Published in  
August 20, 2022

Akhsar al-Mukhtasarat | Book of Salah | Congregational Salah

Congregational Prayer – صَلَاةُ اَلْجَمَاعَةِ


تَجِبُ اَلْجَمَاعَةُ لِلْخَمْسِ اَلْمُؤَدَّاةِ عَلَى اَلرِّجَالِ اَلْأَحْرَارِ اَلْقَادِرِينَ, وَحَرُمَ أَنْ يُؤَمّ َ قَبْلَ رَاتِبٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ, أَوْ عُذْرِهِ, أَوْ عَدَمِ كَرَاهَتِهِ.

There is an agreement amongst the scholars that prayer in congregation is an established and recommended Sunnah. Without a doubt praying in congregation is better than praying alone. As per the madhab, praying with just 2 people constitutes a congregation even if the second is a woman. So a man praying at home with his wife would also be considered as praying in congregation. It doesn’t necessitate to be a large congregation, or with men or in the masjid.

It is obligatory on a person to pray in congregation the 5 daily prayers which are prayed on their time. Missed prayers don’t have to be made up in congregation as per the mu’tamad of the madhab. It is obligatory on the men, free and the able. As per the madhab praying in congregation is wajib but praying in the masjid isn’t. Praying in congregation is one thing and praying in the masjid is another. Praying inside the masjid is mustahab.

Narrated Abdullah bin Umar: Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said,

صَلاَةُ الْجَمَاعَةِ تَفْضُلُ صَلاَةَ الْفَذِّ بِسَبْعٍ وَعِشْرِينَ دَرَجَةً

“The prayer in congregation is twenty seven times superior to the prayer offered by person alone.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]

Some scholars write that as per this hadith we cannot say that praying in congregation is wajib for here the reward for praying alone is also mentioned. A person cannot get reward and sin for the same action. The Hanabila hold that Allah commanded the Prophet to pray in times of distress and war (salatul khawf) so it is indeed wajib to be prayed in congregation. A deficiency of a student of knowledge is not praying in congregation in the masjid. If salah in congregation is missed, then there is no sin but the person should seek someone to pray with them, hence making it a congregation.

 It is not obligatory for women to pray in congregation. If women are together or even in gathering with the men, then it is mustahab as per the madhab for them to pray with the congregation. As per the Hanabila, it is permissible for women to attend the masjid. They don’t say it is recommended, but it is allowed since the Prophet gave them that allowance. Based on that it is makruh for the man to prevent his female relatives from attending the masjid unless there is a clear maslaha.
In our times masajid must be made more accessible to the women. Somebody cannot make a thing haram without any clear evidence. Rather those stopping women are actually going against a direct hadith of the Prophet. 

Narrated Ibn Umar: The Prophet ﷺ said,

إِذَا اسْتَأْذَنَكُمْ نِسَاؤُكُمْ بِاللَّيْلِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ فَأْذَنُوا لَهُنَّ

“If your women ask permission to go to the mosque at night, allow them.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]

The Hanabila do state that if a young woman is really attractive and that it might cause heads to turn then it is disliked for her to attend the congregation, not impermissible. In recent times, there is a strong need for the women to be connected to the masjid. As per the madhab, the need over-rules something which might be disliked. The madhaib are not always black and white. Imam Ibn Taymiyyah often used to question the position of the Hanbali madhab. It doesn’t make sense that we don’t have a problem with women attending the markets and other places but get too sensitive when the want to visit the Houses of Allah. When the Prophet allowed women to attend the masajid when the people were more pious, the rule was Islamic and much more then it is even more important for them today.

If there is a regular Imam, then it is Haram for someone else to come and lead the salah without his permission. The Hanabila hold this salah to be invalid and that person is deemed as sinful. There are however 3 exceptions to this rule:

  • The Imam has given his permission.
  • The Imam has an excuse.
  • It is known for certain that the Imam doesn’t mind someone else to lead the salah.

The general principle is to wait for the Imam even if the time enters.


وَمَنْ كَبَّرَ قَبْلَ تَسْلِيمَةِ اَلْإِمَامِ اَلْأُولَى أَدْرَكَ اَلْجَمَاعَةَ, وَمَنْ أَدْرَكَهُ رَاكِعًا أَدْرَكَ رَكْعَةً, بِشَرْطِ إِدْرَاكِهِ رَاكِعًا, وَعَدَمِ شَكِّهِ فِيهِ, وتحريمتِهِ قَائِمًا

The one who makes takbeer before the Imam says his first tasleem then such a person has caught the congregation even if he hasn’t sat down or is halfway down. The reward won’t be the same as the one praying from the start but from a legal perspective the jama’a is counted.

As per the madhab even the second tasleem is wajib but the first tasleem terminates the salah.
The one who has caught the Imam in rukuh has caught that rakah on the condition that the person is also in rukuh while the Imam is in a position of rukuh. If there is doubt or the Imam cannot be seen, then as per the madhab that rakah is not to be counted. Doubt doesn’t supersede that which is certain. If the rakah is to be caught, then the person has to do the takbeer of entering the salah while standing and not while in the process of going down into rukuh. Raising the hands in this case is mustahab. Saying the takbeer is of the obligations before going into rukuh. In this case there is an exception where the person can just say the opening takbeer and go into rukuh.

