There is a Hadith in which the Prophet (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) got angry on those who didn’t come to pray in the masjid.
From this Hadith some scholars say it is obligatory to pray in congregation.
Even Imam Bukhari said obligatory. Imam Muslim said it is fard kifayah.
What is the answer to this?
It is difficult to provide an accurate answer, if you do not provide the exact Hadith in question.
However, some ‘Ulama like Imam Bukhari (rahimahullah) and others have used the following Hadith to deduce that Salah in congregation is binding.
Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (radiyallahu’anhu) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) said:
‘…I wish to have some firewood collected, then have the iqamah be called for the Salah and appoint someone to lead the Salah, then I go to the homes [of those who do not attend the congregation Salah] and burn down their homes…’
(Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 644 and Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 1479)
The words in this Hadith are stern, and therefore some Scholars have ruled that Salah in congregation is binding (wajib).
The majority of the ‘ulama, who have not deduced such a strict ruling, state that had it been wajib to attend the congregation Salah, Nabi (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) would have actually gone ahead and done what he warned of doing; burning their homes. Since Nabi (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) did not burn any such person’s home, this clearly proves that He (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) had used those stern words to merely show the importance of the congregation Salah without intending the apparent meaning. If it really was binding, he (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) would have enforced it in the manner he warned; by burning the homes of those who did not attend.
The above is one of ten answers to this Hadith, provided by Hafiz Ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) – the grand commentator of Sahih Bukhari.
Refer: Fathul Bari, Hadith: 644.
This explanation is merely for academic purposes, and should not be used to belittle the importance of the congregational Salah. One should definitely afford the congregational Salah the extreme importance that Nabi (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) has inferred in this and other Hadiths.
1. The above is merely an answer to your query on the deduction of that ruling from the Hadith in question. This should not be taken as a jusristic (fiqh) ruling. Kindly refer to a qualified, reliable Mufti/Darul ifta for a fatwa.
2. Your question states that it was the view of Imam Bukhari that congregational Salah is binding. This is correct. Be that as it may, in essence that is his personal view. The other Mujtahids (like the four Imams) have their own views too, which is also based on legitimate proofs. It is incorrect to enforce the views of Imam Bukhari (rahimahullah) on the followers of the four reliable madhabs, especially since the four Imams came much before the era of Imam Bukhari (rahimahullah). How can they be held by what a later scholar opined?
3. You have also cited that Imam Muslim (rahimahullah) ruled this to be fard kifayah. I was unable to locate that in his book. Imam Muslim (rahimahullah) does not state his juristic views in his book. The ruling you have cited is probably one that some commentator of Sahih Muslim may have mentioned. Kindly provide the proof for this being Imam Muslim’s (rahimahullah) view.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best,
Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar