January 7, 2022

Concept and Significance of Jamaa’ah

Concepts and Fundamentals

Islam is a communal way of life. It does not approve of believers living alone merely as individuals, or even as a part of a loosely formed association. It requires that every Muslim must belong to the Jamaa‘ah (1) -- a single community tightly knit in the form of a regimented, disciplined and organized body like an army or a sports team -- living in an organized manner under the leadership of an Ameer (democratically elected leader), working collectively for Islamic goals.

1  Literally, Jamaa‘ah means “A group of people that unites for an objective”. Al-Mu‘jam Al-Waseeŧ

When the Prophet started the Islamic mission in Makkah, anyone who became a believer immediately became part of the Jamaa‘ah under the leadership of the Prophet. Without this belonging, a person was not even considered Muslim. 

When it became evident that Muslims could not live in the form of an organized and independent community in Makkah, the Prophet started searching for an alternate place where the Muslim community could be established as an organized, independent political entity. For that purpose he went to Ŧaaif to explore that possibility. When it did not work out, he approached many tribes, until the people of Yathrib (Madeenah) offered themselves and their town for that purpose. Then, all Muslims were asked to migrate to Madeenah so that the dispersed Muslims could gather together to become part of the Jamaa‘ah and so that the Jamaa‘ah could take the form of a political entity and state. Thus, believers from different warring tribes and locations all came together and formed one brotherhood that was more closely linked and loving to each other than even the blood brothers in a tribal setting.

The purpose and goal of this Jamaa‘ah is to attain all the Islamic objectives that Allaah SWT has set forth for the Prophet and Muslims to achieve – both the Tazkiyah and Izhaar goals for which Allaah SWT had sent the Messenger and provided us the guidance of Islam. As must be evident to every reader, these goals are impossible to achieve without all Muslims working together to achieve them. This formation of a united Jamaa‘ah and one brotherhood was so important that Allaah SWT emphatically decreed:

And hold fast Allaah’s rope (2) all together and be not disunited, and remember the favour of Allaah on you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts so by His Grace, you became brethren; and you were on the brink of a pit of fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allaah make clear to you His pronouncements that you may be guided.  (Aali ‘Imraan 3:103)

2  Allaah’s rope is His Deen as decreed in His Book

In addition, Allaah SWT has given Muslims joint responsibilities and goals that can be attained only if all Muslims act like one Ummah, fully organized and disciplined in the form of a Jamaa‘ah:

Thus, have We appointed you as an ideal Ummah that is justly balanced, so that you be witnesses over the whole humanity, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves.  (Al-Baqarah 2:143)

You are the best Ummah formed for leading the whole humanity; you enjoin what is good and forbid the wrong and believe in Allaah…  (Aali-‘Imraan 3:110)

The prophets and messengers are appointed by Allaah to start the formation of Jamaa‘ah and they are heads of the Jamaa‘ah as long as they are in this world. After their departure, the Jamaa‘ah operates under the leadership of a head called “Ameer” or “Imaam”. It was to this effect, Aboo Bakr Aŝ-Ŝiddeeq said:

“Mind the fact that Muĥammad has died. It is must for this Deen to have a person who is responsible for its establishment.”

The function of the Ameer or Imaam (3) is called “Imaarah” or “Imaamah”. The Ameer is both the political head of the Islamic state (like US President or Canadian Prime Minister) as well as the religious head of the believers (like the head of a protestant church or Imaam of an Islamic Centre) as there is no division between religion and state in Islam.  The Ameer makes decisions with consultation of a consultative body called Shoora Council, which is the equivalent to the Canadian Parliament or American Congress. It is an important attribute of Muslims that they make decisions through consultation:

3  The Ameer or Imaam can only be a male. The Prophet ŝall Allaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said, “A community that appoints a woman to lead it can never attain Falaaĥ.” Bukhaari from Aboo Bakr

And those who respond to their Lord, establish Ŝalaah, conduct their affairs through consultation and spend from what We have bestowed them.  (Ash-Shoora 42:38)

Making decisions by consultation is so important that although the Prophet was guided by Allaah, he was still commanded to makes decisions by consultation:

And consult them while making a decision. Once a decision has been made, then stick with it relying on Allaah.  (Aali ‘Imraan 3:159)

The affairs include election of the Ameer:

The Prophet said, “If I were to appoint an Ameer without consultation of the believers, I would have appointed Ibn Ummi ‘Abd (‘Abdullaah Ibn Mas‘ood).” (Tirmidzi and Musnad Aĥmad from ‘Ali) (Consultation with believers here is equivalent to a referendum or election in modern times)

‘Umar Al-Farooq said, “Whoever pledges allegiance (Bay‘ah) to an Ameer without consultation with Muslims, there is no Bay‘ah for him or for whom he pledged his allegiance.” (Aĥmad)

Scholars are of the opinion that Shoora is such a significant requirement of Sharee‘ah that if a leader does not govern by Shoora, it is incumbent on people to remove him from office (4).

4  Qurtabi reported from Ibn ‘Atiyyah

Because the Ameer of Muslim Ummah is a successor to the prophet in providing the leadership to his Ummah, he is also called Khaleefah (Successor) and the function is also called “Khilaafah”. Scholars have defined Imaamah as:

“Succeeding the Messenger in the responsibility of establishing the Deen.” (Kitaabul Mawaaqif)

Hence, Imaam of Muslims, Ameer of Muslims, and Khaleefah of Muslims are synonymous terms. Under the main Imaam, Ameer or Khaleefah of Muslims, there are to be many administrative levels of leadership to perform different roles, responsibilities and functions. Muslims are not to undertake any project without a designated leader or Ameer being responsible for it. Hence Prophet ŝall Allaahu 'alayhi wa sallam always appointed a leader for any expedition, project or work assignment he assigned to more than one person. So much so that when in the early period of his mission, Muslims needed to migrate to Abyssinia, leaders were appointed for migrations as well as for their stay in that territory.

