Did I Sin by Passing a Person Praying Without a Barrier?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


I am perturbed whether I sinned by walking in front of someone praying. At work, I was using the prayer room, and whilst praying, two others joined behind me, but each was praying alone and not in congregation. I had finished, but the person behind me was still praying but did not have a sutra (barrier).

I was asked out of the room. I was told that I could shuffle my body so that I was not in front of the person behind me praying and could leave the room. They were in the row behind me. Does that count as walking in front of the person praying? I have read that the prayer area that cannot be surpassed is up to you where they place their head. What can I do to repent?


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

May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to what pleases Him. Amin.

Passing before the person without a sutra (barrier) is offensive and not sinful. May Allah reward you for your concern to abide by His Law, but please remember that Islam brings Mercy, not trepidation. Allah knows best.

Using a Sutra (Barrier) in Prayer

It is recommended to place a barrier at least 32 cm high in front of oneself when performing the prayer, to spread out a mat, or if one cannot, to draw a line on the ground, straight out, perpendicular to one’s chest, about a meter and a half or less in front of one. It is then unlawful for anyone to pass between the person praying and such a barrier, even when there is no other way to pass. [Nawawi, al-Minhaj]

Passing Between the Sutra and the Person Praying

If someone tries to pass between oneself and the barrier, it is recommended to push him back gently. If he persists, one may push him back as hard as necessary, like an attacker. [Ibid.]

Passing a Praying Person Without a Barrier

If there is no barrier, or if the person praying is farther than a meter and a half from it, then passing in front of him is merely offensive, and the person praying is not entitled to push him back. [Ibid.]

Passing in front of a person without a barrier, in a mosque, for example, is limited to the length of his prostration, and it is not Unlawful or offensive to pass in front of him when farther than that. [Keller, Reliance of the Traveller]

When one notices a gap in a row of people performing a group prayer, one is entitled to pass in front of others to fill it. [Ibid.]

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar Shaykh Taha Karaan.

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.