Attendance at Friday prayers

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With several mosques, particularly in London, closing their doors despite any government injunction to do so, several questions have been raised about the viability of convening Friday congregational prayers, Jummah, in other locations.  Many have also reluctantly now begun to acknowledge that the various restrictions imposed by government, legal and advisory, are not going to be rescinded any time soon.  Indeed, ministers and paid government ‘scientists’ have consistently stated that the restrictions are part of a new abnormal, which will be applied for the foreseeable future.

In principle, convening Friday congregational prayer in other venues, such as open spaces, parks etc. is quite viable.  During 2020, many such congregations took place, particularly during the summer months when the weather permitted as such.  As the Prophet (peace be upon him) confirmed as part of the many things he was given that no other Prophet was, the whole earth was made pure and a masjid for him and his Ummah.  This is confirmed in many authentic traditions, such as that cited in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim:

وحدثنا يحيى بن أيوب وقتيبة بن سعيد وعلي بن حجر قالوا حدثنا إسماعيل وهو ابن جعفر عن العلاء عن أبيه عن أبي هريرة أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال فضلت على الأنبياء بست أعطيت جوامع الكلم ونصرت بالرعب وأحلت لي الغنائم وجعلت لي الأرض طهورا ومسجدا وأرسلت إلى الخلق كافة وختم بي النبيون

And Yaḥya ibn Ayyub, Qutayba ibn Sa’eed and Ali ibn Ḥujr narrated to us, they said, Ismā’il and he is Ibn Ja’far narrated to us from al-‘Alā from his father from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said: ‘I have been made superior to the other Prophets in six things: I was given comprehensive speech; I was given victory by means of fear; the spoils of war were made permissible for me; the earth was made pure and a masjid for me; I was sent to all creatures; and I was made the Seal of the Prophets.’

One of the niche questions raised though has been in relation to whether there is a minimum number that is required for Friday congregational prayer to be held.  Many of the authentic and widely available collections of ḥadith are notably silent upon this.  Throughout the ages many scholars have stated that there is no authentic traditions from the Prophet (peace be upon him) to specify a minimum number for Jummah to be held.  As al-Suyuti said: ‘There is no confirmed authentic ḥadith which states a particular number (for the Jummah prayer).’[1]

Some however have brought forth additional queries on this, especially since the legal schools do specify a minimum requirement number.  However, the traditions upon which these views are based are either misconstrued or as is found in the majority of cases, to be based upon very weak inauthentic aādith.  In order to provide a summary overview of the various statements and positions held, Issue 522 is presented below taken from al-Muḥalla.  After critically assessing each of these positions, Ibn Ḥazm argues that Jummah can be convened with upwards of two-persons, which is also the view of al-Ṭabari and Ibrāhim al-Nakha’i.  This is based upon there being no authentic traditions to specify a minimum number as well as reliance upon more general evidences.  It should be noted though that Ibn Ḥazm makes several mistakes when commenting upon the narrators in some of the traditions, so the translation carries a large number of footnote references to rectify this, as well as provide some additional clarification on the narratives in question.

Perhaps one day we will be able to once again attend Jummah at the mosques, free of bizarre draconian restrictions imposed by the order and pressure of tyrants who wield power.  And prepare for the prayer, together with the other good actions of that day according to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him:

حدثنا عبدان قال أخبرنا عبد الله قال أخبرنا ابن أبي ذئب عن سعيد المقبري عن أبيه عن ابن وديعة عن سلمان الفارسي قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم من اغتسل يوم الجمعة، وتطهر بما استطاع من طهر، ثم ادهن أو مس من طيب، ثم راح فلم يفرق بين اثنين، فصلى ما كتب له، ثم إذا خرج الإمام أنصت، غفر له ما بينه وبين الجمعة الأخرى

Abdān narrated to us he said Abdullah reported to us he said Ibn Abi Zi’ib reported to us from Sa’eed al-Maqburi from his father from Ibn Diy’ah from Salman al-Fārisi, he said the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said:

Anyone who takes a bath on Friday and cleans himself as much as he can and puts oil on or scents himself; and then proceeds for the prayer and does not force his way between two persons, and prays as much as is written for him and remains quiet when the Imām delivers the sermon, all his sins in between the present and the last Friday will be forgiven.

