Praying in Congregation in the Mosque at Ending Time of Prayer or Praying It Alone at Its Beginning Time
Fatwa No: 455908

Question

I live in India and follow hanbali madhhab, the congregational prayer of asr is prayed at the time of necessity, as majority follows hanafi madhab, so my question is can I pray asr with congregation , delaying the time or should pray at home when the time of choice starts ?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

It is better for you in such case to delay the prayer until you perform it in congregation in the mosque. Some scholars said that it is better to pray the obligatory prayer twice: once at the beginning of the prayer’s time to attain its virtue, and once at its ending time with the congregation (in the mosque).

An-Nawawi said in Al-Majmoo’:

The opinion that we adopt is that one should do what the Prophet, sallallhu ‘alayhi wa sallam, commanded him to do, which is to perform the prayer twice; once at the beginning of the time alone in order to attain the virtue of the beginning of the time, and once at the end of the time with the congregation to attain the virtue of praying in congregation.

If he wants to perform only one prayer, then if he is certain that the congregation will happen at the end of the time, then delaying it is better for attaining its virtue, and because according to the correct opinion in our Madh-hab, it is a communal obligation, (which means it is obligatory for him only if others do not perform it), and according to another opinion in our Madh-hab, it is an individual obligation. The last opinion is adopted by ibn Khuzaimah, and Ahmed ibn Hanbal, and a group of scholars. Therefore, performing the prayer at its ending time is a way out from the difference of opinion. Besides, none of the scholars said that whoever delays it is sinful.” [End of quote]

Al-Bahooti, from the Hanbali School of jurisprudence, said in Kash-shaf Al-Qinaa’: “Prayer in congregation should be given preference over the beginning of time, because it [Prayer in congregation] is obligatory, while the beginning of the time is Sunnah (optional), and there is no contradiction between what is obligatory and what is Sunnah.” [End of quote]

Allah knows best.

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