Reading surat Al-Kahf in congregation on Fridays
What is the ruling for a group reading of surat Al-Kahf on Fridays? Some people object to this practice maintaining that it contravenes Islamic law.
Reciting the Qu`ran in a group is a matter sanctioned by Islamic law due to the generality of evidences on its recommendation.
Evidence from the Qur`an
Surely, those who recite the Book of Allah and establish prayer and spend [in His cause] out of what We have provided them, secretly and publicly, [can] expect a profit that will never perish. [Fatir,: 29]
Evidence from the sunnah
The Prophetsaid, "Recite the Qur`an for it will intercede for its readers on the Day of Judgment" [recorded by Muslim from a hadith narrated by Abu Umama al-Bahliy (may Allah be pleased with him)].
It is established in Islamic legal thought that an absolute command demands its unqualified application with regards to people, conditions, times and places. When Allah the Almighty legislates a matter in general ('am) or absolute (mutlaq) terms, it must be applied as such and it is not permissible to specify or restrict it in any way except with evidence from Islamic law. Being oblivious to this would result in innovation in religious matters, and create unnecessary hardship in issues which Allah and His Messenger made capacious.
The fact that the Prophet practiced certain aspects of restricted or unrestricted acts does not in itself specify the general or limit the absolute as long as he did not prohibit the acts he refrained from doing. This was expressed by Islamic theorists who coined the axiom, 'Absence is not proof' i.e. the fact that the Prophet did not perform a certain action does not evidence its impermissibility. And this axiom is one that is agreed upon by all scholars from the salaf and khalaf.
Imam Abu Zakariya Yehya an-Nawawi dedicated a rich and beneficial chapter in his copious book At-Tibyan fi Adab Hamalat Al-Qur`an to this issue and entitled it "The virtue of reading the Qur`an in congregation, the virtue of those who read it in a group and the virtue of its listeners and of the one who gathers people and invites and encourages them to recite it." He wrote,
"Know that reciting the Qur`an in a group is a recommended act based on explicit evidences and the practice of the salaf and the khalaf. It has been authentically reported from Abu Huraira and Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with them) that the Prophet said, 'There is no group of people who make remembrance of Allah save that the angels surround them, mercy envelopes them, tranquility descends upon them and Allah mentions them to those in His presence' [At-Tirmidhi declared this a good and sound hadith].
Abu Huraira related that the Prophetsaid, 'No people gather in a house from the houses of Allah (the mosques), reciting the Qur`an and studying it amongst themselves, except that tranquility descends upon them, mercy envelopes them, the angels surround them and Allah mentions them to those in His presence' [recorded by Muslim and Abu Dawud with an authentic ascription according to the criteria laid down by Bukhari and Muslim].
Mu'awiah related that the Prophet went up to a group of people from among his Companions and asked, 'Why are you sitting [together]?' The responded, 'We sat together to make remembrance of Allah, praise Him for guiding us to Islam and for favoring us with its blessings.' The Prophetsaid, 'Gabriel, peace be upon him, came to me and informed me that Allah boasts about you before the angels' [recorded by At-Tirmidhi and an-Nasa`i. At-Tirmidhi declared it fair and authentic]. The number of texts that illustrate this are many.
- Al-Darimiy related with a chain to Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) who said, "Whoever listens to a verse from the Book of Allah (the Qur`an), it shall be a light for him."
- Ibn Abu Dawud related that Abu Darda` (may Allah be pleased with him) would lead a group of people in Qur`anic recitation.
- Ibn Abu Dawud related that some of the greatest scholars from among the salaf and khalaf and some of the judges that preceded his time studied the Qur`an in congregation.
- It was reported that Hassan Ibn 'Atiyya and al-Awza'iy said, "The first to introduce the practice of reading the Qur`an in Damascus mosque was Hisham Ibn Ismai'il after he went to Ali 'Abdul-Malik.
- Ibn Abu Dawud reported from Al-Dahhak Ibn 'Abdul-Rahman Ibn 'Arzab that the latter repudiated this practice and said, "I did not see or hear anything of the sort though I was a contemporary of the Prophet's Companions" i.e. I did not see any of them doing this.
- It was reported that Wahb said, "I told Malik, 'Do you approve of people assembling to recite a sura until they complete it?' He disapproved of this and said," This is not what the salaf did; they would recite the Qur`an to one another."
This repudiation from both al-Dahhak and Malik is antithetical to the practice of the salaf and khalaf. [It is best] to avoid what is without evidence and rely on the above evidences that recommend [reciting the Qur`an in a group]. However, there are certain conditions which must be observed for such a recitation. Allah the Almighty knows best."
The virtue of gathering people to recite the Qur`an
There are numerous textual evidences for this and these include:
The Prophet said, "The one who guides to good is (rewarded) like the one who performs it."