Abu Bakrah narrated that he entered the Masjid when the when the Prophet ﷺ was bowing, so he bowed outside the row. The Prophet ﷺ said:
زَادَكَ اللَّهُ حِرْصًا وَلاَ تَعُدْ 
“May Allah increase you in keenness, but do not do this again.” [Sunan an-Nasai]


Abu Hurairah narrated that: Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said:

إِذَا أُقِيمَتِ الصَّلاَةُ فَلاَ تَأْتُوهَا وَأَنْتُمْ تَسْعَوْنَ وَلَكِنِ ائْتُوهَا وَأَنْتُمْ تَمْشُونَ وَعَلَيْكُمُ السَّكِينَةُ فَمَا أَدْرَكْتُمْ فَصَلُّوا وَمَا فَاتَكُمْ فَأَتِمُّوا
“When the Iqamah is called for Salat do not come to it rushing, rather come to it walking, and while you have tranquility. What you catch of it then pray it, and what you missed of it, then complete it.” [Jami’ at-Tirmidhi]
وَتُسَنُّ ثَانِيَة ٌ لِلرُّكُوعِ, وَمَا أَدْرَكَ مَعَهُ آخِرُهَا, وَمَا يَقْضِيهِ أَوَّلُهَ ا
The second takbeer is recommended after the opening takbeer while going into rukuh.
What you catch with the Imam is the end of the salah and that which you are making up with the Imam is the beginning of the salah. As per the Hanabila, this means that for the person joining the Imam in the third rakah, it is their third rakah also for what the Imam does, the followers have to do also. This is the mu’tamad of the madhab.
Missing 2 out of 3 rakats for Maghrib or 3 out of 4 rakats for Isha makes it problematic because if we follow the primary position of the madhab then it changes the entire flow and structure of the salah. On this the Hanabila say that the person’s recitation is from the beginning but the method of praying the salah is going to be opposite.
The second opinion within the madhab and also the position of the Shafi’ madhab and Ishaq Ibn Rahaway رحمه الله is the opposite of this. Imam Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله even went on to say that the Usul of Ishaq are an Usul in the Hanbali madhab. That is how close the opinions of Imams Ishaq and Ahmad were and Imam at-Tirmidhi رحمه الله often quotes them together. This position means that when a person joins the Imam in the third rakah then it is the first rakah for the person as they have just made the opening takbeer to enter the salah.
وَيَتَحَمَّلُ عَنْ مَأْمُومٍ قِرَاءَةً, وَسُجُودَ سَهْو ٍ وَتِلَاوَةٍ, وَسُتْرَة ً وَدُعَاءَ قُنُوتٍ, وَتَشَهُّدًا أَوَّلَ إِذَا سُبِقَ بِرَكْعَةٍ, لَكِنْ يُسَنُّ أَنْ يَقْرَأَ فِي سَكَتَاتِهِ وَسِرِّيَّةٍ, وَإِذَا لَمْ يَسْمَعْهُ لِبُعْدٍ لَا طَرَشٍ.

The Imam carries certain things for the congregation. The one who is praying behind the Imam is excused for certain things because the Imam takes responsibility for it. The excuses include:

1. Recitation
As per the madhab, it is not wajib for the follower to recite anything be it the loud or the silent salah. The recitation of the Imam is sufficient for all and the recitation of the Imam is the recitation of the person.

It was narrated that Jabir said: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
مَنْ كَانَ لَهُ إِمَامٌ فَإِنَّ قِرَاءَةَ الإِمَامِ لَهُ قِرَاءَةٌ
‘Whoever has an Imam, the recitation of the Imam is his recitation.’” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
Many of the contemporary scholars graded it to be authentic but many of the Imams of Hadith have graded this narration as weak. But, this is the fatwa and the action of many of the sahaba and hence is the adopted practice of Imam Ahmed and the madhab.
2. Sujud as-Sahw
Even if a person makes an error regarding the wajibat in the salah, the Imam and his salah suffices him provided the person has joined the Imam since the beginning. but if the person has joined later and makes an error, then they are to do sujud as-sahw.
3. Sujud at-Tilawah
If a person prays a Surah with an ayah of sujud in it, then they don’t need to make sujud for the Imam and his recitation covers for that instead.
4. Sutra
The Imam becomes the Sutra for the congregation and people can walk between the rows if a need arises without any harm.
5. Dua Qunut
The congregation reply with “Ameen” to the dua of the Imam. They don’t make their own dua.
6. First Tasahhud
If a person catches the Imam after the second rakah, then the person gets only the final tashahhud with the Imam. The first tashahhud of the Imam suffices for the one who has joined since the first tasahhud is an obligation of the salah.
However recitation behind the Imam is recommended when the Imam is silent. Ex: The salah is valid if a person remains silent for the entirety of the Dhuhr salah, but has missed out on an important Sunnah.
The silence of the Imam includes the silent prayers, the pauses of silence the Imam has in the loud prayers like that after Surah al-Fatihah and the beginning of a new Surah and also when the Imam cannot be heard because of distance. Its important to note that the recitation should not be rushed. If a person cannot complete it, then they should keep quite and listen to the recitation of the Imam for that is legislated.
For the deaf, who cannot hear the recitation of the Imam, they are allowed to recite. The Hanabila state a principle which says that a person can recite behind the Imam as long as the people beside them are not being disturbed.
وَسُنَّ لَهُ اَلتَّخْفِيفُ مَعَ اَلْإِتْمَامِ, وَتَطْوِيلُ اَلْأُولَى عَلَى اَلثَّانِيَةِ, وَانْتِظَارُ دَاخِلٍ مَا لَمْ يَشُقَّ 
It is recommended to make the salah concise and complete. It is recommended to lengthen the first rakah as compared to the second rakah. It is also recommended to wait for a person to join the congregation if their footsteps can be heard as long as it doesn’t cause hardships for the people. When the masajid are big, then the Imam shouldn’t follow this stance.
Based on the Hanbali primer, Akhsar Al-Mukhtasarat authored by Ibn Balban al-Hanbali as taught by Sheikh Zahed Fettah حفظه الله
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