Prayer in Congregation

Al-Muwatta' of Imam Malik

by Imam Malik ibn Anas
Translated by: Ustadha Aisha Bewley

8.0 Prayer in Congregation

8.1 The Superiority of Prayer in Congregation over Prayer Alone

1 Yahya related to me from Malik from Nafi' from 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Prayer in a group is twenty-seven times better than the prayer of a man by himself."

[cf Bukhari 619]

2 Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Prayer in a group is twenty five degrees times better than the prayer of one of you on his own."

[cf Bukhari 621]

3 Yahya related to me from Malik from Abu'z-Zinad from al-A'raj from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "By Him in Whose hand my soul is, I seriously considered ordering someone to collect firewood, ordering the prayer be called, appointing a man to lead the prayer and then coming up behind certain men and burning their houses down about them! By Him in whose hand my soul is, if any of them had known they would find a meaty bone or two good hooves, they would have attended 'Isha'."

[cf Bukhari 618]

4 Yahya related to me from Malik from Abu'n-Nadr, the mawla of 'Umar ibn 'Ubaydullah, from Yusr ibn Sa'id that Zayd ibn Thabit said, "The most excellent prayer is your prayer in your house, except for the prescribed prayers."

 

8.2 The 'Isha' and Subh Prayers

5 Yahya related to me from Malik from 'Abd ar-Rahman ibn Harmala al-Aslami from Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "What separates us from the hypocrites is being present at 'Isha ' and Subh. They cannot do it," or words to that effect.

6 Yahya related to me from Malik from Sumayy, the mawla of Abu Bakr ibn 'Abd ar-Rahman from Abu Salih from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "If a man who is walking along a road finds a branch of thorns on the road and removes it, Allah thanks him for doing it and forgives him."

He also said, "Martyrs are five: the one killed by a plague, the one killed by a disease of the belly, the one who drowns, the one killed by a collapsing building and the martyr in the path of Allah."

He also said, "If people knew what there was in the call to prayer and the first row, and they could find no other way except to draw lots for it, they would draw lots for it. And if they knew what there was in doing Dhuhr at its time, they would race each other to it. And if they knew what there was in the prayers of 'Isha 'and Subh, they would come to them even if they had to crawl."

[cf Bukhari 624]

7 Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Abu Bakr ibn Sulayman ibn Abi Hathma that 'Umar ibn al-Khattab missed Sulayman ibn Abi Hathma in the Subh prayer. In the morning he went to the market, and Sulayman's house was between the market and the Prophet's mosque. He passed ash-Shifa', Sulayman's mother, and said to her, "I did not see Sulayman at Subh." She replied, "He spent the night in prayer and sleep overcame him." 'Umar said, "I would rather be present at Subh than stand the whole night in prayer."

8 Yahya related to me from Malik from Yahya ibn Sa'id from Muhammad ibn Ibrahim that 'Abd ar-Rahman ibn Abi 'Amra al-Ansari said that 'Uthman ibn 'Affan came to the 'Isha' prayer and seeing only a few people in the mosque, he lay down at the back of the mosque to wait for the number of people to increase. Ibn Abi 'Amra went and sat down beside him and 'Uthman asked him who he was, so he told him. 'Uthman said, "What have you memorised of the Qur'an?", and he told him. 'Uthman said, "If someone is present at 'Isha', it is as if he had stood in prayer for half a night, and if someone is present at Subh, it is as if he had stood in prayer for a whole night."

 

8.3 Repeating the Prayer with the Imam

9 Yahya related to me from Malik from Zayd ibn Aslam from a man of the Banu'd-Dil called Busr ibn Mihjan from his father, Mihjan, that he was in a gathering with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the call to prayer was made. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, rose and prayed and then returned. Mihjan remained sitting and did not pray with him. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "What prevented you from praying with the people? Aren't you a Muslim?" He said, "Of course, Messenger of Allah, but I have already prayed with my family." The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "When you come, pray with the people, even if you have prayed already."

[In an-Nasa'i]

10 Yahya related to me from Malik from Nafi' that a man asked 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar, "Sometimes I pray in my house and then catch the prayer with the imam, should I pray with him?" 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar said to him, "Yes," and the man said, "Which of them do I make my prayer?" 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar said, "Is that up to you? It is up to Allah. He will decide on whichever of them He wishes."

