Getting closer to Allah following the prayers of the Prophet (S)
Most of us in Bangladesh learn about Islam and its practices either from the books written by third parties, or from our masjid imams or from our family members who appears to be in practice of Islam. Seldom have we referred to the primary sources (meaning the original Arabic libraries) as we do not know Arabic, or even the second sources (meaning the direct translations form Arabic to Bangla or English). As a result we do not get to know the real teachings of Islam as per the Qur’an and Sunnah of our Prophet (S).
Recently, I have been reading the hadiths from the second sources in English and learning some of the teachings of Islamic prayers that I am getting to know for the first time in my life! Therefore, I felt the need to share whatever I have come to know so far so that the reader could understand the gap and errors we have in our prayers and practices.
Islam is basically a simple and natural religion to follow. Our third party teachers have made the religion so difficult that people feel discouraged to follow any of it. We will discover the simple Islam as we make progress reading this paper.
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshipping in the mornings, the nights." (See Fath−ul−Bari, Page 102, Vol. 1). (Bukhari 1.38).
Let us discuss the following hadiths with analysis one by one as they cover various areas of our prayers. The following hadith confirms that the five daily prayers are to be offered in congregation (meaning jamaat). But all my life so far I thought it is also permissible to offer prayer alone, but I was wrong!
Narrated Ibn `Umar: Allah's Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles): -1. To testify that there is no deity (owing the right to be worshipped) but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Messenger. -2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly. -3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity) . -4. To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca) -5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan. (Bukhari 1.7).
To keep people regular in their congressional prayers the prayer is to be made short. The following hadith confirms that –
Narrated Abu Mas`ud Al-Ansari: Once a man said to Allah's Apostle "O Allah's Apostle! I may not attend the (compulsory congregational) prayer because so and so (the Imam) prolongs the prayer when he leads us for it. The narrator added: "I never saw the Prophet more furious in giving advice than he was on that day. The Prophet said, "O people! Some of you make others dislike good deeds (the prayers). So whoever leads the people in prayer should shorten it because among them there are the sick the weak and the needy (having some jobs to do). (Bukhari 1.90).
The benefits in offering congregational prayer are shown in bold in the hadiths below:
Narrated Humran: (the slave of `Uthman) I saw `Uthman bin `Affan asking for a tumbler of water (and when it was brought) he poured water over his hands and washed them thrice and then put his right hand in the water container and rinsed his mouth, washed his nose by putting water in it and then blowing it out. Then he washed his face and forearms up to the elbows thrice, passed his wet hands over his head and washed his feet up to the ankles thrice. Then he said, "Allah's Apostle said 'If anyone Performs ablution like that of mine and offers a two-rak`at prayer during which he does not think of anything else (not related to the present prayer) then his past sins will be forgiven.' "After performing the ablution `Uthman said, "I am going to tell you a Hadith which I would not have told you, had I not been compelled by a certain Holy Verse (the sub narrator `Urwa said: This verse is: "Verily, those who conceal the clear signs and the guidance which we have sent down...)" (2:159). I heard the Prophet saying, 'If a man performs ablution perfectly and then offers the compulsory congregational prayer, Allah will forgive his sins committed between that (prayer) and the (next) prayer till he offers it. (Bukhari 1.161).
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet 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 center, 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 (forgives) crosses 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. (See Hadith No. 620). (Bukhari 1.466).
Narrated Saiyar bin Salama: I along with my father went to Abu- Barza Al-Aslami and my father asked him, "How Allah's Apostle used to offer the five compulsory congregational prayers?" Abu- Barza said, "The Prophet used to pray the Zuhr prayer which you (people) call the first one at midday when the sun had just declined The `Asr prayer at a time when after the prayer, a man could go to the house at the farthest place in Medina (and arrive) while the sun was still hot. (I forgot about the Maghrib prayer). The Prophet Loved to delay the `Isha which you call Al- `Atama [??] and he disliked sleeping before it and speaking after it. After the Fajr prayer he used to leave when a man could recognize the one sitting beside him and he used to recite between 60 to 100 Ayat (in the Fajr prayer). (Bukhari 1.522).
All prayer has a time frame to offer. Offering prayers on time carries some benefits as well as standing in the front lines -
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle 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." (Bukhari 1.589).
Neglecting congregational prayer is great sin and used to anger the Prophet (S):
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "By Him in Whose Hand my soul is I was about to order for collecting firewood (fuel) and then order Someone to pronounce the Adhan for the prayer and then order someone to lead the prayer then I would go from behind and burn the houses of men who did not present themselves for the (compulsory congregational) prayer. By Him, in Whose Hands 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 `Isha' prayer.' (Bukhari 1.617).
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "The reward of the prayer offered by a person in congregation is twenty five times greater than that of the prayer offered in one's house or in the market (alone). And this is because if he performs ablution and does it perfectly and then proceeds to the mosque with the sole intention of praying, then for every step he takes towards the mosque, he is upgraded one degree in reward and his one sin is taken off (crossed out) from his accounts (of deeds). When he offers his prayer, the angels keep on asking Allah's Blessings and Allah's forgiveness for him as long as he is (staying) at his Musalla. They say, 'O Allah! Bestow Your blessings upon him, be Merciful and kind to him.'And one is regarded in prayer as long as one is waiting for the prayer." (Bukhari 1.620).
Narrated Abu Salama bin `Abdur Rahman: Abu Huraira said, "I heard Allah's Apostle saying, 'The reward of a prayer in congregation is twenty five times (or 27 in some hadiths) greater than that of a prayer offered by a person alone. The angels of the night and the angels of the day gather at the time of Fajr prayer.' "Abu Huraira then added, "Recite the Holy Book if you wish, for "Indeed, the recitation of the Qur'an in the early dawn (Fajr prayer) is ever witnessed." (17.18). (Bukhari 1.621).
Definition of martyr is found in the following hadith along with the importance of the congregational prayer:
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "While a man was going on a way, he saw a thorny branch and removed it from the way and Allah became pleased by his action and forgave him for that." Then the Prophet said, "Five are martyrs: One who dies of plague, one who dies of an Abdominal disease, one who dies of drowning, one who is buried alive (and) dies and one who is killed in Allah's cause." (The Prophet further said, "If the people knew the reward for pronouncing the Adhan and for standing in the first row (in the congregational prayer) and found no other way to get it except by drawing lots they would do so, and if they knew the reward of offering the Zuhr prayer early (in its stated time), they would race for it and they knew the reward for `Isha' and Fajr prayers in congregation, they would attend them even if they were to crawl') (Bukhari 1.624).
Among the seven lucky people who would find Allah’s mercy are also those who offers prayers in congregation -
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "Allah will give shade, to seven, on the Day when there will be no shade but His. (These seven persons are) a just ruler, a youth who has been brought up in the worship of Allah (i.e. worships Allah sincerely from childhood), a man whose heart is attached to the mosques (i.e. to pray the compulsory prayers in the mosque in congregation), two persons who love each other only for Allah's sake and they meet and part in Allah's cause only, a man who refuses the call of a charming woman of noble birth for illicit intercourse with her and says: I am afraid of Allah, a man who gives charitable gifts so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity), and a person who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes are then flooded with tears." (Bukhari 1.629).
Not just that, a special treatment also waits them in the heaven -
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "Allah will prepare for him who goes to the mosque (every) morning and in the afternoon (for the congregational prayer) an honorable place in Paradise with good hospitality for (what he has done) every morning and afternoon goings. (Bukhari 1.631).
To encourage people keep on coming to congregation prayers the Prophet (S) used to offer short prayers -
Narrated Anas: The Prophet used to pray a short prayer (in congregation) but used to offer it in a perfect manner. (Bukhari1.674)
All our activities are based on blind faith and belief. The following hadith makes it clear that if we knew then we would have been better in our performances -
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "Martyrs are those who die because of drowning, plague, an abdominal disease, or of being buried alive by a falling building." And then he added, "If the people knew the reward for the Zuhr prayer in its early time, they would race for it. If they knew the reward for the `Isha' and the Fajr prayers in congregation, they would join them even if they had to crawl. If they knew the reward for the first row, they would draw lots for it." (Bukhari 1.688).
The following hadith gives us an indication that we may have lost a practice that was done by our Prophet (S) -
Narrated Abu Ma`bad: (the freed slave of Ibn `Abbas) Ibn `Abbas told me, "In the lifetime of the Prophet it was the custom to celebrate Allah's praises aloud after the compulsory congregational prayers." Ibn `Abbas further said, "When I heard the Dhikr, I would learn that the compulsory congregational prayer had ended." (Bukhari 1.802).
Here is an example of obedience to our Prophet (S) by one of the caliphs -
Narrated Ibn `Umar: One of the wives of `Umar (bin Al-Khattab) used to offer the Fajr and the `Isha' prayer in congregation in the Mosque. She was asked why she had come out for the prayer as she knew that `Umar disliked it, and he has great ghaira (self-respect). She replied, "What prevents him from stopping me from this act?" The other replied, "The statement of Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) : 'Do not stop Allah's women-slave from going to Allah s Mosques' prevents him." (Bukhari 2.23).
Another sunnah that we no longer practice -
Narrated `Abdullah bin `Amr : "When the sun eclipsed in the lifetime of Allah's Apostle an announcement was made that a prayer was to be offered in congregation." (Bukhari 2.155).
Narrated `Abdullah bin `Amr: When the sun eclipsed in the lifetime of Allah's Apostle and an announcement was made that the prayer was to be held in congregation. The Prophet performed two bowing in one rak`a. Then he stood up and performed two bowing in one rak`a. Then he sat down and finished the prayer; and by then the (eclipse) had cleared `Aisha said, "I had never performed such a long prostration." (Bukhari 2.160).
Narrated `Aisha: The Prophet (p.b.u.h) recited (the Qur'an) aloud during the eclipse prayer and when he had finished the eclipse prayer he said the Takbir and bowed. When he stood straight from bowing he would say "Sami 'al-l-ahu Lyman hamidah Rabbana wa laka l-hamd." And he would again start reciting. In the eclipse prayer there are four bowing and four prostrations in two rak`at. Al-Auza'i and others said that they had heard Az-Zuhi from 'Ursa from `Aisha saying, "In the lifetime of Allah's Apostle the sun eclipsed, and he made a person to announce: 'Prayer in congregation.' He led the prayer and performed four bowing and four prostrations in two rak`at." Narrated Al-Walid that `Abdur-Rahman bin Namir had informed him that he had heard the same. Ibn Shihab heard the same. Az-Zuhri said, "I asked ('Ursa), 'What did your brother `Abdullah bin Az-Zubair do? He prayed two rak`at (of the eclipse prayer) like the morning prayer, when he offered the (eclipse) prayer in Median.' 'Ursa replied that he had missed (i.e. did not pray according to) the Prophet's tradition." Sulaiman bin Kathir and Sufyan bin Husain narrated from Az-Zuhri that the prayer for the eclipse used to be offered with loud recitation.” (Bukhari 2.172).
Here we find some examples of charity; even walking to attend a congregational prayer is also a charity -
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "Charity is obligatory everyday on every joint of a human being. If one helps a person in matters concerning his riding animal by helping him to ride it or by lifting his luggage on to it, all this will be regarded charity. A good word, and every step one takes to offer the compulsory Congregational prayer, is regarded as charity; and guiding somebody on the road is regarded as charity." (Bukhari 4.141).
Along with the importance of congregation prayer here is another deed that is highly regarded – recitation of the Qur’an in early dawn -
Narrated Ibn Al-Musaiyab: Abu Huraira said, "The Prophet said, 'A prayer performed in congregation is twenty-five times more superior in reward to a prayer performed by a single person. The angels of the night and the angels of the day are assembled at the time of the Fajr (Morning) prayer." Abu Huraira added, "If you wish, you can recite:-- 'Verily! The recitation of the Qur'an in the early dawn (Morning prayer) is ever witnessed (attended by the angels of the day and the night).' (17.78) (Bukhari 6.241).
