A Benefit of Congregation

Praying in congregation is widely encouraged and practiced in the Islamic world. And if examined one can find many benefits in it both socially and spiritually. For example congregational prayer helps to promote equality and unifies the followers of Islam. This article is of the purpose of enlightening Muslims and non-Muslims to why and how congregational prayer/salah is of such a strong benefit to society.

Five times a day Muslims is commanded to stand before his/her lord and offer salah/prayer. What is better is to offer salah in congregation. There is a famous Hadith which Abdullah bin Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: “Allah’s Apostle said, “The prayer in congregation is twenty seven times superior to the prayer offered by person alone.”[1]. A person who prays in congregation is rewarded twenty seven times more as to when he/she prays alone, this is the conclusion of the hadith.

In congregational prayer everyone is expected to stand shoulder to shoulder regardless of who is next to whom. The last and final Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) use to advise his companions to stand shoulder to shoulder leaving no gaps for the Devil to get in between (a popular hadith from Sunan Abu-Dawud). The Devil which the Prophet (pbuh) was referring to was surely not the Devil which we see in art galleries pictured with two horns and a pointy tail, rather he was referring to the Devil of racism. That we should stand shoulder to shoulder regardless of who is next to us: an African, Pakistani or an Arab etc. Also at the end of every congregational prayer, the Muslims are meant to turn their heads to the right and left pronouncing (in Arabic), ‘peace be upon those to the right of me’ and ‘peace be upon those to the left of me’.  Again, the Muslims are to do this regardless of who is on the right and left of them.

Every Friday, it is compulsory for the Muslim to attend the Jumma congregation, where we find a more lively and larger environment. Even bigger is the two Eid festivals. On the day of Eid, the whole Muslim community is intended to gather in an open field and offer a special Eid salah/prayer. After the prayer, it is an Islamic custom to embrace, hug and wish well one another. This creates a more positive atmosphere among communities. Much better is the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj). This is where Muslims gather from all over the world to worship the one and only Lord of all: Allah. While performing Hajj, everyone is to appear in the same white garment so one cannot tell who is rich or poor, implying that everyone is the same in the sight of Allah.

We all agree that these types of activities create a form of brotherhood among the Muslim community regardless of race, colour or language. Islam has an international system to create equality and unity.

Praying in congregation helps to eliminate one’s negative racial opinion of another. A Muslim must realise (especially in congregational prayer) that he/she is worshipping the one and the same Lord that his/her Muslims neighbour is worshipping. Praying in the same mosque, on the same carpet, underneath the same roof and behind the same Imam (leader), this shows that Allah favours the white man no more than the black man and the black man no more than the white man. Everyone is equal in the sight of Allah. It is ones righteousness and good deeds that reach Allah.

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”[2]

References 

[1] Sahih Bukhari 1:618

[2] Qur’an 49:13

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