11 Yahya related to me from Malik from Yahya ibn Sa'id that a man asked Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab, "I pray in my house and then I come to the mosque and find the imam praying, should I pray with him?" Sa'id said, "Yes", and the man said, "Which of them is my prayer?" Sa'id said, "Are you the one to decide that? That is up to Allah."

12 Yahya related to me from Malik from 'Afif as-Sahmi that a man from the tribe of Banu Asad asked Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, "Sometimes I pray in my house and then come to the mosque and find the imam praying, should I pray with him?" Abu Ayyub said, "Yes, pray with him, for someone who does so has the reward of the group or the equivalent of the reward of the group."

13 Yahya related to me from Malik from Nafi' that 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar used to say, "Someone who prays Maghrib or Subh and then catches them with the imam should not repeat them."

Malik said, "I do not see any harm in someone who has already prayed in his house praying with the imam, except for Maghrib, because if he repeats it, he makes it even."

 

8.4 Praying in a Group of People

14 Yahya related to me from Malik from Abu'z-Zinad from al-A'raj from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "When you lead people in the prayer, make it short, because there are among them some people who are weak, ill and old. But when you pray on your own, make it as long as you wish."

[cf Bukhari 671]

15 Yahya related to me from Malik that Nafi' said, "I stood behind 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar in one of the prayers when there was no one else with him, and he reached behind with his hand and placed me beside him."

16 Yahya related to me from Malik from Yahya ibn Sa'id that a man used to lead the people in prayer in al-'Aqiq (a place near Madina), and 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz sent a message to him forbidding him to do so.

Malik said, "He only forbade him because his father was not known."

 

8.5  Prayer behind an Imam when He Prays Sitting

17 Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Anas ibn Malik that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, fell off his horse when riding, and his right side was grazed, so he did one of the prayers sitting, and we prayed behind him sitting. When he left he said, "The imam is appointed to be followed. If he prays standing, then pray standing, and when he goes into ruku', go into ruku', and when he rises, rise, and when he says, 'Allah hears whoever praises him,' say, 'Our Lord, praise belongs to You', and if he prays sitting, then all of you pray sitting."

[cf Bukhari 657]

18 Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn 'Urwa from his father that 'A'isha, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, when he prayed while he was ill, prayed sitting, and some people prayed behind him standing, and he indicated to them to sit down. When he left, he said, 'The imam is only appointed to be followed. When he goes into ruku', go into ruku' and when he rises, rise and if he prays sitting, pray sitting.'"

[cf Bukhari 656]

19 Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn 'Urwa from his father that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came out during his illness, and approached and found Abu Bakr standing, leading the people in prayer. Abu Bakr began to withdraw, but the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, indicated to him to stay where he was. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, sat by the side of Abu Bakr, and Abu Bakr prayed following the prayer of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, who was sitting, and the people prayed following the prayer of Abu Bakr.

[cf Bukhari 656]

 

8.6  The Excellence of Prayer Standing over Prayer Sitting

20 Yahya related to me from Malik from Isma'il ibn Muhammad ibn Sa'id ibn Abi Waqqas from a mawla of 'Amr ibn al-'As or of 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr ibn al-'As that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The prayer of one of you sitting down is only equal to half the prayer of one of you when he is standing."

[In Muslim, an-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah]

21 Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab that 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr ibn al-'As said, "When we arrived at Madina we were struck down by a severe epidemic which debilitated us greatly. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came out to the people while they were praying nawafil prayers sitting down. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'The prayer of the one sitting is equal to only half the prayer of the one standing.'"

 

8.7  Praying  Voluntary  Prayers (Nawafil)

22 Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from as-Sa'ib ibn Yazid from al-Muttalib ibn Abi Wada'a as-Sahmi that Hafsa, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "I never saw the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, praying nawafil sitting until a year before his death, when he began to pray them sitting. He would recite the sura with a measured slowness so that it would seem to be longer than other suras which were actually longer than it."

[In Muslim]

23 Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn 'Urwa from his father that 'A'isha, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, told him that she had never seen the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, doing night prayers sitting down until he was getting on in years. He would recite sitting down until when he wanted to go into ruku', he would stand up and recite about thirty or forty ayats and then go into ruku'.

