Assalam u ‘alaikum,
I want to share a little experience of mine. It breaks me from inside when I recall it…
A few days ago we were travelling and had to stop for Maghrib prayers in the central masjid of Wah Cantt. It is a very big masjid and is often talked of when the famous masjids of Pakistan are discussed (or so I have heard). Anyway, though we were in a hurry and mentally preoccupied, I couldn’t help feeling a tinge of excitement somewhere inside my heart. After all it was the big ‘pink’ masjid we used to visit with our grandfather (may Allah have mercy on him) when we were little. And now I was going inside it again after years. The sky was just turning pink and the muaddhin (caller toward prayer) could be heard loud and clear. We took of our shoes and stepped inside and………… It was as if someone pricked the balloon inside me. I deflated. You know the feeling when you feel going weak in the limbs? :'(
The biggest masjid in the town and only one and a half row for the Maghrib prayers??? Allah u Akbar! Do you feel the grief? If not, then you should. I wonder why do people wonder that our nation is in the worst decline ever? How can we ever progress with this state of events? Next time, someone talks to you about our nation being down in the dumps or about the corrupt leaders or any such matter, just ask them directly: “Do you offer prayer in congregation?” Seriously, let’s spread this question. Make people think!
(I’m only talking about the congregational prayer right now. Not the fact that when we got out of the masjid there were people busy selling things on carts and busy in their other worldly dealings, right outside the masjid). Know, that at the time of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w there was no concept of not offering prayers in congregation. Even the pure hypocrites could only get away with their claim of being a Muslim by offering prayer in congregation. So it was a sort of distinguishing factor between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Get an idea from the following:
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, The Book of Adhaan, Hadith no. 650:
Narrated Saalim: I heard Umm-Dardaa’ saying, “Abu Dardaa’ entered the house in an angry mood. I said to him, ‘What makes you angry?’ He replied, ‘By Allaah! I do not find the followers of Muhammad s.a.w doing those good things (which they used to do before) except the offering of congregational Salaat (prayer).” (This happened in the last days of Abu Ad-Dardaa’ during the rule of ‘Uthmaan).
The above narration implies that there was no concept of not offering prayer in congregation even though Muslims of that time had left other good things. But they just had to do this one. Imagine Abu Dardaa’ coming to visit us now… Would he even survive?
Scholars have always talked about the immense importance of prayer in congregation. Some scholars talk about congregational prayer being fard (obligatory) and some talk about its not being obligatory. Whether obligatory or not, in either case its importance is not lessened.
Feel the intensity by the following hadith:
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, The Book of Adhaan, Hadith no. 644:
Narrated Abu Hurairah r.a: Allah’s Messenger s.a.w said,
“By Him, in Whose Hand my soul is, I intended or planned or was about to order for collecting fire-wood (fuel) and then order someone to pronounce the Adhaan for As-Salaat (the prayer) and then order someone to lead the Salaat (prayer), then I would go from behind and burn the houses of men who did not present themselves for the (compulsory congregational) Salaat. By Him, in Whose Hand my soul is, if anyone of them had known that he would get a bone covered with good meat or two (small) pieces of meat present in between two ribs, he would have turned up for the ‘Ishaa prayer.”
The above hadith implies a number of things:
- Nabi s.a.w was ready to leave his honorable position of Imam in order to punish those who missed congregational prayer.
- He s.a.w did not talk about those who do not offer prayer at all. Rather they might be men who offered prayer regularly in their homes. They just missed prayer in congregation.
- The last lines mean that if people could see even benefit as little as getting two small pieces of meat, they would come to the congregational prayer. Which means that people only look for materialistic gains (which do not exist in congregational prayer), they don’t look for the real benefit behind it (though the real benefit is in abundance in the congregational prayer).
- Last, but not the least, just imagine these words coming out of the mouth of the person who was the most gentle, loving and kind and rarely angry. Imagine burning the houses of those people… It’s almost as if the loss that they’re facing in the hereafter on account of missing prayer in congregation is as if their houses burn down, with everything in them.
O Muslim men! Wake up. Wallahi! Don’t wait anymore. This Ramadan, if only you could develop the habit of offering prayer in congregation, your Ramadan would not be wasted.