Due to the current COVID-19 lockdown situation, would it be permitted to perform Eid prayers in congregation or individually at home? I follow the Hanafi School, so would like an answer based on it please. I have friends who follow the Shafi’i School, so if you could provide a shafi’i ruling too, it will be appreciated.
According to the Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali Schools of Sunni Islamic law, it is permissible, even in regular circumstances, for the one who misses the Eid Salat at the mosque or musalla to perform it at home, either individually or in congregation – though some Maliki jurists are of the opinion that it must be performed individually. There is no requirement, however, to have the sermon (khutba) delivered. (See for the Maliki School: Mawahib al-Jalil li sharh Mukhtasar al-Khalil 2/581, for the Shafi’i School: Rawdat al-Talibin 1/578, and for the Hanbali School: Al-Mughni 3/284)
Imam Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him), the great Shafi’i jurist, states, “Two views have been transmitted [in the Shafi’i School] on whether the Eid prayer is legislated for a slave, traveller, woman and a person praying alone at home or elsewhere. The reliable and more renowned position is that it is legislated for them.” (Al-Majmu’ sharh al-Muhaddhab 5/32)
As such, it is permitted for those following the above schools of Islamic law to perform the Eid prayer at home due to the current lockdown and the various mosques/masajid remaining closed for the general public. There are, however, differences in some peripheral details between these schools, hence one should learn the rules prior to performing the Eid prayer.
According to the Hanafi School of Sunni Islamic law, Eid prayer is treated the same as the Friday/Jumu’a prayer and, as such, all the conditions of the latter apply to the former – with the exception of the sermon (khutba).
Imam Kasani (may Allah have mercy on him), the great classical Hanafi jurist, states, “In terms of the conditions for the obligation (wujub) and validity (jawaz) of the Eid prayer, all the conditions required for the obligation and validity of the Jumu’a prayer are also required for the Eid prayer. These include: the presence of the ruler [in Muslim countries], it being a city or town, congregation and the time [of Zuhr]. The only exception is the sermon (khutba), since it is a Sunna after the prayer. Thus, the Eid prayer will be valid if the khutba is omitted. (Bada’i al-Sana’i 2/237)
Likewise, Imam Fakhr al-Din Qadhikhan states, “The prerequisites required for the [validity of] Eid prayer are the same prerequisites of the Jumu’a prayer, such as the place being a city or town, permission from the Muslim ruler (sultan) [in Muslim countries] and general permission/public access (idhn aam)…” (Fatawa Qadhikhan 1/162)
The Hanafi School’s position is based on the fact that both the Jumu’a and Eid prayers have been mentioned together as important and formal communal prayers, where things like it taking place in a city or large town is a prerequisite – as per some narrations (athar).
Sayyiduna Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “The Jumu’a, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha prayers are not valid except in a city or large town.” (Musannafs of Abd al-Razzaq and Ibn Abi Shayba; similar statements are related from some other companions and their students which can been found in the Musannaf of Imam Ibn Abi Shayba 2/536)
Moreover, the Jumu’a and Eid prayers have been continually, since the first generation of Muslims (al-sadr al-awwal), performed in cities/large towns and in congregation. (Kasani, Bada’i al-Sana’i 2/237)
Accordingly, in the Hanafi School, there is no makeup (qada) for the Eid prayer if one missed it at the mosque or musalla. Imam Haskafi (may Allah have mercy on him) states, “One will not perform the Eid prayer alone if one misses performing it with the imam [at the mosque or musalla], even if one invalidates it after commencement.” (Al-Durr al-Mukhtar 3/58)
Imam Kasani (may Allah have mercy on him) explains in his Al-Bada’i al-Sana’i that if one misses performing the Eid prayer with the imam, then according to Imam Shafi’i (may Allah have mercy on him), one may make up for it alone with the additional takbirat of Eid. However, according to us [the Hanafis] there is no makeup (qada). The reason is that, as with the Friday/Jumu’a prayer, the specific and unique manner of performing this prayer is known only through the action of Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) – and he never performed it except with a congregation, like the Jumu’a prayer. As such, it is necessary to perform the Eid prayer in a manner that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) performed it. Secondly, the Eid prayer has specific characteristics and prerequisites that are difficult to fulfil when making up for it. As such, there is no makeup (qada) for Eid prayer, just as there is no makeup for the Jumu’a prayer [rather one will perform Zuhr instead]. (Bada’ al-Sana’i 2/249)
Incidentally, Imam Ibn Taymiya (Allah have mercy on him) holds the same position as that of the Hanafi School. (See: Majmu’a al-Fatawa 17/258)
After having established that the conditions for the validity of the Jumu’a prayer apply also to the Eid prayer in the Hanafi School, two conditions – of the several stipulated – are of importance in light of the current COVID-19 lockdown. The first is the condition of performing the prayer as part of a congregation. All the classical Hanafi jurists (fuqaha) are in agreement that the Jumu’a and Eid prayers can only be performed in congregation. As for the number, the relied upon position within the school is that there must be four people including the Imam. (Bada’i al-Sana’i 2/210)
Incidentally, according to Imam Shafi’i (may Allah have mercy on him), there must be 41 people including the imam for the Jumu’a prayer, yet a person can perform the Eid prayer alone. An ill-disciplined mixing of two favourable opinions would be to follow the Hanafi School for Jumua’, and the Shafi’i school for Eid!
