The 2nd Pillar of Islam is the establishment of as-Salât. Linguistically the term salat means ad-du’aa-invocation. Allah Ta’ala says:
At-Tawbah (9)-103: And invoke Allâh for them. Verily! Your invocations are a source of security for them.
This is the linguistic meaning of as-salat. The Islamic meaning of as-Salat is the worship of Allah through sayings and actions through certain specific sayings and actions beginning with takbir (declaring Allahu Akbar-Allah is Greater) and ending with Tasleem by saying Assalamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatulah-May the peace and mercy of Allah be upon you. This is the meaning of as-salat Islamically.
Salat is an obligation. Allah obligated it upon his slaves and made it a criterion between Islam and disbelief. Allah ta’ala says:
At-Tawbah (9)-5: But if they repent and perform As-Salât (Iqâmat-as-Salât), and give Zakât, then leave their way free. Verily, Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
In the hadith of Mu’adh bin Jabal radi Allahu ta’ala ‘anhu who narrated when the Prophet sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wassalam sent him to Yemen, he told him: you will come to meet people from the people of the book, so invite them then to the testimony that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah, and if they obey you in that then teach them that Allah orders upon them 5 prayers every day and night.
Also in the hadith of Mu’adh radi Allahu ta’ala ‘anhu that the Prophet sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wassalam said: the head of the matter is Islam and its pillar is as-Salât, and the peak of it is Jihad in the cause of Allah.
Rejection of the obligation of as-salat imputes disbelief on the rejecter by consensus and as to the one who abandons the salat due to negligence and laziness while attesting to its obligation then the correct saying from the people of knowledge is that he commits kuffir by that because of the hadith of Jabir bin Abdulah radi Allah ta’ala ‘anhuma who said:
He heard the Prophet salla Allahu ‘alayhi wasalam saying between man and shirk and kuffir is abandoning as-Salat.
Also in the hadith of Abu ‘Ubaida radi Allahu ta’ala ‘anhu who said that the Prophet sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wasalam said: the covenant between them and us is as-salat. So whoever abandons it has disbelieved. (Narrated in Ahmed and the Sunan).
And from the narration of Shaqiq bin Abdulah the tab’iee (successor) upon whom there is agreement on his great status rahimahulah who said:
The companions of the Prophet sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wassalam did not see anything from the actions whose abandonment’s is disbelief accept as-Salat.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala had ordained and obligated salaatul Jama’ah, salaat in congregation in the masajid upon men but not upon women; men who reach the state of puberty. Allah ta’ala says:
Al-Baqqarah (2)-43: And perform As-Salât (Iqâmat-as-Salât), and give Zakât, and Irka’ (i.e. bow down or submit yourselves with obedience to Allâh) along with ArRaki’ûn.
And Allah Ta’ala says:
An-Nisa’ (4)-102: When you (O Messenger Muhammad ) are among them, and lead them in As-Salât (the prayer), let one party of them stand up [in Salât (prayer)] with you taking their arms with them; when they finish their prostrations, let them take their positions in the rear and let the other party come up which has not yet prayed, and let them pray with you taking all the precautions and bearing arms
The companions of establishing the prayer in congregation are replete and considered those staying behind without joining the congregation and without an excuse as a quality of the hypocrites. Even the Prophet sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wassalam found no excuse for the blind man to leave to abandon the congregational prayer when he told him: if you hear the athan then respond, I don’t find for you a permit.
The merits of salaatul Jam’ah are numerous and these merits do not in any way negate its obligation. The Prophet sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wassalam said: the salat in congregation is better then the salat done alone by a degree of 27 times. From the congregation prayers is the salaat Al-Jum’uah, the Friday congregational prayers and it is binding upon those on whom congregational prayers are binding if they are residing in a town. From it’s conditions are that it’s to be done in it’s time and that its in a town and that its to be proceeded by two sermons. Sufficient to hold salaatul Jum’ah with 3 legally responsible men in residence present. Conditioning for that is weak because the narration is weak.
Those who are legally excused from attending the Friday prayer such as women, the ill and those who may miss it due to a legal excuse must pray the 4 rak’aa i.e. they pray the Zhuhr. As to praying the Zhuhr after the Jum’ah, then this is not permissible. Rather it is from the innovated matters in dean. The number of rak’aat for jum’aa are 2. The Imaam leads the prayer reciting the Qur’an loudly in them and it’s the sunnah to recite surah al-A’laa and surah Al-Ghashiya (87 and 88 in the Qur’an) or surah Al-Jum’uah (62) and surah al-Munafiqoon (63).
