Friday, November 17, 2017 - 29 Safar 1439

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Praying indoors due to the lack of a nearby mosque

I offer the five obligatory prayers at home due to the lack of a nearby mosque, am I sinful?
I am U.K resident. The nearest mosque is two miles away from my home and workplace. My Muslim friends here told me that I am committing a sin by missing congregational prayers in the mosque. They quote the Prophet’s words, “I would burn the houses of those who do not attend the congregational prayers in the mosque.” What is the correct opinion?

Answer

The majority of scholars agree that congregational prayer, except for Friday prayers, is not an individual obligation [fard 'ayn]. However, they differed over whether it is a communal obligation [fard kifaya] or a confirmed Sunnah. The hadith in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Praying in congregation is twenty-seven times more meritorious than prayer performed individually" illustrates that congregational prayer is a confirmed Sunnah. This is because, when comparing the congregational prayer to an individual prayer, we find that a person who prays either is rewarded and proves that whoever prays alone will also partake of the reward. If congregational prayer was an obligation, then a Muslim who prays alone would be considered disobedient, and a disobedient person is not rewarded. There is no contradiction between it being a confirmed Sunnah or communal obligation. This is because being it a Sunnah concerns an individual while a communal obligation concerns the community.

Concerning the hadith in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said “….I would have gone from behind and burned the houses of men who did not attend the (congregational) prayer down around them…”, al-Zurqani mentioned in his commentary on Malik’s Muwatta’, “The hadith is a threat to those who neglect prayers completely on purpose and not just the congregation.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) teaches us the lofty status of establishing prayers in general and uses this figurative language to raise Muslims’ awareness about this great pillar of Islam that comes next to pronouncing the testimony of faith (shahadah).

Ruling
Based on the above and in reference to the question, there is no objection to praying at home and you will not be held blameworthy especially if attending the congregation in the mosque imposes difficulty on you.

God the Almighty knows best.