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I have seen many people who scold if someone crosses the path where someone is praying.
But the following hadith says otherwise.

Bukhari :: Book 1 :: Volume 9 :: Hadith 490

Narrated 'Aisha:

The things which annul the prayers were mentioned before me. They said, "Prayer is annulled by a dog, a donkey and a woman (if they pass in front of the praying people)." I said, "You have made us (i.e. women) dogs. I saw the Prophet praying while I used to lie in my bed between him and the Qibla. Whenever I was in need of something, I would slip away. for I disliked to face him."

It shows that even prophet muhammad (PBUH) didnt mind praying while someone was in front of him or moving in front of him.

So what is the right thing to do?

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The following ruling was made by Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid, when he was asked about the permissibility of walking in front of someone while they were praying:

Praise be to Allah.

It is not permissible to walk across in front of someone who is praying, and it is a great sin, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said (approximate translation of meaning is):

"If the one crossing in front of a praying person knew what sin is upon him, it would be better for him to wait forty than walk across." Abu Al-Nadhr (one of the narrators of the hadith) said: I don't know whether he said forth days, months, or years. (Bukhari)

Imam Al-Bukhari (R) has named the chapter in which he brings the hadith as follows: Chapter on the sin of walking across in front of a praying person.

When the praying person is the leader in the prayer or praying alone, and he has a sutrah( some object like a peice of wood) in front of him, then walking across in between him and his sutrah is not permitted. However, if he is praying without a sutrah, it is not permissible to walk across in between him and his place of prostration. For the followers (in a jamaa'ah prayer), the leader's sutrah is enough for them. Based on this, it is permissible to walk through in front of a row if need be.

And Allah knows best.

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+1 Salaam and welcome to the site. This is a good first answer. Can you clarify the source of the second quote? It is not part of the hadith, nor of Imam al-Bukhari's chapter name/introduction. – Ansari Jul 15 '12 at 17:07
Plagiarism is not tolerated on this site. If you quote text from elsewhere, it must be cited and formatted so it is clear that it is quoted text, rather than your own. – goldPseudo Jul 15 '12 at 17:45
Decent answer. It does not address the hadith of Aisha though. – ashes999 Jul 16 '12 at 14:42

You may pass as long as you do not pass so close that you disturb his/her prayer by not letting him do the movements. I have came to this conclusion after reading several hadith similar to the one you have mentioned.


Apparently, there is no direct hadith leading to this answer. However, we know that three things (donkey/black dog/woman) may interrupt someone’s prayer when in front, and that Aisha excluded woman from the list with evidence. So I interpret all other hadith forbidding passing in front of someone while (s)he is praying as avoiding creation of disturbance and blocking of movements. That means you may slip away when you have to, but you can't 1) stand in front of, 2) move past too close or 3) try to interact with the one who prays in any way. And you should only do it when there is no other path you may take.

Please also note that woman might be a distraction for some men. So women should either (preferably) wait for the person's prayer to end or be quick and silent enough to mask their identity while passing. Aisha was a wife of rasulullah (may Salat and Salam be upon him) and it is well possible that (s)he was an exception for being his mahram.

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Could you provide references to hadiths you mention? – yasar Jul 15 '12 at 11:20
references please? – muslim1 Jul 16 '12 at 0:50
updated answer! – Ahmet Noyan Kızıltan Jul 16 '12 at 12:09

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