After reciting Tashahud and Ta‘awuz, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa stated the following:
Due to the pandemic that has recently spread, numerous world governments have implemented restrictions, including the British government here, that congregational prayers are not allowed at mosques. And, if it is allowed, then no more than two or a few people can convene together, and they too should be members of the same household.
At present, the law has not been clearly defined and people hold differing views, saying that this is only allowed (as I said) with close family members. Others are saying that family or people living together can convene.
Nevertheless, during these conditions, until it does not become clear, we cannot offer Jumuah congregations because even in Friday prayers, some aspects require clarification. That is why, after consultation, I have decided to deliver a message from my office to address and talk to you, instead of delivering a [Friday] Sermon – not observing the Friday congregation.
Every Friday, listening to the sermon of the Khalifa of the time is something that all of you have developed a habit of. If, currently, I do not address the Jamaat, then some people develop despair and various assumptions begin to surface. For this reason, I thought it best to address the Jamaat in one way or another and this transpired into addressing the Jamaat from my office.
Anyhow, like I said, we will not offer the Jumuah congregational prayers [together] and whatever manner that will be adopted for the future will, insha-Allah, be informed to everyone. We cannot leave Friday prayers for a long period of time either and, like I said, my communication with the Jamaat is also essential and in the present conditions, it is even more essential. For this reason, after consultations with lawyers and concerned persons, we will, insha-Allah, come up with the solution.
I would also like to say to members of the Jamaat that where the government has prohibited attending the mosque due to this virus – rather, it has not completely prohibited it; for example here in the UK, individually you can offer prayers at the mosque or a few family members can come and offer their prayers but only while upholding the government’s advice of keeping a safe distance between each other – congregational prayers where everyone attends cannot be offered.
In such conditions, Jamaat members should pay attention to arranging congregational prayers in their homes. Members of the household should also convene and offer Jumuah prayers. Friday sermons can be given by reading extracts from Malfuzat or from other Jamaat literature or other writings of the Promised Messiahas or Al Fazl and Al Hakam. Any mature boy or man from the household can lead the Friday prayer and prayers in general.
In any case, Jumuah congregational prayers cannot be left for a prolonged period. When people begin to prepare for and offer Friday prayers [at home], they will inevitably begin to read and as a result, while increasing in knowledge, despite governmental restrictions to stay at home, there will be religious and spiritual benefit.
In fact, in the initiative of Al Hakam these days, for people to comment on how they are spending their time at home, most people are writing that they are, by reading the Quran, hadith, books of the Promsised Messiahas and Jamaat literature, increasing their knowledge. Even in the wider world, worldly people are hugely commenting on different websites and are saying that they also, due to this reason, are getting the opportunity to better their family and personal conditions and that their family life has returned.
Thus, we should also spend time with our families by improving ourselves and positively bringing up children. There are very good programmes shown on MTA; try to spend some time watching these programmes together.
Apart from this, like I have said before, you should fully abide by the rules and regulations that the government has set out for the benefit and health of the populace.
The most important aspect, as I have said in my previous sermons, is to pay a lot of attention towards prayers. Through prayers, we can attract the grace of Allah the Almighty and better our spiritual and physical wellbeing. This is what the Promised Messiahas continuously advised us toward and even in such conditions, told us that the most important thing is to seek forgiveness from God Almighty, cleanse our hearts and engage in good works. God the Almighty has given us a great weapon through prayer; through it [prayer] we should try to seek and enter the mercy of Allah the Almighty.
As for not offering Friday congregational prayers [together], in some instances, it is proven from some ahadith that congregational prayers and Friday congregational prayer can be exempt. For example, there is a hadith in Bukhari that Hazrat Ibn Abbasra, on a rainy day, told the muazins [callers to prayer] not to say “Hayya alas-Salah” (come to prayer) but to say “Sallu fi buyutikum” (pray in your homes). People found this as something novel and raised concern, but Hazrat Ibn Abbasra said that he – meaning the Holy Prophetsa – “also practised this, who was better than me. Though the Friday prayer is an obligatory duty, yet I disliked putting you to hardship lest you walk in mud and rain.”
This narration, with some differences in wording, is also mentioned in Muslim. It is a narration from Hazrat Ibn Abbasra that during a rainy day, he said to his muazin that after he said “Ashadu al-la ilaha ilallah wa ashadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasuluh”, he should not say “Hayya alas-Salah” (come to prayer) but say, “Sallu fi buyutikum” (pray in your homes). The narrator says that people found this as novel. In reply, Hazrat Ibn Abbasra said, “Do you deem this strange? This was done by him, who was better than me. Though the Friday prayer is an obligatory duty. But I disliked putting you to hardship lest you walk in mud and rain.”
Allama Imam Nawawi, in the commentary of this hadith, writes, ‘And in this hadith, the argument to suspend Friday congregation during the constraint of rain etc. is present. And this is also our belief”. He writes, “And this is also our belief and the belief of other jurists, whereas Imam Malik’srh view opposes this. Allah knows better what is right.”
In the same way, [Islamic] jurists have included, within the excuses not to attend Jumuah and congregational prayers, such illness which make it difficult to attend the mosque. Their proof of this is within Allah the Almighty’s instruction that “Allah the Almighty has laid no hardship upon you in religion [Surah al-Hajj, Ch.22, V.79]. On this basis, when the Holy Prophetsa fell ill and stopped going to the mosque, he said to tell Abu Bakrra to lead the people in prayer.”
This hadith is mentioned in both Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. In the same way, due to the outbreak of an illness, a person who is fearful has been labelled as one who is ill. And the proof of this is in that narration of Hazrat Ibn Abbasra in which the Holy Prophetsa said that fear and illness are [legitimate] excuses.
Nonetheless, this disease that can spread and for which the government have set some rules and regulations (and according to following the law of the land, we should also abide by) has meant that in such conditions, convening at one place and offering congregational prayers or Friday congregation is difficult. However, as I have said, in your homes, develop the habit of offering prayers in congregation; children will learn that offering prayers is imperative and offering them in congregation is essential and in today’s condition, where we cannot go to the mosque, it is still important to carry out this obligation in your homes. Pay special attention towards this.
At times, during journeys, such conditions also arose during the life of the Promised Messiahas when he did not offer the Jumuah prayer. Nevertheless, there are lots of narrations about this that throw light on the fact that congregating or meeting each other during contagious diseases is not right and we should remain at distance.
As I have said before, we are not leaving this forever and are arranging for Jumuah prayers to take place in homes. I will also endeavour to arrange this.
It is also important to pray that Allah shows His grace. As said before, may Allah the Almighty quickly cleanse the world from this pandemic and may he enable everyone to fulfil all the rights of humanity and recognise their Creator.
May Allah enable us all to do this.
Assalamo alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa barakatahu