2. "Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help. Guide us on the right path" (1:4, 5).
3. "And when thou art among them and leadest the prayer for them, let a party of them stand with thee and let them take their arms; then when they have prostrated themselves let them go to your rear and let another party who have not prayed come forward and pray with thee"(4:102).
The prayer-service of Islām is essentially a congregational service, and has, besides the development of the inner self of man, through communion with God, other ends as well in view, which show what a unique force the Islamic prayer is in the unification of the human race. In the first place, this gathering of all people living in the same vicinity five times daily in the mosque, is a great help to the establishment of healthy social relations, the circle becoming wider in the Friday service, and still more extensive in the 'Īd gatherings. But the jamā'ah not only promotes social relations: what is far more important it levels down social differences. In the congregational prayer all Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder before their Maker, the king along with his poorest subject, the rich arrayed in costly robes with the beggar clad in rags, the white man along with his black brother. Nay, the king or the rich man standing in a back row is required to lay his head, when prostrating himself before God, at the feet of a slave or a beggar standing in the front row There could be no greater levelling influence in the world. In fact, congregational prayers are meant, among other things, to carry into practice the theoretical lessons of equality and fraternity for which Islām stands, and however forcibly Islām may have preached in words the equality of man and the fraternity of the community of Islām, all this would have ended in mere talk, had it not been translated into everyday life through the institution of five daily congregational prayers.
The stress laid by the Holy Qur'ān on jamā'ah is evident not only from the express command contained in v. 1; the very word used in it for the observance
of prayers is evidence that congregation is of the essence of prayer. Wherever the institution of prayer is spoken of, one of the derivatives of the word iqāmah which signifies the putting (of an affair) into a right state or the keeping up or establishing of it, is used to indicate its proper observance. This very word iqāmah technically signifies the pronouncement of certain sentences before the congregational service is held, for which see the preceding chapter. The word iqāmah being thus associated with congregational service by the Holy Prophet himself is a clear indication that by the iqāmah of prayer in the Holy Qur'ān is meant the establishment of the congregational service. In fact, the stress laid on jamā'ah by the Holy Qur'ān is evident from its prayers, which all aim at the development of the community as a whole--v. 2 which contains the most frequently repeated prayer of Islām affords an example of this. V. 3 shows that the importance attached to congregational prayer is so great that even when facing the enemy in the battle-field, Muslims are required to say their prayers in congregation.
Of the hadīth related in this chapter, the first three lay stress on the importance of the congregational prayer; h. 4 shows that when the congregational prayer it being said, no prayer shall be said singly, H. 5 speaks of the excellence of congregational prayer, while h. 6 shows that when it would be hard on people to gather together in the mosque they should be allowed to say their prayers in their abodes. Hh. 7, 8 show that even women were required to join the congregation, while h. 14 requires that women should form a separate row by themselves. Hh. 9,-12 relate to the arrangement of ranks, while h. 13 shows that a single man shall not form a row by himself.
1 Abū Hurairah reported that The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:
"I swear by Him in Whose hand is my soul, I had almost determined that I should order that wood should be collected, then I should order that a call should be sounded for prayer, then I should order a man that he should lead the prayer, then I should
go to the people who have absented themselves and burn their houses on them."1
2 Abu-1-Dardā' said, The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:
"There are not three people, either in the town or in the desert, among whom prayer is not said in congregation but the devil will surely overcome them; so stick to the congregation for the wolf eats the one that has strayed away from the flock."
3 Mālik said, Two men who intended
1. The words are meant simply to lay stress on the point that Muslims should try their best to join the congregational prayer.
going out on a journey came to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, and the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:
"When you go out, give out a call for prayer, then recite the iqāmah, then let the senior of you lead the prayer."
4 Abū Hurairah said, The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:
When the iqāmah for prayer has been called, no prayer but the one that is obligatory shall be said."
5 Ibn 'Umar reported that The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said.
"Prayer said in congregation excels the prayer said alone by twenty-seven degrees."
6 Nāfi' said,
Ibn 'Umar gave a call for prayer in Dzajnān on a cold night, then said, Say prayers in your abodes; and he informed us that the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, used to order a mu'adhdhin, on a cold or rainy night and during journey, to give a call for prayer, then say, on finishing it, Beware! Say prayers in (your) abodes.2
7 Ibn 'Umar reported on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, (who) said
"When your women ask your permission to go to
2. Though prayer in congregation is of an obligatory nature, yet, on certain occasions when attendance would be hard on people, they are allowed to say prayers in their abodes.
the mosque at night, give them permission."3
8 'Ā'ishah reported that The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, used to say the morning prayer when it was yet dark; so the women of the believers returned while they could not be recognised on account of darkness, or they did not recognise one another.
9 Anas reported on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, (who) said:
"Arrange your ranks properly, for the proper arrangement of ranks is part of the keeping up of prayer." (B. 10:74.)
3. Even women must join the congregation if they are otherwise free. Mothers sometimes took their babies along with them when going to attend the congregation.
10 Abū Hurairah reported that The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:
"Did people know the importance of the adhān and of being in the first row, and they had no choice but to draw lots for it, they would draw lots for it."
11 Abn Mas'ūd said,
The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, used to touch our shoulders at the time of prayer, and used to say:
"Keep straight and do not be uneven, for in that case your hearts would disagree. Let those from among you, who are possessed of understanding and wisdom, stand nearest to me, then those who are next to them, then those who are next to them."
12 Anas said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:
"Complete the first row, then the one that is next to it, and whatever deficiency there is, let it be in the last row."
13 Wābisah said,
The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, saw a man praying alone behind the row; so he commanded him to say the prayer over again.4
14 Anas said,
I and an orphan in our house prayed behind the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, (in one row), and my mother Umm Sulaim was behind us.5
4. In such a case, the man is required to take hold of a man from the last row and make him stand along with himself behind the row so that the two together may form a row.
5. In congregational prayers the women formed a row by themselves behind the male rows: and even if there was a single woman, she formed a row by herself, Women were not allowed to mix with the men in their rows, as such a course would have led to the evil which is witnessed in church gatherings.