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Virtual Jumu`ah and Tarawih: Response to Objections

No Consensus

If such were the opinions of the pious predecessors about praying from houses and apartments that were separated from the imam, and if they allowed for such latitude, why can’t we allow ourselves to make use of these opinions in our difficult times? Didn’t they know this religion better than us?

Further, according to Ibn Taymiyyah, praying inside or outside the masjid while following the imam is valid according to all of the four great imams. What they have differed on is the validity of such prayers when the imam is separated from his congregants by way of a street or body of water through which ships may sail. And, even in such a circumstance, we find that Imam Ahmad and Imam Abu Hanifa deem such prayers invalid while Imam Shafi`i and Imam Malik allow it.

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Hence, even among our great fuqaha there was a difference of opinion on the matter and not one singular position!

Contemporary Examples

Coming to the present day, in an attempt to deal with overcrowding, there are currently fatwas that allow for congregants to follow the Jama`a (congregation) in Makkah from the hotels connected to the Haramayn including the Clock Tower Hotel and Hotel Safa among others.

Indeed, it may be that many of those who argue against virtual Jumu`ah based on the view that there shouldn’t be gaps, walls etc., have very likely joined the imam from the Haramayan from these very same hotels during trips for Hajj or Umrah.

Closer to home, if we are to rigidly stick to the stated rule (of those who oppose virtual Jumu’ah), many of the prayers conducted in our very own mosques around the world would be deemed invalid. In my forty plus years as an imam, I have yet to see a mosque that has not had to accommodate overflow of congregants for congregational prayers (including Jumu‘ah) in hallways, gyms, cafeterias or classrooms.

How can we rigidly stick to one fiqh condition to disallow virtual Jumu`ah during this pandemic, while at the same time choosing to ignore the same condition when it suits us?

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