Question

Salam shaykh, what’s the opinion on wife being allowed to pray beside, and not behind, her husband? Happening a lot now, and some rooms don’t have the space.

Answer

In the Hanafi school, if she is in the same salah in jama’ah, then the salah of the men (not the woman) on either side of her and behind her breaks. If she is standing next to her husband or mahram following him as the imam, both their salah breaks. If there is something in between them, like a chair, or curtain, then it is ok but the sunnah is for her to stand behind.

If they are not praying in congregation, then salah is not harmed.

According to all the other schools, salah does not break but it is makruh for violating the sunnah of the Prophet who set the order of lines with women behind men.

So doing this has severe consequences in the hanafi madhhab, but it is reprehensible according to all the schools and, therefore, must be avoided. If there is a shortage of space, then use a barrier or, as per the hanafi madhhab, a gap wide enough for one person, or for a woman (i.e. one’s wife or mahram) to stand a step behind, so that no part of her body aligns with his, will suffice and the salah will not break. However, one should not resort to this if there is space. (See Radd al-Muhtar)


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