Leaving a Mosque that is Close By to Pray in another Mosque

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-Uthaymeen rahimahullaah in his Majmoo` Fataawaa vol. 14 pg. 241 was asked the following question:

Q: O Noble Shaykh, some people in the Month of Ramadaan leave the mosque that is close to them to pray in another mosque because their hearts are more attentive there, and the Prophet sallAllaahu alaihi wa sallam has said: “A man should pray in the mosque that is next to him and he should not follow different mosques.” (Reported by at-Tabaree in ‘al-Kabeer’ 12/370, and al-Haythamee in ‘al-Majma`’ 2/23, also see as-Saheehah of al-Albaanee no. 2200). Give us the verdict, may Allaah forgive you.

A: This narration according to what I know, there is a difference of opinion regarding its authenticity, and if we were to say it was authentic then it would be taken to mean: if, by praying in mosques further away this caused the congregation to spilt away from the mosques that were close to them.

Otherwise it is well known that the companions – radiyallaahu `anhum – would intend the Prophet’s mosque so that they could pray behind the Prophet sallAllaahu `alaihi wa sallam, to the extent that Mu`aadh radiyallaahu `anhu would pray with the Prophet sallAllaahu `alaihi wa sallam the Ishaa prayer, then he would return to his people and lead them in prayer at a later time.

As for people intending a mosque due to the fineness of the recitation, and if the fine recitation of his imam aided him upon standing in prayer – there is no harm in that; except if he were to fear discord (fitnah), or he feared offending the imam that was close by; for example if he was from amongst the elders of his people, and by him leaving his mosque for another mosque there was something of an insult to his imam in that, here it could be said: It is befitting to take into account such a harmful outcome, so he stays away from such.

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