Q: Assalamu Alaykum
1. Are there any narrations which mention the severity or sin of regularly missing the beginning of Salah with Jamat, i.e. missing the first takbeer and/or rakats?
2. Would there be any valid reasons or excuses in Shariah for habitually missing the first takbir and/or rakats?
A: Wa Alaikum As Salaam,
The Prophet (SAW) exhorted the believers to observe their Salaah in the proper manner with all its requirements. In the Holy Quran, Allah Has ordered the believers to ‘protect their Salaah’ and also to ‘establish their Salaah’ (Iqaamah As Salaah), the scholars have mentioned that it means that one should perform it with all the actions that are compulsory, essential and are from the Sunnah actions of the Prophet (SAS) . All the etiquettes and manners of Salaah must also be established. Besides this, the Prophet (S.A.S) has also emphasized upon the males to perform their Salaah in Jamat. While fulfilling this, one is also required to ‘protect’ his complete Salah in Jamat. This means that a person must be mindful of the time of Salah in Jamah, and must make every effort to be on time so that he can begin his Salah with the Imam. Getting the first takbeer (Takbeer Al Oola) with the Imam is very virtuous and the Prophet (S.A.S) has spoken about the virtues of getting this takbeer with the Imaam.
In one tradition Abu Darda (R.A) states that the Prophet (S.A.S) said: “Certainly for everything there is a pride (dignity), and the pride of Salah is the first takbeer. So be punctual upon this (and protect it)”. (Ibn Abi Shaiba; Tabrani in Al Kabeer – Kanzul Umaal Hadith No. 19631 Vol.7 pg. 176 Maktaba Rahmaniya Lahore Pakistan).
In another tradition, Abu Hurairah (R.A) narrates that the Prophet (S.A.S) said: “For everything there is a best part of it and the best part of Imaan is Salah, and the best part of Salah is the first Takbeer”. (Abu Ya’la in his Musnad; Abu Nu’aim in Al Hilya from Abdullaah bin Abu Awfa) – Kanzul Umaal Vol.7 pg 176 Hadith No. 19633 Maktaba Rahmaniya Lahore Pakistan).
In another tradition recorded by Imam Tirmizi, Anas bin Malik narrates that the Prophet (S.A.S) said: “Whoever performs Salah for the sake of Allah for forty days in Jamat (congregation) and he achieves the Takbeerul Oola (first Takbeer), then two exemptions will be written for him. One is that he will be exempted (free) from the fire of Hell and the other is that he will be exempted from hypocrisy”. (Tirmizi- Chapter. The virtues of The first takbeer).
These traditions show that the first takbeer for Salah is very virtuous and one must try his best to get it. Missing this takbeer as well as rakaats (with the Imam) shows a Sign of one’s laziness towards salah in Jamat and this is a trait of the hypocrites as mentioned in the Holy Quran. About them, Allaah says: “and when they stand for Salah, they stand lazily’ (Surah Nisa V-142). This also includes the act of showing laziness in going towards Salah in Jamat.
Performing Salah in Jamat is a very great act of Ibadah and one must go towards this with full attention and goodness of his heart. While there will be no sin for missing the first takbeer or rakaats of Salah in Jamat, it will not be good for one to regularly do this. This practice shows negligence and laziness on one’s part towards the performance of Salah in Jamaah.
There may be valid reasons for missing the first takbeer or rakaats regularly like that of transportation problem, sickness, depending on another one to take you to the masjid etc. However, one should identify the cause for this and try his best to correct himself.
And Allaah Knows Best
Mufti Waseem Khan