Hadith: The most burdensome prayers for the hypocrites are the ‘Ishā' and Fajr prayers. If they were to know the virtue of them, they would come to them even if they had to crawl. I sometimes thought of ordering for the prayer to be commenced, and I would appoint a man to lead the people in prayer, and then I would go, along with some men having bundles of firewood, to the people who are not attending the prayer and burn their houses with fire upon them
عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: «أَثقَل الصَّلاةِ على المُنَافِقِين: صَلاَة العِشَاء، وصَلاَة الفَجر، وَلَو يَعلَمُون مَا فِيها لَأَتَوهُمَا وَلَو حَبْوُا، وَلَقَد هَمَمتُ أًن آمُرَ بِالصَّلاَةِ فَتُقَام، ثُمَّ آمُر رجلاً فيصلي بالنَّاس، ثُمَّ أَنطَلِق مَعِي بِرِجَال معهُم حُزَمٌ مِن حَطَب إلى قَومٍ لاَ يَشهَدُون الصَّلاَة، فَأُحَرِّقَ عَلَيهِم بُيُوتَهُم بالنَّار». [صحيح] - [متفق عليه] المزيــد ...
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) said: "The most burdensome prayers for the hypocrites are the ‘Ishā and Fajr prayers. If they were to know the virtue of them, they would come to them even if they had to crawl. I sometimes thought of ordering for the prayer to be commenced, and I would appoint a man to lead the people in prayer, and then I would go, along with some men having bundles of firewood, to the people who are not attending the prayer and burn their houses with fire upon them." Sahih/Authentic. - [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
The hypocrites used to show off and rarely remember Allah, the Almighty, as revealed in the Qur’an. Their laziness appears most significantly in the ‘Ishā' and Fajr prayers because they are offered under the cover of darkness, when people will not see them. Most hypocrites neglect to offer these two prayers, which are performed during the times of rest and sleep. Only those driven by faith and the pursuit of reward in the Hereafter are keen on observing them. Hence, the Fajr and ‘Ishā' prayers are the most difficult for the hypocrites. If they knew the great reward of offering these two prayers along with the Muslim congregation in the mosque, they would come to them, even if they had to crawl upon their hands and knees, just like babies. The Prophet (may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) swore that he had actually thought of punishing those who lazily fail to attend these two prayers in congregation. He determined to order the prayer be commenced and let someone else lead it and then go, along with a group of men carrying bundles of firewood, and set fire to the houses of those who did not attend the congregational prayer, due to the gravity of their action. Yet, he subsequently decided against it, since those houses lodged innocent women and children who had done no wrong, as mentioned in some versions of the Hadīth.
Congregational prayer is an individual duty upon male Muslim adults.
Warding off evils takes precedence over bringing about benefits. Nothing prevented the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) from inflicting such punishment upon them but the fear that the punishment might befall those who did not deserve it.
If a certain evil can be removed by a lesser deterrent, it should be adopted and there is no need for a harsher penalty, as the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) gave precedence to threatening over actual punishment.
Offering all prayers is burdensome for hypocrites, and the most burdensome of them are the ‘Ishā’ and Fajr prayers.
The hypocrites would seek nothing out of their worship but show-off and good reputation, for they would only attend prayers when people could see them.
It shows the merit of the ‘Ishā’ and Fajr prayers.
The reward for offering the ‘Ishā’ and Fajr prayers in congregation is great, and they are worthy of being attended even if people have to crawl to do so.
The burdensomeness of the Fajr and ‘Ishā’ prayers is represented in their performance in congregation, as indicated by the context. They are burdensome because of the strong urge not to attend them.
if something arises and prevents the imām from completing the prayer, he should assign someone else to lead the prayer in his place.