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Virtual Jumu`ah and Tarawih: Response to Objections

2. Lines Are Interrupted:

A second argument raised in the discussions is that:  It cannot be done because it is against the view that states that the congregants of congregational prayers must be joined by uninterrupted lines and that there shouldn’t be any unreasonable gaps, buildings, high walls, rivers etc., separating the congregation.

No one would doubt that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ideally wanted us to pray in jama`ah standing shoulder to shoulder and in lines, with each new line flowing from the one ahead of it and for there to be no gaps between the lines.

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The Prophet’s foundational order for this stems from the fact that the  imam is to be followed in prayer; such that if he makes takbir, the congregants follow in takbir, if the imam goes to ruku`, the congregants go to ruku`, etc… and this is best done when lines are uninterrupted.

Though we are ideally to have uninterrupted lines for congregational prayers as per the Prophet’s sunnah, it should be remembered that the Shariah takes into account changes in circumstances and allows easing of restrictions.

And it is precisely for this reason that we see the following narrations and reports:

  • Ibn `Abbas was seen praying in the maqsurah (pavilion) outside the mosque, behind the worshippers. He said, “There is nothing wrong in praying in the outskirts of the Masjid following the imam (even if there is a separation from the lines).
  • Salih ibn Ibrahim says, “I saw Anas b. Malik praying Jumu`ah in the house of Humayd b. Abd al-Rahman, following the imam of the Masjid; there was a street separating the house from the Masjid.
  • Yunus b. `Ubayd says: I saw Anas b. Malik praying Jumu`ah following the imam while he was in a room separated from the Masjid.
  • Imam Malik reports that people used to enter the houses of the Prophet’s wives (after the Prophet’s death) and used to pray following the imam of the Masjid; he says they found it acceptable to do so because of the crowding of the mosque.
  • Imam Malik says, “Jumu`ah Prayer can be performed in the courtyard of the mosque as well as in the residences around the mosque, even if the lines are not joined together, and even if there is a street separating them, if the Masjid is crowded, and such a prayer is valid.  Whereas Ibn Rushd adds the following: “if someone were to do it without there being an issue of overcrowding, or necessity, his action is undesirable, but the prayer is nevertheless still valid.
  • Ibrahim al-Nakha`i was asked: what do you say of a person who prays following the imam of the mosque from his home? He replied, “There is nothing wrong in doing so.” The same view is attributed to Hasan al-Basari and Bukhari as well.
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