No Segmentation

Just as Islam covers every aspect of our life without any divisions into religious and secular segments, Jamaa‘ah must also pervade all aspects and goals for which people form groups, organizations and nations without any separation between religion and state. Thus, Jamaa‘ah must be the single collective institution for addressing all our religious, social and political needs. Other societies have separate religious, political and social institutions. Islamic Jamaa‘ah replaces all of them. The Jamaa‘ah combines in it all three roles of religious, political and social institutions. Thus the political leadership cannot be separate from religious leadership, parliament from Masjid and voting public from congregation. 

Reflection on how the five pillars were practised during the time of the Prophet and his Rightly-Guided Successors will indicate that the five pillars of Islam are designed to fulfill all religious, social, political and economic needs of Jamaa‘ah and it is on these pillars the Jamaa‘ah is built. In fact, both are interdependent: pillars provide structure to the Jamaa‘ah; and without Jamaa‘ah, pillars cannot be practised properly; they do not even remain pillars, but become ritual practices. 

The most emphasized pillar is the Establishment (Iqaamah) of Ŝalaah, which cannot be established without the congregational Ŝalaah (Ŝalaatul- Jamaa‘ah) (5). It is not the Ŝalaatul-Jamaa‘ah practised nowadays where people come running to the Masjid, perform a ritual and go home. If this Ŝalaatul- Jamaa‘ah is performed the way it was performed by early Muslims, it becomes the single most important instrument of knitting Muslims into a Jamaa’ah (6). It serves as the drill of the soldiers of Allaah under the leadership of their elected leader that trains them in social discipline, communal etiquette, organizational regimentation like a military unit, acting in unison in an integrated manner, co-ordinating activities, taking orders, obeying commands and becoming a cohesive group of functionaries dedicated to the attainment of the Islamic objectives. This drill, performed five times a day, joins the hearts and minds of the members of the community, keeps them focused on and dedicated to the Islamic objectives (both Tazkiyah and Izhaar) and serves as the mortar that binds the community of believers together.

5  Its importance can be known not only from the 27 times reward but also from the Prophets feelings about those who miss Jamaa‘ah. “I sometimes feel like having someone else lead the Ŝalaah so that I can visit those who stay home instead of coming for Jamaa‘ah, and order that firewood be put around their homes and their houses be burnt while they are inside.” Muslim
6  They are even taught to express themselves in unison as one community as many of the phrases used in the Ŝalaah speak in plural “We”.

Most significantly, Ŝalaatul Jamaa‘ah provides the basic setup to politically organize the community at a local, municipal, regional and state level through daily Ŝalaah, Ŝalaatul-Jumu’ah and Ŝalaatul-‘Eed. The elected Ameer of the local ward is supposed to be the Imaam of daily Ŝalaah. The Ameer elected to lead the town is responsible for establishing and leading Friday Ŝalaah and delivering the sermon. The regional Ameer is the one responsible for establishing and leading ‘Eed Ŝalaah.  Hence, the person chosen to lead the community, the Ameer or Imaam, must be the person best suited to lead the Ŝalaah as well as most capable of leading the community socially and politically to its objectives and to its right place, status, honour and power in the world. 

Thus, the organization of the community as a single entity (Jamaa’ah) and Ŝalaah are mutually intertwined. One cannot happen without the other, and there is no separation between religious leader and socio-political leader. Imaam of the Ŝalaah and the Ameer (Leader, President, Chairman, etc.) of the community must be one and the same; and, thus, must be capable of fulfilling both roles. 

One also must pay attention to all of the emphasis placed on the straightening of lines, following Imaam, not going ahead of Imaam and other rules of congregational Ŝalaah. They all clearly indicate that Ŝalaatul- Jamaa‘ah is the vehicle for organizing the Muslims and training them in a strict discipline and military style regimentation, not for forming a loose-knit association where random people come for Salaah and leave, while some demagogues run the association for their personal gain, fame, glory and greed for power and influence.

7  For example: The chest of a person was ahead of line, he warned, “Slaves of Allaah! You must straighten your lines, or Allaah will turn your faces away from one another.” Muslim 
"O Slaves of Allaah, you must straighten the lines, otherwise will turn your faces against each other." Muslim
“When any of you lifts his head before Imam, is he not afraid that Allaah turns your head into a donkey’s?” Muslim

While Ŝalaah provides the structure to the Islamic society, Zakaah provides the basis for the financial system of that society. It provides the foundations for an economic system that is based on care and growth of the community, rather than an interest-based economy founded on selfishness and personal greed. It was designed to be collected centrally by the governing body of Muslims in Public Treasury (Baytul-maal) to finance and carry out projects according to the needs of the individuals and the needs of achieving collective Islamic goals. Then, according to the due assessment of those needs, the Public Treasury was to allocate and distribute those funds according to the guidelines provided and priorities indicated in Soorah At-Towbah. This collection and distribution is the responsibility of the Jamaa‘ah, not the individuals themselves:

“Allaah SWT has obligated Charity (Zakaah) on them which is taken from their rich and returned to their poor.” (Muslim)

That is why when some people refused to pay zakaah after the death of the prophet, Aboo Bakr fought with them and said:

“By Allaah, even if they refuse to give even a camel’s leash that they used to give to the Messenger of Allaah, I will wage a war on them for their refusal.”

‘Umar RA thought a tough stance by Aboo Bakr may create more problems and hence suggested,

“O Khaleefah of the Messenger of Allaah ŝall Allaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, please connect with people and deal with them softly.”

On which Aboo Bakr replied,

“O ’Umar, you used to be so tough in Jahiliyyah (8), now as a Muslim you are showing timidity. Granted that revelations have stopped and Deen has been completed, but should I let it become deficient when I am alive?” (Mishkaah)

8  Before Islam

This comment from Aboo Bakr shows that if people neglect any matter whatsoever that was practised as a part of Deen during the time of the Prophet, Deen is no longer complete because of that deficiency. After due consideration of the evidence, ‘Umar saw the truth in the stance of Aboo Bakr and whole-heartedly agreed with him and fully supported his decision. 