The following hadith reveals that all other prayers other than the compulsory five daily congregational prayers ought to be offered at home, including the Taraweh prayers. But what we have done today is ignored this sunnah and offer the Taraweh prayers at a masjid in congregation. To make it even worse, we even do Khatme Taraweh, which means reading the entire Qur’an in the month of Ramadan during the Taraweh prayers, which is an innovation. Ironically, the meaning of Taraweh is easy going or relaxing; and we have made this nafl or sunnah prayer the hardest or most difficult!
Narrated Zaid bin Thabit: Allah's Apostle made a small room (with a palm leaf mat). Allah's Apostle came out (of his house) and prayed in it. Some men came and joined him in his prayer. Then again the next night they came for the prayer, but Allah's Apostle delayed and did not come out to them. So they raised their voices and knocked the door with small stones (to draw his attention). He came out to them in a state of anger, saying, "You are still insisting (on your deed, i.e. Tarawih prayer in the mosque) that I thought that this prayer (Tarawih) might become obligatory on you. So you people, offer this prayer at your homes, for the best prayer of a person is the one which he offers at home, except the compulsory (congregational) prayer." (Bukhari 8.134).
In Islam, every act can be transformed into an ibadat or prayer if done accordingly as per sunnah, here is an example -
Narrated Ibn `Abbas: I brought water to `Uthman bin `Affan to perform the ablution while he was sitting on his seat. He performed the ablution in a perfect way and said, "I saw the Prophet performing the ablution in this place and he performed it in a perfect way and said, "Whoever performs the ablution as I have done this time and then proceeds to the mosque and offers a two-rak`at prayer and then sits there (waiting for the compulsory congregational prayers), then all his past sins will be forgiven." The Prophet further added, "Do not be conceited (thinking that your sins will be forgiven because of your prayer). (Bukhari 8.441).
Again we find a hadith from our Prophet (S) where he is angry with those who neglects congregation prayers -
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "By Him in Whose Hands my life is, I was about to order for collecting fire wood and then order someone to pronounce the Adhan for the prayer and then order someone to lead the people in prayer and then I would go from behind and burn the houses of men who did not present themselves for the (compulsory congregational) prayer. By Him in Whose Hands my life is, if anyone of you had known that he would receive a bone covered with meat or two (small) pieces of meat present in between two ribs, he would come for `Isha' prayer." (See Hadith No. 617, Vol. 1) (Bukhari 9.330).
Here is an interesting part about the iqama. I have seen Muslims in North America pronouncing iqama in the following manner -
Narrated Anas: The people mentioned the fire and the bell (they suggested those as signals to indicate the starting of prayers), and by that they mentioned the Jews and the Christians. Then Bilal was ordered to pronounce Adhan for the prayer by saying its wordings twice, and for the Iqama (the call for the actual standing for the prayers in rows) by saying its wordings once. (Iqama is pronounced when the people are ready for the prayer). (Bukhari 1.577).
But in the Indian sub-continent (including Bangladesh) the practice is different. Here is another reference -
Narrated Anas: Bilal was ordered to repeat the wording of the Adhan for prayers twice, and to pronounce the wording of the Iqama once except "Qad-qamat-is-salat". (Bukhari 1.579).
If it is an “order” then why the Muslims in Bangladesh do not follow it? They don’t simply because they do not know. Here is the reference on how the idea of adhan came about -
Narrated Anas bin Malik: When the number of Muslims increased they discussed the question as to how to know the time for the prayer by some familiar means. Some suggested that a fire be lit (at the time of the prayer) and others put forward the proposal to ring the bell. Bilal was ordered to pronounce the wording of Adhan twice and of the Iqama once only. (Bukhari 1.580).
Again we find a similar reference about iqama -
Narrated Abu Qilaba: Anas said, "Bilal was ordered to pronounce the wording of Adhan twice and of Iqama once only." The sub narrator Isma`il said, "I mentioned that to Aiyub and he added (to that), "Except Iqama (i.e. Qad-qamat-is-salat which should be said twice). (Bukhari 1.581).
