These are the sayings of the companions of Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam which illustrate the importance they attached to the offering of salaat with jama'at, and how they regarded the abandoning of jama'at. Why should we not regard it like this? Who can be more cautious in obeying and seeking the pleasure of Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam than them?
1. Aswad says that once he was in the company of Hadrat A'ishah radiallahu anha when the discussion turned towards virtues and importance of salaat. In order to substantiate what she was saying, she quoted an incident from the marad ul-maut (the last sickness before death) of Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam.
One day, the time of salaat entered and the adhaan was called out. Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said that Abu Bakr radiallahu anhu should be told to perform the salaat. I said to him that Abu Bakr is a very soft-hearted person. When he stands to perform the salaat in your place, he will become incapable and will not be able to perform the salaat. However, Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam repeated the same command, so I gave him the same reply. Upon this, Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said: "You are saying the same things which the women of Egypt used to say to Hadrat Yusuf alayhis salaam (Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam realized that Hadrat A'ishah radiallahu anha was trying to protect her father from the bad opinions of people) Tell Abu Bakr that he should perform the salaat."
Anyway, Abu Bakr went out to perform the salaat. In the meantime, Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam felt some relief from his sickness, so he went towards the Massjid with the assistance of two people. I can still picture the scene when Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam was going with his feet dragging on the floor. That is, he did not even have the strength to lift his feet. Abu Bakr had already commenced performing the salaat and wanted to move back. But Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam stopped him and made him perform the salaat.
2. Once Hadrat Umar radiallahu anhu noticed that Sulayman bin Abi Haythama was not present for the fajr salaat. So he went to his house and asked his mother as to why he did not see Sulayman for fajr today. She replied that he had been offering salaat throughout the night and fell asleep at the time of fajr. Upon hearing this, Hadrat Umar radiallahu anhu replied: "I prefer offering fajr salaat with jama'at than spending the entire night in ibaadah. (Muwatta Imam Malik)
Shaikh Abdul Haqq Muhaddith Dehlawi rahmatullahi alayhi has written that it is clear from this Hadith that there is more reward in offering fajr salaat with jama'at than tahajjud salaat. It is for this reason that the ulama have written that if spending the night in ibaadah will cause some harm or shortcoming in the fajr salaat, it will be preferable to leave out spending the night in ibaadah. (Ash'atul Lama'aat)
3. Hadrat Ibn Mas'ud radiallahu anhu says: "We witnessed ourselves - the Sahabah - that none would leave out offering salaat with jama'at except an open hypocrite or that person who is sick. But even the sick used to come for jama'at with the assistance of two people. Without doubt, Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam showed us the different paths of guidance. And among them is the offering of salaat in those Masjids where the adhaan is called out, i.e. where salaat is offered with jama'at.
Another advice that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam gave us is that whoever wishes to meet Allah Ta'ala on the day of resurrec tion as a Muslim should make a duty of offering his five times salaat regularly in those places where adhaan is called out, i.e. in those places where salaat is offered with jama'at. Without doubt, Allah Ta'ala has shown the different paths of guidance to your Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). And this salaat is also among these paths. If you offer your salaat in your homes, as is the habit of the hypocrites, you will most certainly be missing out on the Sunnah of your prophet. And if you leave out the Sunnah of your prophet, you will most certainly be led astray. When a person makes a complete wudu and leaves his home for the Masjid, then for every step that he takes he gets one reward, his rank is elevated, and one sin is forgiven. We have noticed that no one except the hypocrite stays away from the jama'at. Our state was such that when we used to fall ill, we used to be taken to attend the jama'at with the assistance of two people and made to stand in the saff" (line in which every one stands to offer salaat).
4. Once a person walked out of the musjid without offering his salaat after the adhaan had been called out. Upon this, Hadrat Abu Hurayrah radiallahu anhu said: "This person has disobeyed Abul Qaasim (Muhammad) sallallahu alayhi wa sallam and disregarded his noble order." (Sahih Muslim)
Just ponder over what Hadrat Abu Hurayrah radiallahu anhu said in regard to the person who abandoned the jama'at. After hearing this, can any Muslim still have the audacity of leaving the jama'at without any valid excuse? Can any believing person bear disobeying Hadrat Abul Qasim (Muhammad) sallallahu alayhi wa sallam?
5. Hadrat Umme Darda radiallahu anha says: "Once Hadrat Abu Darda radiallahu anhu came to me in an extremely angry state. So I asked him: 'Why are you so angry today?' He replied: "I swear by Allah that I do not see anything wrong in the ummah of Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam except that they should offer their salaat with jama'at.' In other words, they have even started leaving this out."
6. Many companions of Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam report that he said: "The person who hears the adhaan and yet does not attend the jama'at, his salaat will not be accepted."
After quoting this Hadith, Imam Tirmidhi says that some ulama have stated that this ruling is for emphasis. The purpose of this is that it is not permissible to leave out the jama'at with out any valid excuse.
- Once, Mujahid said to Ibn Abbas radiallahu anhu: "What do you have to say in regard to that person who fasts the entire day and offers salaat throu ghout the night but does not attend jumu'ah nor the jama'at?" He replied: "He will enter hell." (Tirmidhi)
In explaining this Hadith, Imam Tirmidhi says that this rule will apply if a person leaves out jumu'ah and jama'at out of total disregard for them. But if we regard the entry into hell for a few days, then the above explanation will not be necessary.
- It was the practice of our pious predecessors that if anyone did not come for the jama'at, they used to boycott him for seven days. (Ihya ul-Uloom)