By Lisha Azad
WHATSAPP NEWSFLASH: Mosques to be indefinitely closed across the country for all prayers!
As I crept out of bed, I could hear the imam at my neighbourhood masjid recite the Qur’an melodiously in prayer. And then a sad thought engulfed me – this would be the last Fajr Jama’ah (congregational) prayer for days to come.
And no more Jumu’ah!
This shocking WhatsApp message was followed by videos, audios, and writeups from imams across the globe who admitted that they broke down in tears at this news of mosque closures in their country, fearing that Allah ’s displeasure on humanity could perhaps be the reason that was leading to this pandemic and now this worldwide shutdown. These fears were also echoed in our young imam’s words when he described this closure as the saddest day of his life.
I am not a 5 times-a-day masjid-goer. As a woman, it is not fardh on me to attend prayers at a masjid. However, living in a Muslim-majority country close to a masjid means being able to listen to the Adhan and the Iqamah, LIVE, five times a day. From the comfort of my home. It’s a blessing being able to respond to these calls of prayer and thereby getting blessings and rewards for it. These calls to prayer remind the men in my family to rush to attend congregational prayers and reap its massive rewards.
Having lived the most part of my life in a Muslim-majority in the Gulf, the Adhan and Iqamah are also the most natural sounds of my daily life. Therefore, having to listen to a shortened Adhan commanding the believers to pray in our homes that day, Dhuhr onwards and thereafter no Iqamah feels surreal, to say the least.
While the Shahadah is reiterated even in the shortened Adhan, what I miss the most are the words, “Hayya ‘Ala As-Salah, Hayya ‘Ala Al-Falah (Come to Salah, Come to Success)”.
Five times a day, I was so used to hearing these words urging the believers to hasten to prayer that would bring perpetual prosperity. From Tuesday onwards, I began to actually question myself as to how much I truly equated success with Salah. I also miss responding to those words of the Adhan with the words “La Hawla Wa La Quwatta Illa Billah (There is no might or power but with Allah)”. In hindsight, I have to admit that like many of my Muslim brothers and sisters, especially those living in Muslim countries, I too had taken the Adhan and the Iqamah for granted.
As one of the world’s continuously resounding sounds, these calls to prayer are the most distinctive feature and clearly experienced symbol of Islam for more than 1000 years. Starting with the testimony of the Shahadah, the Adhan and thereafter the Iqamah helps both Muslims and non-Muslims bring to mind the very essence of Islamic beliefs and the importance of living our lives dedicated to the remembrance of the Almighty.
My husband tells me of a colleague, Mr. Lee, who was visiting a Muslim country for the first time. He recalled how captivated Mr. Lee had been by the tuneful Adhan when he first heard it and how he wanted to know what it was all about. Those melodious words eventually led him to enquire and learn more about Islam.
Although alarm clocks and mobile phones are sufficient to remind us to pray these days, both the Adhan and the Iqamah are proclamations of the greatness of Allah , of how we need to hasten to make Salah and how through Salah, we can attain success. Brothers and sisters, think about it!
If we are able to hear the Adhan and then the Iqamah being pronounced 5 times a day, it is as if we are announcing to the world that ours is a Muslim country or at least a country where Muslims are free to practice the Sunnah of the beloved Prophet Muhammad and live their lives freely according to the dictates of Islam.
While the reasons for the shortened Adhan, no Iqamah and cancellation of the daily/weekly community prayers that are being enforced today worldwide are completely legitimate, it’s the actual and indefinite closure of the mosques worldwide that’s disturbing.
In effect, here’s what we would be actually missing in the coming days (Hadith references at the end of the article):
* The chance to erase our sins by walking to the mosque in a state of wudu
* The reward of walking to the mosque in a state of ablution (wudu) and gaining a’jr for every step we take
* The opportunity to make dua’ to bring light upon ourselves, to have the doors of His mercy opened to us and to ask for His abundant blessings upon us while walking to and entering/exiting His house
* The chance to make accepted dua’s between the Athan and the Iqamah
* The chance to pray Nafl prayers in the masjid after the Athan and before the Iqamah
* The rewards of the Jam’aah prayers – 25 to 27 times more reward than individual prayers prayed at home or in the marketplace!
