The ulama have written considerably on this subject. But as far as I know, there isn’t a more comprehensive and eloquent article than that which has been written by Hadrat Maulana Shah Wali Ullah rahmatullahi alayh. Although it would have been preferable for me to quote his article word for word, for the sake of brevity, I will merely give a summary of what he has written.
1. There is nothing more beneficial or profitable than making a particular form of ibaadah into a second nature to the extent that that ibaadah becomes a necessity and it becomes impossible to leave it just as it is almost impossible to give up a particular habit. And there is no form of ibaadah greater than salaat which could be accorded such importance.
2. In matters of religion, we find all sorts of people – the learned as well as the ignorant. There is therefore great wisdom in this that everyone gets together and fulfils this ibaadah in the presence of each other. If someone makes a particular mistake, another person is there to correct him. It is as if this ibaadah of Allah Ta’ala is a jewel and all the inspectors are examining it: if there is any defect in it, they point it out, and if there is any merit or excellence in it, they appreciate it. So this is an excellent means for the perfection of salaat.
3. The position of those who do not offer their salaat will also come into the open. In this way, one has the opportunity of advising them.
4. The gathering of a few Muslims who render an ibaadah to Allah Ta’ala and beseech Him has a special effect for the descending of mercy and acceptance in the sight of Allah.
5. The aim and object of Allah Ta’ala with regards to this ummah is that the kalimah must supercede everything and that kufr must be subdued, and that no religion must be able to overpower Islam. This can only be possible if certain steps are adopted whereby all the Muslims – the masses, the learned, the travellers, the inhabitants of places, the young, and the old – get together for a particular ibaadah which is great and famous, thereby exhibiting the grandeur and power of Islam. Because of all these merits and qualities, the entire attention of the Shariah directed itself towards the jama’at, encouraged it, and laid down strict prohibitions on discarding it.
6. Another benefit of the jama’at is that all the Muslims will be fully aware of each others conditions and circumstances, and will be able to share each others difficulties and problems. In this way, religious brotherhood and love which is based on Imaan will be fully exhibited and consolidated. This is one of the great objects of the Shariah and its significance and virtue has been mentioned repeatedly in the Quran and Hadith. It is indeed sad that the discarding of jama’at has become a norm in our times. Let alone the ignorant masses, many learned people are also caught in this evil web. It is extremely sad that these people read the Ahadith and even understand their meanings, but the importance of jama’at does not have any effect on their hearts which are harder than stone. What answer will these people give when they will stand in front of Allah Ta’ala and all the appeals with regards to salaat will be presented before everything else, and investigations will commence with those who discarded salaat entirely or partly?