Q. I have heard some Muslims say that they will not attend a Jumu’a (Friday) prayer before dhuhr time. A number of masajid have several khutbas at multiple locations to help with crowd management, and some of these khutbas start before dhuhr time. Is the Friday khutba synonymous with dhuhr or can it be done before dhuhr time?
A. There are several traditions showing that the khutba can be done before dhuhr time. As Goitein pointed out, it was done in the Arabian cities on the Friday before the noon heat.
Hadith from Subul Al Salaam from Salama Bin Al Akwa': "We used to pray with the Prophet on Jumu'a, and then we would exit and the walls would have no shadow under which we could shade ourselves."(Muslim and Bukhari) The commentary runs thus (abbreviated): This does not mean that they used to pray before noon. This is what those who opine that the time of Jumu'a is that of dhuhr. Ahmad and Ishaq allowed for the holding of the prayer before the decline of the sun. The companions of Ahmad differed. Some say it is the time of the Eid prayer (very early). Malik allowed for the delivery of the khutba before the decline of the sun but not the prayer itself, this being because of the phraseology of the hadith.
Abdullah Bin Shaiban said: "We prayed with Abu Bakr and his khutba and prayer were before midday; we prayed with Umar and his prayer and khutba were such that we could say that it was at midday; I prayed with Uthman and I could say the sun started to decline."(Related from Ahmad) Similar ahadith have been narrated from Bin Masu'd, Jabir, Saeed, and Muawiya that they prayed before the sun went over the meridian.
So in summary, while there are differing opinions on the matter, some of the ahadith clearly state that the Friday khutba and prayer were completed before the sun started to decline. As such, there is no problem with the khutba and prayer being completed before dhuhr time, especially given the situation you mentioned about crowd management. The mere fact that there is such a vast difference in the Jumu’a timings proves that God, in His infinite mercy, has given us such leeway for convenience. Therefore when the mosque administration holds several Jumu’as, they do so in consideration of our circumstances, and to cater to the needs of the people. For this, they are to be commended.
Posted June 13, 2011