Both the adhan and iqama bothers Satan -
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "When the Adhan is pronounced Satan takes to his heels and passes wind with noise during his flight in order not to hear the Adhan. When the Adhan is completed he comes back and again takes to his heels when the Iqama is pronounced and after its completion he returns again till he whispers into the heart of the person (to divert his attention from his prayer) and makes him remember things which he does not recall to his mind before the prayer and that causes him to forget how much he has prayed." (Bukhari 1.582).
Under no circumstance we should offer the compulsory daily prayers without a congregation. Even if we are just two, we should offer the prayers in congregation following the same principle as we do at a masjid. In the following hadith we also see the importance of the oldest to take the lead for the prayers. In our culture we tend to think that the pious looking among us (i.e., dariwala tupiwala) should lead the prayer, but no, the oldest among us are to do so -
Narrated Malik bin Huwairith: Two men came to the Prophet with the intention of a journey. The Prophet said, "When (both of) you set out, pronounce Adhan and then Iqama and the oldest of you should lead the prayer." (Bukhari 1.603).
Narrated Malik bin Huwairith: Prophet said (to two persons), "Whenever the prayer time becomes due, you should pronounce Adhan and then Iqama and the older of you should lead the prayer." (Bukhari 1.627).
The following hadith is about Sutra or a blocking stick or obstacle in front of the prayer group. Many of us are not even aware that we are forbidden to walk or cross in front of a prayer. But with the presence of a sutra in front would allow us to walk and cross -
Narrated `Aun bin Abi Juhaifa: My father said, "I saw Allah's Apostle at a place called Al-Abtah. Bilal came and informed him about the prayer and then came out with a short spear (or stick) and planted it in front of Allah's Apostle at Al-Abtah and pronounced the Iqama." (Bukhari 1.606).
Narrated `Aun bin Abi Juhaifa: I heard my father saying, "The Prophet led us, and prayed a two-rak`at Zuhr prayer and then a two-rak`at `Asr prayer at Al-Batha' [??] with a short spear (planted) in front of him (as a Sutra) while women and donkeys were passing in front of him (beyond that stick).” (Bukhari 1.474).
Narrated Nafi`: "The Prophet used to make his she-camel sit across and he would pray facing it (as a Sutra)." I asked, "What would the Prophet do if the she-camel was provoked and moved?" He said, "He would take its camel-saddle and put it in front of him and pray facing its back part (as a Sutra). And Ibn `Umar used to do the same." (This indicates that one should not pray except behind a Sutra).” (Bukhari 1.485).
Narrated Abu Salih As-Samman: I saw Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri praying on a Friday, behind something which acted as a Sutra. A young man from Bani Abi Mu'ait [??] , wanted to pass in front of him, but Abu Sa`id repulsed him with a push on his chest. Finding no alternative he again tried to pass but Abu Sa`id pushed him with a greater force. The young man abused Abu Sa`id and went to Marwan and lodged a complaint against Abu Sa`id and Abu Sa`id followed the young man to Marwan who asked him, "O Abu Sa`id! What has happened between you and the son of your brother?" Abu Sa`id said to him, "I heard the Prophet saying, 'If anybody amongst you is praying behind something as a Sutra and somebody tries to pass in front of him, then he should repulse him and if he refuses, he should use force against him for he is a Shaitan (a Satan).'" (Bukhari 1.488).
Narrated Ibn `Umar: On the day of `Id-ul-Fitr and `Id-ul-Adha a spear used to be planted in front of the Prophet I (as a Sutra for the prayer) and then he would pray.” (Bukahri 2.89).
The common practice in Bangladesh those who know about it by placing a pair of shoes or a brick in front thinking it is sufficient to act as sutra, but the hadith suggests that a sutra should be like a short spear or stick about the height of a person in prayer in sitting position (head to hip). In some masjids we do see a stick stand is being used to work as sutra, which is the correct method.