A second, and somewhat controversial, condition within the Hanafi School in relation to the Jumu’a prayer – and by extension the Eid prayer – is that general permission and access (idhn aam) is granted for Muslims to join the prayer. Imam Kasani (may Allah have mercy on him) mentions that this condition is implied through the verse of the Quran, “O you who believe, when the call for prayer is proclaimed on Friday, hasten to the remembrance of Allah, and leave trade.” (62:9) He explains that Allah Most High prescribed “proclaiming/calling out” for the Jumu’a prayer, and this “calling out” is for publicising, so that everyone – without exception – is granted permission to attend the prayer. (Bada’i al-Sana’i 2/213)
Various explanations have been offered in relation to this condition. After thoroughly analysing the various texts of classical Hanafi jurists on the matter – such as Radd al-Muhtar, Bada’i al-Sana’i, Fath al-Qadir, Majma’ al-Anhur and Maraqi al-Falah – my respected teacher, Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani (may Allah protect him), concludes that the condition of general permission/public access (idhn aam) is still applicable (even in non-Muslim countries) in relation to private homes, shops and stores. Jumu’a prayer will not be valid in such places unless the public is given access to attend. This is the case, even if it is being performed in other areas of the city. However, large places within the city, consisting of many people – such as prisons, military bases, big airports and big factories – are exempted. Jumu’a is permitted in such places, even if permission is not granted to the general public due to security and administrative reasons, provided all those inside are not prevented from attending. (See: Fatawa Usmani 1/523)
This position was also taken by him in a recent concise answer posted on this website, the contents of which were read, checked and approved by him. Please see: ‘COVID-19: Ruling on Jumu’a and Eid Prayers in Non-Muslim Countries due to Lockdown’
Furthermore, irrespective of the condition of “public access” (al-idhn al-aam), the overall Hanafi stance (in light of Imam Kasani’s text mentioned above) is that Eid Prayer is a special, devotional act of worship that is reserved for the main outdoor congregation (musalla) or mosque, and not for performing individually or at home. There appears to be no precedence in having multiple mini congregations from the Sunna and lives of the Companions. As such, the only option for someone who misses the main congregation is to find another main congregation, otherwise there is no makeup for it. It is reported from Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said, “One who misses the Eid prayer should perform four rak’at.” (Musannaf Abd al-Razzaq 5713 and Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 5799)
The Shafi’is and those who permit performing Eid Salat individually or in a small congregation at home cite the practice of Sayyiduna Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him). Imam Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him) relates, as part of his chapter-heading and without a chain of transmission (ta’liqan), that Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) ordered his freed slave Ibn Abi Utba at [a place called] al-Zawiya; he gathered his family and children and performed prayer like the prayer of the people of the city [i.e. Eid prayer] and [recited] their takbir.” (Bukhari 1/240)
However, the Hanafis prefer the abovementioned statements of Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Mas’ud and Sayyiduna Ali over the personal practice of Sayyiduna Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with them all). A verbal ruling, issued in the form of a fatwa, is given preference over a personal practice that is based on personal judgement and open to various possibilities. (See: I’la al-Sunan 8/147)
As such, in light of all of the above, Muslims currently under lockdown may perform the Eid prayer in places like a large compound or large hall where the general public are not refused from attending. If this is not possible or the law does not allow it, then Eid Salat will not be performed at home. However, one may perform four [or two] rak’at supererogatory (nafl) prayers at home individually – similar to the mid-morning prayer (salat al-duha), i.e. without any extra takbirat, as related from Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him). It is not a necessary prayer, but rather, recommended and a good way of earning reward and expressing thankfulness to Allah Most High for granting one the ability to fast and worship during Ramadan. (Radd al-Muhtar 2/175 and Bada’i al-Sana’i 2/249)
Having said the above, certain contemporary Hanafi scholars interpret the condition of “public access” in a somewhat different manner. According to their view, it is permitted to perform the Eid prayer in private homes but as part of a congregation.
In conclusion, in light of the current COVID-19 lockdown, those who follow the Shafi’i, Maliki and Hanbali Schools of Sunni Islamic law may perform the Eid prayer at home, even individually according to some schools. However, there is no requirement for the khutba.
As for those who follow the Hanafi School, the position taken by Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani and many other scholars, and the position which I follow, is that the Eid prayer will not be performed in private homes where there is no public access. Rather, one may offer four rak’at supererogatory (nafl/duha) prayers. However, the position of some other contemporary Hanafi scholars is that the Eid prayer can be performed at home, but in a minimum congregation of four people.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
I concur with this answer
[Mufti] Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf
WhiteThread Institute, UK