Jama’at means congregation. When Muslims gather to offer prayers (Arabic - Salah) in congregation, it is called Jama’at. It is led by the Imam and the rest follow him (called muqtadees); there is a great reward for offering prayer with the congregation.
1) Syedna Anas (Allah be well pleased with him) narrates that the beloved Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said, “Whoever offers Prayer with Jama’at for forty days with the first takbeer (start of Salah by announcement of Allah’s name), two salvations will be written for him: one from hell and one from hypocrisy.”
2) Syedna Abdullah ibn Umar (Allah be well pleased with them) narrates that the beloved Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said, “Salah offered with Jama’at is twenty-seven times greater than Salah offered alone.”
3) Imam Muhammad Ghazali (Allah’s mercy be upon him) says, “Salah was so important to our salaf saliheen [pious predecessors] that if they missed the first takbeer they would mourn for three days and if anyone missed Jama’at then they would mourn for seven days.” (Mukashifat ul-Quloob)
4) Syedna Maymoon bin Mahraan (Allah’s mercy be upon him) came to the mosque. He was told that the Jama’at has finished. Upon hearing this, he sadly said, “The fazilat (excellence) of this [Jama’at] is better than ruling over Iraq.” (Mukashifat ul-Quloob)
5) Syedna Abu Hurairah (May Allah be well pleased with him) narrates that the beloved Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said, “If people knew what was [the reward] in the [calling of] Azaan and [being a part of] the first saf [row of Jama’at] then they would not get it without drawing names. So they would draw names [i.e., they would compete for the honor of these two acts]. (Bukhari)
Thoughts and Points
6) Jama’at is compulsory for every sane and mature man who has the ability to offer Salah. It is very important for the people living in the vicinity of the mosque to attend the Jama’at.
7) To move closer to a mosque or madrasah (religious school) with the intention of attaining Jama’at is a very commendable action. May Allah give us the guidance to keep our mosques and Madrasahs alive. In fact, keep this in mind when moving or buying a house.
8) If you live so far that you cannot drive or walk to the mosque or madrasah comfortably then make sure to come for Jama’at at least once or twice a day or week or more [based on distance and means of travel] to at least earn the reward of coming for and praying with Jama’at.
10) One should not think ‘I can’t join the Jama’at, I am too busy with school or work and family’. Such thoughts are from the devil or our own ill- self. If you make the intention and effort, Allah-willing, the hardships will go away.
11) Stand in the saf (rows) shoulder to shoulder so that there is no space left in between.
12) To wait for Salah has been called “Salah,” so be punctual for the Salah.