Al-Muḥalla, Issue 522  [2]

Jummah (Friday), if two and upwards of that (number), pray it, reciting aloud in both units of prayer.

And whoever prays them alone, they would pray four rak’at, silent in all of it, because it is dhur. Indeed, we mentioned in the chapter concerning the obligation of shorting the prayer in our book with the ḥadith of Umar:

صلاة الجمعة ركعتان، وصلاة المسافر ركعتان، تمام غير قصر على لسان نبيكم صلى الله عليه وسلم

Jummuh prayer is two rak’at, travel prayer is two rak’at, they are complete and are not shortened, as per the tongue of Prophet peace be upon him.’[3]

Abu Muḥammad said: And some people went (with the view) that it is two rak’at for the fulfilment and the Jamā’ah (congregation) with this report.  Ali said: This is mistaken because ‘Jummah’ is the Islamic name for the day, it wasn’t entitled like that during the era pre-Islamic ignorance.  Rather, Jummah was called ‘al-Aruba’ during the pre-Islamic era of ignorance; in Islam, it is now – ‘yawm al-Jummah.’  Because the Friday prayer is a name taken from the plural, because the Friday prayer is convened only in congregation, otherwise it is not a Friday prayer, but rather it is dhur, and the dhur prayer is four (rak’at) as we mentioned previously.  It has been proven on the authority of the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him that he used to recite loudly within it, and this is the work of the people of Islam; convened from his era peace be upon him, to this day in the east and west of the earth?

Regarding the number of prayer attendees with the Imām in relation to Jummah – it is two rak’at as we mentioned previously, indeed, there is disagreement regarding this:

  • As narrated upon the authority of Umar ibn ‘Abd al-Aziz: Jummah is comprised of fifty-men and upwards of that.
  • And al-Shāfi’i said: There is no Jummah except with forty-men and upwards of that, (being) free, (habitually) resident, sane, adult(s).
  • And as narrated by some of the people: (comprising) thirty-men
  • And upon the authority of others: (comprising) twenty-men
  • And from ‘Ikrima: (comprising) no less than seven-men
  • From Abu Ḥanifah, al-Layth ibn Sa’d, Zafar and Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan: If there are three-men and the Imām is the fourth of them, they pray Jummah with two rak’at, a sermon, and it is not less?
  • And from al-Ḥasan al-Baṣri: If there are two-men and the Imām makes up the third, they pray Jummah with a sermon and two-rak’at.
  • And it is one of the two-sayings of Sufyān al-Thawri, and the statement of Abu Yusuf and Abu Thawr.
  • And from Ibrāhim al-Nakha’i: If there is one with the Imām to pray Jummah with a sermon (and) two rak’at
  • And it is a statement of al-Ḥasan ibn Ḥayy and Abu Sulaymān and the majority of our companions, and with it we say?

Ali said: As for those who have specified fifty, they have mentioned a ḥadith in which (it is said):

على الخمسين جمعة إذا كان عليهم إمام

Jummah is upon fifty, if they have with them an Imām.’

And this report is not authentic because it is from al-Qāsim ibn Abdar-Raḥman from Abi Umamah, and al-Qāsim, this is ḍaef.[4]  Regarding the limit of thirty, they have mentioned the mursal report from the channel of Abu Muḥammad al-‘Azdi and he is majhul (unknown), namely:

إذا اجتمع ثلاثون رجلا فليؤمروا رجلا يصلي بهم الجمعة

If thirty men are gathered, they are to nominate a leader to be their Imām in performing the Jummah.[5]

As for what is said regarding the statements made by Abu Ḥanifah and al-Layth, they mentioned the ḥadith from the channel of Mu’āwiya ibn Yaḥya:

من طريق معاوية بن يحيى عن معاوية بن سعيد عن الزهري عن أم عبد الله الدوسية وقد أدركت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال الجمعة واجبة في كل قرية وإن لم يكن فيهم إلا أربعة

Mu’āwiya ibn Yaḥya from Mu’āwiya ibn Sa’eed from al-Zuhri from Umm Abdullah al-Dawsiyah that she met the Prophet peace be upon him and that he said: Jummah is obligatory in every village even if there are only four (men).[6]

And this is not permissible to be taken authoritatively because Mu’āwiyah ibn Yaḥya and Mu’āwiya ibn Sa’eed are both majhul (unknown).[7]  Also, Abu Ḥanifah is the first to disagree with this narrative, because he does not see Jummah in the villages, but only in the regions.  Consequently, all of such narrative reports are not authentic.  Then if it was authentic there is no proof in any of it because there is nothing in it relating to Jummah for less than the specified number?  A ḥadith narrated upon the authority of Rawḥ ibn Ghuṭayf (is presented), it is fallen since he is majhul,[8] that when they (the Companions) had reached two-hundred, the Prophet peace upon them gathered with them for Jummah; if they take more than this report it is greater, then we will mention it, God-willing, a lesser ḥadith!