Between Ŝalaah and Zakaah, Allaah SWT has provided us with the vehicles for a full-fledged political and financial system of the Islamic state for the achievement of the Deen’s collective goal. In other words, Ŝalaah and Zakaah are the twin master pillars of the Islamic Jamaa‘ah and state. It is for this basic role that both of them are often mentioned together in the Qur’aan and highly emphasized as a condition for success. The complete picture of this system of governance has been concisely given in a verse previously quoted for Shoora:

And those who respond to their Lord, establish Ŝalaah, conduct their affairs through consultation (Shoora) and spend from what We have bestowed them.  (Ash-Shoora 42:38)

Ŝawm helps in community building through extra charity, increased socialization and increased interaction among the community members during Ramadhaan.

Ĥajj is the annual convention of the cream of the Ummah where the strategies and policies of the Ummah and its success are to be set, declared and communicated. The Khutbah of the Prophet on his final Ĥajj is an excellent example of the role it can play in the establishment of the Islamic world order. That is why it was the job of the Khaleefah of Muslims to give the Khutbah of Ĥajj. 

Thus, it is obvious that the political and religious structures are one and the same, and are inseparable in Islam and all pillars of Islam are designed to be that way. In addition, there are many other commands of the Holy Qur’aan such as Qiŝaaŝ and Ĥudood that have been given to the Ummah as a whole but cannot be implemented without the central Muslim authority being dedicated to the Islamic objectives. For considerations such as these ‘Uthmaan Ibn ‘Affaan RA said:

“Surely Allaah SWT enforces through governmental power that which cannot be enforced merely through the Qur’aan.” 

Not only must Muslims belong to one Jamaa‘ah to fulfill the objectives of Deen, but also the attainment of the objectives of Deen must be the only goal of their Jamaa‘ah. This aspect of the singularity of Jamaa‘ah means that Muslims cannot have parochial, sectarian, racial, ethnic or nationalistic institutions or associations that segregate one segment of the society from other segments. Every institution of Muslim society must be all-inclusive. The only division allowed is administrative division – dividing the Jamaa‘ah into various administrative units based on functions, roles, levels and locations. Any subdivision that is not necessitated by administrative reasons and not implemented by the Jamaa‘ah leadership itself is regarded as an act of Jahiliyyah (an act of pre-Islamic ignorance and misguidance). The Prophet said:

“He is not from us who calls towards ethnicity.” (Aboo Dawood)

When Muhaajireen and Anŝaar called out for their groups against each other, the Prophet was extremely upset and said,

“What is this call of Jahiliyyah? Abandon it, it is absolutely repulsive.” (Bukhaari)

“Whoever calls people to the call of Jahiliyyah, he belongs to Jahannam even if he prays and fasts and considers himself a Muslim.” (Aĥmad and Tirmidzi)

Election of Leadership

The leadership of Jamaa‘ah, whether it is Imaam / Ameer or members of the Shoora and whether it is at top level or other lower administrative levels, must be elected by consent (vote) of the members of the Jamaa‘ah (Muslims). The general Qur’aanic term for duly elected/appointed leadership is “oolul-amr” (The people responsible for making decisions). Islam wants people to elect the best people for the job:

Verily, Allaah commands you to entrust trusts to the most deserving and that when you judge between people you judge with justice. Excellent indeed is what Allaah instructs you. Surely, Allaah is Seeing, Hearing.  (An-Nisaa 4:58)

Trust in this verse includes all trusts that people can entrust to others, especially entrusting any kind leadership or responsibility through one’s vote, consent or approval. In the past, this entrusting took place through a pledge of allegiance, now it happens through a ballot.

The Prophet ŜA'WS said,

“Elect the best of you as your Leaders.” (Abdul Ghaffar Hasan page 317)

“Imaam should be the person: Who is the most knowledgeable of the Qur’aan; from among those who are equal in the knowledge of the Qur’aan, the person who has more knowledge of Sunnah; if they are equal in the knowledge of Sunnah, then the person who was first to perform Hijrah; if they are equal in that respect as well, then the older of them. And no one should become an Imaam of a person in his kingdom (area of influence) and do not sit in the seat of person at his home without his permission.” (Aboo Mas‘ood in Muslim)

If a person votes for someone not purely for Allaah but for any other motives, he should heed the following warning:

“Allaah SWT will not talk to three persons on the Day of Judgment: … A person who pledges allegiance to an Imaam only for the sake of Dunya..” (Bukhaari Kitaabul Aĥkaam)

One key qualification of this person is that the membership should be able to recognize his capabilities and request him to take the lead instead of him pushing for his own candidacy. Those who are greedy for a leadership position are obviously dedicated to the goal of their own power rather than being dedicated to the objectives of Deen. This emphasis on their personal goals versus objectives of Deen disqualifies them and deprives them from Allaah’s help:

Abdur-Raĥmaan Ibn Samrah reports that the Messenger of Allaah said to him: "Do not ask for a leadership position; because if it is given to you on your asking for it, you will be left alone with no support from Allaah; but if it is given to you without you asking for it, you will be supported by Allaah in performing your tasks.” (Bukhaari and Muslim)

“I and two men from my tribe came to meet the Prophet. One of them requested the Prophet, “O Messenger of Allaah, appoint me as an Ameer.”  The second person also expressed the same desire. The Prophet replied, “We do not give leadership to those who ask for it or are greedy for it.” (Bukhaari from Aboo Moosa Al-Ash‘ariyy)

Rather people should avoid being leaders to save themselves from the huge responsibility that it brings:

“Aboo Dzar Asked the Prophet, “Are you not going to appoint me as a governor of some area?” The Prophet patted him on his shoulder and said, “O Aboo Dzar, you are a weak person and this leadership is a trust. It will be a cause of humiliation and sorrow on the Day of Judgement except for him who really deserved to take this responsibility and then he put in his best efforts to fulfill his obligation.” (Muslim)

Listening and Obeying

Once a leader is properly elected/duly appointed, the members must obey him, cooperate with him and have a positive, sincere, well-wishing attitude to him, even if the Ameer is a person that a member dislikes:

O believers! Obey Allaah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you; then if you differ in anything, refer it to Allaah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allaah and the last day. That is better and very good in the end.  (An-Nisaa 4:59)

“Whoever obeys me, he indeed obeys Allaah and who disobeys he indeed disobeys Allaah. And whoever obeys the Ameer, he obeys me, and who disobeys the Ameer, disobeys me.” (Bukhaari, Muslim, Ibn Maajah, Aĥmad, Nasaai from Aboo Hurayrah)

“Listening to and obeying the directives is incumbent on every Muslim whether one likes or dislikes the directive, as long as they are not directed to do something that results in a disobedience to Allaah. If they are so directed, then there is no listening to or obeying of that directive.” (Reported by both Bukhaari and Muslim from Ibn ‘Umar)

“Even if a slave with a cut-off nose and limbs is appointed your Ameer, and he leads you according to Allaah’s book, you must listen to him and obey him.” (Muslim Kitaabul-Imaarah)

“It is incumbent on you to listen and obey the leadership whether the situation is tough or easy, whether you are pleased with the decision or dislike it, and even if others are preferred over you.” (Muslim from Aboo Hurayrah)

“Listen and obey even if an Abyssinian slave with a bald, tiny head is appointed over you.” (Bukhaari from Anas)

“Allaah SWT likes three qualities in you and dislikes three:
He likes that you:

  • Become His slaves and do not equate anyone or anything with Him;
  • Hold His rope (Deen, Qur’aan) tightly together, and do not be disunited (by partial implementation of deen or acting upon parts of the Qur’aan , abandoning other parts);
  • Be cooperative and well wishing for those whom Allaah makes responsible for your affairs.

He dislikes the following in you:

  • Empty discussions about this and that (not action-oriented or goal-oriented talk);
  • Raising too many questions;
  • Wasting money or resources."

(Reported in Muslim from Aboo Hurayrah)

Nazm (order and discipline) is so important that even if someone is bad, regardless of the process and actions being taken to replace him, the good work must continue with order and discipline:

“Allaah SWT likes three qualities in you and dislikes three:
He likes that you:

  • Jihaad is obligatory on you whether the Ameer is good or bad, even if he has committed major sins
  • Ŝalaah is obligatory on you behind every Muslim, whether good or bad, even if he has committed major sins
  • Ŝalaatul Janazah must be performed on every Muslim, whether good or bad, even if he has committed major sins."

(Aboo Dawood from Aboo Hurayrah)

“Basheer Ibn Khaŝaaŝiyah reports that we asked, “The collectors of zakaah charge us excessively, can we hide our assets to the extent of their extra charges?” He responded, “No.”” (Aboo Dawood)

“Anyone who declines obedience to Ameer and separates from the Jamaa‘ah, and then dies, he dies a death of Jahiliyyah (as a non-Muslim devoid of guidance of Islam).” (Muslim)


However, this obedience is compulsory as long as the directive itself is in obedience to Allaah. If the directive is in disobedience to Allaah, it must not be obeyed:

“Listening to and obeying the directives is incumbent on every Muslim whether one likes or dislikes the directive, as long as they are not directed to do something that results in a disobedience to Allaah. If they are so directed, then there is no listening to or obeying of that directive.” (Bukhaari and Muslim from Ibn ‘Umar)

“Even if a slave with cut-off nose and limbs is appointed your Ameer, and he leads you according to Allaah’s book, you must listen to him and obey him.” (Muslim Kitaabul-Imaarah)

“No obedience to anyone is allowed in any matter that is in disobedience to Allaah; obedience is only in Ma’roof (Generally-accepted good things that comply with Islamic teachings).” (Muslim, Bukhaari and Aboo Dawood from ‘Ali)

“An expedition was sent by the Prophet with admonition to the members of the group that they should listen and obey the Ameer. At one point, the Ameer became upset, lit a fire and commanded the members to jump into it. The members were stunned by his actions, and stayed put. When the Prophet was told about it, he remarked: “Had you jumped into it, you would be staying in it until the Day of Judgement.”” (Muslim)

On the basis of the above, Imaam Nawaviyy said: “Obedience in good things is obligatory, obedience in wrong is Ĥaraam.”

“The Messenger of Allaah said, “Beware, the Book and the Government are soon going to part ways, so do not part with the Book. Beware, soon you will be governed by the leaders who will legislate un-Islamic matters; if you obey them, they will lead you astray; and if you disobey them, they will kill you…  Embracing death for obeying Allaah SWT is better than life saved by disobeying Allaah.” (Ŧabaraani, from Mu‘aadz Ibn Jabal)

Also, the requirement to obey should not stop people from constructive criticism or from saying the truth. People must say the truth, share their ideas or suggestions with the leadership and express their disagreements constructively as long as it is done while sticking with Jamaa‘ah, obeying in Ma‘roof and without disruption in the work of Jamaa‘ah in attaining Islamic objectives. There are many examples in the life of Khulaafaa to that effect. An example of sharing opinion is ‘Umar’s talking to Aboo Bakr in the matter of fighting with those who were refusing to pay Zakaah that has been mentioned earlier. An example of advising is a letter of advice from Aboo ‘Ubaidah Ibn Al-Jarraaĥ and Mu‘aadz Ibn Jabal to ‘Umar (9). An example of criticism is the famous example of a lady differing with ‘Umar in the matter of Mahr. Another example is that a person criticized ‘Umar publicly and rudely, so someone tried to quieten him, on which ‘Umar said:

9  Raahi ‘Amal page 253-256

“Let him say. There is no goodness in people, if they do not speak up; and there is no goodness in us, if we do not acknowledge or accept.” (Kitaabul Khiraaj of Imaam Yousuf)

If the matter is serious, such as a statement or act of Kufr, people should even rise up to remove such a disbeliever from office:

“We pledged to the Messenger of Allaah that:

  • We will listen to and obey the leadership whether situation is tough or easy, whether we are pleased with the decision or dislike it, and even if others are preferred over us;
  • We will not fight against the leadership unless we see them committing clear act of disbelief, for which we have justification from Allaah;
  • We will declare the truth wherever we are, without fearing in matters related to Allaah anyone’s criticism or condemnation.” 

(Reported in Bukhaari and Muslim from ‘Abaadah Ibn Ŝaamit)

If the ruler is a tyrant, saying the truth is, in fact, the best jihaad:

“A person asked the Prophet, “Which Jihaad is the most superior?” The Prophet replied, “Saying the truth to a tyrant ruler.”” (Nasaai from Ŧaariq Ibn Shahaab)

“The Messenger of Allaah said, “The most superior Jihaad is saying the truth to a tyrant ruler.”” (Tirmidzi, Aboo Dawood and Ibn Maajah from Aboo Sa‘eed Khudri)

If the community as a whole does not stop a person from his tyranny, Allaah SWT punishes the whole community:

“If people witness tyranny and do not prevent the tyrant from it (they remain quiet or continue to cooperate with him), Allaah SWT imposes His punishment on them before long” (Musnad Aĥmad from Aboo Bakr)

Considerations for Leaders

The above was for general membership of the Jamaa‘ah. The leadership’s responsibility is to ensure that they are fully dedicated to work in the Jamaa‘ah’s best interest and that those in their charge are educated, motivated and committed to the objectives of Deen, and they are not ignorant of or negligent towards them. The leadership needs to consider the following:

Ma’qil Ibn Yasaar reported that he heard the Messenger of Allaah saying: “Any one who accepts the responsibility for any of the affairs of the Muslims, then he did not watch for their best interest as seriously as he would have done for his own interest or he did not work as hard as he would have done for his own matters, Allaah SWT will throw him on his face into the Fire.” (Ŧabaraani (Mu’jam Aŝ-Ŝagheer) and Kitaabul Kharaaj)

“Anyone from my Ummah who is given responsibility for any affairs of Muslims and then he does not protect them as he protects himself and his family, he will not even smell the fragrance of Jannah.” (‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Abbaas in Ŧabaraani (Mu’jam Aŝ-Ŝagheer))

“Allaah will not look after the needs of a person who is given responsibility for any affairs of Muslims until he looks after the needs of Muslim masses.” (‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Abbaas in Tirmidzi and Ŧabaraani)

The Prophet prayed, “O Allaah, any person who is made in charge of the affairs of my Ummah and he makes it difficult for them, you make it difficult for him; and any person who is made in charge of the affairs of my Ummah and he deals with them affectionately, you also treat him affectionately.” (Muslim from ‘Aayshah)

The Messenger of Allaah said:

“Take note that every one of you has a responsibility as a leader and every one of you will be questioned about those given in your charge:

  • An Ameer who is responsible for general public will be questioned about his people;
  • A man is responsible for his family and he will be questioned about them;
  • A woman is responsible for the household and children of her husband and she will be questioned about them.” 

 (Both Bukhaari and Muslim from Ibn ‘Umar)

Asmaa Bint ‘Umais reported that Aboo Bakr said, before his death, to ‘Umar Al-Faarooq:

“O Ibn Khaŧŧaab, I have selected you to succeed me considering the interest of the Muslims I am leaving behind because you have experienced the companionship of the Messenger of Allaah. So you have witnessed how he preferred our needs over his own needs and the needs of our families over the needs of his own family; so much so that if anything was left over after taking care of our needs from what he gave us, we used to send it to his family as a gift.” (Reported in Aboo Yousuf’s Kitaabul-Kharaaj)

When Aboo Bakr sent Yazeed as a commander to Syria, he advised him:

“O Yazeed, you have relatives. It is possible that you may prefer to appoint them on positions of authority. This is the greatest worry I have about you. The Messenger of Allaah said, “Anyone who is given the responsibility of any affairs of Muslims and then he practices nepotism in appointing people, Allaah’s curse will be on him and Allaah will cast him into Jahannam without accept any expiation.”” (Kitaabul Kharaaj)

Everyone in the Jamaa‘ah, both leadership and membership must have their attitude in line with the following:

Tameem Ad-Daari reported that the Prophet repeated three times, “Deen is Naŝeeĥa (sincerity, fidelity and genuine well-wishing).” We asked, “For who?” He said, “For Allaah, for His Messenger, for His Book, for Muslim leadership and for common Muslims.” (Muslim)

‘Umar Ibn Khaŧŧaab addressed a gathering where Muslim leadership as well as the general public were present and said: “O people, we have a right over you that you grant us your loyalty and well-wishes and fully support us in all good works. O leaders, there is no forbearance and leniency more beloved to Allaah and more beneficial than that practised by an Ameer; and there is no ignorance (harshness, ill-mannerism) and lack of finesse more hateful to Allaah and more dangerous than that displayed by an Ameer.” (Aboo Yousuf’s Kitaabul-Kharaaj)


This was an overview of the Islamic concept of Jamaa‘ah, its structure and the related matters. Its significance, role, and operation can be illustrated by two examples.

The Muslim Ummah can be thought of a building built for a specific purpose (Islamic objectives) and the Muslims are bricks, tiles, stones and slabs of various shapes, sizes and materials that are to be used to build the building. Unless and until all the components are cemented together according to the building plans, the building cannot come into existence. Similarly, a building cannot keep standing if cement loses its grip. Jamaa‘ah is the cement that holds all pieces of the Ummah together and builds the five pillars and the building over and around them. Unfortunately, our cement has lost its grip for quite some time and we are only scattered pieces and bricks.

The Prophet said,

“Believers are like a brick structure each part of which supports and strengthens the rest.” (Aboo Moosa in Bukhaari and Muslim)

Muslim ummah in its make and its mission (objective) can also be compared to a machine that is built for a certain purpose. Although any complex machine can be used as an example for this purpose, but let us use the example of a car for its being commonplace and generally known. A car is built of many parts, sub-assemblies and assemblies. It can be called a car only when all parts, components, sub-assemblies and assemblies are fastened together tightly, appropriately and in the right place and sequence. Jamaa‘ah is the Islamic mechanism to hold all parts tightly at their right place for us to be a Muslim Ummah. Without Jamaa‘ah, the Muslim Ummah is merely a collection of all kinds of parts, but not a working machine.

