Date : 03-06-2020

Question :

What categories of people are exempted from congregational Friday prayer in light of the spread of corona virus?

The Answer :

Praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds.

Boys below 14 years of age who haven`t reached puberty are exempted from preforming Friday prayer in congregation. This is based on the following Hadith, "It was narrated from 'Aishah that the Prophet said: "The pen has been lifted from three: From the sleeper until he wakes up, from the minor until he grows up, and from the insane until he comes back to his senses or recovers."{Reported by an-Nasa'i }.Therefore, parents shouldn`t take their children to the Friday prayer in light of these exceptional circumstances to spare them harm, preserve their health and life. Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar (RA):Allah's Messenger (PBUH) said: "It is enough for a person to be considered sinful, that he neglects those whom he is responsible to sustain." [Reported by an-Nasa'i].

Moreover, women aren't required to attend this prayer because the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Congregational Friday prayer is an obligation on each Muslim except woman, boy or slave."{As-Sunan al-Kubra of Baihaqi`s}.

Patients with chronic diseases are also exempted from attending this prayer; especially the ones with heart and kidney diseases, cancer, respiratory and pulmonary diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, because, according to the scientific studies conducted by world medical associations, they are more susceptible to contracting the corona virus. In this regard, Allah says{What means}, " There is no blame for the blind, nor is there blame for the lame, nor is there blame for the sick (that they go not forth to war). And whoso obeyeth Allah and His messenger, He will make him enter Gardens underneath which rivers flow; and whoso turneth back, him will He punish with a painful doom."{al-Fatih, 17}. He the Almighty also said {What means}, " He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion.."{al-Haj, 78}. Similarly, medical personnel providing patient care are also exempted since preserving lives takes precedence over performing this act of worship.Al-Bukhari reported in his Sahih, Narrated Nafi:Ibn 'Umar was once told that Said bin Zaid bin 'Amr bin Nufail, one of the Badr warriors, had fallen ill on a Friday. Ibn 'Umar rode to him late in the forenoon. The time of the Friday prayer approached and Ibn 'Umar did not take part in the Friday prayer.

The elderly are also exempted from this prayer since their contracting the disease causes serious complications and could lead to death. According to medical studies conducted on patients, fifty year olds and overhave a higher mortality rate. Jurists have stated that fearing for one`s life from disease exempts from attending congregational Friday prayer*.

We call on all prayer performers to follow the necessary preventive measures to prevent the transmission of this virus since it was narrated from Ibn 'Abbas that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:“There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm.”{Ibn Majah}. In addition, these measures are meant to preserve life, which is among the higher objectives of Sharia. Allah the Almighty said {What means}, "We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.'{al-Mai`dah, 32}. Some of these measures are: bringing one`s prayer mat to the Masjid, reciting from one`s Quran, making ablution at home, practicing social distancing and avoiding hand shaking. It was narrated from a man from Al Ash-Sharid, who was called 'Amr, that his father said:"Among the delegation of Thaqif there was a man who suffered from leprosy. The Prophet sent word to him saying: 'Go back, for I have accepted your pledge."{Related by Muslim}.

It is worth pointing that social distancing is permissible when delivering the Friday prayer in congregation and the prayer is valid according to scholarly consensus. This is since connecting the lines for prayer is an act of Sunnah, not a condition or a duty of prayer. In light of this pandemic, praying people should be keen on observing social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus, which is transmitted by close contact and touching.

In addition, one infected with the virus or suspected to be infectedis forbidden to attend the congregational Friday prayer and should isolate himself. It is also forbidden to conceal this from others to prevent the transmission of the disease. And Allah the Almighty knows best.