The following article is the winning entry to the Islaam.ae Competition #3, the winner of this competition was Abu Bakr Al-Tamimi who had submitted twelve (12) points of evidences that are valid excuses (for Men) to miss the congregational prayer (in the Masjid)
The compilation of these points and their related comments by Abu Bakr Al-Tamimi were evaluated by Abul ‘Abbas Moosaa Richardson, we ask Allah to increase us in knowledge.
Here is the audio clip from Islaam.ae Competition #3
Allah says: “…He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty…” [Surah Al-Hajj:78]
Allah, Exalted be He, also says: “…Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship…” [Surah Al-Baqarah:185]
Allah, Exalted be He, also says: “…Allah does not charge a soul except (with that within) its capacity…” [Surah Al-Baqarah:286]
Further, He says: “So fear Allah as much as you are able…” [Surah At-Taghabun:16]
Moreover, the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “If I order you to do something then do it as much as you can.” [Saheeh al-Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim]
Ibn ‘Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever hears the call to prayer and does not come to it (the congregation) then there is no prayer for him unless he has a valid excuse.” [Sunan Ibn Majah, Saheeh. See Shaykh al-Albani, Saheeh al-Jami as-Sagheer]
These Quranic verses and Ahadeeth are the core and foundation of the rulings/concessions that are to be mentioned below. This is because those with legal excuses are not like those without excuses.
Furthermore, those who have legal excuses cannot establish prayer as completely as those without excuses. Therefore, the Lawgiver has lightened the hardship for the excused Muslims and ordered them to perform prayer as much as they can, sometimes however they can based on their various situations and circumstances.
These rulings show the ease and relief intended for the Muslims in the Shari’ah (Islamic Law), as it always eliminates hardship and this is from the favor and blessings of Allah upon His servants. The excuses that validate one to miss congregational prayer are:
1. Winter or Harsh Weather Conditions – Cold and Rain Night or Day
Nafi narrated that on a cold and windy night, Ibn Umar made the call to prayer and announced during it, “Pray in your homes.” Then he said, “The Messenger of Allah would tell the caller to prayer on cold and rainy nights to say, “Pray in your homes (dwellings).” [Saheeh al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim, Abu Dawood and an-Nasa’i]
It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Abbaas said to his muezzin on a rainy day: “When you say: I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, do not say, Come to prayer, rather say: Pray in your houses. It was as if the people found that strange, so he said: Are you surprised by that? One who is better than me did that. Jumu’ah is obligatory, but I did not want to force you to walk in the mud and on slippery ground.” [Saheeh al-Bukhari]
Comments: These ahadeeth indicates in the event of a heavy rain which makes it difficult for people to go to the Masjid, congregational prayer may be skipped. It also indicates the Messenger of Allah did not want to place any difficulty on the people. He granted this concession of offering prayer at home because of rain and cold. Also included in this is when there are strong winds, hurricane, storm, severe cold, severe rain and mud etc.
Ibn Bataal said, “The scholars are unanimously agreed that it is permissible to remain away from the congregational prayer due to heavy rain, darkness, wind and other such things.” [Ibid]
2. When One’s Meal is Presented/Served (while he is in need of it or hungry)
Ibn Umar narrated that the Messenger of Allah said, “If your dinner is presented to you and the prayer is commenced, begin with your dinner and do not be hasty until you finish it.” Thus, if the dinner was presented to Ibn Umar and the prayer would start, he would not go to the prayer until he had finished, even though he could hear the reciting of the Imam. [Saheeh al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim (without the statement about Ibn Umar), and Abu Dawood]
Comments: This hadeeth and the one below indicate that if one is served food or has already started eating food while he is in need of it (i.e. he is hungry) he should not hurry and eat until his need has been fulfilled, even if the prayer has commenced. Not doing so would be opposing the Prophets guidance and command, furthermore, it will lead to lack of concentration in prayer.
3. When needing to relieve oneself – The Call of Nature
Aishah (radhiallahu ‘anha) narrated that she heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) say, “There is no prayer when the food has been served or when one is repressing the urge to relieve himself (i.e. go to the toilet).” [Saheeh. Saheeh al- Jami as-Sagheer. Recorded by Muslim and Abu Dawood]
Comments: This hadeeth indicates that when one has the urge to go to the toilet, he should not restrain oneself from excreting or urinating even if the prayer has started, rather, he should relieve himself first then go to attend the prayer. This is because not relieving oneself would distract one from the prayer and prevent him from having khushoo in prayer. Furthermore, he would be opposing the Prophets guidance. If he catches the congregational prayer then Alhamdulillah, if not then he is not sinful since he had a valid/legal excuse.
Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen was asked: If a person feared that if he answered the call of nature, he would miss the congregational prayer, should he pray while he is holding it in, in order to catch the congregational prayer, or should he answer the call of nature, even if he misses the congregational prayer?
Answer: He should answer the call of nature and then make ablution, even if he missed the congregational prayer, because this is an excuse and the Prophet said: “There is no prayer when food is served nor when he is suppressing the two filths.” [Muslim – Shaykh Ibn Uthaimeen, Fatawa Arkanu-ul-Islam, Volume 2, pg. 496]
4. Being Overcome with Sleep
5. Forgetting to Pray
Anas bin Malik (radhiallaahu ‘anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whoever forgets a prayer or sleeps through it, then the expiation is to perform it when he remembers it.” [Saheeh Muslim, an-Nasa’i]
Abu Qataadah (radhiallaahu ‘anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “There is no negligence in sleep. Negligence exists only in the state of wakefulness. Therefore, if one of you forgets to pray, let him pray as soon as he remembers and let him pray the prayers of the next day at their correct times…” [Saheeh Muslim, Abu Dawood, Trimidhee, an-Nasa’i]
Comments: Also the hadeeth that states “The pen has been lifted from three…the one who is sleeping until he wakes up (awakens)” These ahadeeth indicate that sleep and forgetfulness are valid reason. So in this situation the act of missing the prayer is not a sin and one is not held accountable as long as it was not done intentionally/deliberately and it is not a habit (i.e. it is not ones habit to sleep during prayer times and missing prayer due to it). One should take the necessary means to avoid missing prayer by sleeping early, not sleeping at the wrong time (before prayer), putting an alarm, asking someone to wake you up etc.
The one who forgot to pray or slept through it must perform prayer immediately when one remembers it or when reminded and for the one who slept when he wakes up (without further delay).
The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, when he became severely ill and left off praying with the people for many days, “Command Abubakar to lead the people in prayer.” [Saheeh al-Bukhari] The statement of Ibn Masood (radhiallaau ‘anhu) “I have seen the time when no one among us (i.e. the companions) stayed away from prayer (i.e. would not attend the prayers in congregation) except a hypocrite, whose hypocrisy was well known, or the sick” [Saheeh, Irwa Al-Ghaleel 2/233 no. 549]
Comments: The meaning of illness here is that illness which makes it not possible or difficult for one to attend the congregational prayer such as: the one who has chronic or bed ridden diseases, the one who has hands and foot cut off, the paralyzed, the one in a comma, and the old man who is not able to attend and the likes. This excuse also applies to one who is attending to another (that is dependent on him), if he leaves him to pray in congregation he would die or be seriously injured. Therefore, the congregational prayer is not obligatory upon people with such illness. However, Illness here does not include slight illnesses such as slight headache, flu, cough etc.
The evidence for Fear and Illness is based on the hadeeth of Ibn Abbas & Tariq ibn Shihab (radhiallaahu ‘anhum). Ibn Abbas reported that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whoever hears the call to prayer and does not respond, then there is no prayer for him unless he has an excuse.” They asked, “What constitutes an excuse O Messenger of Allah?” He replied, “Fear or illness.” [as-Sunan al-Kubraa by al-Bayhaqee]
Tariq ibn Shihab narrated that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “The Friday prayer is a duty and obligation upon every Muslim in the community except four: a slave, a woman, a child (non-adult) or a sick person.” [Shaykh al-Albani, Saheeh Sunan Abu Dawood and Saheeh al-Jami as-Sagheer]
Comments: Fear in the hadeeth above means – Fears for himself, his wealth or property, his honor/family. Examples would be: Fear that if he prays in the masjid he would be killed (on his way or in the masjid) like in places or countries that are not safe, lack security, experiencing chaos and war; or that he would be harmed; or that he would be caught and jailed unjustly or unlawfully or oppressively. This also applies to one who is attending to a sick person (that is dependent on him), if he leaves him to pray in congregation he would die or be seriously hurt.
