Sheikh Ibn Baz, may Allah have Mercy on him, was asked about the ruling on holding two or more Friday congregations in a single city or district. He replied:

Please be aware that the majority of scholars declare it impermissible (haram) to hold multiple congregations in a single town/village except due to a need. This is because during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and after him during the reigns of the four rightly guided Caliphs: Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ’Uthman and ‘Ali (may Allah be please with them all), there used to be a single congregation for the Friday prayers in Medina. Such was also the case in all the cities of the Islamic State during the early stage of Islam. This was done because congregation is desirable from the Islamic point of view since the gathering of Muslims in a single place during Friday and ‘Eid prayers contains the following virtues: helping each others in righteousness and piety, establishing the distinctive features and rites (Sha’air) of Islam, uniting the Muslims, causing them to love each other, introducing Muslims to each others, learning and understanding Islam and following the good examples of each other in good deeds. There is also more reward for members of the congregation due to their large numbers, and the display of unity among the Muslims and lack of division angers the enemies of Islam among the hypocrites and others.

There are many proofs from Qur’an and Sunnah which encourage unity and harmony and which warn against division and discord. Allah says in the Qur’an; “And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e. this Quran), and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allah’s Favor on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His Grace, you became brethren (in Islamic Faith), and you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it…And be not as those who divided and differed among themselves after the clear proofs had come to them. It is they for whom there is an awful torment.” [Surah Aal ‘Imran 3: 103,105]

The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Verily Allah likes three things for you and He disapproves three things for you. He is pleased with you that you worship Him and associate nor anything with Him, that you hold fast the rope of Allah, and be not scattered; and He disapproves for you irrelevant talk, persistent questioning and the wasting of wealth.” [Sahih Muslim, no. 1715]

The reasons and proofs that we mentioned above shows that it is obligatory for the people of the city, town or village to be gathered in a single Friday congregation, just like they gather in a single ‘Eid congregation, where possible, without bearing hardship. The larger interest of the Muslims community is in unity. However, if there is strong need for holding multiple congregations in a city or district, then there is nothing wrong in it, according to the more correct of the two scholarly opinions. For example, if the city ends of the city are far apart and it is hard for its people to come and gather in a single mosque, there is nothing wrong if they have multiple congregations in multiple mosques, according to the need. This is also the case for a big district or village.

That is why when Baghdad was built – and it had a large area – two congregations were held there for Friday prayers: one in the east end and the other in the west end of the city. This happened in the middle of the second century of the Islamic (Hijri) calendar, in the presence of renowned scholars, none of whom objected due the need for it.

Similarly, it was said to the Caliph ‘Ali Bin Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him), during his reign, that there are weak (ill, sick etc.) people in Kufa for whom it is difficult to go out to the desert for praying the ‘Eid prayers in congregation. Therefore, he appointed someone to lead a congregation inside the city for the weak, and himself led another for the rest of the people in the desert.

Hence, if this is allowed in ‘Eid prayers, then due to similar reasons of hardship, need and mercy for the Muslims, many scholars have also allowed multiple congregations for Friday prayers if there is need for it.”

[Majmu’ Fatawa Ibn Baz (2/351)]

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