The ruling for Friday Prayer when the 'Eid falls on a Friday
- Is the obligation of performing Friday Prayer waived if the 'Eid falls on a Friday?
- Does it suffice to perform 'Eid prayers instead?
A scholarly debate
The debate on whether the Friday Prayer may be waived if the 'Eid falls on a Friday, stems from the difference between scholarly opinions concerning the authentication of hadiths and non-Prophetic traditions on this issue on the one hand and their interpretations on the other. Iyas ibn abu Ramlah al-Shamy said,
"I saw Mu'awiya ibn abu Sufyan ask Zayd ibn Arqam, may Allah be pleased with them both, "Did you witness two 'Eids falling on the same day with the Prophet [pbuh]?" "Yes," he replied. He asked, "What did the Prophet [pbuh] do?" He replied, "He offered the 'Eid Prayer, then gave permission to those who wished to perform the Friday Prayer, saying, "Whoever wants to pray, is to do so" [Abu Dawud, al-Nisa`i, ibn Majah and al-Hakim].
Abu Hurayra [may Allah be pleased with him] narrated that the Prophet [PBUH] said,
"Two 'Eids have fallen on this day; whoever wishes, this prayer ['Eid] will suffice him for the Friday prayer, but we will offer Friday Prayer" [Abu Dawud, ibn Majah and al Hakim].
Some scholars maintained that offering the 'Eid Prayer does not make it permissible to miss the Friday Prayer. They based their opinion on the fact that the evidence for the obligatoriness for Friday Prayer is general and that each prayer is a separate ritual; they do not substitute each other. They further claimed that the hadiths and non-Prophetic reports cannot restrict the general nature of the Friday Prayer (meaning it being an obligation) because the authenticity of their chains of transmissions is disputed; this is the opinion of Hanifis and Malikis.
Basing his opinion on the hadiths and non-Prophetic traditions on the subject, imam Ahmed maintained, as did imam al-Shafi'i in one of his opinions, that the obligation of the Friday Prayer is waived for those who pray the 'Eid Prayer provided they pray the Noon Prayer.
The opinion of the majority of scholars
The majority of scholars, including imam Shaf'i in his most prevalent opinion, maintained that the Friday Prayer is obligatory for town dwellers but not for the villagers who meet its conditions since it would cause them hardship. They based their opinion on Malik's report in his Muwatta of 'Uthman ibn 'Affan's address to the people on the day of 'Eid,
"Two 'Eids have fallen on this day, so whoever from among the people of al-'Alia [a place three miles from Medina] wishes to wait for the Friday prayer may do so and whoever wishes to return, has my permission."
None of the Companions objected to this but maintained an unspoken agreement on its permissibility. Scholars understood this hadith as a dispensation allowing the one who prayed 'Eid prayer to miss the Friday prayer.
Since this is an issue over which there is a legitimate scholarly debate, the matter is open and therefore one is not to object to any opinion. Whoever wants to observe the Friday prayer based on the fact that is an obligation may do so, and whoever finds it difficult to attend the Friday Prayer and wants to follow the opinion of the scholars who waive its obligation, may do so provided he prays the Noon Prayer instead. He should do this without censuring those who observe it. Both should not let such matters be the cause of dissension which the early and latter generations left open.