Our Shaykh, Abu Abdillah Muhammad ba Jamaal -may Allaah preserve him- was asked:
Question: What is the ruling on a person praying and between him and the next person is a space of about a meter because of the spread of this epidemic?
Answer: This question was asked of us before from Indonesia around the time of Sha’baan, and they also sent a picture of this type of prayer (with the heads removed) as confirmation of this act. So the Imaam is standing and those praying behind him, everyone is spaced one meter apart from the other. So they asked about the ruling on this type of salaat.
Firstly our response was, the one that has been afflicted with this virus or other than it from the sicknesses that the doctors says can spread, is that it is not permissible for him to come to the masjid and mix with the people. Because the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Do not enter the sick upon the healthy.” (Sahih Muslim: hadith Abu Hurairah)
Secondly, for the one affected by some of the symptoms of this virus, it is recommended that he should stay away from the people, so he doesn’t agitate them. As he may be in the rows (of the prayer) coughing and sneezing busying the people in their prayers because of all the news they hear about the symptoms of this virus. As it was mentioned by some, and it’s authenticity is in question, that once in a masjid as the speaker was giving his Friday sermon he started to cough, and this was in the beginning of the epidemic, the people ran out. As if no one has ever coughed before. Or they all forgot that people cough. It has become as if no one coughs except from this virus. And what is sought for this individual, which may have something of this sickness, is that he avoids the people and not mix with them so he doesn’t cause them any inconvenience. But that he goes and seeks treatment. Also from what was mentioned, if this virus has spread, and it has been confirmed that it has spread a killed a number of people but they only ascribe this type of prayer to the masjid as for the homes then you can pray as you like.
So our response to this type of precautionary prayer is that they pray by establishing the rows and pray close to one another filling in the spaces as the Prophet ﷺ commanded. As for the one that is afraid then he should leave and not pray amongst the people. As the one that is afraid nothing enters upon him except fears, doubts and the likes, so if that is the case don’t pray with the people. But the people should pray. And anyone affected by this virus or other than it, should avoid the people. As for this spacing between the people in the rows as a source of prevention then this is not permissible. But if they were to pray in this manner then their prayer would be correct. This is what was mentioned previously on this matter. But the straightening of the rows is obligatory (in the prayer). So yes, perfecting and connecting the rows is a must. But some of the people of knowledge see that perfecting the rows is highly recommended and not obligatory. So from this angle if they prayed in this way their prayer would be correct. And this is, and Allaah knows best, what was mentioned previously that their prayer would be correct. But if this was to take place with out a legislative excuse then they would be sin for not perfecting the rows but their prayer would be correct. As the ruling on connecting the rows is removed if one is not capable. As was mentioned by Shaikh al-Islaam in Taimiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) as can be found in Majmooh Fataawa. And Allaah knows best.
Also this way of offering the pray is not known. What was mentioned in the time of earlier epidemics that spread when the people prayed they didn’t have this spacing between one another. As Alaamah Abaad (may Allah preserve him) said about this type of prayer that it is an innovation. That this action has been newly invented into the religion.
Translated by: AbuYusuf Bilal ibn Howard Robinson
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