History of Friday Prayers in Shia Mosques

by Sadiq Abdullah (Tawheedi Shia Group)

It is important to have the knowledge of the truth about the reason that was being proffered for the prohibition of Friday Salaat in “Shia Mosques”. This prohibition was not in the past history because there were no “Shia Mosques” during the Umawid and Abbasid tyrannical rule. The prohibition had been in the recent history of about 400 years until as lately as the mid 20th Century.  This knowledge gives an insight into the present fate of Zakat.

The reason given and taught to students (tulabaa) for the prohibition of Friday Salaat was that the authority of appointing a Jumu’a Imam for every masjid e Jamia of every town was with the Imam of the Time, Hadhrat Hujjat a.f. Even today, there are a few Mujtahideen who still do not join in Friday Prayers for the same reason.

This ruling was started with a general consensus among Mujatahideen even before the advent and functioning of the institution of Marjaiyyat. It was possibly presumed in early history that re-appearance of Hadhrat Hujjat a.f. would not take long. However, centuries have since passed.

The ruling appeared to have been left undisturbed when the Marjaiyyat came into existence some 160 years ago, perhaps not to create divisions among Shia Ithna-asheris or not to create doubt in the minds of Muqallideen regarding the credibility in ijtihad..

However, with the impending Independence of India, set for August, 1947,  the Indian Shia Mujtahideen found it necessary to close ranks with the Sunni main stream of the Muslim Ummah in India for better protection of the rights of Muslims as a united minority instead of fragmented minority. The one issue that the Shia Mujtahideen could never defend all along was the prohibition of Friday Salaat and consequently, the Sunni beliefs that Shias were out of the pale of Islam.

During that time of the Muslim history in India, the main stream Muslims were mystified over such an open rejection of the obligation of Friday Salaat by Shias when it was so expressly “commanded”  in the Qur’an –  in the very same way as we Shia Ithna-asheris  are mystified by the rejection of all Salaat, Fasting and Haj by the community of Shia Imami Nizari Ismailis.

So the return to the Qur’an and Ahlul Bayt a.s.  on the issue of Friday Salaat started by the Indian Shia Mujtahideen breaking ranks with other Mujatahideen outside India, They organized themselves into establishing Friday Salaat in “Shia Mosques”of  big cities in India reportedly starting with New Delhi and Deccan Hyderabad. And the inspiration caught on quickly across India with a great sigh of relief.

One of the prominent Shia Mujtahideen popularly known as Khatib e Azzam of Friday Salaat in India, Seyed Muhammad Dehlavi, accompanied by a prominent Khoja Leader, Haji Daud Haji Nasser of Mumbai, visited Zanzibar in about the year 1949 and established the practice of Friday Salaat.

The mosque on that Friday was thronged beyond its capacity with great euphoria for that first spiritual experience in life. And this euphoria caught up with other Khoja Shia  mosques in East Africa. Khatib set recitation of Surat ul Jumua in the first Rakaat and Surat ul Munafiqoon in the other Rakaat.

When the local Khoja leaders were swamped with questions why now? And what happened to the past generations caught in the trap of omission of this obligation? The answer was “Jagya Tyarthi Sawar” in Gujarati. It means “the morning begins when you wake up” (and not when the Sun rises).

Let us go back now to the Qur’an and Ahlul Bayt a.s. (whose authentic Ahaadith are only those which agree with the Qur’an) in the matter of Zakat also and we shall have begun our morning of guidance upon having awoken up at noon. Zakat also will have been retrieved from the Basket of History.

The purpose for Ijtihad was to teach how to perform Salaat el Jumua and pay Zakat in compliance with the wajibat and not to rationalize and rule why not to perform and pay in non-compliance in the entire mortal life.

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