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?
This is a question that has always been given different views of which we will mention two as follows: The first view is expressed by leading scholars of olden days, including Ibn Mas[ud, Sufyan, Ibn al-Mubarak, Malik, al-Shafi[i. They all ruled that those who do not join the congregation should offer their prayers individually.
It is permissible to rent churches and other places to hold prayers, provided that the following is avoided: 1. Praying where statues are placed. If they happen to be there and in the direction of the qiblah, then they should be covered. 2. Praying in a place where there is physical impurity. This is included in the decision taken by the International Islamic Fiqh Academy’s third conference, held in Amman, Jordan from 8–13 Safar 1407 AH, corresponding to 11–16 October 1986. The decision was in reply to questions received from the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Washington. The Academy stated in its ruling that ‘it is permissible to rent a church for prayer when necessary. Praying facing statues and pictures should be avoided. These must be covered if they are placed in the direction Muslims face in prayer. The Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa in Saudi Arabia also issued a fatwa, No. 9,118, permitting prayer in a rented church, provided that there is no other place available. The Committee said: ‘If a different place is available for prayer, then praying in a church or temple is not permissible because these are the worship places of unbelievers where beings other than God are worshipped and because they contain statues and shaped pictures. If no other place is available, then the case is one of necessity and prayer in such places becomes permissible.’ [Umar said to the priest: ‘We do not come into your churches because of what is in them of statues and shaped pictures. Ibn [Abbas used to pray in churches except those where there are statues and shaped pictures.’ (Related by al-Bukhari, subheading: prayer in a church)
Scholars have two different views on this question: The first view permits using such a building on condition that the place is thoroughly cleansed, while the second disallows prayer in areas and halls used for gaming or dancing and advises the community to look for an alternative place or an open area where prayer may be held. The first view of permissibility is coupled with discouragement. The late Shaikh Jad al-Haq Ali Jad al-Haq, former Rector of al-Azhar, ruled that prayer in dance halls and places where wine is served and wanton conduct is normal is discouraged, but valid, provided that any physical impurity has been removed.
Contemporary scholars have varying views on this question. The first view considers it permissible to offer two prayers together because of the short time range or because 'Isha prayer becomes due very late at night. 1. The European Council for Fatwa and Research considers it permissible to combine the Maghrib and 'Isha prayers because 'Isha falls very late at night or because its mark disappears for a period during the summer. Indeed, 'Isha may only fall due near midnight. The Council also considers it permissible to combine the Zuhr and 'Asr prayers in winter, due to the short hours of the day which makes it difficult for people at work to offer each prayer at its time in their workplaces. However, the Council makes clear that people should not resort to such combination when there is no need for it, and they must not make it their habit. 2. The General Secretary of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America published his view on the Assembly’s website making clear that it is permissible to bring the 'Asr prayer forward and delay the Maghrib prayer so as it may be offered together with the 'Isha prayer, if work conditions require this, until the person concerned can organize his working times differently. However, he emphasized that the normal situation is to offer each prayer at its appropriate time. This concession should be exercised only when there is pressing need, or to remove hardship, or when the time of prayer cannot be properly defined. 3. A number of scholars are of the view that combining two obligatory prayers together occasionally is permissible, and in rare cases essential, in order to remove difficulty and make things easier for people engaged in work that cannot be interrupted, such as traffic police or a surgeon carrying out an operation. 4. The Fatawa issued in Tunisia in the fourteenth century AH (1883–1980 CE) considers the different views that outline the reasons permitting combining prayers together and concludes that it is permissible to follow any of the major schools of Islamic Fiqh. A special reference is made to the Hanbali school of Fiqh which states that ‘it is permissible to combine the Zuhr and 'Asr prayers together, as well as the Maghrib and 'Isha prayers’ and offer each two during the time range of either one in different situations, including circumstances and work that permit the non-attendance of Friday prayer, as clearly stated in Dalil al-Talib by Marie ibn Yusuf. These scholars add: ‘The preferable option is to follow the Hanbali school of Fiqh. 5. Shaikh Muhammad Abu Zahrah is of the view that combining prayers in situations of difficulty is permissible.