Eid Salâh at the Musallâ: A Forgotten Sunnah

Open field aka Musallâ

بسم الله والحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله

The majority of Muslims in the West - if not the world - perform their 'Eid Salâh in the Masjid and consider this to be the recommended practice. The actual Sunnah, as we'll discuss below, is to perform it in an open field outside the inhabited area of the town or city, which is known as a Musallâ (or 'Eidgâh).

Unfortunately, due to it becoming the norm, Muslims organise 'Eid Salâh in every Masjid in the town or city to the extent that even small Masâjid, where barely 50 people can be accommodated, hold more than one congregation at different times!

One thing is clear: Rasûlullâh SallAllâhu 'alayhi wasallam and the Khulafâ ar-Râshidoon (the rightly-guided Caliphs) used to perform the 'Eid Salâh in the Musallâ. Despite Masjid an-Nabawî being the second-most virtuous place to perform Salâh in, Rasûlullâh (SallAllâhu alayhi wasallam) left this blessed Masjid on the occasion of 'Eid and proceeded to the Musallâ for the 'Eid Salâh. As mentioned in a (weak) Hadîth, the only instance when Rasûlullâh (SallAllâhu 'alayhi wasallam) performed 'Eid Salâh in the Masjid was when it rained. Sayyiduna Abû Hurayrah RadhiyAllâhu 'anh reports: "And rain befell them on the Day of 'Eid so Rasûlullâh SallAllâhu 'alayhi wasallam led them in prayer in the Masjid." [1]
 
Many of the 'ulamâ have stated that to perform Salâh at the Musallâ is Sunnah al-Mu-akkadah (an emphasised Sunnah) based on a number of aHâdîth, some of which are reproduced below:
 
  • Sayyidunâ Abû Sa'îd al-Khudrî RadhiyAllâhu 'anh says: "The Messenger of Allâh SallAllâhu 'alayhi wasallam would go out on the Day of Fitr and Adh-Hâ to the Musallâ ('Eidgâh)." [2]
  • Sayyidunâ 'Abdullâh bin 'Umar RadhiyAllâhu 'anh says: "He SallAllâhu 'alayhi wasallam would set out for the Musallâ on the Day of 'Eid while carrying a spear ['anazah] in front of him. So when he would reach the Musallâ, he would prop it in front of him and pray towards it [using it as a sutrah]. This is since the Musallâ would be a vast empty area, which had nothing in it to screen oneself with." [3]
  • Sayyidunâ al-Barâ bin 'Âzib RadhiyAllâhu 'anh reports: "Rasûlullâh SallAllâhu 'alayhi wasallam went out on the Day of Adh-Hâ ('Eid) to al-Baqî' [and in another narration: to the Musallâ] and performed two raka'ât. Then he turned and faced us..." [4]
 
The aHâdîth reproduced above prove clearly that the normal practice of our dear beloved Messenger SallAllâhu 'alayhi wasallam was to perform the 'Eid Salâh at the Musallâ and not in the Masjid.
 
One of the purposes of holding the 'Eid prayer in the Musallâ is to gather the largest possible number of Muslims in one place.
 
Shâh Waliyullâh ad-Dihlawî Rahimahullâh writes: "Every nation must have some presentation, in which its people gather together during it to display their strength and to show their numbers. This is why it is recommended for everyone to go out (to the Musallâ) ... And it is also why Rasûlullâh SallAllâhu 'alayhi wasallam would vary in the roads he took when going and coming from the Musallâ, so that the people in each of the roads would see the strength of the Muslims." [5]
 
It should be borne in mind that the 'Eid Salâh was not performed at the Musallâ due to there being lack of space because otherwise the expansions of Masjid an-Nabawî that took place in the era of the Khulafâ ar-Râshidoon would have accommodated this. However, the practice of performing the 'Eid Salâh at the Musallâ continued during their time too (and beyond). 'Abdul-Hayy al-Lakhnawî Rahimahullâh writes: "This practice was maintained neither due to any necessity nor merely as a habit, but rather as an act of 'ibâdah."
 
Such is the importance of performing the 'Eid Salâh in an open field that Mufti Rashîd Ahmad Rahimahullâh writes: "[I]n very big cities it is very difficult to go to the outskirts, hence in such a situation 'Eid Salâh should be performed in some open field within the city". [6]
 
Contemporary 'ulamâ have gone further and have stated that where no Musallâ is available (i.e. one that fulfils all the conditions outlined above) then it would still be better to perform the 'Eid Salâh in an open field even if it is within the built-up areas.
 
Mufti Sa'îd Pâlanpuri states: "Where no Sunnah Musallâ is available, it would be better to perform the 'Eid Salâh on any open field (such as an open sports field, etc.) rather than performing it in various Masâjid."
 
Mufti Nizâmuddîn of Deoband is also of the opinion that any open piece of land will suffice, whether it lies within the built up areas or outside it.
 
Based on the above discourse, it is quite clear that every Muslim should make their best endeavour to perform their 'Eid Salâh at the Musallâ and not their local Masjid, if there is provision for the former. If there is no Musallâ then it becomes the responsibility of the Muslims of each town/city to arrange for one, otherwise the Sunnah al-Mu-akkadah would not be fulfilled and all the inhabitants would be held accountable.
 
If this forgotten Sunnah is not revived then soon it will simply be confined to the books of Hadîth. So let us work together in making a concerted effort to make this Sunnah the accepted norm once again. To revive a Sunnah is indeed a noble deed.
 
May Allâh give all the Muslims the ability to revive this Sunnah and to practise upon each and every aspect of the Sunnah.
 

[1] Mustadrak al-Hâkim
[2] al-Bukhârî, Muslim, An-Nasâî
[3] al-Bukhârî, Muslim, ibn Mâjah (whose wording has been used)
[4] al-Bukhârî
[5] Hujjatullâh al-Bâlighah
[6] Ahsan al-Fatâwâ, Vol II, p. 119

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