Ibraheem an-Nakhae’ee said, “They did not use to allow anyone to miss the congregational prayer unless he were sick or in fear.” [al-Musanaaf by ibn Abee Shaybah]
Moosaa Richardson:This is acceptable, however it should be known that the very point of reference the compiler has used for a proof is perhaps unauthentic. Shaykh Al-Albaanee authenticated the hadeeth in Sunan Abee Daawood (551), and exempted the explanation of what an excuse is.
Ibn ‘Umar narrated that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “There is no Friday prayer upon the traveler.” [al-Daraqutni]
Moosaa Richardson:The scholars consider a reference to Ad-Daaraqutnee alone to be an indication of the weakness of a hadeeth.
Comments: The above narrations (by Tariq and Ibn Umar) indicate that the Friday prayer is an individual obligation upon every Muslim except for five (who are exempted): a slave, a woman, a child, an ill person and a traveler. Similarly, these people are not required/obliged to pray their five daily prayers in congregation either, and are permitted to pray them at home.
Secondly, additional proof that the above are considered valid reason (Illness & Traveler) is the fact that the scholars have •differed on the issue of congregational being prayer being obligatory, however, the scholars have all agreed (consensus) to the obligation of Jumu’ah (Friday) prayer. Therefore, if the above have been excused from Friday prayer, it is more so the case with the congregational prayer.
•This does not mean one has the freedom to choose the opinion that suits his desires.
Furthermore, the correct and strongest opinion based on authentic evidences and practice of the righteous Salaf is that congregational prayer is an individual obligation (fard ‘ayn) upon every Muslim.
Moosaa Richardson:This point is acceptable. However, there are a lot better choices of evidences to use to establish this point.
9. Eating Garlic & Onions (i.e. something that has a Foul Smell)
Jaabir reported that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever eats garlic or onion should stay away from us or let him stay away from our mosque and instead sit in his home.” [Saheeh Muslim]
Comments: This hadeeth indicates that the obligation of attending the congregational prayer is lifted from the one who has eaten radish, onion, garlic, leak or any other food that has a foul smell (and one is unable to remove it) which offends mankind. Some scholars forbid a person from coming to the Masjid if his mouth or any part of the body that emanates bad smell due to disease. One may be forced to leave the Masjid by way of punishment or to shield people and the angels against the bad smell.
10. If one is far from the Masjid and cannot hear the Adhaan (Call to Prayer)
It is related that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “There is no (obligatory) prayer of the one who is a neighbor of a mosque except in the mosque (i.e. one should not perform obligatory prayers but in the mosque.” [Ad-Daraqutni, Al-Bayhaqi and Al-Hakim]
Moosaa Richardson:Declared weak by Al-Albaanee in Silsilat al-Ahaadeeth ad-Dha’eefah (#182).
A same hadeeth was related by Ali (radhiallaahu ‘anhu) with an addition (when he was asked: “Who is the neighbor of the mosque”): “The neighbor of the mosque is the one who hears the caller to prayer.” [Al-Bayhaqi]
Moosaa Richardson:Included in the previous discussion by Al-Albaanee.
Ibn Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever hears the call to prayer and does not come to it (the congregation) then there is no prayer for him unless he has a valid excuse.” [Sunan Ibn Majah, Saheeh. See Shaykh al-Albani, Saheeh al Jami as-Sagheer]
Muslim narrated in his Saheeh from Abu Hurayrah (radhiallaahu ‘anhu) that a blind man said, “O Messenger of Allah, I do not have anyone to guide me to the mosque; may I have a exemption to let me pray in my house?” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Can you hear the call to prayer?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “Then respond.”
Comments: Two benefits we get from these ahadeeth is, One: It is obligatory upon the one who hears the call to prayer to respond and attend the congregational prayer. Two: The word “Hears” that I have highlighted in bold indicates and means that if one is far from the masjid and does not hear the call to prayer, he is not obliged to attend the congregational prayer. The scholars have said that the obligation of answering “the call to prayer” is that which is given in a normal voice without the use of loudspeakers. From among them is Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen in his Sharh Riyadhul Saliheen pg. 73 (book or volume 5, Dar al Watan, supervised by the Shaykh’s Muasasa)
Moosaa Richardson:This point is acceptable, without need for the weak narrations.
