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26182: Passing in front of someone who is praying


One time, by mistake, I told some women in a prayer room, who wanted to pray but were wating for some women to pray so they could pass in front of them, I told them that it was okay since it was a prayer room, and we do pass in fornt of others in the masjids. But I have recently learnt that you can only pass in front of others when the congregation takes place, and otherwise you cannot and the person praying must stop the person from passing or else the person passing is a devil. I told a lot of women there this, and I am sincerly sorry for speaking without knowledge and have asked Allaah (swt) to forgive me, but I feel guilty for spreading wrong information which they might take to be true, and might even pass on to others! What can I do, and would the sin of these people come on to me? Can you please also tell me what should one do in a masjid, where people usually pass by in front of you when you are just praying normally (not in congregation)? Does this apply to the masjids at Makkah and Medinah (haram shariff) also?.

Praise be to Allaah.  

You should note – may Allaah forgive you – that you have committed a great sin, which is speaking about Allaah without knowledge. This is a sin which Allaah mentioned in conjunction with shirk. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):   “Say (O Muhammad): (But) the things that my Lord has indeed forbidden are Al-Fawaahish (great evil sins and every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse) whether committed openly or secretly, sins (of all kinds), unrighteous oppression, joining partners (in worship) with Allaah for which He has given no authority, and saying things about Allaah of which you have no knowledge” [al-A’raaf 7:33] 

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever introduces a good way in Islam which is followed after he dies will have a reward like that of those who did it, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest. Whoever introduces a bad way in Islam which is followed after he dies will have a burden of sin like that of those who did it, without that detracting from their burden in the slightest.” (Narrated by Muslim, 1017, from Jareer ibn ‘Abd-Allaah). 

So you have to repent to Allaah and seek His forgiveness for this sin. I ask Allaah to bless you with sincere repentance. 

You should also strive to put right your mistake by telling those who heard what you said before without knowledge. 

With regard to the question that you mention, if someone wants to pass in front of a person who is praying, one of the following scenarios must apply: 

1 – If he passes in front of the one who is praying, i.e., in the area between the spot where he puts his forehead when he prostrates and where he stands, this is haraam, and indeed it is a major sin as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If the one who passes in front of a person who is praying knew what (a burden of sin) he bears, it would be better for him to stand for forty rather than pass in front of him.” Abu’l-Nadar – one of the narrators – said: I do not know whether he said forty days or months or years. Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 510; Muslim, 507 – from Abu Juhaym (may Allaah be pleased with him). 

In this case it makes no different whether the person has a sutrah (object to serve as a screen) or not. 

2 – If he passes in the area that is beyond the place where he prostrates. Two scenarios may apply in this case: 

(i)                If the one who is praying has set up a sutrah (object to serve as a screen). In this case it is permissible to pass beyond the sutrah, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If any one of you prays, let him face towards something. If he cannot find anything, then let him set up a stick. If he cannot do that, then let him draw a line, then it will not matter if anyone passes in front of him.”

Narrated by Ahmad, 3/15; Ibn Maajah, 3063; Ibn Hibbaan, 2361. Ibn Hajar said in al-Buloogh, 249: The one who said that it is mudtarab (a kind of weak hadeeth) is not right; rather it is hasan.

And it was narrated that Talhah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If one of you puts something in front of him that is like the back of a saddle, then let him pray and not worry about anyone who passes beyond that.” Narrated by Muslim, 499.

(ii)              If the one who is praying has not set up a sutrah, he has no more than the space in which he prostrates. This is the most correct scholarly opinion. It is permissible for the one who wants to pass in front of him to pass in the space beyond where he prostrates. That is because the prohibition mentioned in the hadeeth applies to passing in front of the one who is praying, and what is beyond the place where he prostrates is not counted as being in front of the one who is praying. 

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, after mentioning the differences of scholarly opinion concerning the distance within which the worshipper should stop anyone from passing in front of him: 

The most correct opinion is that it is the distance between his feet and the place where he prostrates. That is because the one who is praying has no right to anything more than what he needs for his prayer. So he does not have the right to prevent the people from (using space) that he does not need. 

Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 3/340. 

All of this has to do with one who is praying alone or is leading others in prayer. If he is a member of a congregation, then the sutrah of the imam is the sutrah for those who are behind him. 

Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Baab sutrat al-imam sutrah li man khalfahu (the sutrah of the imam is the sutrah of those who are behind him). 

It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas said: Once I came riding a female donkey and had (just) attained the age of puberty. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) praying at Mina, and there was no wall in front of him. I passed in front of part of the row while they were praying. Then I let the donkey loose to graze and joined the row, and nobody objected to it. (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 76; Muslim, 504) 

See al-Mughni, 2/42, 2/46 

The correct scholarly view is that Makkah and other places are the same because of the general meaning of the evidence. There is nothing to suggest that Makkah is not included in this general meaning. This is the view favoured by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen. See al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 3/342. 

And Allaah knows best.

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