Hastening to Join the CongregationPraise be to Allaah.
Hastening to join the congregation and coming early to the mosque are virtuous deeds which many people neglect and fall short in. When the believer tastes the sweetness of faith and feels delight in worship, he can hardly wait to hear the call to prayer and go to the mosque. Indeed you will see him hastening and rushing, and the time for prayer does not begin without him longing for it. The Prophet’s description applies to him, as one of the seven whom Allaah will shade with His shade on the Day when there is no shade but His: he is the man whose heart is attached to the mosque.
Undoubtedly coming early to congregational prayers and being keen to be one of the first ones there is a sign of respect and eagerness for this ritual, and it is also indicative of a person’s righteousness, religious commitment and piety. Sufyaan al-Thawri said: Your coming to the prayer before the iqaamah is a sign of respect for the prayer. End quote.
Fath al-Baari (3/533).
Ibraaheem al-Taymi said: If you see a man being careless about the first takbeer, then wash your hands of him. End quote.
Siyar A’laam al-Nubala’ (5/84).
Wakee’ ibn al-Jarraah used to say: Whoever does not catch up with the first takbeer, do not hope for any good from him. End quote. Narrated by al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al-Eemaan (3/74).
Some of the salaf regarded coming to the mosque after the adhaan as a shortcoming, and that it was better to go to the mosque before the call to prayer.
Sufyaan ibn ‘Uyaynah said:
Do not be like the bad slave who does not come until he is called. Come to prayer before the call is given. End quote.
Al-Tabsirah by Ibn al-Jawzi (131).
We will remind ourselves and you of some of the virtues of coming early for prayer in congregation and hastening to do that.
Ibn al-Mundhir narrated – as reported in al-Durr al-Manthoor (2/314) – from Anas ibn Maalik (may Allaah be pleased with him) about the meaning of the verse (interpretation of the meaning): “Race with one another in hastening towards forgiveness from your Lord” [al-Hadeed 57:21], that it refers to the first takbeer. This was narrated by some of the mufassireen from Mak-hool and Sa’eed ibn Jubayr among the Taabi’een.
‘Abd al-Razzaaq narrated in al-Musannaf (1/528) via a saheeh isnaad from Anas (may Allaah be pleased with him) that he said: Whoever does not miss the first rak’ah of prayer for forty days, he will be saved from two things: he will be saved from the fire and will be saved from hypocrisy.”
And it was narrated that Meetham, one of the companions of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: I heard that the angel comes with his banner accompanying the first one who comes to the mosque, and he stays with him until he goes back, and he enters his home with him, carrying the banner.
Narrated by Ibn Abi ‘Aasim in al-Ahaad wa’l-Mathaani (5/183); classed as saheeh by Ibn Hajar in al-Isaabah (6/148) and by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Targheeb (1/242).
By coming early for prayer in congregation you will earn the reward of waiting for the prayer and of staying in the mosque, and the du’aa’ of the angels. Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When he enters the mosque, he is in a state of prayer so long as the prayer is what is keeping him there, and the angels send blessings on any one of you so long as he remains in the place where he prayed, saying, ‘O Allaah, forgive him, O Allaah, have mercy on him…’” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (477) and Muslim (649).
It also brings the virtue of praying in the first row, and of saying Ameen with the imam. It says in the saheeh hadeeth: “When the imam says ‘Ameen’ then say ‘Ameen,’ for if a person’s saying Ameen coincides with that of the angels, his previous sins will be forgiven.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (780) and Muslim (410).
The one who comes early to pray in congregation can also make good use of the time between the adhaan and iqaamah by offering regular Sunnah prayers or praying tahiyat al-masjid (two rak’ahs to greet the mosque), and he can spend the time in saying du’aa’ and seeking the good of this world and the Hereafter, because the time between the adhaan and the iqaaamah is one of the times when du’aa’s are answered.
In the practice of the salaf there are examples which stir the heart and make one resolute, and call everyone who is negligent or falling short to feel shy before the Lord of the Worlds, as righteous people are competing to attain reward whilst he is negligent about reward.
Ibn Shaheen narrated in his book al-Targheeb fi Fadaa’il al-A’maal wa Thawaab dhaalika (no. 107) from al-Hasan that Anas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said:
The companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), including Hudhayfah, gathered together and a man said: I would not like to miss the first takbeer with the imam even if I were to have fifty sheep. Another man said: I would not like to miss (the first takbeer) with the imam even if I were to have one hundred sheep. Another man said: I would not like to miss (the first takbeer) with the imam even if I were to have everything on which the sun rises. Another man said: I would not like to miss (the first takbeer) with the imam even if I prayed from ‘Isha’ until Fajr.
It was narrated from Abu Harmalah that Ibn al-Musayyab said: I have not missed the first takbeer for fifty years, and I have not looked at a man’s back whilst praying for fifty years. End quote. Al-Siyar (4/30), i.e., he used to pray in the front row.
There is the fear for the one who is always late in coming to pray in congregation and who neglects the virtue of the first takbeer that Allaah may delay reward, virtue and goodness for him, until he is content to come late, so his reward will be akin to his action.
Some of the scholars said, commenting on the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “Come forward and follow me (in the prayer), and let those who are behind you follow you, for people will keep moving to the back until Allaah puts them back (away from His mercy or Paradise)” (narrated by Muslim, 438), that what is meant is the one who keeps away from the first row and the first takbeer.