Observing prayer in congregation for healthy men who are capable of going to the mosque is obligatory according to the consensus of the jurists. Almighty Allah says:
And when you are among them and lead them in prayer, let a group of them stand [in prayer] with you. (An-Nisa’ 4:102)
Allah Almighty has prescribed the congregation of prayer during the fear of in a journey; hence congregational prayer during safety or peace should be more mandatory.
`Abdullah ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “I have seen the time when no one stayed away from prayer except a hypocrite, whose hypocrisy was well known, or a sick man, but if a sick man could walk between two persons (i.e. with the help of two persons with one on each side) he would come to prayer. And (further) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) taught us the paths of right guidance, among which is prayer in the mosque in which the Adhan is called.” (Muslim)
It was narrated from Ibn `Abbas that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever hears the call and does not come, his prayer is not valid, except for those who have an excuse.” (Ibn Majah)
Abu Hurairah also narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “No prayer is heavier upon the hypocrites than the Fajr and the `Isha’ prayers and if they knew what is in them (in reward), they would have attended them, even if (it was) crawling. Certainly, I felt the urge to order the muezzin so that he would pronounce Iqamah, then order a man to lead the people (in prayer), then take a flame of fire so that I burn (the houses) upon those who had not left for the prayer yet.” (Al-Bukhari)
According to the above hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would not burn the house of those who did not attend the congregational if it is not obligatory. He also would not describe them as hypocrites if the congregational prayer is not obligatory.
Why don’t we make Ramadan the beginning to enhance our relation with mosques?
It is regrettable to say that many Muslims miss the congregational prayer at mosques without valid excuses. Allah almighty created the humans and the jinn except they should worship Him as mentioned in the Qur’an. Salah (Prayer) is the foundation of the religion and the most important pillar of Islam. It is the first act of worship that a person will be questioned about on the Day of Judgment. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “The first of man’s deeds for which he will be called to account on the Day of Resurrection will be Salah. If it is found to be perfect, he will be safe and successful; but if it is incomplete, he will be unfortunate and a loser.” (At-Tirmidhi)
A Muslim must offer the prayer on its time with the congregation of Muslims in the mosques for which they were built. Almighty Allah says:
The mosques of Allah are only to be maintained by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and establish prayer and give zakah and do not fear except Allah, for it is expected that those will be of the [rightly] guided. (At-Tawbah 9:18)
This blessed month is a great opportunity for most of us to overcome our shortcomings such as offering prayer in congregation. Offering prayer in congregation has great rewards in the Shari`ah:
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: He who purified himself in his house, and then he walked to one of the houses of Allah for the sake of performing a Fard (obligatory act) out of the Faraid (obligatory acts) of Allah, both his steps (would be significant) as one of them would obliterate his sin and the second one would raise his status.” (Muslim)
We ask Allah, the Exalted, the Almighty, to help us to fast and offer prayer in congregation, and to do acts of worship and to avoid doing evil. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.