What is the ruling of keeping social distancing during the prayer due to the Covid-19 pandemic? Is this bid’a?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
It is prohibitively disliked to leave empty a gap in the row that a person could fit in in normal circumstances. [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
Leaving a Sunna is Not Innovation
Even though this is disliked, it is not considered an innovation. Innovation applies to something newly introduced in the Religion that goes against the teaching of the Qur’an and the Sunna. [Birgiwi, al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya]
Merely leaving out a Sunna is not innovation.
Praying While Social Distancing
However, due to the gravity of the current global health crisis, the great scholars and jurist of our time, such as Shaykh Khalid Kharsa, Shaykh Hassan Hindi, and Mufti Taha Karaan, encourage to follow the regulations of social distancing, even if this entails leaving the Sunna of filling the rows.
See the following links for more details:
Guidance on the Coronavirus & Attending the Mosque
Dealing with the Coronavirus – Mufti Taha Karaan
Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then 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 stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest 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 Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and several texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.