Praying in Congregation in the West

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

After reading Talim ul Haq regarding praying in congregation, and looking at the issues when one may be excused from jammat, I found nothing there that applied to Muslims who live in Non-Muslim lands. Meaning we all meet the conditions to go to mosque and pray in congregation. But the Muslims who live in the west have other reasons for not attending the mosque. These conditions are not stated, so if one lives by the standard rules (laid down by talim ul haq) it would not be practical for Muslims in the west. As we live by different conditions.


Q1) Does it become wajid or fard upon hearing the Azzan (to attend congregation) in a Muslim country? What is the ruling in a Non-Muslim country? What is one is unable to attend due to being 1) busy, 2) tired or 3) lazy? What is the ruling on each situation (Muslim and Non-Muslim country?

Q2) Because Muslims live a different lifestyle, they are unable to attend congregation due to the following factors-

1) Work (a typical day for 9am-5pm; Mon –Fri), and others who work shifts and longer hours.

2) Those Muslims who study at school, college and university? And cannot attend the mosque?

3) For those who are Busy, Tired and Lazy?

Q3) So, is one is excused from congregational salah (going to the masjid) for all the reasons mentioned above? Is he sinful or not?

Q4) Do all the hanafi scholars believe, that not performing a Sunnah Muakaddah is a sin? Is there a difference of opinion on this issue?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Walaikum assalam,

The importance of group prayer for men in Islam cannot be underestimated. It is one of the major symbols of Islam, and a means for individuals and communities to strengthen their relations with their Lord. It is 27 times better, for men, than praying at home, as the Beloved of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said.

The hadiths censuring those who stay away from praying in congregation are well known.

The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “If people knew the reward in praying Fajr and Isha in congregation, they would go to the mosque even if they had to crawl.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

After this, we should rush to the mosque… May Allah give us all the success to do that which pleases Him.

As for your questions:

1. It is obligatory to earn a living. As such, if one cannot reasonably get to a mosque during work (or because of classes at university, which are a means to earning a living in the future), this would be an excuse that would make it permissible to miss praying in congregation.

2. Being far from a mosque, such that it is not reasonably easy to get to it is an excuse, as well. Some scholars did not place a limit on this while others said one Arabic mile (1.85 km) would be far. In an age of cars and easy covering of distance, each person should honestly judge for themselves. Merely being “busy, tired, or lazy,” are not excuses.

3. There is essentially no difference in the Hanafi position on the ruling of praying in congregation for men: some simply said it is wajib. Others said it is a confirmed sunna, meaning “a confirmed sunna close to being wajib.” [As discussed by Ibn Abidin in his Radd al-Muhtar, with the latter being the opinion mentioned by his son, `Ala’ al-Din Abidin in his Gifts of Guidance (al-Hadiyya al-`Ala’iyya)] The only difference is that on the first opinion, one is sinful even if one prayer is missed in congregation without excuse. According to the other, we cannot be sure that missing once is sinful, but if habitual, it is sinful.

4. The relied upon position in the school, as explained by its major scholars (such as Tahtawi, Ibn Abidin, Lakhnawi, and others before and after them) is that leaving a confirmed sunna even once without excuse is blameworthy, and making it a habit is sinful.

Like Sayyidi Shaykh Abdurrahman ibn Yusuf said in one of his answers:

“No body said it was easy to follow the din in the twenty-first century; whether one is in a Muslim country or the West.

Didn’t the Prophet Sallalahu alayhi wasallam say that, “A time will come when a person following his religion will be like one holding on to a cinder,” and did he not say, “This world is a prison for a believer and a Paradise for the non-believer.”

One must remember that through perseverance and refraining from sin [sabr ani ‘l-ma’siyah] there are great rewards to be gained, despite the apparent monetary or such losses one may have to incur in this world.”

And Allah alone gives success.

Walaikum assalam,
Faraz Rabbani.

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