The 2 khutbah’s take place prior to the salaat as he sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wassalam did; admonishing people in that which is beneficial to them calling them to fear Allah, teaching them their dean. Not making it a platform for the political agendas as is the case in many masajid unfortunately. The Imaam incites the people to learn their dean teaching them what is beneficial for them in this life and in the next one. And try to address some of the issues that need to be addressed in their lives but not transgressing and making this a platform for political agenda and motives. You can hear some of the sermons where the Imaam sounds like he’s reading a newspaper. And it’s the sunnah to shorten the khutbah and lengthen the salah-this is from the sign of fiqh of the Imaam as the Prophet sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wassalam said in the hadith narrated by Imam Muslim.
It is praiseworthy to take a bath and use perfume for men and come early for the jum’ah prayer and wearing the best of clothes because it is the weekly Eid of the muslim as came from an authentic narration from the Prophet sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wassalam about its merits.
There is no introductory sunnah specific for the jum’ah as a regular sunnah as is the case with respect to the 5 obligatory prayers rather if the person comes to the masjid, he prays as much as he can. Then he sits and recites Qur’an or makes remembrance until the Imam comes. As to after that, if he prays in the masjid then he prays 4 rak’aa but if he prays at home he prays 2 rak’aa because there is evidence for this. A person is considered to have attained the jum’ah prayer by attaining one rak’aa from the 2. But if he doesn’t attain that then he prays the salaat as 4 rak’aa as Zhuhr.
The 2nd congregational prayer is the prayer of the 2 Eid’s, the 2 islamic festivities- Eid al-Fitr which is the Eid on the day of breaking the fast following the fasting of the entire month of Ramadan. The second is Eid al-Adha-the Eid of sacrifices. It is the sunnah to have it in an open space because this is what the Prophet Sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wassalam did in praying the salawatul Eid. But if there is a necessity then it is permissible to pray it in the Masjid such as too much heat, rain, snow etc. and it’s the sunnah to hasten and do the salaat Al-Adha and delay Salaat Al-Fitr.
As to its manner then it is 2 rak’aa making takbeeratul ihram first, followed by 7 takbeers while standing. Then in the second make 5 takbeers before reciting the Qur’an raising one’s hands with every takbeerah and it’s the Sunnah to read surah al-A’la, Al-Ghashiyah and then the Iman gives one khutbah after that. It’s the Sunnah to bathe, wear perfume for men, the best of clothes for the Eid prayer.
Also, for the person to go in direction toward the prayer from the direction he or she came. And there is no specific Sunnah before or after and if the person misses the Eid prayer he can make it up. And it’s a Sunnah to make takbeer, the night preceding the Eid Day until salaat Al-Eid time in the Eid Al-Fitr. As with the Adha the general open takbeer begins from the first day which is the tenth of Thul-Hijjah until the last day of tashreek (the 13th of Thul Hijjah).
As to the Thikr (remembrances) restricted after the end of the prayer then this is done by the person who is not performing the Hajj from the Fajr time on the day of Yawm ‘Arafah until the ‘Asr of the last day of Tashrik (the 13th of Thul-Hijjah).
As to the person performing the Hajj then it is after throwing the Jamratul ‘Aqabah with pebbles until the last day of tashreek (the 13th of Thul-Hijjah). And it’s a Sunnah to congratulate each other for the Eid and the sahaba used to say to each other takaballah minna wa mink (May Allah accept from us and from you).
The next salaat in congregation is the salat Al-Qusoof- the salaat pertaining to the Eclipse and this is an affirmed sunnah, legalized if an eclipse of the sun or moon takes place because the Prophet sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wassalam said:
If you see any of that (the eclipses) then perform the salaat until it clears. This is narrated by Muslim. He sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wasalam did not say if you see something of this nature then go and invite people to watch and clap and take pictures and make a festival because this is a sign from Allah for people to contemplate and think about the horrors of the day of resurrection when this world will come to an end. These are close signs for people to think and contemplate to check their sins and seek forgiveness and hasten to give charity. This is what the Prophet sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wassalam admonished the people about during the eclipses. In our times we see people in happiness inviting tourists to their lands to check for the phenomenon.
This salat is two rak’aa: In the first one recites openly or loudly the Fatiha plus a long Surah. Then he goes in ruku’ for a long period. Then lifts up from ruku’ saying sami Allahu liman hamidah and does not make sujood. Rather, stands up and recites the Fatiha and another lengthy surah. And then makes ruku’ and stands up again then makes 2 lengthy prostrations. This is the complete rak’aa in salaat al-Kusoof. Then he makes the second rak’a in the manner similar to the first one. He then sits for tashahhud and makes tasleem. This Salat is not to be made up for the person missing it. If missed then either he misses a rak’aa from it then he makes up the rak’aa in it’s manner and then completes the salaat.
This salaat can be done at the times when it is prohibited to pray because this salaat is from the salaat that has causes to it-when there are causes then it can be made. And it’s the sunnah for the imaam to admonish the people, to remind them and incite them to make Tawbah and istighfar seeking to repent to Allah and asking of His forgiveness.
The next congregational prayer is salaat Al-Istisqa’-the salat of seeking rain from Allah and this is an affirmed sunnah in congregation however, it’s to be done by the permit of the Imam. Not for anyone to decide. And the way and manner is like salaat al-eid because of the hadith of Ibn “Abbas radi Allahu ‘anhumah reported in at-Tirmidi that the Prophet sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wassalam prayed 2 rak’aa as he prayed in the 2 Eid’s. And when the Imam goes out for this salaat, he admonishes the people and reminds them of the matter of Tawbah and to relieve themselves of injustices and wrongdoings. And the person cleans himself for that salaat but does not put on perfume, and does not put clothes of beautification because this is a day of calmness and tranquility.
The person goes to the Salât as the Messenger salla Allahu ‘alayhi wassalam went to the Salât: humble and tranquil seeking Allah subhanahu wata’ala as reported in at-Tirmidhi.
After the salaat, the Imam gives 1 khutbah with abundant istighfar then raises his hands towards the heavens making du’aa. Then he turns toward the Qiblah and says secretly: Allahuma innaka amartuna bi du’aaik wa wa’atanah bi ‘ijaabitik wa qad ‘awnakaka kama amartana fastajib lana kama wa’atana, -Oh Allah, You commanded us to invoke You and You guaranteed us your response, and thus we invoked You as You commanded us, so respond to us and answer us as you have promised. Then he turns and flips his cloth to the other side.
The voluntary salah – Salaat At-Tatawa the merits of voluntary salat are numerous because they are considered as completions to the obligatory ones and they can be classified as follows the Ar-Ruwatib – The regular sunan and they are 12 rak’aa.
Umm Al-Mu’mineen –the mother of the believers said:
I heard Allah’s Messenger sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wassalam say: no slave Muslim praying for Allah every day (the sunan) except that Allah builds for him a house in Paradise. And as to the way they are done they are as follows:
1) 4 rak’aa before Zuhr and 2 after and they are to be prayed like 2 and then with tasleem-this constitutes 2 rak’aa. And then 2 with tasleem- this constitutes another 2 rak’aa. Then after the obligatory one, pray the 2 rak’aa with tasleem.
Aisha radi Allahu ta’ala ‘anha reported: the Messenger of Allah used to pray at his home before the Zhuhr 4 rak’aa then lead for the salah and prays leading the people. He then enters the home and prays 2 rak’aa. So the Sunnah with respect to these regular prayers is that they be made at home.
2) 2 rak’aa after Maghrib.
3) 2 rak’aa after ‘Ishaa as reported by Aisha radi Allahu ta’ala ‘anha.
4) 2 rak’aa before praying the obligatory Fajr prayer. These 2 rak’aa before Fajr has specific merits and the Prophet Sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wasalam kept doing them in travel and in residence.
The General Nafal (optional) ones are as follows:
1) Between 2 calls (Athans) for prayers there is salaat.
2) Occasionally 4 rak’aa before ‘Asr, due to the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar radi Allahu anhuma that the Messenger sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wasalam said: May Allah’s mercy be upon the person who prays the ‘Asr 4. And the 4 are to be prayed 2 at a time with tasleem.
3) 2 Rak’aa before Maghrib prayer. In the hadith that the Prophet sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wassalam said: Pray before Maghrib forever who wishes.
4) The night and Witr (odd prayer). The night prayer is done in 2’s. The Prophet sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wassalam did not exceed in Ramadan nor in other than Ramadan 11 rak’aa. And the manner to perform this either that they can be done by five 2’s which equals ten and then do one as odd, or a person can do that in other ways as well. For example he may pray 4 in 2’s then finish with 3 odd to equal 11 and this salaat of witr is from the most affirmed voluntary prayers and of the best and the Muslim should be keen about them. The Prophet sallah Allahu ‘alayhi wassalam held to them in residence and in travel. And when he missed his witr he would pray from the day 12 rak’aa. So if you pray 3 odd each night and you missed them, then during the day you can pray them as 4 (2 and 2). And if you are doing witr as 5, then you would pray them as 6 in the day and so forth.
This concludes the summarized discussion on salaat and the congregation prayers.