* The 5-a day chance and reward to personally exchange face-to-face salams with our neighbours
* The weekly opportunity to meet our brothers and sisters from the Ummah at large
* The chance to engage in congregational dua’a and istighfar
* The chance to be in the blessed company of angels while gaining knowledge
* The chance to have the angels pray for us as we wait in the mosque
As it is rightly said, “We only realize the value of a thing when it is lost.” So how could we bring back the value and reward of attending jama’ah prayers? I was deep in thought when I came across this Hadith,
“Worship in a time of turmoil is as if he had emigrated to me.” (Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2948). What a fantastic thought to keep being motivated to perform acts of worship during difficult days!
Therefore, here’s what I researched and came up with to avoid missing out on the above rewards (wherever possible, detailed references have been included at the end of the write-up):
- Institute congregational prayers on time with our families – Praying on time is one of the best deeds that we can do. Scholars maintain that the smallest number that counts for prayer in congregation, apart from Jumu’ah prayer, is two: the imam and the person who is praying behind him, who should stand to his right. Even the Jumu’ah is valid if there are 3 or more people praying in congregation. (Source: Islamqa.info)
- Start a family halaqah – Family halaqahs are a great way to involve all ages including the elderly and the very young in a circle of learning. And how much there is to learn and benefit from – dhikr, dua’a, knowledge of the Prophets and Sahabas, fiqh, Islamic history…what better way to have the angels lower their wings upon us as seekers of knowledge and pray for us!
- Make dua’a together as a family – This is another great way to have the angels make dua’ for us to be blessed with the same things that we make dua’ for, for the entire Ummah. Remember to use the most powerful dua’as and dhikr for maximum reward and effect.
- Use Quarantine is actually Qur’an-Time – Just as this phrase is trending these days, let us turn to reading/memorizing/perfecting the recitation our Noble Book. Let us actively seek to apply its timeless wisdom and teachings to correct and improve our lives whilst getting rewarded 10 times over for every letter recited.
- Increase the sending of Salawat on Prophet Muhammad – One salat on the Prophet is 10 blessings upon ourselves and through this simple act, we can also expect an increase of reward and erasure of sins as mentioned in the Hadith. Also, our salam reaches him wherever we may send it from and we will be rewarded for it always. What a great way to gain ajr!
- Connect creatively – The coronavirus pandemic has socially and severely distanced us. However, the Internet is now perhaps the best thing that ever happened in human history. What better time than to refresh those virtual friendships/relationships and drop a line to ask after others. We could also use other non-contact ways to connect with neighbours and friends by phoning/chatting with them on social media and once in a while, surprising them with a delicious dish on their doorstep!
Finally, it pays to remember the Sahih hadith that states that acts of worship during times of difficulty/illness/travels are rewarded similarly as when done at home in times of good health and ease. Therefore let us set good intentions and act upon them by doing good deeds as much and whenever we can in our good times, so as to continue reaping the rewards during our difficult days.
May Allah guide us, forgive us and keep us all steadfast on His Deen, Aameen!
- The Prophet said: “Supplications (dua’s) offered in between the (two) calls for prayer (i.e. Adhan and Iqamah) will never be rejected.” – Abu Dawud
- Allah’s Apostle said, “The reward of the prayer offered by a person in congregation is twenty-five times greater than that of the prayer offered in one’s house or in the market (alone). And this is because if he performs ablution and does it perfectly and then proceeds to the mosque with the sole intention of praying, then for every step he takes towards the mosque, he is upgraded one degree in reward and his one sin is taken off (crossed out) from his accounts (of deeds). When he offers his prayer, the angels keep on asking Allah’s Blessings and Allah’s forgiveness for him as long as he is (staying) at his Musalla. They say, ‘O Allah! Bestow Your blessings upon him, be Merciful and kind to him.’ And one is regarded in prayer as long as one is waiting for the prayer.” – Narrated by Abu Huraira (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 11, Number 620)
- Allah’s Apostle said, “The angels keep on asking for Allah’s Blessing and Forgiveness for anyone of you as long as he is at his Musalla (praying place) and does not do Hadath (passes wind). The angels say, ‘O Allah! Forgive him and be Merciful to him.’ Each one of you is in the prayer as long as he is waiting for the prayer and nothing but the prayer detains him from going to his family.” – Narrated by Abu Huraira (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 11, Number 628)
- “He who follows a path in quest of knowledge, Allah will make the path of Jannah easy for him, and indeed, the angels lower their wings for the seeker of knowledge, being pleased with what he does…” – As narrated by Abud-Darda (RA) and quoted in Abu Dawud & At-Tirmidhi
- “Whoever supplicates Allah to exalt my mention (i.e., send salah) Allah will exalt his mention (i.e., send salah) 10 times and remove from him 10 sins and raise him 10 degrees.” – As quoted in Sahih Muslim
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