No Islam Without Jamaa‘ah

Unfortunately, Muslims have lost this concept. Most Muslims are currently living without forming a Jamaa‘ah and without being properly organized. They do not understand the meaning or importance of this critical matter of Deen. They do not even realize that succeeding as a Muslims is impossible without Jamaa‘ah. That is why Allaah and His Messenger commanded it:

The Prophet ŝall Allaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said:

“I command you of the following five that Allaah has commanded me: Jamaa‘ah, listening, obeying, Hijrah, and Jihaad for Allaah’s cause. Surely anyone who separates from Jamaa‘ah to the extent of a hand stretch, he severed his connection with Islam, unless he returns to Jamaa‘ah…” Companions asked, “Even if he performs Ŝalaah and Ŝawm?” He responded, “Even if he performs Ŝalaah and Ŝawm and thinks that he is a Muslim.” (Ĥaarith Al-Ash‘ari in Musnad Aĥmad and Tirmidzi)

The requirement of listening and obeying indicates that the Jamaa‘ah mentioned here is not a loose collection of individuals like an Islamic association but a regimented, disciplined and organized body like an army. Also note that it is a command of Allaah and His Messenger, not merely a suggestion of something desirable. This Hadeeth in fact summarizes the process of achieving Islamic objectives: Muslims must start with organizing themselves into a regimented, disciplined organization; listen to the directives from the leadership; execute the directives giving them the top priority so that work is completed timely, effectively and efficiently; gather in a common locality if scattered; and collectively undertake the struggle until Islamic objectives are achieved. 

It was because of such clear teachings of the Qur’aan and Ĥadeeth that ‘Umar Al-Faarooq said:

“Indeed there can be no Islam without Jamaa‘ah, and there can be no Jamaa‘ah without an Ameer, and there can be no Imaarah without obedience.” (Ad-Daarami from Tameem Daari)

This Jamaa‘ah is so important that those who remain disconnected from it, separate themselves from it or create their own groups are warned of dire consequences:

And Do not be like those who separated and disputed after clear proofs had come to them. For them, there shall be a dreadful penalty. (Aali ‘Imraan 3:103)

The Messenger of Allaah said:

“Allaah’s hand is over the Jamaa‘ah and whoever breaks away, breaks away into the Fire.” (Tirmidzi from Ibn ‘Umar)

The Prophet has clearly communicated that those who do not belong and get organized into the Jamaa‘ah, their faith is suspect.

“If a Muslim dies without having made a pledge of allegiance (bay‘ah) to an Ameer, he dies in a Jahiliyyah state (as a non-Muslim devoid of guidance of Islam).” (Muslim)

In other words, he is not dying as a Muslim.

Conversely, sticking with Jamaa‘ah is a sign of true faith:

Zaid Ibn Thaabit reported that he heard the Messenger saying, “If a person has three attributes, his heart will not be diseased with hypocrisy: All actions devoted purely to Allaah (Ikhlaaŝ); well-wishing for the leadership; and, sticking with Jamaa‘ah -- the Du‘aas of members of Jamaa‘ah will surround him.” (Baihaqi, Aboo Dawood, Tirmidzi, Ibn Maajah, Nasaai)

He had even warned Muslims with warnings such as:

“Verily the links (10) of Islam will be broken one by one. When one link is broken, people will be content with the ones that are left. The first one that will be broken is the political power of the Deen and the last one will be the Ŝalaah.” (Aĥmad from Aboo Umaamah Al-Bahili as well as Ĥaakim in his Mustadrak)

10  Like links or rings of a chain

To preserve it, he even taught Muslims to be patient (11) with bad leaders. He clarified that even if the leadership is bad, a Muslim cannot just walk away from Jamaa‘ah or objectives of deen, the work must continue within the organizational framework:

11  According to scholars like Nowaviyy, Dawoodi and Ibn Ĥajr, being patient does not mean that they should not be removed (voted out of their office), but patience means that there should be no violent, emotional and knee-jerk reaction that cause chaos. Also while the methodological removal process is taking its course, the obedience in good matters must continue so that the work of the Ummah is not disrupted.

“If one observes something bad in his Ameer, he should bear with it (without abandoning listening and obeying) because whoever separates from the Jamaa‘ah even a hand’s spread and dies, he dies a Jahiliyyah death.” (Bukhaari kitaabul fitan)

“The best of your leaders are those whom you love and they love you, for whom you invoke Allaah’s kindness and they invoke it for you; while the worst of your leaders are those whom you hate and they hate you, and whom you curse and they curse you…when asked, “Should we not deal with them with sword?” He said, “No, as long as they continue to establish Ŝalaah among you.”” (Muslim Kitaabul imaarah)

The Messenger of Allaah said, “There will be leaders appointed over you who will do both good things and bad things.” People asked, “O Messenger of Allaah should we fight them?” He replied, “Not as long as they establish Ŝalaah.” (Muslim and Tirmidzi from Umm Salmah)

The point “as long as they establish Ŝalaah” clearly indicates that the Jamaa‘ah is still intact and Muslims are still organized through the system of Ŝalaah. Although, unfortunately, a bad leader has been elected, the system is still functioning and it must be preserved. When system is functioning well, the evil of one person can be corrected and the situation can be brought back to Islamic ideals. But if the system breaks down, it will be extremely difficult to put it back together. Thus, in-fighting cannot be allowed to destroy the system. Unfortunately, when Muslims now think of Ŝalaah, the idea of a single Jamaa‘ah of Ummah and a complete religious, social and political entity does not even occur to them.

