PRAYER: The Friday prayer as an obligation

Friday, April 26, 2019

The scholars are in agreement that Salatul Jumu’ah is an individual obligation and it is two Rak’at. Allah says in the Qur’an: “O you who believe, when the call for the salah of Jumu’ah is proclaimed, hasten unto the remembrance of Allah, and leave off business (and trading). That is best for you if you but knew.”

The obligatory nature of salatul Jumu’ah is also obvious from the hadith recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet said: “We are the last [of the people to come] but the first on the day of resurrection. They received their books before us and we got ours after them. This day was obligatory upon them, but they differed concerning it, and Allah guided us. The people, therefore, follow us: the Jews tomorrow and the Christians the day after tomorrow.”

Ibn Mas’ud reports that the Prophet noticed some people staying away from al-Jumu’ah and said: “I had the notion to order someone to lead the people in prayer, and then to go and burn the houses of those who stayed away from al-Jumu’ah.” This is related by Ahmad and Muslim.

Abu Hurairah and Ibn ‘Umar report that they heard the Prophet (SAW) say: “Those who are not attending the Friday salah should change their ways; otherwise, Allah, the Exalted, will seal their hearts and they will be reckoned the heedless.” This is related by Muslim, and by Ahmad and an-Nasa’i from ibn ‘Umar and ibn ‘Abbas.

Abu al-Ja’d ad-Damari reports that the Prophet said: “Whoever misses three Friday prayers in a row out of negligence will have a seal put over his heart by Allah.” This is related by the five, and Ahmad and Ibn Majah have something similar from Jabir, while Ibn as-Sakin has graded it to be Sahih.

Upon whom salatul Jumu’ah is obligatory 

Salatul Jumu’ah is an obligation upon every free, adult, sane, resident Muslim who has the ability to attend the salah and does not have a valid excuse to miss it. Salatul Jumu’ah, however, is not obligatory on the following:

1. Women and children, concerning this category there is no difference of opinion.

2. The person who is ill and faces hardship if he goes to the mosque, or who fears that his illness will be increased by going to the mosque, or whose recovery will be delayed. This also includes the person who is nursing a very ill person if, especially, the ill person cannot manage in the absence of the nursing person.

Tariq ibn Shihab reports that the Prophet (SAW) said: “Al-Jumu’ah is a duty upon every Muslim in the community, save four: a slave, or a woman, or a child, or a person who is ill.” An-Nawawi says that its chain is sahih according to the conditions set by al-Bukhari and Muslim. Ibn Hajr says that more than one person has graded it sahih.

3. For the traveler, even if he is staying at a certain place during the time of the beginning of salatul Jumu’ah, it is not obligatory. This is based on the fact that the Prophet (SAW) traveled and did not perform the salatul Jumu’ah but only prayed the Zuhr and ‘Asr together during the time of the zuhr prayers. The caliphs after him and others also acted in a similar manner.

4. One who is in debt and cannot repay his debt and therefore fears that he will be imprisoned, and one who fears that he will be harmed by an oppressive ruler: Ibn ‘Abbas reports that the Prophet Sallallahu Alehi Wasallam said: “Whoever hears the call to the salah and does not respond to it [i.e., by coming to the salah], there will be no prayer for him unless he has an excuse.” The people inquired: “O Messenger of Allah, what is a [valid] excuse?” He answered: “Fear or illness.” This is related by Abu Dawud with a sahih chain.

5. Environmental restraints like rain, mud, extreme cold, and so on. Ibn ‘Abbas said to the Mu’azhzhin on a rainy day: “When you say ‘I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah,’ do not say ‘Come to the prayer,’ but say ‘Pray in your houses.”’ The people objected to that and he told them: “One better than me did so [the Prophet (SAW). Al-Jumu’ah is an obligation but I dislike that you should go out walking in the mud and slush.” Abi Malih reports that his father had witnessed the day of Jumu’ah with the Prophet and it was raining and the people were troubled by their shoes so he ordered them to pray in their stopping places. This is related by Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah.

All of these people are not obliged to pray the Friday salah although they are obliged to pray the Zuhr. Should one of them pray salatul Jumu’ah, it will still be valid for him or her and he will no longer be obliged to pray the zuhr. And the women during the time of the Prophet Sallallahu Alehi Wasallam, attended the mosque and used to pray al-Jumu’ah with him.

The Time of the Salatul Jumu’ah 

The majority of the companions and successors were of the opinion that the time of al-Jumu’ah is the same as that of the zuhr. Ahmad, al-Bukhari, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmizhi, and al-Baihaqi record from Anas that the Prophet (SAW) would pray al-Jumu’ah when the sun had passed its meridian. Ahmad and Muslim record that Salamah ibn al-Akua’ said: “We would pray salatul Jumu’ah with the Prophet when the sun had passed the meridian, and when we returned [from the salah], we would be following our shadow.” Al-Bukhari says: “The time of al-Jumu’ah is when the sun passes its meridian.” Similar narrations have been recorded from ‘Umar, ‘Ali, an-Nu’man ibn Bashir, and ‘Umar ibn Harith. Ash-Shaf’i says: “The Prophet (SAW), Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and the imams after them all prayed the Jumu’ah when the sun had passed its zenith.”

The scholars of the Hanbali school and Ishaq are of the opinion that the time for al-Jumu’ah is from the beginning of the time for salatul ‘id to the end of the time for the zuhr. They base their opinion on Ahmad, Muslim, and an-Nasa’i who record from Jabir: “The Prophet would pray al-Jumu’ah and then we would take our camels to rest until the sun passed its zenith.” This hadith clearly states that they prayed al-Jumu’ah before the sun passed the meridian. They also cited as proof the hadith of ‘Abdullah ibn Saidan as-Salmi who said: “We prayed al-Jumu’ah with Abu Bakr, and his khutbah and salah were before noon. Then we prayed with ‘Uthman and his khutbah and salah lasted until after the sun had passed the meridian, and no one scolded either for it.” This is related by Ahmad, who cites it as a proof, and by ad-Daraqutni. Ahmad adds: “And [something] similar to that has been related from ibn Mas’ud, Jabir, Sa’id, and Mu’awiyyah. They all prayed before the sun passed the meridian and no one objected to what they did, and that was the consensus. The majority of the scholars, however, interpret the hadith of Jabir as implying that one should pray the salah early in its time, when the sun has passed the meridian, and not wait until the weather gets cool. The prayer and the resting of the camels was right after the sun passed the meridian. As to the report from ‘Abdullah ibn Saidan, these scholars consider it weak. Ibn Hajar writes about him: ‘He is one of the major tabi’in [i.e., of the generation after the companions], and his integrity is not well-established. ‘Adi says: “He is somewhat majhul, i.e. unknown as a trustworthy person.” Bukhari observes. “His report is not to be trusted, especially when he is contradicted by people who are more credible (Qawi) than him as Ibn Abi Shaibah relates from Suwaid ibn Ghaflah that the later prayed with Abu Bakr and ‘Umar after the sun had passed the meridian and its chain is strong. “’

The number of people required for al-Jumu’ah 

There is no dispute among the scholars that a congregation is a necessary condition for the validity of al-Jumu’ah. This is based on the hadith of Tariq ibn Shihab who reports that the Prophet said: “Al-Jumu ‘ah is an obligation (Wajib) upon every Muslim in the community.” However, the scholars do differ on how many people are required for al-Jumu’ah. There are fifteen different opinions on this question and they are mentioned by Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari. The strongest opinion is that salatul Jumu’ah is valid if there are two or more people present since the Prophet is reported to have said: “Two or more constitute a congregation.”

Ash-Shaukani says: ‘The other prayers are considered to be made in congregation if there are two people present. The same applies to Jumu’ah salah, unless there is a reason for it to be different. There is no evidence to show that [for the purpose of the congregation] its number should be larger than that for the other prayers. ‘Abdul Haqq says: ‘There is no confirmed hadith on the number of people needed for al-Jumu’ah.’ Similarly, as-Sayuti holds: ‘There is no confirmed hadith which states a particular number [for the Jumu’ah salah].’” This is also the opinion of at-Tabari, Dawud, an-Nakha’i, and Ibn Hazm.

The place for al-Jumu’ah 

It is valid to perform the Jumu’ah salah in any country, city, mosque, any building in a city, or in any space in a city as it also is valid to have it performed in more than one place. ‘Umar wrote the following to the people of Bahrain: “Offer the Jumu’ah salah wherever you may be.” This is related by Ibn Abi Shaibah. Ahmad holds its chain to be good. This includes both the cities and countryside.

Ibn ‘Abbas says: “The first Friday salah that was performed in Islam, after the Friday salah in the mosque of the Messenger of Allah (SAW) in Medinah, was in Jawa’i, a village in Bahrain.” This is related by al-Bukhari and Abu Dawud.

Al-Laith ibn Sa’d reports that the people of Egypt and of the surrounding sea-shore would perform the Jumu’ah salah during the time of ‘Umar and ‘Uthman according to their orders. Some of the companions of the Prophet attended Jumu’ah prayer with them. Ibn ‘Umar saw the people in the areas between Makkah and Medinah performing the Jumu’ah prayers, and he did not object to their action. This is related by ‘Abdurrazzaq with a sahih chain.

Conditions Stipulated By the Jurists for the Friday Prayer 

Some of the conditions under which the Jumu’ah salah becomes obligatory have already been mentioned (i.e., it is obligatory for a free, sane, adult male resident who does not have a valid excuse which would excuse him from attending the prayer). It was also mentioned that a congregation is a condition for the Friday Salah. This is what the Sunnah of the Prophet teaches us and what Allah holds us responsible for. Concerning the other stipulations which some of the jurists stipulate for the Jumu’ah salah, none of them has any basis to which we may refer, or any evidence to support it. It will be sufficient here to simply quote the author of ar-Raudah an-Nadiyah who writes:

[The Friday Salah] is like the rest of the prayers and there is nothing in it that differs from them, unless there is some evidence to the contrary. This statement refutes those who stipulate, as necessary conditions for Friday prayer, the presence of a well-established imam and a congregational mosque in the area as well as a certain number of people attending the congregational prayer. There is no evidence whatever that those conditions are even preferred - not to speak of being obligatory, or for that matter, being a necessary condition for the Friday salah. If two people pray the Jumu’ah in a place where there is no one else but them, they would have performed their prescribed duty. If one of them delivers the khutbah, they would be following what is Sunnah; and if they leave the khutbah, then it is only the Sunnah which they have neglected, (not something which was obligatory). But for the hadith of Tariq ibn Shihab which clearly requires every Muslim to offer it in congregation and the fact that the Prophet (SAW) always performed it in a congregation, offering it individually, like the rest of the prayers, would have been quite acceptable.

Concerning the statement “from four people to the ruler of the area,” that is certainly not the Prophet’s statement nor of any of his companions... In fact, [this is] a statement of al-Hassan al-Basri. As to various statements and pursued juristic opinions concerning this noble worship, the Friday prayer, which Allah has prescribed once a week as one of the signs of Islam, a little consideration should suffice to show their superfluity and error. One of these is the amazing statement that khutbah is equivalent to two rak’at of salah, and if one misses it, then his Jumu’ah is not valid. They seem to be quite ignorant of what has been related from the Prophet through a number of chains which support each other that “if a person misses one rak’ah, then he is to perform another rak’ah and his salah would be completed.” Have no other hadith reached them that are valid in such matters? Some say that one cannot perform the Jumu’ah unless there are three people with the imam and others hold that four people are needed, while yet others stipulate seven people! Still others say nine, and some think twelve, twenty, thirty, and there are even some who think forty, fifty, seventy, and every number that is between those numbers!

Some hold that many people have to be present without specifying a particular number, while others state that al-Jumu’ah may only be performed in a city in which there is a “congregational mosque.” Some are convinced that there have to be so many thousand people living in the area. Some hold that there has to be a congregational mosque and a public restroom. Yet others propose that the prayer is not obligatory unless there is a well-known and established imam; if such an imam cannot be found or if his credibility is doubtful, then the Friday salah is neither obligatory nor legitimate....No such statement can be found [in the book of Allah or in the sunnah] to support what they claim to be the conditions or prerequisites of the Jumu’ah... Whoever comes with such gibberish must be refuted for the only criterion is the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger. As Allah says in the Qur’an: “If you dispute concerning any matter, refer it to Allah and the Messenger”; “The answer of the believers, when summoned to Allah and His Messenger, in order that he may judge between them is no other than this: they say: “We hear and we obey”; “But no, by thy Lord, they can have no (real) faith, until they make thee judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction.” Those verses and others similar to them are the clearest evidence that one must return to the rule of Allah and His Messenger if there is any dispute.

The rule of Allah is the Book of Allah. The rule of the Messenger, after his passing away, is his Sunnah and nothing other than that. Also, Allah did not endow any of his slaves - even if he reaches the highest degree of knowledge and has accumulated what no one else has - with the right to make any statement concerning this religion without any authority from the Book or the Sunnah. Likewise, if a Mujtahid (Jurist consult) should take liberty of proposing an opinion without substantiating it, then it is not permissible for anyone to follow him in that, regardless of who he may be. I, as Allah knows, am always greatly astonished by this type of writers and their writings which supposedly provide guidance in one’s creed and practice but which are filled with gibberish. This is not limited to only some of the schools among the different schools of law, or only certain areas from among the different areas, or only certain eras from among all of the eras [it is found in all of these schools of law, areas, and eras]! In fact, the later people follow the earlier people [in such things] as if they were following the umm al-kitab [mother of the Book], although, [they follow] distorted teachings.

To be continued