Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem…Allahuma solli ‘ala habeebina Rasulillah Muhammad ibni Abdillah…
Excerpt from ‘Prayer of the Highest Saints’ by Habib Hasan Bin Soleh Al-Jufri
The Common man strives against his lower self to purify himself (with wudhu’) and perform the obligatory prayer on time, the act of which promises a huge reward and much benefits (e.g. subduing the nafs). While the elite of the muslims strive to carry out the sunnahs of the prayer. They strive to maintain khusyu’ in prayer.
O Friends, may Allah’s blessings be upon thee! Strive to pray with congregation in the mosques. Ibn Mas’ud said, “…In the time of the Prophet s.a.w, none left the congregational prayer except the hypocrites, al-munafiqun who are known for their hypocrisy. At times, a man will come to the mosque with two men supporting him (being too weak to walk) till they helped him to stand in the rows.”
When Ibnu ‘Abbas, the Prophet’s cousin rodhiyalllahu ‘anhu was asked regarding a man who fasts by day and prays by night but never prays in jama’ah nor the Friday prayers, he answered, “If he dies, he enters hell”
Rasulullah s.a.w. said, “Congregational Prayer is 27 times better than praying by oneself.” (Bukhari & Muslim) “Whoever prays in congregation for 40 days without missing the beginning takbiratol ihram, Allah shall write for him two freedoms, freedom from hypocrisy and HellFire.” (Ibnul Mubarak from Dhamrah bin Habib)
It is also related that on the Day of Ressurection, a group of people will have faces shining like stars. They will be asked by the Angels, “What did you do(to achieve such an honour)?”. They will reply, “We are the ones whom when the Adhan (Call to Prayer) was heard we would hurry to do our wudhu'”. They will then be told to enter Paradise.
Another group will come and their faces will be shining beautifully like the moon. And these are the ones who had done their wudhu’ before the Adhan even sounded. They will also be ushered to Paradise. Finally, a group will come whose faces shine like the Sun, gloriously and magnificently. And verily, they are the ones who were already prepared for prayer in the mosques even before the Adhan. They will have the highest positions and most perfect constituitions in Paradise.
Let us then make it a habit to pray in jama’ah as it is the profit of the trader, fruit of the pious, the sweet past-time of the ascetics and men of piety, a sweetness for Divine Lovers, the way of the Knowers of Allah and the scholars who practice their knowledge. Their hearts long for it and they are full of regrets if they were unable to perform it. They are sent condolences for missing the jama’ah as it is as if being separated from their Beloved. However, sadly this issue of jama’ah prayer is something unheard and practiced only by few in this age. The signs/symbols of the religion have disappeared and heedlesness have prevailed.
Habib Umar bin ‘Abd Rahman Al-Attas, when his son passed away, he was visited by relatives who came to give their condolences & grievances. However, Habib Umar with a puzzled expression said, “How petty indeed is calamity/trial to all you people! By Allah if I were to be late for Congregational prayer, none of you would come to send their condolences!” Masha’Allah the death of his son is minor compared to being late for solat jama’ah. And why is that not when Allah can easily grant him another son who might be more pious and filial!
Indeed congregational prayer is heavy for nafs. In a narration , it is said that walking to the mosque for the Fajr Prayer is as if going to jihad in the time of Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم . Not only that, the lower self does not like to pray on time.