[cf Bukhari 1067]

24 Yahya related to me from Malik from 'Abdullah ibn Yazid al-Madani and from Abu'n-Nadr from Abu Salama ibn 'Abd ar-Rahman from 'A'isha, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to pray sitting. He would recite sitting, and then, when about thirty or forty ayats of what he was reciting remained, he would stand up and recite standing and then go into ruku' and sajda. He would do the same in the second rak'at.

[cf Bukhari 1068]

25 Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that 'Urwa ibn az-Zubayr and Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab used to pray voluntary prayers sitting.

 

8.8 The Middle Prayer

26 Yahya related to me from Malik from Zayd ibn Aslam from al-Qa'qa' ibn Hakim that Abu Yunus, the mawla of 'A'isha, Umm al-Muminin, said, "'A'isha ordered me to write out a Qur'an for her. She said, 'When you reach this ayat, let me know, "Safeguard the prayer - especially the middle prayer. Stand in obedience to Allah." (2:238) 'When I reached it I told her, and she dictated to me, 'Safeguard the prayer - especially the middle prayer and the 'Asr prayer. Stand in obedience to Allah. ' 'A'isha said, 'I heard it from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.'"

[Muslim]

27 Yahya related to me from Malik from Zayd ibn Aslam that 'Amr ibn Rafi' said, "I was writing out a Qur'an for Hafsa, Umm al-Muminin, and she said, 'When you reach this ayat, let me know: "Safeguard the prayer - especially the middle prayer. Stand in obedience to Allah." (2:238) When I reached it I told her and she dictated to me, 'Safeguard the prayer - especially the middle prayer and the 'Asr prayer. Stand in obedience to Allah. '"

28 Yahya related to me from Malik from Da'ud ibn al-Husayn that Ibn Yarbu' al-Makhzumi said, "I heard Zayd ibn Thabit say, 'The middle prayer is the Dhuhr prayer.'"

[In Abu Dawud marfu']

29 Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that 'Ali ibn Abi Talib and 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas used to say, "The middle prayer is the Subh prayer."

Malik said, "Out of all that I have heard about the matter, I prefer what 'Ali ibn Abi Talib and 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas said."

 

8.9 Permission to Pray in One Garment

30 Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn 'Urwa from his father that 'Umar ibn Abi Salama saw the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, praying in one garment in the house of Umm Salama. He was completely covered by it, and had put both ends crossed over his shoulders.

[cf Bukhari 348]

31 Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was asked about praying in one garment. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Do you all have two garments?"

[cf Bukhari 351]

32 Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab that Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab said that Abu Hurayra was asked, "May a man pray in one garment?" "Yes, " he replied. The man then asked him, "Do you do that?" and he answered, "Yes, I pray in one garment while my clothes are on the clothes-rack."

33 Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that Jabir ibn 'Abdullah used to pray in one garment.

34 Yahya related to me from Malik from Rabi'a ibn Abi 'Abd ar-Rahman that Muhammad ibn 'Amr ibn Hazm used to pray in a single long shirt.

35 Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard from Jabir ibn 'Abdullah that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Let anyone who cannot find two garments pray in one garment and wrap himself in it, and if the garment is short, let him wrap it around his waist."

[cf Bukhari 351]

Malik said, "In my view it is preferable for someone who prays in a single shirt to put a garment or a turban over his shoulders."

 

8.10 Permission for a Woman to Pray in a Shift and Head-Covering

36 Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that 'A'isha, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to pray in a shift and head-covering.

37 Yahya related to me from Malik from Muhammad ibn Zayd ibn Qunfudh that his mother asked Umm Salama, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, what clothes a woman could wear in the prayer. She said, "She can pray in a shift that reaches down and covers the top of her feet."

[In Abu Dawud]

38 Yahya related to me from Malik from a reliable source from Bukayr ibn 'Abdullah ibn al-Ashajj from Busr ibn Sa'id that when 'Ubaydullah ibn al-Aswad al-Khawlani was in the room of Maymuna, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, she used to pray in a shift and head-covering, without a waist-wrapper.

39 Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn 'Urwa from his father that a woman asked him for a decision, saying, "Waist-wrappers are painful to me. Can I pray in a shift and head-covering?" He replied, "Yes, if the shift is long."