#117: Men Praying Beside Women

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. What is the status of a prayer of the men who prayed beside the women in a saf? But there is a curtain separating them.

Answer:

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those who follow his footsteps until the Last Day.

Sometimes, such issues would arise in Mecca al-Mukarramah especially during the hajj season, during the peak time of the arrival of pilgrims. During this time, such a situation might occur, especially in extremely crowded areas.

Jurists divided the issue of men praying beside women into several situations like the following:

First situation: The prayer of a man beside a woman as they follow the same imam.

In this case, the jurists hold the opinion that the prayer is valid both for the man and woman, although the ruling for it is makruh (discouraged). The reason is the sunnah is for a woman to pray behind the men. While according to Imam Abu Hanifah, this position causes the man’s prayer to be invalidated if there isn’t a separator between the two. However, if there is a separator, then Abu Hanifah’s opinion is in line with the jumhur of the jurists which state that it doesn’t affect the prayer.

Second situation: The prayer of a man beside a woman praying separate prayers.

This means if the prayer is performed individually without following the imam. However, the man and woman are praying beside each other. For example, in an area, the man and woman performed the congregational prayer together, later both stand up to perform sunnah prayer individually but beside each other. Does this invalidate the prayer of one or both of them? The following we share several opinions of jurists regarding this issue:

Imam al-Nawawi said: When a man prays and beside him is a woman, then his and her prayers are not invalidated. Regardless of whether he is an imam or makmum. This is our madhhab (Al-Syafi’iyyah) as well as the opinion of Imam Malik and most scholars. And Imam Abu Hanifah said: If the woman is not praying, or she is praying separately (praying alone) from the man, then the prayer of the man and woman is valid. If the woman follows the man (praying together in congregation), and he stands beside the man, then the prayer of a person who is beside the woman is invalidated. However, the prayer of the woman and the following people aren’t invalidated for there is a separator between them. [1]

Imam al-Nawawi also argued with a hadith narrated by Sayyidatina A’isyah R.Anha, she said:

وَاللَّهِ لَقَدْ رَأَيْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يُصَلِّي، وَإِنِّي عَلَى السَّرِيرِ ـ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ الْقِبْلَةِ ـ مُضْطَجِعَةً

“By Allah! I saw the Prophet (ﷺ) praying while I used to lie in (my) bed between him and the Qibla.” [2]

Imam al-Nawawi said: If the prayer isn’t invalidated in the situation where A’isyah wasn’t even worshipping, then if she is worshipping, then surely, this is prioritized (is not invalidated). [3]

The statement of Imam al-Nawawi explained the difference of opinions regarding the issue of a woman being in front of a man during prayer. In this case, A’isyah was lying in bed in front of the Prophet PBUH who was praying. Thus, this shows that the Prophet PBUH’s prayer isn’t invalidated with the presence of A’isyah in front of him. Hence, the same is for a man who is praying while a woman is praying beside him. Analogical deduction (qiyas) is used for a woman who is not worshipping doesn’t invalidate the prayer of a man, it is prioritized if she is also praying where it also doesn’t invalidate the prayer of the man.

Conclusion

According to the above arguments and opinions of jurists, we are inclined towards the opinion of the majority of scholars which states that the prayer for a man praying beside a woman where there is a curtain separating then doesn’t invalidate the prayer. Furthermore, Imam Abu Hanifah also agreed with this opinion. Especially, if the surau is crowded with the attendance of a lot of congregants to perform the tarawih prayer in the month of Ramadhan. May Allah SWT grant us a clear understanding in religion.

Wallahu a’lam.

 

[1] See al-Majmu’ Syarh Al-Muhazzab, 3/231

[2] Narrated by al-Bukhari (514)

[3] See al-Majmu’, 3/252

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.