The Sunnah of the Prophet says to pray together all five times? I read a hadith where the Prophet indicated that saying prayer individually was not bad. Is this true? I feel as though if prayer becomes a recorded thing, then the essence behind the actual sala’h is lost. It becomes a ritual rather than a closeness with God.
How can this be overcome?
According to the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) a Muslim should offer his obligatory prayers in congregation (jama`ah) in the mosque of his locality (if there is one). As far as the prayers other than the obligatory prayers are concerned, there are sayings ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) regarding these that they should, as far as possible, be offered individually. The Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said that a person should offer his prayers (other than the obligatory prayers) at home.
As far as the second part of your question/comment is concerned, I would only like to mention that the obligatory prayers are not only an act of worship, but a reminder for the Muslim community of our covenant of faithfulness and obedience to our Creator. That is exactly the reason why, its timings have also been fixed and not left to the discretion of the individual. Besides these obligatory prayers, an individual is allowed and persuaded to develop a “personal” – one to one – relationship with God, by making a habit of offering more and more supererogatory prayers and by remembering God while performing his routine chores of the day.
Moreover, I would like to mention here that prayer in congregation does seem to be a spiritless ritual from the outside, but once a person gets into the habit of saying his obligatory prayers in congregation, it becomes one of the most awaited event in one’s daily routine. But obviously, this is something only our own experience can convince us about.
28th October 1998