What is “Jama’ah”?

بسم الله والحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وعلى آله وصحبه ومن تبع هداه وبعد

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In his “Ighaathat al-Laahfan”, Imam Ibn al-Qayyim wrote:

و ما أحسن ما قال أبو محمد عبد الرحمن إسماعيل المعروف بأبي شامة في كتاب الحوادث و البدع

“And how excellent is what Abu Muhammad ‘Abd al-Rahman Isma’eel al-Ma’roof said to Abi Shaamah in the book Al-Hawadith wal-Bid’i (i.e. Al-Ba’ith ‘ala Inkar al-Bid’i wal-Hawadith):

حيث جاء به الأمر بلزوم الجماعة فالمراد به لزوم الحق و اتباعه و إن كان المتمسك به قليلا و المخالف له كثيرا

‘When the command came to stick to the Jama’ah, then what was intended (by jama’ah) was sticking to the truth and following it, even if those doing so were few and those opposing the truth were many.

لأن الحق هو الذي كانت عليه الجماعة الأولى من عهد النبي صلى الله تعالى عليه و سلم و أصحابه، و لا نظر إلى كثرة أهل الباطل بعدهم

Because the truth is what the first Jama’ah was upon in the time of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم – no consideration is given to the large number of the people of falsehood after them.

قال عمرو بن ميمون الأودى صحبت معاذا باليمن. فما فارقته حتى واريته في التراب بالشام، ثم صحبت بعده أفقه الناس عبد الله بن مسعود رضي الله عنه

‘Amr ibn Maymoon al-Awdaa said: ‘I accompanied Mu’adh (ibn Jabal) in Yemen. I never parted from him until I helped bury him in Shaam. Then I accompanied the most knowledgeable of mankind after him, ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ood رضي الله عنه

فسمعته يقول: عليكم بالجماعة، فإن يد الله على الجماعة

I heard him say: “It is upon you to stick to the Jama’ah, because indeed the Hand of Allaah is over the Jama’ah.

ثم سمعته يوما من الأيام يقول سيَلَيِ عليكم وُلاة يأخّرون الصلاة عن مواقيتها، فصلُّوا الصلاة لميقاتها، فهي الفريضة، و صلوا معهم فإنها لكم نافلة

Then I heard him one day say: “You will be followed by rulers who will delay the obligatory salaah from its proper times, so pray the salaah on time (by yourselves) – that is your obligatory prayer. And pray the salaah with them (when they delay the obligatory prayers) – and this will be extra (naafilah) for you.”

قال قلت: “يا أصحاب محمد ما أدري ما تحدثونا؟” قال: “و ما ذاك؟” قلت: “تأمرني بالجماعةو تحضني عليها ثم تقول “صلِ الصلاة وحدك، و هي الفريضة، و صلِ مع الجماعة و هي النافلة؟

(‘Amr) said: ‘I said, “O Companions of Muhammad! I don’t understand what you are telling us?” (‘Abdullah bin Mas’ood) said: “And what is that?” I said: “You command me to stick to the Jama’ah and you encourage me upon that, then you say: ‘Pray the salaah by yourself – and that is your obligatory prayer, and pray with the Jama’ah – and that is extra for you?!’

قال: “يا عمرو بن ميمون، قد كنت أظنك من أفقه أهل هذه القرية، تدري ما الجماعة؟” قلت: لا

(‘Abdullah bin Mas’ood) said: “O ‘Amr bin Maymoon! I considered you to be the most knowledgeable of the people in this area. Do you know what is the Jama’ah?” I said: No.

قال: إن جمهور الجماعة: الذين فارقوا الجماعة. الجماعة ما وافق الحق، و إن كنت وحدك

‘Abdullah bin Mas’ood said: “Indeed the majority of the Jama’ah (people) are those who have split from the Jamaa’ah. The Jama’ah is what agrees with the truth – even if you are by yourself.”

و في طريق أخرى: فضرب على فخذي و قال: ويحك، إن جمهور الناس فارقوا الجماعة. و إن الجماعة ما وافق طاعة الله عز و جل

And in a different narration: “So he hit my thigh and said: ‘Woe to you! Indeed the majority of the people have split from the Jama’ah. Indeed the Jama’ah is what agrees with the obedience to Allaah, Exalted and Mighty is He.”

قال نعيم بن حماد “يعني إذا فسدت الجماعة فعليك بما كانت عليه الجماعة قبل أن تفسد، و إن كنت وحدك، فإنك أنت الجماعة حينئذ” ذكره البيهقي و غيره

Nu’aym bin Hammaad said: ‘Meaning, when the Jamaa’ah becomes corrupt, then it is upon you to be upon what the Jama’ah was upon before it became corrupt, even if you are by yourself, in that case you are the Jama’ah” al-Bayhaqi and other than him mentioned it.'”

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It was perhaps for this reason also that Fudayl ibn ‘Iyyad said: “O My brother! Upon you is to follow the ways of guidance, even if those traversing them are few; and to avoid the ways of misguidance even if those rushing to their destruction are many.”

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