In general, what we normally do is rush our heart out to join a prayer when we hear the iqama. But the following hadith is asking us not do so. Rather it is advising us to take it easy and join the prayer slowly -
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "When you hear the Iqama, proceed to offer the prayer with calmness and solemnity and do not make haste. And pray whatever you are able to pray and complete whatever you have missed.” (Bukhari 1.609).
Here is an example of holding a prayer in need even after iqama -
Narrated Anas bin Malik: Once Iqama was pronounced a man came to the Prophet and detained him (from the prayer).” (Bukhari 1.616).
Feeding comes first, even before a prayer -
Narrated Nafi`: Ibn `Umar said, "Allah's Apostle said, 'If the supper is served for anyone of you and the Iqama is pronounced, start with the supper and don't be in haste (and carry on eating) till you finish it." If food was served for Ibn `Umar and Iqama was pronounced, he never came to the prayer till he finished it (i.e. food) in spite of the fact that he heard the recitation (of the Qur'an) by the Imam (in the prayer). Narrated Ibn `Umar: The Prophet said, "If anyone of you is having his meals, he should not hurry up till he is; satisfied even if the prayer has been started."” (Bukhari 1.642).
Following hadith stresses the importance of standing in straight lines with no gaps in between the standing persons. I have seen the imams in North America used to say, “Brothers straighten your lines foot to foot, shoulder to shoulder so that Satan cannot stand in between us” before starting every prayer. But in Bangladesh, our brothers intentionally keeps gaps among each other to stand clear and free; and our imams also do not pay any attention on this matter nor does he bothers to check the rows before making the prayer intention.
Narrated Anas bin Malik: Once the Iqama was pronounced and Allah's Apostle faced us and said, "Straighten your rows and stand closer together, for I see you from behind my back.' “ (Bukhari 1.687).
Narrated Abu Huraira, Allah's Apostle said, "When the Adhan for the prayer is pronounced, then Satan takes to his heels passing wind so that he may not hear the Adhan and when the Mu'adh-dhin finishes, he comes back; and when the Iqama is pronounced he again takes to his heels and when it is finished, he again comes back and continues reminding the praying person of things that he used not to remember when not in prayer till he forgets how much he has prayed." Abu Salama bin `Abdur-Rahman said, "If anyone of you has such a thing (forgetting the number of rak`at he has prayed) he should perform two prostrations of Sahu (i.e. forgetfulness) while sitting." Abu Salama narrates this from Abu Huraira.” (Bukhari 2.313).
Walking to a masjid carries reward as well; farthest the better as more walking is involved -
Narrated Abu Musa: The Prophet said, "The people who get tremendous reward for the prayer are those who are farthest away (from the mosque) and then those who are next farthest and so on. Similarly one who waits to pray with the Imam has greater reward than one who prays and goes to bed.”" (Bukhari 1.623)
Praying behind an imam means following him literally -
Narrated Aisha: the mother of the believers: Allah's Apostle during his illness prayed at his house while sitting whereas some people prayed behind him standing. The Prophet beckoned them to sit down. On completion of the prayer, he said, 'The Imam is to be followed: bow when he bows, raise up your heads (stand erect) when he raises his head and when he says, 'Sami`a l-lahu liman hamidah' (Allah heard those who sent praises to Him) say then 'Rabbana wa laka l-hamd' (O our Lord! All the praises are for You), and if he prays sitting then pray sitting."” (Bukhari 1.656).
Narrated Anas bin Malik: Once Allah's Apostle rode a horse and fell down and the right side (of his body) was injured. He offered one of the prayers while sitting and we also prayed behind him sitting. When he completed the prayer, he said, "The Imam is to be followed. Pray standing if he prays standing and bow when he bows; rise when he rises; and if he says, 'Sami`a l-lahu-liman hamidah, say then, 'Rabbana wa laka l-hamd' and pray standing if he prays standing and pray sitting (all of you) if he prays sitting." Humaid said: The saying of the Prophet "Pray sitting, if he (Imam) prays sitting" was said in his former illness (during his early life) but the Prophet prayed sitting afterwards (in the last illness) and the people were praying standing behind him and the Prophet did not order them to sit. We should follow the latest actions of the Prophet.” (Bukhari 1.657).
