The Salat is the most important act of worship in Islam, and if it is accepted by Allah (SWT), then all other acts of worship are accepted as well. However, if the Salat is not accepted, then all other actions also will not be accepted. It has been narrated from the 6th Imam, Ja ‘far ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq, peace be upon him, quoting his forefathers up to the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, that he said:
“If there was a stream at the house of any one of you in which he washes himself five times a day, will there remain any dirt on your body? Verily, the likeness of the Salat is the same as the stream. The Person who establishes the ritual prayers clears out his sins thereby, execpt for the sin that take him out from the faith that he believes in”. (Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 82, Pg. 236)
In Islam, perhaps there is no other Mustahab act that carries such benefits and results as Salat al-Jamaat. As for the importance of it, we quote one narration in which it has been mentioned that:
- If two people form a Jama’at, the reward for one Rak’at will be equal to one hundred and fifty prayers.
- If there are three people, the reward for one Rak’at will be equal to six hundred prayers.
- If there are four people, the reward for one Rak’at will be equal to one thousand two hundred prayers.
- If there are five people, the reward for one Rak’at will be equal to two thousand four hundred prayers, and such does the reward multiply, that if there are more than ten people in the Jama’at, then if all the skies were paper, all the seas were ink, all the trees were pens, and all the men, Jinn, and Angels got together as scribes to record the reward of one Rak’at, they would not be able to do it.
In the same narration, it is mentioned that the Takbir (Allahu Akbar) that the believers say after the leader of the salat is better and more beloved to Allah that sixty thousand Hajj and ‘Umrah, and better than this world and all that is in it- sixty times over! Each Rak’at that the believer performs in Jama’at is better than offering one hundred thousand dinars in charity to the poor, and his sajdah is better than if he was to free one hundred slaves.
It has been emphatically recommended that all obligatory Salat, with special emphasis on Salat al-Fajr, Maghrib and ‘Isha be offered in congregation. More stress has been laid upon those who live in the neighborhood of a Masjid, and upon those who can normally hear the Adhan from their homes.
It is therefore, reprehensible to underestimate or ignore Salat al-Jama’at, and according to the Islamic rulings, it is not permitted to keep away oneself from the Salat al-Jama’at unduly, nor is it proper to abandon it without a justifiable excuse.
It is further Mustahab to wait for some time until the Salat al-Jama’at begins with the intention to participate in the Salat, since a short congregational Salat is better than a prolonged Salat offered alone. It is also better to wait for the Salat al-Jama’at to be established, even if it is offered after the prime time rather than to pray alone. In fact, if a person realizes that the Salat al-Jama’at has been established but he has already read his Salat, it is Mustahab to repeat the prayers again in Jama’at.