“And establish prayer and give zakah and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience].” [Surah Al-Baqarah 02:43]
COVID-19 upended many, if not all, our routine activities forcing us to adjust and adapt to a new and unprecedented lifestyle. Umrah, Hajj, Ramadan, and Eid celebrations last year took a blow as a result of the pandemic. With directives on prohibiting all social gatherings, mosques too were sadly compelled to bolt their doors to daily congregational prayers.
Alhamdulillah, owing to mass vaccinations and informed safety measures, restrictions have gradually been eased in most regions including the UK leading to the resuming of mosque activities. In this spirit, we believe it is beneficial to remind ourselves of the virtues of praying salah in congregation.
- Earn 27 times the reward of salah offered individually
Narrated Abdullah bin Umar: “The reward of the congregational prayer is twenty-seven times greater (than that of the prayer offered by a person alone).” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
The hadith above concisely illustrates the superiority of salah offered in congregation in comparison to those performed alone at home. Several narrations of the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) reveal that he never intentionally missed out on the opportunity to offer his prayers in congregation, even during times when he was injured or ill.
Abu Hurairah reported: A blind man came to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and said: “O Messenger of Allah! I have no one to guide me to the mosque.” He, therefore, sought his permission to perform Salah (prayer) in his house. He (PBUH) granted him permission. When the man turned away, he called him back, and said, “Do you hear the Adhan (call to prayer)?” He replied in the affirmative. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) then directed him to respond to it. [Muslim]
- Secure your spot on the first row to earn more rewards
Allah’s Apostle (PBUH) has also mentioned that the ones who arrive early standing on the first row of the congregation accumulate more rewards as opposed to those who arrive late.
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “If the people knew the reward for pronouncing the Adhan and for standing in the first row (in congregational prayers) and found no other way to get that except by drawing lots they would draw lots, and if they knew the reward of the Zuhr prayer (in the early moments of its stated time) they would race for it (go early) and if they knew the reward of Isha and Fajr (morning) prayers in congregation, they would come to offer them even if they had to crawl.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
- Reward of staying the whole night in prayer
In relation to Isha and Fajr prayers offered in congregation at the mosque, the Prophet of Allah (PBUH) has mentioned that the one who offers Isha Prayer in congregation would be
rewarded for being in prayer half the night, whereas the one who also follows it up with the Fajr prayer would earn the reward of standing the entire night in prayer.
Uthman bin Affan narrated: Allah’s Messenger said: “Whoever attends Isha (prayer) in congregation, then he has (the reward as if he had) stood half of the night. And whoever prays Isha and Fajr in congregation, then he has (the reward as if he had) spend the entire night standing (in prayer).” [Jami At-Tirmidhi]
- Erases one’s sins
Narrated Abu Huraira: the Prophet (PBUH) said, “The prayer offered in congregation is twenty-five times more superior (in reward) to the prayer offered alone in one’s house or in a business centre, because if one performs ablution and does it perfectly, and then proceeds to the mosque with the sole intention of praying, then for each step which he takes towards the mosque, Allah upgrades him a degree in reward and crosses (forgives) out one sin till he enters the mosque. When he enters the mosque, he is considered in prayer as long as he is waiting for the prayer and the angels keep on asking for Allah’s forgiveness for him and they keep on saying: ‘O Allah! Be Merciful to him, O Allah! Forgive him, as long as he keeps on sitting at his praying place and does not pass wind.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
This hadeeth also lays out the benefits of prayer offered in congregation—not only is it 25 times (or 27 times as per the previous hadeeth) more rewarding than salah offered alone, Allah rewards you for every step you take towards the mosque, and also erases your sins, Subhanallah!
- Strengthens ties of brotherhood
Standing shoulder to shoulder in prayer can be one of the most heart-warming and psychologically rewarding aspects of offering salah in congregation. Witnessing the diversity of fellow Muslim brothers brought together under the common aim of worshiping and pleasing Allah binds each other together in strong ties of unity and brotherhood.
Ibn Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “Arrange the rows in order, stand shoulder to shoulder, close the gaps, be accommodating to your brothers, and do not leave gaps for Satan. Whoever joins up a row, he will be joined to Allah (i.e., to the Mercy of Allah); and whoever cuts off a row, he will be cut off from Allah (i.e., from His Mercy).” [Abu Dawud]
Salah offered in congregation is highly rewarding as evidenced by the numerous hadeeth above. Of course, COVID-19 is still out and about preventing some from securing the rewards of the congregational prayer. However, if your health permits, adhere to the safety protocols and try your best to not miss out on visiting your mosque to stand together in congregation.
May Allah acknowledge and accept our efforts, Aameen!