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "Isn't he who raises his head before the Imam afraid that Allah may transform his head into that of a donkey or his figure (face) into that of a donkey?" (Bukhari 1.660).
With power comes responsibility. Leading a prayer as an imam carries a lot of responsibility as the following hadith reflects -
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "If the Imam leads the prayer correctly then he and you will receive the rewards but if he makes a mistake (in the prayer) then you will receive the reward for the prayer and the sin will be his."” (Bukhari 1.663).
Narrated Anas bin Malik: I never prayed behind any Imam a prayer lighter and more perfect than that behind the Prophet and he used to cut short the prayer whenever he heard the cries of a child lest he should put the child's mother to trial.” (Bukhari 1.676).
In Bangladesh, we do not say “Amin” loud as the following hadith instructs us to do thus losing out on a great benefit -
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "Say Amin" when the Imam says it and if the Amin of any one of you coincides with that of the angels then all his past sins will be forgiven."Ibn Shihab said, "Allah's Apostle used to Say "Amin."” (Bukhari 1.747).
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "Say Amen when the Imam says 'Ghairi l-maghdubi `alaihim wala d-daalleen' (not the path of those who earn Your Anger (such as Jews) nor of those who go astray (such as Christians)); all the past sins of the person whose saying (of Amin) coincides with that of the angels, will be forgiven".” (Bukhari 1.749).
Another benefit that many of us do not know about -
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "When the Imam says, "Sami`a l-lahu liman hamidah," you should say, "Allahumma Rabbana laka l-hamd." And if the saying of any one of you coincides with that of the angels, all his past sins will be forgiven."” (Bukhari 1.762).
The following hadiths are about the Friday congregational prayers. In Bangladesh, most of us pretty much take shower everyday. But in Saudi Arabia back in those days people used to take shower when needed. Therefore, this particular hadith had more significance at that particular time and place. However, it is now a reminder to all of us that taking a shower before going to Friday prayer early is strongly recommended if someone is neglectful.
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) said, "Any person who takes a bath on Friday like the bath of Janaba and then goes for the prayer (in the first hour i.e. early), it is as if he had sacrificed a camel (in Allah's cause); and whoever goes in the second hour it is as if he had sacrificed a cow; and whoever goes in the third hour, then it is as if he had sacrificed a horned ram; and if one goes in the fourth hour, then it is as if he had sacrificed a hen; and whoever goes in the fifth hour then it is as if he had offered an egg. When the Imam comes out (i.e. starts delivering the Khutba), the angels present themselves to listen to the Khutba."” (Bukhari 2.6).
Narrated Salman-Al-Farsi: The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said, "Whoever takes a bath on Friday, purifies himself as much as he can, then uses his (hair) oil or perfumes himself with the scent of his house, then proceeds (for the Jumua prayer) and does not separate two persons sitting together (in the mosque), then prays as much as (Allah has) written for him and then remains silent while the Imam is delivering the Khutba, his sins in-between the present and the last Friday would be forgiven."” (Bukahri 2.8).
Narrated Salman Al-Farsi: Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) said, "Anyone who takes a bath on Friday and cleans himself as much as he can and puts oil (on his hair) or scents himself; and then proceeds for the prayer and does not force his way between two persons (assembled in the mosque for the Friday prayer), and prays as much as is written for him and remains quiet when the Imam delivers the Khutba, all his sins in between the present and the last Friday will be forgiven."” (Bukhari 2.33).
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "When it is a Friday, the angels stand at the gate of the mosque and keep on writing the names of the persons coming to the mosque in succession according to their arrivals. The example of the one who enters the mosque in the earliest hour is that of one offering a camel (in sacrifice). The one coming next is like one offering a cow and then a ram and then a chicken and then an egg respectively. When the Imam comes out (for Jumua prayer) they (i.e. angels) fold their papers and listen to the Khutba."” (Bukhari 2.51).