These above-mentioned commands are to indicate the sanctity of Jamaa‘ah and significance of preserving it. They should be taken to mean that people should continue watching quietly when injustice, tyranny or anti-Islamic actions are taking place. While preserving the Jamaa‘ah, appropriate actions must be taken to correct the situation, as explained in an earlier section.

One day after the Ŝalaah of Fajr, the Prophet gave such an eloquent reminder (speech) that it made the eyes of the audience flood with tears and made their hearts tremble. A person commented, “It sounds like a farewell speech, so what do you advise us, O Messenger of Allaah?” He said, “I advise you of Allaah’s Taqwa and of listening to and obeying the leadership of the Ummah, even if he is a black slave. Those of you who live after me will see many differences and dissensions, you should stay away from new religious practices because they are misguidance. Whoever comes across them, should stick with my Sunnah and Sunnah of my rightly-guided successors, and hold it tightly with his teeth.” (Tirmidzi and Aboo Dawood from ‘Iryaadh Ibn Saariyah)

“Those of you who live after me may soon see many differences of opinion. In that case, stick with my sunnah and sunnah of khulaafaa Ar-Rashideen Al-Mahdiyyeen, grip it strongly with your teeth.” (Aboo Dawood)

This sticking with the Sunnah of the rightly-guided successors is a clear injunction to establish, maintain and uphold the Jamaa‘ah, in view of the quotations given earlier from Aboo Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthmaan RA and from ‘Ali RA later on. Any political or social set up, other than a unified Jamaa‘ah dedicated to the Islamic objectives under a Khilaafah who governs by Shoora, is a misguided innovation that must be rejected.

Sometimes differences of opinion may become emotional issues creating a split in Jamaa‘ah. Even in a situation like that, Muslims are not allowed to cause a division of Jamaa‘ah. Although Islam holds the sanctity of life highest of all sanctities, the singularity and unity of Jamaa’ah is so important the if a person seeks support from people to build a parallel leadership structure and succeeds in doing so, the prophet commanded that the second person should be killed:

“When people pledge allegiance to two different persons, kill the second of them.” (Muslim from Aboo Sa‘eed Al-Khudri)

“Who pledges allegiance to an Imaam and gives his hand and the loyalty of his heart, he must obey him to the extent of his ability. Then if another one comes challenging the authority of the elected one, kill the second one.” (Muslim Kitaabul Imaarah from ‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Amr; also reported by Nasaai, Ibn Maajah and Aboo Dawood) (12)

12  Obviously, it is understood that the leadership of the first one was legitimately established through the due process.

These Aĥaadeeth also indicate that Muslims cannot have different nations or so called independent countries. The whole Muslim Ummah must belong to one Jamaa‘ah. Imaam Nowaviyy in his exegesis of Muslim writes: “ The scholars are unanimous that it is not allowed to have two khaleefahs whether the Islamic territory is enormous or small.

Disorganized or Lonely Living Not Acceptable

Even when there are problems in the society, running away from them is not a solution. The importance of working together in Jamaa‘ah to achieve the objectives of Deen is also indicated by the following example.

A person found a spring of water in a valley and thought of settling there worshipping Allaah away from population. With that in mind he came to seek Prophet’s permission. The Prophet said, “Do not do that. A person’s participation in Allaah’s cause is better than praying Ŝalaah in one’s home for 70 years.” (Tirmidzi)

Some people may think that living in seclusion is justified by the following Ĥadeeth:

A person asked, “Who is the best of people, O Messenger of Allaah.” The Prophet replied, “A believer who performs Jihaad with his life and property.” The person asked, “Then who?” The Prophet responded, “Then, the person who secludes himself in one of the valleys, serving Allaah and saving people from his mischief.” (Muslim)

As a matter of principle, it should be kept in mind that when answering to the direct questions of specific people, the Prophet always replied according to the personality of the person and his needs of purification and reformation. This person had an aggressive personality. He was given two options. The best course of action was that his aggression is given a constructive use so that he uses all his energies in pursuing Jihaad for Allaah’s cause. Failing that, it was best for him to seclude himself instead of creating problems in the Jamaa‘ah. The first option was the best things to do (‘Azeemah) while the second option was only a Rukhŝah (compromise) to avoid Fitnah. 

There is another Ĥadeeth related to this topic as well:

“A time is coming on people when the best wealth of a Muslim would be the goats he would take to the peaks of mountains and water sources saving his Deen from Fitnahs.” (Bukhaari)

This was the option that was taken by the People of the Cave (Aŝĥaabul Kahf). This option can be exercised only when a Muslims has done his best to re-establish Deen as it should be re-established and has exhausted all his efforts without getting anywhere. Instead, the situation has turned so much against him that his own Deen is in danger. Except for these exceptional situations, a life of seclusion is not acceptable. In fact, if the Islamic system of Government is not in place, it is better for people to die in their efforts to establish it than living without it:

Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “When your leaders are your best people, your rich men are your generous people and your affairs are conducted by mutual consultation (Shoora), the surface of the earth is better for you than its belly. But when your leaders are your worst people, your rich men are your miserly people and your affairs are in the hands of your women, the belly of the earth is the better for you than its surface.” (Tirmidzi from Aboo Hurayrah)

Even if there are a handful of Muslims, they must live in an organized manner in the form of Jamaa‘ah:

The Messenger said, “Whoever wants to live in the centre of Jannah, he must stick with the Jamaa‘ah because Shaytaan accompanies the lonely person but moves away from two.” (Mu‘aadz bin Jabal in Musnad Aĥmad)

This shows that even if two persons can join together to form a community of believers, they must do so.