11. The Imaam lengthening the prayer to the point that it becomes hard upon the followers
This is based on two ahadeeth: One: Abu Hurayrah (radhiallaahu ‘anhu) reported that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “If anyone of you leads people in prayer, he should lighten it because among them are the weak, the old and one busy with his needs. And if anyone among you performs prayer alone, then he may prolong (the prayer) as much as he wishes.” [Saheeh al-Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim]
Moosa Richardson:No proof with regards to this point in the above narration.
Two: The report from Ibn Masood that a man said, “By Allah, O Messenger of Allah, indeed I remain away from the morning prayer due to such and such a person who lengthens it.” I have not seen the Prophet giving an exhortation in which he displayed more anger than on that day. He said, “Indeed there are among you those who cause the people to become averse to attending the congregational prayer. When any of you leads the people in prayer then be brief (i.e. lighten it) for among them are the weak, the old and those who have a pressing need.” [Saheeh al-Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim]
Comments: This may not be a strong or valid point since out of all the books I went through on the subject, I did not see this point mentioned except on one book. However, if there is any point of evidence to support the point stated above (No. 11) then it would be the fact that the man clearly stated to the Prophet that he did not pray the congregational prayer by stating “indeed I remain away from the morning prayer” and then mentioned the reason (the justification) “due to such and such a person who lengthens it.” The Prophet was not angry at the man who did not attend the congregational prayer nor did he rebuke him or tell him anything. Rather, he was angry at the person who led the people in prayer and prolonged it, making it difficult for the people and chasing them away from the congregation. This is what is apparent and Allah Knows Best.
Moosaa Richardson:This point is understood from the second narration alone.
12. Being boycotted by the Muslims
This is in the story of the three faithful believers – Ka’b bin Malik, Murarah bin Ar-Rabi’, and Hilal bin Umaiyah when the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) returned to Al-Madinah from Tabook.
In the long hadeeth of Ka’b bin Malik in the Saheehan, Ka’b said: “…We spend fifty nights in this very state and my two friends confined themselves within their houses and spend (most of their) time weeping…” [Saheeh al-Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim – Riyadh-us-Saliheen, Chapter 2 (Repentance), hadeeth no. 21]
This part of the hadeeth is the point of evidence that indicates that it is permissible to leave off congregation. Also it is not reported that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) rebuked or blamed them for doing so. Ibn al-Qayyim also mentions this as one of the reasons that would allow one to leave the congregational prayer, saying, “The Muslims boycotting a person excuses that person from attending the congregational prayer. Meaning their boycotting him for a legitimate reason, this is because Hilaal bin Umayyah and Maraarah bin ar-Rabee remained in their homes, praying in their homes and they did not attend the congregational prayer.” [Zaad al-Ma’aad]
As-Suyutee said: “The excuses that allow one to leave the congregational prayer number about forty.”
[Al-Ashbaahu wa an-Nadhaair]
Additional Point of Benefit from another entry:
Narrated Anas bin Sireen: I heard Anas (radhiallaahu ‘anhu) saying, “A man from the Ansar said to the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam), “I cannot offer As-Salaat with you (in congregation).” He was a very fat man and he prepared a meal for the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and invited him to his house. He spread out a mat for the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam), and washed one of its sides with water, and the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) offered two Rak’ah prayer on it…” [Saheeh al-Bukhari, 67]
– End of Points –
Additional Benefit: [Compiled by Abu Bakr Al-Tamimi and checked by Moosaa Richardson]
This brings us to another issue of “Are these people (who have excuses) sinful and will they attain the reward of Congregational Prayer”?
The correct opinion is that, the sin is lifted and one attains the superiority of the congregational prayer. Therefore, if one leaves attending the congregational prayer due to a valid excuse, he attains the reward of the congregational prayer. The proofs for this are:
One: Ibn Umar narrated that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “If the servant is upon a good way or worship and then he becomes ill, it will be said to the angel appointed over him, ‘Write for him the actions he would have done were he healthy until I cause him to regain his health or take him to Myself.’” [Musnad Ahmad]
Note: An extra benefit for the sick person is that his sins are expiated due to sickness/illness.
Two: Ataa bin Yasaar narrated that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “When the servant becomes ill, it is said to the two recording Angels, ‘Write for my servant what he would have done had he been healthy until I cause him to die or become healthy once again.’” [Ibn Abee Shaybah. Refer to Irwaa al-Ghaleel 2/346]
Three: Jabir bin Abdulla Al Ansari (radhiallaahu ‘anhu) reported: “We accompanied the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) in an expedition when he said, “There are some men in Al-Madinah who are with you wherever you march and whichever valley you cross. They have not joined you in person because of their illness.” In another version he said: “They share the reward with you.” [Saheeh Muslim]
It is narrated by Bukhari from Anas bin Malik (radhiallaahu ‘anhu): “We were coming back from the battle of Tabuk with the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) when he remarked, “There are people whom we left behind in Al-Madinah who accompanied us in spirit in every pass and valley we crossed. They remained behind for a valid excuse.
Four: The Fatwa and hadeeth stated in it (below) Shaykh Saleh Fawzan asked: “What is the ruling on the one who does not observe the congregational prayer?”
Then he answered: “There are two cases concerning the one who does not observe congregational prayer and performs prayer along. As for the first case, it applies to the excused whether because of an illness or fear, and who is not in the habit of leaving congregational prayer. Such a person is rewarded as similar to the one who performs prayer in congregation. This is stated in the sahih (authentic) hadeeth in which the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “When the servant (of Allah) falls ill or travels, it (reward) is written for him similar to that which he used to do (of good deeds) while he was a resident and in good health (healthy resident).” [Saheeh al-Bukhari]
Hence, whoever is strictly resolved to perform his prayer in congregation but is prevented from doing so owing to a legal excuse is to be regarded as the one who performs it in congregation, and that is due to his good intention.” [A summary of Islamic Jurisprudence] Also Shaykh Ibn Uthaimeen stated the same stance in his Sharh Riyadhul Saliheen (Vol 5, Arabic) pg. 74
Books used for references:
• A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence by Shaykh Al Alama Saleh Fawzan
• The Concise in the Fiqh of the Sunnah and The Noble Book by Dr. Abdul Azeem Badawi
• Congregational Prayer by Dr. Saalih ibn Ghaanim al-Sadlaan
• Sharh Manar al Sabeel by Shaykh Ibrahim Muhammad bin Saalim bin Dhuyaan
• Riyadh-us-Saliheen and its Sharh (explanation)
• Sunan Abu Dawood
– The Book of Prayer – Chapter: The Friday Prayer on a rainy Day and Not attending the Congregational Prayer on a cold night or a rainy day (Chapter No.’s 206, 207 & 208), pg. 620 – 624
• Sunan Ibn Majah
– The Book of Prayer – Chapter 10: Whoever Slept through Prayer or Forgets it, pg. 455 – 458
– The Book of Mosques and the Congregation – Chapter 17: Severe Warning against Missing prayer in Congregation, pg. 513 – 516
• Sunan An-Nasa’i
– The Book of Times – Chapter 52 and 53: ‘Concerning One who Forgets a Prayer’ and ‘Concerning One who Sleeps and Misses a Prayer’, pg. 360 & 361
– The Book of Adhan – Chapter 17: The Adhan Telling People not to come to Prayer in Congregation on a Rainy night, pg. 385
– The Book of the Masajids – Chapter 16 and 17: ‘Who should be prevented in the Masjid’ and ‘The one to be taken out of the Masjid’, pg. 419 & 420
– The Book of Leading the Prayer – Chapter 35: The Imam should make the Prayer short, pg. 485 & 486 – Chapter 50: Regularly attending the Prayers when the Call is given, pg. 502 & 504 – Chapter 51: Excuse for not Praying in Congregation, pg. 504 – 506
• Fatawa Arkan-ul-Islam (Islamic Verdicts) on the Pillars of Islam by Muhammad bin Saleh Al-Uthaymeen
• Prayer in Congregation by Abu Ibraheem Abdul Majeed