Can I organize a qiyam program where everyone prays at night in a group at the mosque?

Short Answer

It is good to have lectures and other activities at the mosque but recommended to not specifically organize a night prayer in a large group.

Detailed Answer

Organizing useful lectures and other activities in the mosque is a good thing. However, the Prophet never performed voluntary night prayers in a group in the mosque outside of Ramadan. Therefore, it is better to organize lectures and other activities and leave some time for individual recitation of Qur’an or individual night prayers.

The Prophet would pray in his home and sometimes Ibn ‘Abbaas, Ibn Mas’ood, and Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman joined him in prayer. This was neither done regularly nor done inside the mosque. Therefore, several scholars have stipulated that such a gathering should not be planned in advance through an announcement, but if you notice someone else praying by chance you can join them.

Reason for Asking the Question

One of the contemporary methods to attract people to the mosque for programs is to organize a joint prayer qiyam. These are particularly popular among younger Muslims. Some scholars have argued that they are a sinful invention into the religion and are either absolutely prohibited or at least disliked. The questioner wants to know whether scholars have differed over this subject and whether the position for allowing it is stronger than the one forbidding it.

What the Qur’an and Sunnah Say

Ibn Abbas: “One night I slept at the house of (my aunt) Maymuna and the Prophet was there on that night. He performed wudu and stood for the prayer. I joined him and stood on his left side but he moved me to his right and prayed thirteen cycles. Then he slept until I heard him breathing (in his sleep). [Bukhari #698]

What the Scholars Said

Imam Al-Haskafi: “One should not pray witr or nafl (voluntary) prayers in a group because this is disliked (makruh). This is only when the group is large such that up to four people join the Imam.” [ad-Durr al-Mukhtar]

The Maliki school also considers it disliked. (al-Mawsu`ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaytiyyah, salah ar-rawatib fi jama’ah]

The Shafi’i school recommends it not be done. [al-Mawsu`ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaytiyyah, salah ar-rawatib fi jama’ah]

Imam Ibn Qudamah: “It is permissible to pray voluntary prayers in a group or individually, because the Prophet did both, but most of his voluntary prayers were offered individually. He led Hudhayfah in praying a voluntary prayer once, Ibn ‘Abbas once, Anas and his mother and the orphan once, and he led his companions in the house of ‘Utban once…” [al-Mughni 1:442]

Advice

Although some scholars have allowed this practice due to its community benefit, I slightly lean towards the view that it is better to avoid. Nonetheless, it should not be classified as a sinful innovation that you must warn others against.

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Certainty Level: 2 (out of 5) What is this? Shaykh Mustafa Umar