Virtual Jumu`ah: Follow-up Question

Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah Shaikh.

I have read your article about virtual jumu`ah and tarawih during this pandemic.

I have some follow up questions. My local Mosque is not offering virtual Jumu‘ah, but they offer a regular Islamic talk during Jumu`ah time. Can I do my ghusl (bath) and listen to the talk with my family and then pray 2 rak`ah or do I need to pray 4 rak`ah  for dhuhr?

I have always learned that we pray 2 for Jumu`ah because the talk replaces the other two rak`ahs, can you clarify?

 Answer

Your question is very relevant for the unprecedented situation we are facing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our situation is unique, and our circumstances are different from that of our great scholars and Imams of the past. Hence, there is no way for us to find a solution explicitly stated in the sources of Fiqh since we cannot expect them to pronounce a ruling on a situation they never experienced.

Therefore, we are left to offer a ruling based on our study of the sources, the rationale and wisdom of the Shari‘ah, as well as reasoning based on the precedents and rulings of our past scholars.

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It is important to add that as with all such new issues, we are bound to face different opinions.  With regard to such differences, we should never force anyone to follow one’s preferred view, and then declare those who follow a differing view as being heretical or liberal. Nor should we ever undermine the principle of ikhtilaf (diversity) and make categorical statements invalidating the prayers of those following alternative views.

Accepting Fiqh Differences

It is the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself who taught us how to tolerate such differences. The following story is a wonderful example that would do us well to remember.

Prior to the expedition against the Banu Qurayzah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) advised his companions that no one should pray ‘asr before arriving in Banu Qurayzah.

The companions then set out for the expedition; before they reached the place, however, they saw that the time of `asr was expiring.

One group from the companions said, regardless of whether the time of `asr expires or not, based on the Prophet’s order, we should only pray `asr after arriving there.

Another group thought the Prophet’s order should only be taken to mean that they should delay `asr only if they arrived before the time of prayer expires. After all, they reasoned, didn’t Allah say “Prayer is appointed on the believers at fixed times.” So, how could they let the time of prayer expire? Consequently, the latter group prayed and the former group postponed their prayer.

The matter was later referred to the Prophet for a decision. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not fault any of the two groups. (Al-Bukahri)

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About Sheikh Ahmad Kutty
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty is a Senior Lecturer and an Islamic Scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada