Answered by Ustadh Sufyan Qufi
Is the obligation (or emphasized Sunnah) of congregational prayer lifted if one is far from the mosque? What is meant by being far from a mosque?
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
I pray this finds you in the best of states.
According to the Hanafi school, it is not obligatory but it is an emphasized sunna for men who have no excuse to pray in a congregation. [Taqrirat al-Rafi‘i on Hashiyat Ibn ‘Abidin]
To get used to missing the congregational prayer without excuse is sinful. [Tahtawi/Shurunbulali, Hashiyat Maraqi al-Falah ]
The sunna is fulfilled even by praying in a congregation outside of the mosque, even though it is better to perform it in the mosque. [Tahtawi/Shurunbulali, Hashiyat Maraqi al-Falah]
The Prophet – peace be upon him – is reported as having said that “Praying in congregation is twenty-seven times better than praying alone” [Bukhari; Muslim].
Failing to pray in a congregation after trying your best to do so is of course excused.
Allah Most High says, “God does not burden any soul with more than it can bear: each gains whatever good it has done, and suffers its bad…” [Quran, 2:286]
Being Far from the Mosque
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, may Allah protect him, mentions in a previous answer that:
“As for ‘being far from the mosque,’ major scholars have explained at being an Arab mile (1.85 km) away from the mosque is considered being far, and considered an excuse. Others have chosen to explain it as being ‘such that there is genuine hardship in getting to the mosque.’ When one is ‘far from the mosque,’ one is no longer blameworthy for not praying at the mosque. One should, however, take the means and establish prayer in a congregation when able.”
“Whoever has mindfulness of Allah, Allah grants a way out and provides for them in ways they could never imagine.” [Quran, 65:2-3]
Attaining higher levels of taqwa is a lifelong journey. I encourage you to listen to this inspiring lecture by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani:
Positive Spiritual Thinking: Choosing Mindfulness (taqwa) and Embracing Trust (tawakkul).
And Allah knows best.
[Ustadh] Sufyan Qufi
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Sufyan Qufi is an advanced seeker of knowledge, originally from Algeria, who grew up in France. He began searching far and wide for answers to the fundamental questions of life and was disappointed at the answers he found.
Then he connected with various traditional teachers and gradually connected with SeekersGuidance. He embarked on his journey of learning through the various teachers at SeekersGuidance, including his mentor Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.
He studied numerous texts in Islamic Law, Theology, Hadith, and other areas with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and other teachers, including Shaykh Abdurrahman al-Sha‘ar, Shaykh Ali Hani, and others.
He is an active instructor at SeekersGuidance and answers questions through the SeekersGuidance Answers Service.