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Hadith Section > A Manual of Hadith > Chapter 07: Jama`ah or Congregation (Summary of the Chapter)


Chapter 07:
Jama`ah or Congregation (Summary of the Chapter):


The prayer-service of Islam is essentially a congregational service, and has, besides the development of the inner self of man, through communion with God, other ends as well in view, which show what a unique force the Islamic prayer is in the unification of the human race. In the first place, this gathering of all people living in the same vicinity five times daily in the mosque, is a great help to the establishment of healthy social relations, the circle becoming wider in the Friday service, and still more extensive in the `Id gatherings. But the jama`ah not only promotes social relations; what is far more important it levels down social differences. In the congregational prayer all Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder before their Maker, the king along with his poorest subject, the rich arrayed in costly robes with the beggar clad in rags, the white man along with his black brother. Nay, the king or the rich man standing in a back row is required to lay his head, when prostrating himself before God, at the feet of a slave or a beggar standing in the front row. There could be no greater levelling things, to carry into practice the theoretical lessons of equality and fraternity for which Islam stands, and however forcibly Islam may have preached in words the equality of man and the fraternity of the community of Islam, all this would have ended in mere talk, had it not been translated into everyday life through the institution of five daily congregational prayers.

The stress laid by the Holy Qur'an on jama`ah is evident not only from the express command contained in v. 1; the very word used in it for the observance of prayers is evidence that congregation is of the essence of prayer. Wherever the institution of prayer is spoken of, one of the derivatives of the word iqamah which signifies the putting (of an affair) into a right state or the keeping up or establishing of it, is used to indicate its proper observance. This very word iqamah technically signifies the pronouncement of certain sentences before the congregational service is held, for which see the preceding chapter. The word iqamah being thus associated with congregational service by the Holy Prophet himself is a clear indication that by the iqamah of prayer in the Holy Qur'an is meant the establishment of the congregational service. In fact, the stress laid on jama`ah by the Holy Qur'an is evident from its prayers, which all aim at the development of the community as a whole--v. 2 which contains the most frequently repeated prayer of Islam affords an example of this. V. 3 shows that the importance attached to congregational prayer is so great that even when facing the enemy in the battlefield, Muslims are required to say their prayers in congregation.

Of the hadith related in this chapter, the first three lay stress on the importance of the congregational prayer; h. 4 shows that when the congregational prayer it being said, no prayer shall be said singly. H. 5 speaks of the excellence of congregational prayer, while h. 6 shows that when it would be hard on people to gather together in the mosque they should be allowed to say their prayers in their abodes. Hh. 7, 8 show that even women were required to join the congregation, while h. 14 requires that women should form a separate row by themselves. Hh. 9-12 relate to the arrangement of ranks, while h. 13 shows that a single man shall not form a row by himself.

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Hadith Section > A Manual of Hadith > Chapter 07: Jama`ah or Congregation (Summary of the Chapter)

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