Is It Permissible to Maintain Social Distance in Prayer during the Pandemic?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch


What is the ruling on praying at the masjid while maintaining social distancing in the context of the hadith in which we are supposed to stand shoulder to shoulder and feet to feet; otherwise, shaytan will come between us? Is it permissible to pray with 6ft between each other?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

In normal circumstances, it is prohibitively disliked to leave empty a gap in the row that a person could fit in. [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

However, due to the gravity of the global health crisis during COVID-19, the recommendation of social-distancing takes precedence. The preservation of life is one of the higher aims of the Religion, thus it is given precedence over the ruling of filling the gaps.

This is derived from the principle: “Necessity entails the permitting of some impermissible things. [Ibn Nujaym; al-Ashbah wa-Naza‘ir]

Other examples of this principle being applied can be found in the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace).

One Who is Forced to Declare Disbelief

Allah Most High says, “With the exception of those who are forced to say they do not believe, although their hearts remain firm in faith, those who reject God after believing in Him and open their hearts to disbelief will have the wrath of God upon them and a grievous punishment awaiting them.” [Quran, 16:106]

One Who Compelled to Eat Impermissible Food

Allah Most High says, “Why should you not eat of what is slaughtered in Allah’s Name when He has already explained to you what He has forbidden to you—except when compelled by necessity? Many (deviants) certainly mislead others by their whims out of ignorance. Surely your Lord knows the transgressors best.” [Quran; 06:119]

Also, “You are forbidden to eat carrion; blood; pig’s meat; any animal over which any name other than God’s has been invoked; any animal strangled, or victim of a violent blow or a fall, or gored or savaged by a beast of prey, unless you still slaughter it [in the correct manner]; or anything sacrificed on idolatrous altars. You are also forbidden to allot shares [of meat] by drawing marked arrows -a heinous practice…but whoever is forced by severe hunger with no inclination to sin – then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Quran, 05:03]

Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch teaches Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he completed four years at the Darul Uloom Seminary in New York, where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences.

He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he studied for three years in Dar al-Mustafa under some of the most outstanding scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib.

In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Quran and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Quranic exegesis, Islamic history, and several texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.