Importance of Salaat-e- Jamaat (Congregational Prayer)
a) WORLDLY AND SPIRITUAL BENEFITS
Salaate Jamaat means praying in congregation (gathering). There is a great reward when Salaat is offered in Jamaat. It gives us both Worldly and Spiritual benefits; these are listed below:
1. ISLAMIC EQUALITY:
In the congregation, rich and poor, high and low, all stand shoulder to shoulder. It is the best scene of mankind's equality.
In this Salaat all have one Niyyat, one language and identical actions. All kneel together, all go to Sajdah together. This teaches us the lesson that we, as Muslims, should be united at all times.
3. LOVE AND CO-OPERATION:
People meet with one another in the Jamaat Salaat. They know the hardships and worries of one another and try to help each other. New things are known there. Mutual love develops. Circle of friendship is widened. We get an opportunity to perfect our life in the light of others experiences.
While offering Salaat in Jamaat we stand in rows, follow the Imam of Jamaat and practice obedience to Allah. This forces discipline in us which is the essential feature of a community's life.
5. PRESTIGE OF ISLAM:
Our Mosques remain thriving - due to Salaat in Jamaat. it enhances the prestige of Muslims, and the Unity of Muslims affects greatly the enemies.
6. LIMITLESS REWARD:
Allah has put a big reward for Jamaat Salaat. Our Holy Prophet (S) and our Imams (A) have laid great emphasis on Jamaat Salaat. Therefore we should offer Jamaat Salaat as often as possible.
If 2 people present in Jamaat, each Raka'at = 150 prayers
If 3 people present in Jamaat, each Raka'at = 600 prayers
If 4 people present in Jamaat, each Raka'at = 1,200 prayers
If 5 people present in Jamaat, each Raka'at = 2,400 prayers
If 6 people present in Jamaat, each Raka'at = 4,800 prayers
If 7 people present in Jamaat, each Raka'at = 9,600 prayers
If 8 people present in Jamaat, each Raka'at = 19,200 prayers
If 9 people present in Jamaat, each Raka'at = 36,400 prayers
If 10 people present in Jamaat, each Raka'at = 72,800 prayers
The above need not be memorised ! It is simply there to show you the importance of Jamaat and the difference between praying alone and in Jamaat. However, you should know that if there are more than 10 people in Jamaat, then nobody can estimate its limitless reward except Allah.
IMAM : means one who leads the prayers.
MAMUM : one who prays behind an Imam.
FURADA : (To pray) Alone.
b) IMPORTANCE OF JAMAAT SALAAT
This can be understood from the following facts:
As explained above that the reward is unlimited.
It is better to wait for a few moments and join Jamaat Salaat than to pray alone on actual time. (Awwal-e-wakt)
If one completes his Furada Wajib prayer and finds that Jamaat Salaat has started, he can join Jamaat Salaat and pray that same Salaat again, thus he get more Thawaab (reward).
If a father & mother order their son to pray Jamaat Salaat, and by disobeying the order, he is afraid of upsetting them, then it is Wajib upon the son to pray with Jamaat.
Those who do not know proper pronunciation or recitation should pray with Jamaat to learn proper recitation.
According to certain Ulema one cannot pray Furada while Salaat-e-Jamaat is in progress.
If one does not consider a particular Imam as "Aadil" and he is already inside the mosque, then he should either pray Wajib Furada between Adhan and Ikamah or wait until Jamaat Salaat is finished, as a mark of respect.
Increase of Rukn either intentionally or unintentionally make prayer invalid, but in congregational prayer such increase is allowed due to significance of Jamaat Salaat (Details later on).
c) HOW TO JOIN JAMAAT SALAAT.
In the 1st and 2nd Raka'at of Jamaat Salaat it is better to join while the Imam is reciting the first or second Sura or join in Ruku'.
In the 3rd and 4th Raka'at of Jamaat Salaat it is better to join when Imam goes to Ruku'. If you join in Qiyam, when the Imam is reciting Tasbihate Arba'a (silently) then you should at least recite Sura Al-hamd and if you cannot complete recitation of Sura Al-hamd and the Imam rises from Ruku' then you have to change your Niyyat to Furada prayer and complete the Salaat as Furada.
If you enter inside the mosque, but you do not know which Raka'at of Jamaat is being recited, you should wait till Imam goes into Ruku'.
On entering the mosque you come to know that it is the last Sajdah of the last Raka'at, and you want to join Jamaat Salaat to get Jamaat Thawaab, you should do Niyyat, Takbiratul Ehram and join Imam in Sajdah and when Imam completes Tashahud and Salaam, you should rise for your 1st Raka'at and recite 1st and 2nd Sura.
In such a case you should raise your knees from the ground and place both palms on the ground until Imam finishes Salaam.
Raising of knees from the ground is also to followed in Tashahud and Salaam when you join in 2nd, 3rd and 4th Raka'at.
Mamumeen praying behind Imam should recite all Zikr except
The recitation of the first and second Sura in the 1st and 2nd Raka'at.
It is necessary for you to recite silently all the recitations that are Wajib or Sunnat to follow Imam and not to recite before Imam, especially intentionally, as this will make your Salaat Batil.
d) CONDITIONS OF JAMAAT SALAAT
In first line immediately after Imam, it is Sunnat if aged or learned people join.
Travellers who pray Qasr Salaat and all those suffering from gas trouble should not join in the first line.
You should stand close to each other, shoulder to shoulder in line. It is Makruh to start or join in a new line when there is still space in the front line.
Only Wajib Salaat whether Ada or Qaza. Sunnat Salaat except Salaat-e-Edain and Salaat-e-Istisqa cannot be prayed in Jamaat.
When Takbiratul Ehram is recited by Imam, it is better that people standing in the second and other lines say Takbir after people in the first line have said.
If adult females want to join Jamaat Salaat, they should stand behind male mamumeen and if there is a curtain between the male and female it is allowed.
The only differences between having a male Imam and a female Imam are:
A male Imam can have female followers; whereas as female Imam cannot have male followers.
A male Imam has followers standing behind him while he stands alone; whereas a female Imam will have her followers standing next to her to form the first line of Jamaat Salaat.
Conditions for Imam of Jamaat are as follows:
Baligh (must have reached the age of responsibility and puberty)
Able to recite correctly (also correct Makhraj)
Mu'min - Shia Ithna Asheri
Of legitimate birth
Aadil (Just) - One who has not been seen committing Gunahe Kabirah; and whose outward behaviour and conduct appears to be in conformity with Shariah.