Importance of arriving early for Jumu’ah prayers

Question:

What do the scholars say about someone who frequently comes late to the Jumu’ah prayer?

Answer:

Jumu’ah prayer holds a significant place, and its observance is essential for Muslim men. Scholars from different Islamic schools of thought (madhahib) have addressed the issue of lateness to Jumu’ah prayer, emphasising its importance based on the Quran and Sunnah. The Quran highlights its importance in Surah Al-Jumu’ah (62:9): Believers, when the call for the prayer is made on Friday, come hurriedly to Allah’s remembrance and stop all work. That certainly is good for you.”

This verse makes Friday prayer compulsory for all believers. However, there are some exemptions to this: women, travellers and the sick. The Dhikr-Allah here is interpreted as the Friday sermon. This verse clearly commands believers to hasten to the mosque for the Friday prayer and leave all worldly engagements.

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ emphasised the significance of arriving early for Jumu’ah prayer through various hadiths:

Abu Hurairah said: The Messenger of God ﷺ said: “Whoever takes a bath and then comes to the Friday prayer and prays what has been decreed for him, then listens until the imam finishes his sermon, and then prays with him, will be forgiven for what came between him and the next Friday prayer, and an additional three days.” (Muslim)

In another narration the Prophet ﷺ “Whoever performs Ghusl on Friday, then goes early to the mosque, listens to the Imam and remains silent, will have his sins forgiven between that Friday and the next” (Al-Bukhari).

The command to come on time

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “On the day of Jumu’ah, the angels stand at the door of the mosque to record those who come first. The one who comes early is like one who sacrifices a camel, the one who comes next is like one who sacrifices a cow, and then a ram, and then a chicken, and then an egg. When the Imam comes out [to start the Khutbah], they fold up their scrolls and listen to the reminder” (Al-Bukhari).

Warning Against Missing Jumu’ah:

It has been narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ  said: “Tell people they should stop neglecting the Friday prayers, or Allah will seal their hearts and they will become heedless” (Sahih Muslim).

Scholarly Opinions from Different Schools of Thought

Hanafi School

The Hanafi scholars emphasise the importance of attending Jumu’ah prayer from its beginning:

  • Obligation: It is obligatory (fard) to attend Jumu’ah prayer and missing it without a valid excuse is sinful.
  • Timing: Arriving late and missing the Khutbah diminishes the full reward of the prayer. The Khutbah is an integral part of the Jumu’ah prayer, and missing it is considered a major loss.
  • Lateness: Frequent lateness is seen as neglectful and contrary to the spirit of Jumu’ah, which should be a day of gathering and communal worship.
  • Reward: Those who come early are rewarded more, and arriving after the Khutbah starts is seen as missing a portion of the Jumu’ah experience.

Across all schools of thought, there is a consensus on the importance of Jumu’ah prayer and the virtue of arriving early. Frequent lateness to Jumu’ah prayer is generally viewed negatively as it:

  • Reduces the reward of the prayer.
  • Indicates neglect of a significant communal worship.
  • Risks missing the Khutbah, which is an essential component of Jumu’ah.

Muslims are encouraged to prioritise their schedules to ensure they arrive early for Jumu’ah, engage in recommended acts of worship, and fully participate in the communal aspects of the prayer. By doing so, they fulfil an important religious obligation and earn greater spiritual rewards.

This Fatwa is written by Dr.Hafiz Muhammad Munir Al-Azhari

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