the prayers in congregation is a Sunnah mu’akkadah. Many hadith discuss the
superiority and excellence of prayers in congregation. Such a hadith include
Ibn ‘Umar reports that the Prophet Sallallahu alehi wasallam said: “Prayer in congregation is superior to a prayer performed individually by twenty-seven degrees.” This is related by al-Bukhari and Muslim. Abu Hurairah reports that the Prophet Sallallahu alehi wasallam said: “The prayer of a man in congregation is twenty-five times more superior (in reward) to his prayer in his house or market - and this is because he makes the wudu’ and perfects it and goes to the mosque with the sole purpose of performing the salah. He does not take a step without being raised a degree and having one of his sins erased. When he prays, as long as he does not lose his wudu, the angels keep on praying [for him] ‘O Allah, bless him. O Allah, have mercy on him.’ And he is considered in salah as long as he is waiting for the salah.” This is related by al-Bukhari and Muslim, and it is presented in al-Bukhari’s wording.
If you leave the Sunnah of your Prophet, you would go astray. Verily, I have seen a time when no one stayed away from them [the congregational prayers] except for the hypocrites who were well known for their hypocrisy. A man would be brought, supported by two people [due to his weakness] until he was placed in a row.” This is related by Muslim.
It is better for women to pray in their houses than to attend congregational prayers. However, they may go to the mosque and attend the congregational prayer if they avoid wearing or using any attractive or tempting adornment or perfume.
It is preferable to pray in a mosque that is farther away and that has a larger congregation.
Muslim records from Abu Musa that the Prophet Sallallahu alehi wasallam said: “The one who gets the greatest reward for a prayer is the one who walks the farthest distance.” Muslim also records that Jabir said: “The area around the mosque became vacant and the tribe of Salamah wanted to move there. When this news reached the Messenger of Allah, he said: ‘It has reached me that you want to move closer to the mosque?’
They said: ‘Yes, O Messenger of Allah, we desire that.’ The Prophet said: ‘O tribe of Salamah, your dwellings will record your steps.’” Al-Bukhari, Muslim, and others have recorded this on the authority of Abu Hurairah. Ubayy ibn Ka’b reported that the Prophet Sallallahu alehi wasallam said: “The salah of a man with another man is purer than the salah of a man by himself. [In the same way,] his salah with two men is purer than his salah with only one man, and what is more, it is most dear to Allah.” This is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah and Ibn Hibban. Ibn as-Sakin, al-’Uqaily and al-Hakim classify it as Sahih.
Going to the Mosque with Calm and Dignity
It is preferred for one to walk to the mosque with calm and dignity and not in a hurry or rushing. This is because the person is considered to be in prayer when he is going to the salah (and also while he is waiting for it). Abu Qatadah says: “We were praying with the Prophet Sallallahu alehi wasallam when we heard the clamoring of some men. When they had prayed, the Prophet inquired: ‘What was the matter with you?’ They answered: ‘We were hurrying for the salah.’ He said: ‘Do not do that...when you come to the salah come in peace and calm, and pray what you can with congregation and complete what you have missed.’” This is related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.
Hurairah narrates that the Prophet Sallallahu alehi wasallam said: “When you
hear the Iqamah, proceed to the prayer with calm and dignity and do not rush.
Pray what you can (with congregation) and complete what you miss.” This is
related by the group except for at-Tirmizhi.
The Imam Should be “Easy” on His
Abu Hurairah reports that the Prophet said: “If one of you leads the people in prayer, he should be “easy,” on them for among the people are the weak, sick, and aged. If one prays by himself, one may make it as long as one wishes.” This is related by the group. It is narrated from Anas that the Prophet Sallallahu alehi wassalam said: “Sometimes I enter prayer and I intend to prolong it, but then I hear a child crying, and I shorten my prayer thinking of the distress of the child’s mother.”
It is permitted for the imam to prolong the first rak’ah while waiting for others to join the congregation. In the same way, it is preferred for him to wait for people who are coming during the bowings and during the final sitting.
To be Continued