Holding Friday Prayer More than Once in the Same Mosque
Some scholars permit holding more than one Friday prayer congregation in the same mosque if there is no space to accommodate all worshippers. While others argue that there is no evidence for this in Islam history.
Holding Friday Prayer More than Once in the Same Mosque
· Holding congregational prayers more than once in the same mosque.
· More than one congregation in the same mosque.
In non-Muslim countries, people are generally not allowed to leave work in order to attend prayers. As Friday is a working day in such countries, Muslims attend the mosque in their lunch hour. This creates several difficulties: Some may arrive at the mosque only to find that the Friday prayer has finished; the mosque may be too small for the number of worshippers; the mosque may be too far from some places of work; etc. In such situations, more than one congregation of Friday prayer are held in the same mosque. Is this acceptable, particularly when the mosque cannot accommodate all worshippers at the same time?
It is the general rule that when the Friday prayer is called, all Muslims should immediately respond and proceed to attend it. God says in the Qur’an: ‘Believers! When the call to prayer is made on Friday, go straightaway to the prayer and leave off your trading. This is best for you, if you but knew it. When the prayer is finished, disperse in the land and seek God’s bounty. Remember God often so that you may be successful. (62: 9–10) This means that when he is in a place of residence, Friday prayer is obligatory for every Muslim male to whom worship duties apply. It is a fact that in some situations in non-Muslim countries, it is difficult for all Muslims to attend the Friday prayer at the same time. Hence the question: can it be offered more than once in the same mosque?
Contemporary scholars have given two different views:
The first view, arrived at by the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America, permits holding more than one Friday prayer congregation in the same mosque, when the place is too small to accommodate all worshippers at the same time. The Assembly’s website published on 1 January 2000 an answer to a question about the conditions that permit holding more than one Friday prayer at the same mosque, which stated: ‘The proper practice is to hold one Friday prayer in the main mosque of any city. If it is too small to accommodate them, it is perfectly appropriate to hold more than one prayer, as meets the needs and serves the people’s interests.’
On 29 June 2008, the same Assembly issued a fatwa (i.e. ruling) in reply to a question about organizing more than one congregation of Friday prayer in the same mosque, which cannot accommodate all worshippers. The fatwa stated: ‘There is a pressing need for such an arrangement in many places. Scholars of all schools of Islamic law agree that needs must be taken into account. In light of this we may say that such arrangements are absolutely needed and all schools of Islamic law take such a need into consideration.
The same Assembly issued a further fatwa on 5 August 2009 on the same question, and the new fatwa stated: ‘Since the repeat of Friday prayer is the only solution to accommodate all worshippers, then it is appropriate.’ Furthermore, on 17 June 2010, the Assembly stated: ‘Friday prayer is permissible to hold in several mosques of the same city when this is needed. In the same light, it may be offered more than once in the same mosque for the same reasons.
The Assembly stated three conditions for this fatwa to be valid. These are:
1. There is no single place of worship that can accommodate all the congregation.
2. The several congregations are not formed according to any type of grouping.
3. The underlying reason must not be making things too comfortable.
The basic evidence in support of this view is: (i) Friday prayer is obligatory and Muslims need to organize it in congregation. Such need is considered to be essential; (ii) the principles upheld by all schools of Islamic law approve the permissibility of measures taken to meet essential needs; and (iii) Analogy with the permissibility of offering the Friday prayer in several mosques of the same town, which is approved by many scholars.
The second view prohibits holding more than one Friday prayer. This view is expressed by several scholars as follows:
The Permanent Committee of Research and Fatwa in Saudi Arabia issued Fatwa No. 21,575, 77/7, on the basis of a question put to it about the permissibility of employees working on sensitive machinery and equipment at their place of work organizing two congregations for Friday prayer. The Committee ruling was as follows:
There is no harm in the employees dividing themselves in two groups and offering the daily prayers in two congregations at their workplace, because their work conditions require this. However, the Friday prayer may not be held at their workplace. Their duty is to go to the nearest mosque where the Friday prayer is held. Since work requirements necessitate that some of them must stay to operate the equipment, then those who can be spared should go to the mosque where they should offer the Friday prayer with the congregation. When they return to the workplace, they take over from their colleagues who have stayed behind to allow the latter to offer their prayer, but these should offer Zuhr prayer, in four rak'ahs.
This fatwa exempts the group who stay behind at the workplace from Friday prayer and requires them to offer Zuhr prayer instead, in four rak'ahs.
The late Shaikh Mahmood Shaltoot, the former Rector of al-Azhar, expressed the same view, stating: ‘The call to hold Friday prayer at the same place and day, in two congregations and two sermons is unknown in Islamic history, up to the present. It has no basis in Islamic legislation.’ Commenting on the suggestion that it should be held for women first and a second time for men, or for a section of men first and another section later, Shaikh Shaltoot said: ‘For Friday prayer this has never been approved by Imam Ahmad or anyone else.
Holding Friday prayer more than once in the same mosque is bound to lead to division within the local community, which is forbidden by Islam.
· The website of The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA): www.amjaonline.org,
· Fatawa by the Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa in Saudi Arabia, collated and edited by Ahmad ibn Abd al-Razzaq al-Duwaish.
· Mahmood Shaltoot, Al-Fatawa.
· Jad al-Haq Ali Jad al-Haq, Al-Fatawa al-Islamiyyah.
- Al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt, is the world’s oldest Islamic seat of learning and university. Founded in the tenth century, last century it celebrated 1,000 years of continuous Islamic education.
- J.A. Jad al-Haq, Al-Fatawa al-Islamiyyah, vol. 4, p. 42
- M. Shaltoot, Al-Fatawa, pp. 93–5.