“You must join Jamaa‘ah and avoid separation/disorganization (furqah) because Shayŧaan stays with one person, but moves away from two. Whoever wants to live in the centre of Jannah, he must stick with the Jamaa‘ah. A believer is one who feels happy when he does good deeds and feels bad if he slips into a bad deed.” (Tirmidzi from ‘Umar)

“The Prophet ŜA'WS forbade anyone to spend a night alone or to travel alone.” (‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Umar in Musnad Aĥmad)

Being organized at all times is so crucial that if some Muslims are traveling, or if they have to live in a far away place due to some unavoidable circumstances, even in that case, they must organize themselves in the form of a Jamaa‘ah: 

The Prophet said, “When three of you are journeying, appoint one of you as your Ameer.” (Aboo Dawood from Aboo Sa‘eed Khudri and Aboo Hurayrah)

Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr reported that the Prophet said, “It is not Ĥalaal for three Muslims living in a wilderness unless they appoint (elect) one of them as their Ameer.” (Muntaqa)

Aboo Dardaa reported that the Messenger of Allaah said, “If there are three Muslims in a town or wilderness who do not establish Ŝalaah in Jamaa‘ah, Shayŧaan overwhelms them. Hence, organize yourselves into Jamaa‘ah because wolf preys on the lonely sheep.” (Aboo Dawood and Mishkaah)

This Ĥadeeth also underscores the relationship of Jamaa‘ah and Ŝalaah – Ŝalaah being the vehicle for and expression of Jamaa‘ah (Single united community).

This matter of Muslims remaining organized all the time was so significant that even the first group of companions leaving Makkah for Abyssinia left under the leadership of an Ameer – Uthmaan Ibn Mazh‘oon.  

Interestingly, the obligation to have the Jamaa‘ah and Imaam is one of those things on which, in principle, Sunnis, Shias, Khawaarij and Murjiah all had a consensus. (13)

13  Ibn Ĥazm quoted in Milal

It sounds strange that Muslim Ummah as a whole is not concerned about such a critical matter as Jamaa‘ah. It is to such strangeness of the real Islam that the Prophet alluded when he said:

“Indeed Islam started as a stranger, soon it will become stranger again. So congratulations to those who are looked upon as strangers because of Deen who work for reformation of what people destroyed from my Sunnah.” (Tirmidzi)

In the light of the above, it is incumbent upon us that we must revive this essential requirement of faith and become organized in the form of Jamaa‘ah. As we have seen, belonging to Jamaa‘ah is a key evidence and requirement of faith. But currently an al-Jamaa‘ah does not exist, so how do we create one?

What to do?

In the past it was done by a prophet or messenger, but that door is closed. We know that there is not going to be another prophet or messenger who will be pure from sins. We also know that there can be no personality like our Prophet who can be universally acceptable as Ameer of the Jamaa‘ah. The only option we have is that our leadership has to come from within us and we are all imperfect. At the same time, we cannot afford not to have Jamaa‘ah simply because we do not have a perfect person among us. It means that we need to be content with an imperfect leadership. That is the idea that ‘Ali RA proposed when he said:

“There is no option in the matter of Ameer, good or bad, we have to have one.” (Shahrastaani’s Al-Milali)

Many scholars who understood the importance of this Jamaa‘ah made attempts to create one. Naturally their attempts attracted parts of the community. The result is that there is hardly any country in the world where Muslims have a significant presence but they do not have some people who are trying to get Muslims organized in the form of Islamic Jamaa‘ah. That has also resulted in more than one such group in many places, instead of having one Jamaa‘ah and still many Muslims do not belong to any one of them or even think about it.

So what to do in this respect?

Find an organization in your locality that is trying to establish Jamaa‘ah purely for the attainment of the Islamic objective as we have been discussing and as per the methodology that we are going to discover further in the rest of the series. Once you have identified such organization join one of them that you feel is best dedicated to the objectives of the Deen. Then take the same message to other Muslims until every Muslim belongs to one Jamaa‘ah or the other. Inshaa Allaah, then Allaah SWT will help those Jamaa‘ah to consolidate and become one in the long run.

It is up to you now whether we remain as scattered parts or we become a well-assembled machine!

It is for these benefits and its role in the establishment of Muslim community (Jamaa’ah) that the Messenger ŜA'WS emphasized congregational Ŝalaah so highly that individual Ŝalaah of Fardh is deemed to be unacceptable where congregational Ŝalaah is possible. In fact, the Prophet warned severely those who miss congregational Ŝalaah (14). Also, the reward for the congregational Ŝalaah is raised to 27 times the reward for individual Ŝalaah. Also, it is because of this aspect of Ŝalaah that the Prophet said its establishment leads to the establishment of the whole Deen while neglecting the structure of Ŝalaah demolishes the whole Deen. It is also for this role that missing of performing Fardh salaah with Jamaa‘ah is a serious sin:

14  It is reported in Muslim that he expressed his anger by saying that he feels like burning them along with their homes.

“People should stop missing Ŝalaatul-Jumu‘ah, otherwise Allaah will seal their hearts and they will become negligent in the Truth (Haqq).” (Muslim)

While performing Sunnah and Nawaafil, one’s home is the preferred place.

“Perform any Ŝalaah, other than the Prescribed (Faraaidh), in your homes because the most superior Ŝalaah is that performed by a person at his home.” (Bukhaari)

Aboo Hurayrah said, “By He who holds Aboo Hurayrah’s life in His hand, the Prophet ŝall Allaahu 'alayhi wa sallam and his family never had bread to their fill for three consecutive day till he left this world.” (Muslim)

“By Allaah, whenever people consult, they are bound to be guided to better than what is in front of them.” (Bukhaari in Adabul Mufrad from Ĥasan)

“There will be three types of people to whom Allaah will neither speak on the Day of Resurrection nor will He purify them from sins, and they will have a painful punishment: They are:

  1. A man living on a travel route who possessed more water than his immediate needs, but he withheld it from the travelers.
  2. A man who gives a pledge of allegiance to an Imaam (ruler) and gives it only for worldly benefits; if the Imaam gives him what he wants, he abides by his pledge, otherwise he does not fulfill his pledge.
  3. A man who sells something to another man after the 'Asr prayer and
    swears by Allaah (a false oath) that he has been offered so much for it whereupon the buyer believes him and buys it at that price, although in fact, the seller had not been offered such a price.”
    (Bukhaari from Aboo Hurayrah)
Posted in The Islamic Personality on January 7, 2022 by Ayub Hamid

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