As for al-Shāfi’i, he took an authentic report narrated via the channel of al-Zuhri:

من طريق الزهري عن ابن كعب بن مالك عن أبيه: أنه إذا سمع نداء الجمعة ترحم على أبي أمامة أسعد بن زرارة، فسأله ابنه عن ذلك؟ فقال: إنه أول من جمع بنا في هزم حرة بني بياضة، في نقيع يعرف بنقيع الخضمات ونحن يومئذ أربعون رجل

al-Zuhri from Ibn Ka’b ibn Mālik from his father: that when he heard the call for Jummah, he invoked there to be mercy upon Abu Umāmah Asad ibn Zurāra.  So he thus enquired with him about that, thus he said: he held the congregation (of Friday) for the first time for us at hazm harrah of Bani Baydah in ‘Naqi, known as ‘Naqi al-Khudamāt, and at the time we were at that time comprised of forty men.

Ali said: he has no proof in relation to this, because the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him did not say it is not lawful to pray Jummah with less than this number.  Yes indeed, Jummah is wājib upon forty-men, and greater than forty, – and for less than forty?

And it is argued with those who said; with the statement of Abu Yusuf and what is narrated to us

حدثناه عبد الله بن ربيع ثنا محمد بن معاوية ثنا أحمد بن شعيب أنا عبيد الله بن سعيد عن يحيى هو القطان عن هشام هو الدستوائي ثنا قتادة عن أبي نضرة عن أبي سعيد الخدري عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال إذا كانوا ثلاثة فليؤمهم أحدهم، وأحقهم بالإمامة أقرؤهم

Abdullah ibn Rabih’ narrated it to us Muhammad ibn Mu’āwiya narrated to us Aḥmad ibn Shu’ayb narrated to us Ubaydallah ibn Sa’eed reported to us from Yaḥya, he is al-Qahṭān, from Hishām, he is al-Distawāee’; Qatādah narrated to us from Abu Naḍra from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri from the Prophet peace be upon him that he said:

When there are three persons, one from them should lead. The one among them most worthy to act as Imām is one who is best versed in the Qur’ān.[9]

This narrative is Ṣaḥīḥ, except that there is no proof for them in this, because the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him did not say, it is not a congregation and not Jummah with less than three?

And as for our proof, it is what we have mentioned previously from the adith Mālik ibn al-Ḥuwayrath, that the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said:

إذا سافرتما فأذنا وأقيما، وليؤمكما أكبركما

 When (both of) you set out, pronounce Adhan and then Iqama and the oldest of you should lead the prayer.[10]

So, he, peace be upon him, made the rule of congregation for the two in prayer?  If someone were to say: If the two do not have a third, then the ruling of the Imām is for the follower to stand at the right of the Imām, and if they are three then it was said: They should stand on the right and left of the Imām?  And it was said: Rather behind the Imām, and they did not differ in relation to four: that the three stand behind the Imām, so we found the rule of the four other than the rule of the two?  We say: and so what?  Yes, it is as what you say: in the places of standing, except that the ruling in congregation is obligatory for them by your approval, and the ruling on the difference in the position of the follower is not evidence of the ruling on Jummah?

Allah the exalted has given the ruling upon the tongue of his Messenger, peace be upon him, that Jummah prayer is comprised of two rak’at.  And the Almighty has said:

يا أيها الذين آمنوا إذا نودي للصلاة من يوم الجمعة فاسعوا إلى ذكر الله وذروا البيع

O you who believe – when the call is made for prayer on Friday, then hasten to the remembrance of Allah and abandon trade [62: 9]

It is not permissible for anyone to deviate from this matter and from this ruling except for those who have a clear text or a certain consensus that they have left it, and that is only a feat alone, and with Allah is all Tawfeeq.



