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Performing Tahajjud Prayers in Congregation (jama’ah)

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Daruliftaa.com

What is the ruling of praying Tahajjud in a Jama’ah according to all the four Madhhabs?

ANSWER

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

According to the Hanafi Madhhab, it is disliked (makruh) to offer Tahajjud and other Nafl prayers in congregation (jama’ah), except for the Tarawih prayer (in Ramadhan), eclipse prayer (kusuf) and drought prayer (istisqa).

The Hanafi jurists (fuqaha) have explained that, this is when Nafl prayers are offered in a large congregation or a habit is made of doing this.

The great Hanafi Imam, al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) states:

“One should not offer Witr and Nafl prayers in congregation, as this is Makruh. This is when the congregation is large such that up to four people join the Imam.” (Durr al-Mukhtar)

Allama Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) states in his commentary:

“If a habit is made of offering Nafl prayers in congregation, then it will be regarded as an innovation (bid’a), thus Makruh…….And performing Nafl in congregation is not recommended, as the Companions (Allah be pleased with them) did not offer Nafl (in congregation) outside Ramadhan.” (Radd al-Muhtar).

Imam al-Kasani (Allah have mercy on him) states:

“Performing Nafl prayers in congregation is not something that is Sunnah, besides the Tarawih prayer in Ramadhan.” (Bada’i al-Sana’i)

The reason for it being disliked is that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) encouraged the offering of Nafl prayers at home.

Zaid ibn Thabit (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “O people! Offer your prayers at home, as the most virtuous prayer for an individual is that which is offered at home, except for the obligatory (fard) prayers.” (Recorded by many Hadith Imams)

Sayyida A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reports that “the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) used to perform his non-obligatory prayers at home.” (Sahih Muslim)

Due to the above two and many other narrations, the Hanafi Fuqaha state that the main feature of Nafl prayers is offering them at home and individually. This is the reason why it is more preferable to perform them at home and not with people in the Masjid. Contrary to the Fard prayers, for they (fard prayers) are based on gathering, and this is the reason why they were ordered to be offered in the Masjid in congregation.

Therefore, offering Nafl prayers in congregation entails going against that which is legislated, which is that the obligatory prayers are prayed in congregation, and voluntary prayers alone. The transmitted exceptions relate only to small congregations, and were rare occurrences. (See: I’la al-Sunan, 7/89)

This is also, more or less, the ruling in the Maliki Madhhab, in that it is disliked to offer Nafl prayers in a congregation. (See: al-Mawsu’a al-Fiqhiyya)

With regards to the Shafi’i Madhhab, the great Shafi’i Faqih, Imam Khatib al-Shirbini (Allah have mercy on him) states:

“It is from the Sunnah that Nafl prayers are not offered in congregation. However, if one did offer them in congregation, it will be permissible without it being Makruh.” (Mugni al-Muhtaj, 1/333)

According to the Hanbali Madhhab, it is perfectly okay to offer Nafl prayers in congregation, as the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) offered them individually and in congregation. However, his usual practice was to offer them individually.

The Hanbali Jurists (fuqaha) support their view with incidents in which the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) performed Nafl prayers in congregation, such as with Ibn Abbas, in the house of Atban ibn Malik, with Anas and his mother, etc… (See: Ibn Qudamah, al-Mugni, 2/142)

However, this does not contradict the Madhhab of Imam Abu Hanifa (Allah be pleased with him), as offering Nafl prayers in a small congregation and without making it a habit is also permissible in the Hanafi Madhhab.

The Hanafi Fuqaha interpret these incidents as isolated incidents that had, at the most, four people including the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace). And this, as mentioned previously, is permissible according to the Hanafi Madhhab also. Yes, if a habit is made of performing Nafl prayers in congregations or a large congregation is organized, then this will be Makruh.

In conclusion, According to the Hanafi and Maliki Madhhabs, it is disliked (makruh) to perform Tahajjud and other Nafl prayers in a congregation. The Shafi’i Madhhab regards the Sunnah in offering them individually, whilst according to the Hanbali Madhhab, offering a Nafl prayer in congregation is totally permissible.

في الموسوعة الفقهيّة الكويتيّة:
( 3 ) صَلَاةُ الرَّوَاتِبِ فِي جَمَاعَةٍ أَوْ فُرَادَى : قَالَ الْحَنَفِيَّةُ : تُكْرَهُ الْجَمَاعَةُ فِي صَلَاةِ النَّوَافِلِ . وَقَالَ الْمَالِكِيَّةُ كَذَلِكَ : تُكْرَهُ الْجَمَاعَةُ فِي النَّوَافِلِ , لِأَنَّ شَأْنَ النَّفْلِ الِانْفِرَادُ بِهِ , كَمَا تُكْرَهُ صَلَاةُ النَّفْلِ فِي جَمْعٍ قَلِيلٍ بِمَكَانٍ مُشْتَهِرٍ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ , وَإِنْ لَمْ تَكُنْ الْجَمَاعَةُ كَثِيرَةً وَالْمَكَانُ مُشْتَهِرًا فَلَا تُكْرَهُ . وَقَالَ الشَّافِعِيَّةُ : تُسْتَحَبُّ الْجَمَاعَةُ فِي التَّرَاوِيحِ وَالْوِتْرِ فِي رَمَضَانَ , وَلَا يُسْتَحَبُّ فِعْلُ سَائِرِ الرَّوَاتِبِ جَمَاعَةً . وَقَالَ الْحَنَابِلَةُ : يَجُوزُ التَّطَوُّعُ جَمَاعَةً وَمُنْفَرِدًا ; لِأَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَعَلَ الْأَمْرَيْنِ كِلَيْهِمَا , وَكَانَ أَكْثَرُ تَطَوُّعِهِ مُنْفَرِدًا , وَصَلَّى بِابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ مَرَّةً , وَبِأَنَسٍ وَأُمِّهِ وَالْيَتِيمِ مَرَّةً وَأَمَّ أَصْحَابَهُ فِي بَيْتِ عِتْبَانَ مَرَّةً , فَعَنْ { عِتْبَانَ بْنِ مَالِكٍ – رضي الله عنه – أَنَّهُ قَالَ : يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إنَّ السُّيُولَ لَتَحُولُ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَ مَسْجِدِ قَوْمِي , فَأُحِبُّ أَنْ تَأْتِيَنِي فَتُصَلِّيَ فِي مَكَان مِنْ بَيْتِي أَتَّخِذُهُ مَسْجِدًا , فَقَالَ : سَنَفْعَلُ , فَلَمَّا دَخَلَ قَالَ : أَيْنَ تُرِيدُ ؟ فَأَشَرْت إلَى نَاحِيَةٍ مِنْ الْبَيْتِ , فَقَامَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَصَفَفْنَا خَلْفَهُ , فَصَلَّى بِنَا رَكْعَتَيْنِ }

And Allah Knows Best

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK

This answer was collected from Daruliftaa.com, which is headed by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam Al-Kawthari. He’s based in the United Kingdom.

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