Question: In the UK we have some parts of the country which have restriction on the number of people that can pray in a place of worship. So with this cap, mosques are having to decline people’s entry to the Jummah and these people are not able to attend jummah thus having to pray Zuhr as all other mosques have to do the same. Would this be a problem because of what is mentioned in some Hanafi books that where people are rejected to enter jummah prayers their congregation will be invalid unless, as Ibn Abidin says, they have a place they can pray elsewhere?
Is this issue under the issue of publicity, approval from the Hakim or is it related to the fact that the majority of people will not be able to make jummah due to these restrictions, and hence the true sense of Jamma does not take place?
Answer: Assalam alaykum,
The Friday prayer is a ritual act of worship that is to be established in a public manner. Many of the rulings attached to the Friday prayer reflect its public and communal nature, such as the sermon that precedes it, the original Hanafi ruling of not performing it except in the central mosque, the role given to the ruler in its establishment, and more.
Being accessible to the public (idhn al-amm) is also a condition that relates back to the public nature of the Friday prayer. However, there is some difference of opinion on what public access means and, consequently, a difference of opinion on the type of restrictions placed on Friday prayer attendance that would vitiate this condition. Is it a condition that is only relevant in areas where the Friday prayer is established in a single, central mosque, i.e. there are not multiple congregations? Is it a condition that only applies to those in the immediate area of a mosque? Does it bar restrictions to access put in place due to security reasons or public interest? These are some of the questions jurists have asked.
Without getting into the details, the establishment of restricted Friday prayers in mosques in the current situation would not go against the condition of public access. The prayer is still being established by the community in a public setting (as opposed to a private one), namely the mosque, with a congregation. The restrictions on numbers are in place due to a pressing need and for the benefit and safety of the wider community. It does not undermine the Friday prayer being established in a public manner. As such, this prayer is valid for those who have the fortune of attending it.
(Sources: Ibn Abidin, Hashiya; al-Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah; Mufti Taqi Usmani, Fiqhi Maqalat)
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Salman Younas was born and raised in New York and graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. Ustadh Salman’s personal interests include research into the fields of law/legal methodology, hadith, theology, as well as political theory, government, media, and ethics. He is also an avid traveler and book collector. He currently resides in Amman with his wife.