[1] Fiqh al-Sunnah, Vol. 2, p.133

[2] Al-Muḥalla Vol 3, pp. 248/251

[3] This is an abridgment of the narration quoted earlier in full at Issue 512 [Vol. 3, p. 186]

حدثنا عبد الله بن ربيع ثنا محمد بن معاوية ثنا أحمد بن شعيب ثنا محمد بن رافع ثنا محمد بن بشر ثنا يزيد بن زياد بن أبي الجعد عن زبيد اليامي عن عبد الرحمن بن أبي ليلى عن كعب بن عجرة، قال: قال عمر بن الخطاب صلاة الأضحى ركعتان، وصلاة الفطر ركعتان، وصلاة الجمعة ركعتان، وصلاة المسافر ركعتان تمام غير قصر على لسان نبيكم صلى الله عليه وسلم

Abdullah ibn Rabih’ narrated to us Muḥammad ibn Mu’āwiya narrated to us Aḥmad ibn Shu’ayb narrated to us Muḥammad ibn Rāfih’ narrated to us Muḥammad ibn Bishr narrated to us Yazeed ibn Ziyād ibn Abi al-Ja’d narrated to us from Zubayd al-Yāmi from Abdar-Raḥman ibn Abi Layla from Ka’b ibn Ujra he said Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb said: ‘The prayer of al-Aḍḥa is two rak’at, the prayer of alFitr is two rak’at and the Friday prayer is two rak’at; travel prayer is two rak’at, they are complete and are not shortened, as per the tongue of Prophet peace be upon him.’

In the printed version of Sunan al-Nasā’i though, the following comment is added by al-Nasā’i after the narration: Abu Abdar-Raḥman said ‘Abdar-Raḥman ibn Abi Layla did not hear from Umar.’

[4] al-Dāraquṭni cites a similar tradition in his Sunan [Vol. 2, no. 1580] with an additional follow up comment on another narrator appearing in the channel:

حدثنا محمد بن الحسن النقاش ثنا محمد بن عبد الرحمن السامي والحسين بن إدريس قالا: ثنا خالد بن الهياج حدثني أبي عن جعفر بن الزبير، عن القاسم، عن أبي أمامة أن نبي الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال على الخمسين جمعة، ليس فيما دون ذلك

جعفر بن الزبير متروك

Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan al-Naqāshi narrated to us Muḥammad ibn Abdar-Raḥman al-Sāmi and al-Ḥussain ibn Idris narrated to us, they said Khālid ibn al-Hayāj narrated to us, my father narrated to me from Ja’far ibn al-Zubayr from al-Qāsim from Abi Umamah that the Prophet peace be upon him said: Jummah is upon fifty and not without that (number).

(al-Dāraquṭni said) Ja’far ibn al-Zubayr is matruk.

[5] Similar is narrated in al-Mudawana al-Kubra [Vol. 1, p. 234]:

وذكر ابن وهب عن القاسم بن محمد عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال إذا اجتمع ثلاثون بيتا فليؤمروا عليهم رجلا منهم يصلي بهم الجمعة

And Ibn Wahb mentioned from al-Qāsim ibn Muḥammad from the Prophet peace be upon him: ‘If thirty men are gathered, let them order a man to pray with them Jummah.’

[6] al-Bayhaqy cites this tradition in al-Sunan al-Kubra [Vol. 3, no. 5616, pp. 254/255] with the following isnād: Abu Bakr ibn al-Ḥārith al-Faqihi reported to us Ali ibn Umar al-Ḥāfiz reported to us Abu Bakr al-Nisaburi narrated to us Muḥammad ibn Yahya narrated to us Muḥammad ibn Wahb ibn ‘Aṭiyah Baqiya ibn al-Waleed narrated to us Mu’āwiya ibn Yaḥya narrated to us Mu’āwiya ibn Sa’eed al-Tujibee al-Zuhri narrated to us from Umm Abdullah al-Dawsiyah, she said the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said.

After citing the tradition, al-Bayhaqy provides the following important comment: ‘al-Dāraquṭni said: This is not authentic from al-Zuhri; all who narrated it from him are matruk.  It is not authentic as al-Zuhri did not hear from al-Dawsiyah.’  Al-Bayhaqy has a second channel quoted in his Sunan right after this, [Vol. 3, no. 5617, p. 255] but this channel has Mu’āwiya ibn Sa’eed al-Tujibee from al-Ḥakam ibn Abdullah from al-Zuhri.  Again, al-Bayhaqy comments: ‘al-Ḥakam ibn Abdullah is matruk, and Mu’āwiya ibn Yaḥya is ḍaef.  And this is not authentic from al-Zuhri what is narrated in this chapter, a adith concerning the fifty, its isnād is not authentic (either).’

[7] Ibn Ḥazm appears mistaken on this point by arguing that both narrators are majhul (unknown).  Rather, they are known but judged to be weak, as shown by the previous comments of al-Bayhaqy and al-Dāraquṭni.  There are two narrators with the name Mu’āwiya ibn Yaḥya: Mu’āwiya ibn Yaḥya al-Ṣadafi and Mu’āwiya ibn Yaḥya Abu Muteeh’ al-Aṭrāblusi.  Of the former, Ibn Ḥajr [Tahzeeb al-Tahzeeb, Vol. 10, no. 9404] records a statement from Yaḥya ibn Ma’in that ‘he is nothing,’ and a statement from al-Jawzajāni that his ḥadith are left, an indication that his narrations are unacceptable; al-Nasā’i and Abu Dāwud regarding him as weak.  In al-Ḍua’fā wal’Matrukeen, Ibn al-Jawzi records the following from al-Dāraquṭni about the latter narrator: ‘Mu’āwiya ibn Yaḥya Abu Muteeh’ al-Aṭrāblusi, al-Dāraquṭni said: he has many munkar traditions.’

[8] Again, Ibn Ḥazm makes quite an obvious error here.  Rawḥ ibn Ghuṭayf is known to the scholars, but judged to be very weak.  In al-Ḍua’fā wal’Matrukeen [no. 199, p. 103], al-Nasā’i said: ‘Rawḥ ibn Ghuṭayf, matruk al-adith.’  Bukhāri notes his adith as being munkar in al-Tarikh al-Kabir [Vol. 3, p. 308].  It is also surprising that Ibn Ḥazm missed this, since Rawḥ ibn Ghuṭayf is mentioned in the introduction to Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim:

قال ابن قهزاذ وسمعت وهب بن زمعة يذكر عن سفيان بن عبد الملك، قال قال عبد الله يعني ابن المبارك رأيت روح بن غطيف صاحب الدم قدر الدرهم وجلست إليه مجلسا فجعلت أستحيي من أصحابي أن يروني جالسا معه كره حديثه

Ibn Quhzādh said I heard Wahb bin Zam’ah mentioning about Sufyān ibn ‘Abdal-Malik, he said, Abdullah, that is to say Ibn al-Mubārak said: ‘I saw Rawḥ bin Ghutayf, the companion of blood the amount of a Dirham, and I took a seat in one of his audiences. Then I began to become ashamed for my companions to see me sitting with him while his adith are disapproved of.’

In his commentary upon the Ṣaḥīḥ, al-Nawawi [Vol. 1, p. 193 English trans.] writes: ‘Rawḥ ibn Ghuṭayf was graded as ‘weak’ by many scholars, and al-Bukhāri confirms that he was so graded. He is identified here as the reporter of the statement: ‘Prayer must be repeated for the discharge of an amount of blood as small as a dirham.’  This is a false statement, totally unacceptable by ḥadith scholars, yet Rawḥ reported it (ostensibly) from al-Zuhri, from Abu Salamah, from Abu Hurayrah, from the Prophet.’

[9] Sunan al-Nasā’i but also cited by Muslim in his Ṣaḥīḥ

[10] As cited in Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhāri:

حدثنا محمد بن يوسف قال حدثنا سفيان عن خالد الحذاء عن أبي قلابة عن مالك بن الحويرث قال أتى رجلان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يريدان السفر فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا أنتما خرجتما فأذنا ثم أقيما ثم ليؤمكما أكبركما

Muḥammad ibn Yusuf narrated to us, he said Sufyān narrated to us from Khālid al-Ḥudtha’ from Abi Qilābah from Mālik ibn al-Ḥuwayrath, he said: Two men came to the Prophet peace be upon him with the intention of a journey. The Prophet peace be upon him said: When (both of) you set out, pronounce Adhan and then Iqama and the oldest of you should lead the prayer.

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