A complete chapter (#62) titled “The Congregation, Friday” is dedicated on the importance of congregation prayers. Here is the content:
062.001 Whatever is in the heavens and on earth, doth declare the Praises and Glory of God,- the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Exalted in Might, the Wise.
062.002 It is He Who has sent amongst the Unlettered an apostle from among themselves, to rehearse to them His Signs, to sanctify them, and to instruct them in Scripture and Wisdom,- although they had been, before, in manifest error;-
062.003 As well as (to confer all these benefits upon) others of them, who have not already joined them: And He is exalted in Might, Wise.
062.004 Such is the Bounty of God, which He bestows on whom He will: and God is the Lord of the highest bounty.
062.005 The similitude of those who were charged with the (obligations of the) Mosaic Law, but who subsequently failed in those (obligations), is that of a donkey which carries huge tomes (but understands them not). Evil is the similitude of people who falsify the Signs of God: and God guides not people who do wrong.
062.006 Say: "O ye that stand on Judaism! If ye think that ye are friends to God, to the exclusion of (other) men, then express your desire for Death, if ye are truthful!"
062.007 But never will they express their desire (for Death), because of the (deeds) their hands have sent on before them! And God knows well those that do wrong!
062.008 Say: "The Death from which ye flee will truly overtake you: then will ye be sent back to the Knower of things secret and open: and He will tell you (the truth of) the things that ye did!"
062.009 O ye who believe! When the call is proclaimed to prayer on Friday (the Day of Assembly), hasten earnestly to the Remembrance of God, and leave off business (and traffic): That is best for you if ye but knew!
062.010 And when the Prayer is finished, then may ye disperse through the land, and seek of the Bounty of God: and celebrate the Praises of God often (and without stint): that ye may prosper.
062.011 But when they see some bargain or some amusement, they disperse headlong to it, and leave thee standing. Say: "The (blessing) from the Presence of God is better than any amusement or bargain! And God is the Best to provide (for all needs)."
Pay close attention to verses 9 and 10 where the importance of Friday congregation is stressed. But many among us miss this congregation carelessly.
Here is an interesting hadith. It is normally recommended that we keep quiet while khutba is delivered and listen to is attentively. But if anyone talks we should not try to stop them; as by trying to so we cause more disturbance!
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) said, "When the Imam is delivering the Khutba, and you ask your companion to keep quiet and listen, then no doubt you have done an evil act."” (Bukhari 2.56).
I did not know that women need to clap if and when to draw the imam’s attention, say when the imam makes a mistake or something of urgency happens. Well, it is not common for our women here in Bangladesh attending congregational prayers. See the hadith below:
Narrated Abu Huraira : The Prophet said, "The saying 'Sub Han Allah' is for men and clapping is for women." (If something happens in the prayer, the men can invite the attention of the Imam by saying "Sub Han Allah". And women, by clapping their hands).” (Bukhari 2.295)
I intentionally picked the hadiths that we normally do not follow in Bangladesh to show the reader that where we go wrong in our religious practices and where we need to make corrections to make our prayers worthwhile and acceptable to Allah. My search for such hadiths remained only with Bikhari as I felt if I keep on searching in all hadiths the information would be overwhelming and unmanageable.
After analyzing so many hadiths I no longer need to stress further on the importance of offering the five daily prayers in congregation or jamaat. Often it becomes difficult to join a congregation as per the jamaat time at the masjid or wherever. You will always find some brothers like yourself who have missed the congregation. In that case, what we normally do is form a congregation even if we are just two and offer the prayer in jammat instead of praying alone singly. This not only fulfills the jamaat requirement, but also increases our rewards 25 times. But we should always try to join the large main jamaat on time, because offering prayer in a larger jamaat on time has other advantages.
It is through prayer we establish direct and formal connections or communications with our Lord God Almighty Allah. If our method and manners are not correct and not according to the teachings and practices of our Prophet (S) then our communications with Him would fail and our prayers would not get answered. Along with it, we would miss out on the hidden rewards that could have been accumulated for the here after.