Question # 188: As you said in your post (Question # 186) “that praying in Barelwi mosque is invalid.” So my question to you is that in my city there are all around barelwi mosques and the Deobandi mosque is few miles away so should I offer salah at my home or what should I do?

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: If one is able to avoid praying behind an innovator without causing greater harm, he should do so, as a protection for the Sunnah and to show disapproval to the innovator and in general. If that is not relatively easy, due to an inability to keep away from them without greater harm, or the lack of another mosque nearby (as in your case), then praying in congregation behind one who is an innovator is better than praying at one’s own at home, lest that lead to him not praying in congregation at all. Leaving the congregation would be an act of the people of innovation, for the prayer is the best of all the people`s deeds. However, if it is possible to pray behind someone other than the innovator, then this is undoubtedly better.

Long Answer: Shaykh al-Islam [Ibn Taymiyah] (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “With regard to praying behind an innovator, this is a matter concerning which there is some dispute and is subject to further discussion. Hence if there is no other imam, as in the case of Jumu‘ah prayer which is held in only one place, or the Eid prayers or prayers during Hajj behind the imam who is leading the Hajj, these prayers may be offered behind any imam, whether he is righteous or otherwise, according to the consensus of Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jama‘ah… If there is only one mosque in the village, then praying in congregation behind one who is an evildoer is better than praying on one’s own at home, lest that lead to him not praying in congregation at all.  

But if it is possible to pray behind someone other than this innovator, then this is undoubtedly better. However, if he does pray behind (the innovator), then there is a difference of scholarly opinion concerning his prayer. The view of ash-Shafi‘i and Abu Hanifah is that his prayer is valid. As for Malik and Ahmad, in their madhhabs there is a considerable difference of opinion and discussion…” (Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa)

He (may Allah have mercy on him) also said:  “One of the fundamental principles of Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa‘ah is that they pray Jumu‘ah and Eid prayers, and prayers in congregation, and they do not abandon Jumu‘ah and prayers in congregation as the followers of innovation… do. If the imam appears to be good and has not openly committed any innovation or immoral actions, then one should pray Jumu‘ah and prayers in congregation behind him, according to the consensus of the four imams and other leading scholars of the Muslims. Not one of the leading scholars has said that it is not permissible to pray behind anyone except one whose thoughts and ideas are known. In fact, after the time of their Prophet, the Muslims continued to pray behind any Muslim who appeared to be good. But if a person prays behind one who is known to be an innovator or evildoer, when he has the option of praying behind someone else, then in that case the majority of scholars regard the prayer of the one who prayed behind that imam to be valid. This is the view of ash-Shafi‘i and Abu Hanifah, and it is one of the two views in the madhhabs of Malik and Ahmad. But if it is not possible to pray behind anyone except an innovator or evildoer, as in the case of Jumu‘ah prayer where the imam is an innovator or evildoer, and there is no other Jumu‘ah, then in this case one may pray behind the innovator or evildoer, according to the majority of Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jama‘ah. This is the view of ash-Shafi‘i, Abu Hanifah, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and other leading scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah, with no difference of opinion among them.

When there are a lot of innovations, some scholars suggested that one should pray behind someone who is known to him, but they said this by way of recommending, not saying that it is obligatory. It was narrated from Ahmad that he said this to someone who asked him. But Ahmad did not say that it is not valid to pray except behind one whose situation one knows. So it is permissible to pray behind one who appears to be good, according to the consensus of the Muslim scholars.

The Sahabah (رضي الله عنهم) used to pray behind those who they knew to be evil doers, as ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ood and others among the Sahabah used to pray behind al-Waleed ibn ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Mu‘eet, who used to drink wine and on one occasion had prayed Fajr with four rak‘ahs, and ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan had had him flogged for that. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar and others among the Sahabah used to pray behind al-Hajjaj ibn Yoosuf and the Sahabah and Taabi‘een used to pray behind Khalaf ibn Abi ‘Ubayd, although both of them deviated and promoted misguidance.” (Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa)

(The above reply is based on various answers by Islamqa.info on the topic)

Dr.Salah Al-Sawy, the Secretary General for the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America said: “… if one is able to avoid praying behind an innovator without causing greater harm, he should do so, as a protection for the Sunnah and to show disapproval to the innovator and in general. If that is not relatively easy, due to an inability to keep away from them without greater harm, or the lack of another mosque nearby, and the only other alternative is to leave the congregational prayers and pray in the house, then it would not be permissible to leave the congregational prayers for that reason. Under those circumstances, this [leaving the congregation] would be an act of the people of innovation, for the prayer is the best of all the people`s deeds. If they perfect their prayers, perfect your prayers with them, and if they do evil deeds, avoid their evil; and Allah Almighty is more exalted and more knowledgeable.”

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam