September 2022 New Admission Inquiry

If men and women are in the same saff without a physical barrier, how much gap is required so the salat is not invalid?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الجواب و بالله التوفيق

We would Firstly like to point out that the saff for women should ideally be behind the men. Consider the following hadith.

It was narrated from Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

‘The best rows for men are the first rows, and the worst ones for them are the last ones, and the best rows for women are the last ones and the worst ones for them are the first ones.’ (Muslim)

According to the Shariah, for when a man and woman are praying in the same row, the salat for a man would be invalid based on certain conditions. Those conditions are:

1) The woman is Mushtahaat (close to puberty such that she is desirable, ie. above age 9)
2) There is no barrier between them (the size of one arm’s length, the width of one finger. This includes a gap between them, such that one man can fill the space)
3) They are praying a standard prayer (this excludes Janaza – funeral prayer)
4) They are both praying the same prayer
5) They are both praying with the same imam
6) They are facing the same direction (It is possible to face different directions whilst praying inside the Qaaba)
7) She is liable for salat (ie. Her salat would be considered valid)
8) The imam made intention to lead her as well (If an imam does not make intention for her while she intends to follow him, her salat will not be valid)
9) She is sane
10) She prays an entire rukn (complete posture) of prayer next to the man.

All ten of these conditions need to be present for his prayer to be invalid.

Based on the scenario in the question, if all other conditions are found, but there is a gap between them the size of which one man can fill, the salat of the man will still not become invalid as the 2nd condition mentioned will not be present. However, if all conditions are in fact present, then only the salat of the one man who is standing next to the women will be invalid, all others will be valid as he will be like a barrier to the other men.

And Allah SWT knows best.

١) حدثنا زهَير بن حرْب، حدثنا جرير، عن سهيل، عن أبيه، عن أبي هريرة، قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم “‏خير صفوف الرجال أولها وشرها آخرها وخير صفوف النساء آخرها وشرها أولها.”‏ (صحيح مسلم، كتاب الصلاة، ج: ١، الرقم: ٩٨٦)
٢) (و اذا حاذته) ولو بعضو واحد، وخصه “الزيلعي” باساق والكعب (امراة) و لو امة (مشتهاة)… (رد المحتار على الدر المختار، ج: ٣، ص: ٥٦٨-٥٨٥)
٣) (الهداية، ج: ١، ص: ٢٠١-٢٠٢)

‎Fahad Tirmizi
Checked and approved by:
Mufti Mahdi Alam
Darul Iftaa
Darul Uloom New York