Is it permissible to perform sunnah prayer upon entrance to the mosque when Friday sermon has already started?
The imam of our mosque says when starting the Friday sermon that no one should offer any sunnah prayer during khutbah. He quotes a hadith wherein the prophet (pbh) reportedly said that there is no salah during khutbah. What is the authenticity of this hadith? But we know of another hadith where the prophet advised one of the companions to offer the greeting prayer for the mosque upon entering masjid and the prophet himself was giving khutbah.
It is mentioned in the Prophetic tradition [hadith] that Jabir Ibn Abduallah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that a man entered the mosque (and sat down) while the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was delivering the Friday sermon (Khutbah). The Prophet asked him, "O such and such, have you prayed?" The man replied in the negative. The Prophet (pbuh) said, "Go and pray." [Bukhari):
Scholars differed over the meaning of this Prophetic tradition as follows:
- Some scholars relied in their interpretation on the apparent meaning of the hadith. They understood that a person who enters the mosque while the imam is delivering the sermon, must perform two short rak'as and they deemed it a practiced sunnah.
This opinion was reported from al-Hassan and Makhul. Also imam al-Shafi'i, Ahmed, Ishaq, Abu Thawr and a group of hadith scholars maintained the same opinion.
- In another opinion, al-Awza'i said the hadith means that a person who performed the two rak'as at home and entered the mosque while the imam is delivering the sermon, is to sit down without praying. Otherwise, he must perform two rak'as in the mosque before sitting down because the Prophet (pbuh) commanded the man to perform the two rak'as when he mentioned that he did not pray at home before going to the mosque.
- In a third opinion, Abu Miglaz said that it is permissible to either pray two rak'as or sit down.
- In a fourth opinion, which is the opinion of the majority of scholars, a person must sit down and not to perform two rak'as. This opinion was reported from Ibn Abu Shaybah through the Companions 'Umar, 'Uthman, Ali Ibn Abu Talib and Ibn 'Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them), and from among the generation following the Companions (tabi'in) through 'Ata`, al-Nakh'i, Ibn Sirin, Shuraih, 'Urwah and Sa'eedIbn al-Musayyab. This opinion was also maintained by imam Malik, al-Layth and the scholars of Kufa.
Some from among those who maintained this opinion based it on the fact that the Prophet (pbuh) commanded the man to perform two rak'as before sitting down due to his shabby look as he wanted to draw people's attention to pay him charity.
Ibn 'Ajlan reported from 'Iyyad Ibn Abduallah who reported that Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that a man in shabby garments entered the mosque while the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was on the pulpit (i.e. delivering the sermon). The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) called upon the man and asked him to come close to him which he did. Thereupon, the Prophet commanded the man to perform two rak'as before sitting down. The Prophet did the same with the man for the next two Fridays, commanding him to perform two rak'as before sitting down. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) then ordered the people in the mosque to "pay charity". Thereupon they gave out garments in charity. The Messenger (pbuh) ordered the man to take two garments. Later on, the Messenger ordered people to pay charity again, the man gave out one of his two garments which stirred the Messenger's anger and asked him to take his garment back.
They also based their opinion on the hadith in which Abduallah Ibn Busr (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that a man entered the mosque and passed in front of those who were performing prayer on Friday. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said to him, "Sit down for you have harmed those who are praying." The Prophet (pbuh) commanded the man to sit down—not to pray. The command to do something entails a prohibition of doing its opposite.
Based on the above, it is clear that this is from among the juristically controversial issues where each of the jurists has his own proof. There is no objection to following any of these opinions as one wishes, because of the legal axiom that states, "Objection is not for issues where there is a difference of opinion". Allah Almighty says, "…and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty." [Qur'an 22:78).
Based on the above, such kind of issues upon which there is a scholarly disagreement must not stir discord and dispute among Muslims. It is more appropriate for the imam not to repudiate the act of whoever prays two rak'as upon entering the mosque during the sermon. It is preferable for the person who performs prayer to follow the congregation in the mosque where he prays to avoid confusion if he contradicts them. This is because some people may not be aware of the comprehensiveness of Islamic Jurisprudence.