Can We Have Long Gaps between People in Obligatory Prayer Due to COVID?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas


In my country, in some places, during congregational prayers in mosques, people stand in rows keeping their distance from one another due to the fear of the coronavirus. Is it permissible to stand in a row, keeping the gap between people during congregational prayer? Are the prayers valid? Should I join them or offer salah at my home alone?


In normal circumstances, this would be highly disliked (though still valid). However, in the current situation with COVID-19, praying with such gaps is not only permitted but necessary as it concerns safeguarding the congregation and the broader community. Thus, your prayer is undoubtedly valid.

As for whether you should join the congregation or pray at home also relates to the general question of the need to practice social distancing and avoid large and concentrated gatherings where disease transmission is more likely. You should think carefully about whether you should attend such gatherings, especially if COVID-19 is present in your area and medical professionals advise people to avoid public settings.

[Ustadh] Salman Younas
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Born and raised in New York, Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studied Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. He is now in his final year of his PhD at Oxford University, looking at the early evolution of the Hanafi madhab.
His teachers include: Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Salah Abu’l Hajj, Shaykh Ashraf Muneeb, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Shaykh Hamza Karamali, Shaykh Ahmad Snobar, Shaykh Ali Hani, Shaykh Hamza Bakri, Ustadh Rajab Harun and others.
Ustadh Salman’s personal interests include research into the fields of law/legal methodology, hadith, theology, as well as political theory, government, media, and ethics. He is also an avid traveler and book collector. He currently resides in the UK with his wife.