Thursday, August 18, 2011

Is it obligatory to pray towards a sutrah?

Question: Many of the brothers are very strict in the matter of the Sutrah, so much so that a person will wait until a Sutrah becomes available (before praying) if he is in a Masjid and he doesn't find an empty pillar (i.e. a pillar that doesn't already have someone prayig toward it).

Also, he will rebuke those who do not pray towards a Surtah.

Some other people are lax in this matter (of praying toward a Sutrah).

So what is the truth in this?

And does the line (drawn on the ground) take the place of the Sutrah when one is not available, and is there anything reported that proves this?

Answer: Praying towards a Sutrah is a stressed Sunnah (Sunnah Mu'akkadah) and it is NOT OBLIGATORY (laysat waajibah).

So if a person does not find anything erected (to use as a Sutrah) then the line (on the ground) suffices him. And the proof concerning what we have mentioned is his (the Prophet's), sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, statement,

"When one of you prays, let him pray toward a Sutrah and let him draw near to it."

Reported by Aboo Dawud with an authentic (Saheeh) chain of narration.

And his, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, statement,

"The Muslim man's prayer is cut off, if there is not in front of him something like the end of a saddle, by: the woman, the donkey and the black dog."

Reported by Muslim in his Saheeh.

There is also the statement of the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam,

"When one of you prays, then let him place something in front of his face (i.e. like a wall or pillar), and if he does not find anything, then let him erect a stick, and if he does not find one, then let him draw a line (on the ground), then whoever passes in front of him will not harm him."

Reported by Al-Imaam Ahmad and Ibn Maajah with a good (Hasan) chain of narration.

This is what was said by Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar, rahimahullaah, in Bulooghul-Maraam.

And it has been confirmed from him, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, that he sometimes prayed towards other than a sutrah (i.e. without one), and this proves that it is not obligatory (Waajibah).

And excluded from this (prayer towards a Sutrah) is the prayer in Al-Masjid ul-Haraam, for verily the person who prays (in Al-Masjid ul-Haraam in Makkah) does not need a Sutrah in it.

This is due to what is confirmed from Ibn Az-Zubayr (radhiyallaahu 'anhumaa) that he used to pray in Al-Masjid ul-Haraam towards other than a Sutrah (i.e. without one) and the people making Tawaaf would be in front of him (i.e. passing in front of him).

It has also been reported from the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) that which proves this, but it's chain of narration is weak.

And because Al-Masjid ul-Haraam is usually expected to be crowded and there is a lack of ability to safe from people passing in front of the one who is praying, then this legislation is dropped in this case due to what has preceded.

Also, Al-Masjid un-Nabawee is included in this ruling during the time when there is crowding, and likewise other places of crowding.

This is acting according to the statement of Allaah, 'Azza wa Jall,

"So fear Allaah as much as you are able." [At-Taghaabun:16]

And the Prophet's (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) statement,

"If I have commanded you with something, then do it as much as you are able."

It's authenticity is agree upon.

And Allaah is the Giver of success.

Ash-Shaikh 'Abdul-'Azeez bin 'Abdullaah bin Baaz
Source: Fataawaa Muhimmah Tata'allaqu bis-Salaah, pp. 36-38, no. 24.
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