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Corona and suspending congregational prayers in Mosques

Corona and suspending congregational prayers in Mosques

Author Muhammad bin Yahya al-Ninowy by

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In The Name of Allah; al-Raḥmān al-Raḥīm, and limitless Ṣalawāt and Taslīm onto Sayyiduna Muḥammad al-Nūr al-Mubīn, wa ‘Alā Ālih wa Azwājih wa Dhurriyātih.

Re: Corona and suspending congregational prayers in Mosques (Jumu‘ah and Jamā‘ah)

The CDC is recommending the President’s Coronavirus guidelines for the next 15 days, restricting public gatherings for more than 10 people in an effort to do our part in slowing the spread of the Coronavirus in our country.

Madina Institute USA will be temporarily suspending daily congregational prayers and Friday Jumu‘ah at the Mosque, pending further evaluations. The halls of the Mosque will be closed for deep cleaning and preventive measures. The call for the prayer will be made at every prayer time insha’Allah.

Because a lot remains unknown to us about the virus, social distancing is the only way to slow the spread of the virus in the community to give our health care system and government a chance to be more able to handle the health crisis better.

The daily five prayers and Friday prayer are still and will always be a Farḍ (obligation) for those fulfilling the legal conditions, therefore:

If your local Mosque is permitting congregational prayers, then:
1- The elderly (60 years and above) should think about taking the Rukhṣah (permissive stay) due to heightened susceptibility.
2- Individuals who are not obligated to attend Friday congregational prayers (Jumu‘ah), should not attend at this time until the situation changes. Women, while able to attend, are not obligated to, children, travelers, and those whose homes are far from a Masjid.
3- It is a good practice for all Friday sermon deliverers to make their sermon very short and sweet.
4- Congregants should perform their ablution (Wuḍu’) at home, if they can.
5- Congregants should bring their own prayer mat and place it on top of the Masjid carpet and take it with them, if they can.
6- Do not use ethyl alcohol-containing hand sanitizers after performing ablution and before you pray, as it may invalidate your Ṣalāh (due to the Najāsah of ethanol from a Fiqh perspective). You may use it afterward, or as necessary, or use it without any restrictions if you follow a school that deems it permissible.
7- Avoid shaking hands temporarily. You may temporarily avoid the Sunnah of shaking hands with people, and keep the general Islamic verbal greeting: (Assalamu Alaykum: May Peace and blessings be upon you).

The Dalil:
Imam Muslim narrated (2233) in his authentic collection:
عَنْ عَمْرِو بْنِ الشَّرِيدِ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، قال: " كَانَ فِي وَفْدِ ثَقِيفٍ رَجُلٌ مَجْذُومٌ، فَأَرْسَلَ إِلَيْهِ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِنَّا قَدْ بَايَعْنَاكَ فَارْجِعْ ".
Which means: ( 'Amr b. Sharid reported on the authority of his father that there was in the delegation of Thaqif an infectious leper. Allah's Apostle ﷺ sent a message to him: We have accepted your pledge of allegiance (without the hand-in-hand custom), so you may go).
8- If you are not feeling well (coughing, sneezing, etc.), sick or immunocompromised in any way, you may be sinful if you attend congregations. This is because some Uṣūlī scholars (legal theorists) have prioritized Hifẓ al-Nafs (Protecting the human Nafs) over Hifẓ al-Dīn (upholding the rituals of the faith), such as al-Imām al-Fakhr al-Rāzī, as in his Maḥṣūl.
9- Disperse immediately once the prayer is done.

If your local Mosque canceled congregational prayers due to organizational decision or CDC/Government recommendations, then:

1- If you have no excuse, you must pray Jumu‘ah. There is a scholarly disagreement on the minimum threshold number for Jumu‘ah to be held. Al-Imam al-Shāfi‘ī and the Hanbali's opt to 40 people, but Imam Abu Ḥanīfah opts to an Imam plus 3 attendees. Ibn Taymiyyah opts for an Imam with two attendees, and al-Qāḍī al-Shawkani opts to an imam and a single attendee as in Nayl al-Awṭār. This is because there is no authentic Prophetic instruction with regards to the minimum number required.
2- If there is no way for you to have a group of people to perform Jumu‘ah, then you may pray the 4-Rak‘ah Ẓuhr prayers instead, just like any other day until the situation resolves.

The Dalīl:
The Ḥadīthī evidence for suspending the call of people to attend the Mosque for congregational prayers in case of fear for safety or hardships are a few, among them:
1- Al-Bukhārī (668, 901) and Muslim (700) narrated in their authentic collections:

عَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ الْحَارِثِ، قَالَ: " خَطَبَنَا ابْنُ عَبَّاسٍ فِي يَوْمٍ ذِي رَدْغٍ، فَأَمَرَ الْمُؤَذِّنَ لَمَّا بَلَغَ حَيَّ عَلَى الصَّلَاةِ، قَالَ: قُلِ الصَّلَاةُ فِي الرِّحَالِ، فَنَظَرَ بَعْضُهُمْ إِلَى بَعْضٍ فَكَأَنَّهُمْ أَنْكَرُوا، فَقَالَ: كَأَنَّكُمْ أَنْكَرْتُمْ هَذَا، إِنَّ هَذَا فَعَلَهُ مَنْ هُوَ خَيْرٌ مِنِّي يَعْنِي النَّبِيَّ ﷺ إِنَّهَا عَزْمَةٌ وَإِنِّي كَرِهْتُ أَنْ أُحْرِجَكُمْ "، وَعَنْ حَمَّادٍ، عَنْ عَاصِمٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ الْحَارِثِ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ نَحْوَهُ، غَيْرَ أَنَّهُ قَالَ: كَرِهْتُ أَنْ أُؤَثِّمَكُمْ، فَتَجِيئُونَ تَدُوسُونَ الطِّينَ إِلَى رُكَبِكُمْ.

This means: (‘Abdullah bin Al-Ḥārith: Ibn ‘Abbās addressed us on a (rainy and) muddy day and when the Mu'adhdhin (caller for prayer) said: "Hayya ala al-Salat: Come for the prayer". Ibn `Abbas ordered him to say, "Pray in your homes." The people began to look at one another with surprise as if they did not like it. Ibn `Abbas said, "It seems that you thought ill of it, but no doubt it was done by one who was better than I (i.e., the Prophet ﷺ). It (the prayer) is a strict order, and I disliked to bring hardship to you." Ibn `Abbas narrated the same as above, but he said, "I did not like you to suffer hardship and to come (to the mosque) covered with mud up to the knees.").

2- Ibn Ḥibbān narrated in his Ṣaḥīḥ collection (2064), and al-Ḥakim declared it authentic in his Mustadrak (1:245):

عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ﷺ: " مَنْ سَمِعَ النِّدَاءَ فَلَمْ يُجِبْ، فَلا صَلاةَ لَهُ إِلا مِنْ عُذْرٍ ". قَالَ أَبُو حَاتِمٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ: فِي هَذَا الْخَبَرِ دَلِيلٌ أَنَّ أَمْرَ النَّبِيِّ ﷺ بِإِتْيَانِ الْجَمَاعَاتِ أَمْرُ حَتْمٍ لا نَدْبٍ، إِذْ لَوْ كَانَ الْقَصْدُ فِي قَوْلِهِ: " فَلا صَلاةَ لَهُ إِلا مِنْ عُذْرٍ "، يُرِيدُ بِهِ فِي الْفَضْلِ لَكَانَ الْمَعْذُورُ إِذَا صَلَّى وَحْدَهُ كَانَ لَهُ فَضْلُ الْجَمَاعَةِ، فَلَمَّا اسْتَحَالَ هَذَا، وَبَطَلَ ثَبَتَ أَنَّ الأَمْرَ بِإِتْيَانِ الْجَمَاعَةِ أَمْرُ إِيجَابٍ لا نَدْبٍ. وَأَمَّا الْعُذْرُ الَّذِي يَكُونُ الْمُتَخَلِّفُ عَنْ إِتْيَانِ الْجَمَاعَاتِ بِهِ مَعْذُورًا، فَقَدْ تَتَبَّعْتُهُ فِي السُّنَنِ كُلِّهَا فَوَجَدْتُهَا تَدُلُّ عَلَى أَنَّ الْعُذْرَ عَشْرَةُ أَشْيَاءَ.

Which means: (on the authority of Ibn Abbas: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
Whoever hears the call (for prayers) and does not answer, renders his prayer invalid, except those who have an excuse.

Abu Ḥātim (Ibn Ḥibban) radiya’Allahu anhu said: This narration is evidence that the Prophet ﷺ commanded to attend congregational prayers as an obligation, not an encouragement. Had this narration meant to point to the rewards of congregational prayer only (rather than the obligation) the excused individual prayer would have had the same rewards as the congregational prayer, and this is impossible. Hence, attending congregational prayer is a matter of obligation not encouragement. The categories of excused people are ten based on my research in the collections of Prophetic Sunnah).

Abū Dāwūd (551) and Ibn Mājah (793) both narrated the same narration with an addition in Abū Dāwūd’s Sunan: (قَالُوا: وَمَا الْعُذْرُ؟ قَالَ: خَوْفٌ أَوْ مَرَضٌ، لَمْ تُقْبَلْ مِنْهُ الصَّلَاةُ الَّتِي صَلَّى)

Which means: (they asked: what is an excuse? He said: fear or illness).

Spiritual recommendations:
1- Re-affirm and renew belief in Allah Ta’ala; The Creator of all, the Almighty, The Healer (Al-Shāfī), and rely upon Him in everything. “What hit you was not going to miss you, and what missed you was not going to hit you.” It is an opportunity to revive our relationship with our Creator and prepare for the day of departure.
2- Reflect and meditate (Dhikr of Allah).
3- Intend sincere Repentance frequently, form a firm resolve not to sin again as much as possible, and increase the daily dosage of Istighfār (Astaghfirullah wa Atubu ilayh).
3- Keep hydrated with water and Dhikr continuously. Make lots of Du’a (prayers) for self and all those who are suffering, and seek the Prophetic Sunnah prayers (Dua) in seeking refuge in Allah Ta'ala from all illnesses and evil (plenty of authentic Ahadith, known to all).
4- Give charity. The Ḥadīth is either Mursal or elevated (according to some scholars) where the Prophet ﷺ allegedly said: (داووا مرضاكم بالصدقة) which means: (Heal illnesses through charity giving). Our grand Shaykh; al-Ḥāfiẓ Ahmad bin al-Siddiq al-Ghumari authenticated this Ḥadīth in his book al-Zawājir.

May Allah Ta’ala; the Loving Creator of all, guide all, protect all, heal all, and bless all.
Muhammad bin Yahya al-Ninowy
(may Allah Ta’ala forgive him, his parents and the Mu’minin) Thursday 22nd of Rajab 1441 H/ 3/17/2020

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