs to Hanbali madhhab must perform prayers in congregation unless there is a necessity. However, congregation is not a condition for the soundness of prayer. That is, even if he does not perform it in congregation, his prayer is still valid.

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