There are some Musallās of the women, some of women have children, so they pray at the back of the Musallā with their children, and between them and the first rows of the women is a big gap, perhaps she is praying by herself with her children at the back of the Musallā and perhaps there are other women with their children.
So what is the ruling of their prayer in this scenario?
What is obligatory is completing the rows one by one, whether it is concerning the men or the women,
اتموا الصف الأول فالأول وما كان من نقص فليكون في المؤخر
“Complete the rows one by one, and whatever there is of deficiency then let it be in the latter rows.”
And as it is also obligatory upon the men giving importance to the straightening of the rows and completing them one by one and to avoid distancing between them. The Prophet ﷺ said:
النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: تراصوا في الصفوف وقاربوا بينها
“Straighten the rows and draw near between them.”
And drawing near: is for there to be between the previous row and the one after the distance of the place of prostrating with ease, so if they for example made between each row two metres? This is not drawing near between the rows, this is distancing.
There should be levelling between persons. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Draw near to each other”, i.e between two men and two women, there is also that the rows are to be drawn near without crowd. Whereby he is close to the feet of his companion who is in front of him and not according to his liking, he does rukū’u and sujūd adjusted with ease, this is the obligatory drawing close.
Distancing is in opposition to that concerning the men and the women, there remains if she is praying with her children or some women with distancing: The prayer is correct except that there occurs sin due to not closing the gap, not completing the first rows with capability to that. You opposed the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ.
There is a difference between if she prays by herself behind the rows of the women and between if she prays with other women or with some of her children in a row and the likes of that but far from the women. So in the first scenario:
If she prays by herself behind the women whether the women are praying behind the Imām or praying by themselves, then the ruling of that is that of the ruling of a man praying alone behind the row.
لا صلاة لمنفردٍ خلف الصف
“There is no prayer for the one praying alone behind the row.”
It is only legislated for her to pray by herself behind the men, whether it be a Mahram or non Mahram,
صليت أنا ورسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم والعجوز خلفنا
“The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ and I prayed while an old lady was behind us.”
As for women with women then their affair is like the affair of the men with the men, there is a must to row together. In the mentioned scenario the prayer is correct, but what is obligatory is completing the rows one by one.
Answered by: Shaykh, the Allamah, the Trustworthy Advisor, Abu Abdirrahman Yahya bin Ali Al-Hajuri – may Allah preserve him
Translated by: Abū ‘Abdillāh ‘Omar bin Yahya Al-‘Akawi