My father goes to read his salaah to a mosque which is a 5 min drive from the house. Another mosque is situated a 30 second walk from the house. Will my father be sinful for not going to the local mosque to read his salaah? What is the Islamic ruling if one does not read his salaah in the local mosque and goes to a mosque which is further away?
Congregational prayer (jama’ah) for men is one of the major symbols of Islam, and one of the most emphasized Sunans of the beloved of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace). It is a means for individuals and communities to strengthen their relations with each other and their Lord.
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:
“If people knew the reward in praying Fajr and Isha in congregation, they would go to the mosque even if they had to crawl.” (Sahih al-Bukhari & Sahih Muslim)
He (Allah bless him & give him peace) also said:
“Prayer in congregation is superior to prayer alone by twenty seven degrees.” (Sahih al-Bukhari & Sahih Muslim from Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him)
With regards to which Masjid one should attend? Firstly, it should be remembered that it is perfectly o.k. to perform Salat in any Masjid. There is no sin upon a person who leaves the congregation of one Masjid for another.
However, the Jurists (fuqaha) have discussed as to which Masjid holds more virtuous by performing Salat therein. There are different views regarding this.
The great Hanafi Faqih, Imam al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) says in his famous treatise Durr al-Mukhtar:
“The most virtuous Masjid is the Masjid of Makkah, then the Masjid of Madina, then the Masjid of Quds, then the masjid of Quba, then the oldest Masjid, then the biggest, then the local Masjid. The Masjid of your teacher/Shaykh is without doubt better, in order that you may attend his lessons (dars). And the local Masjid is better than the central/main Masjid.
The great Hanafi jurists (faqihs), Imam Ibn Abidin and Imam Tahtawi (may Allah have mercy on them) both write whilst commentating on the above:
“One opinion is that your local Masjid is more rewarding as it is the right of that Masjid that you perform your Salat their. However, the other opinion is that the Masjid which holds the most worshippers (al-Ja’mi) is of more virtues (Radd al-Muhtar 1/659 & Tahtawi ala al-Durr 1/278).
In conclusion, this is not something which has to do with the lawful and unlawful. People should not make a big fuss out of it, as unfortunately some do. One may perform his Salat in which ever Masjid one wishes. There are rewards for praying in your local Masjid just as there are rewards for praying in the Ja’mi Masjid of the town. Also, if there is a particular scholar or Shaykh attending a Masjid, then it is also preferred to perform your Salat their, so that you can benefit from his discourses.
And Allah Knows Best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK