Praying in a row alone during the congregational prayer

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


There are 3 opinions about this topic:

  • The person who prays in a row alone; his prayer is valid, however he has contradicted the sunnah; regardless if the rows in front him are full or not. This is the opinion of Malik, Abu Hanifah, and Ash-Shafa’I and one opinion of Ahmed. They consider the hadith of the Prophet (sallAllahu alayhi wa salam): There’s no prayer for the person who prays alone in a row.” to mean incomplete and not invalid.


  • The person who prays by himself in row during the congregation prayer is invalid, despite the consequences. Wabisa  (radi Allahu anhu) narrated the Prophet (sallAllahu alayhi wa salam)

عَنْ وَابِصَةَ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- رَأَى رَجُلاً يُصَلِّى خَلْفَ الصَّفِّ وَحْدَهُ فَأَمَرَهُ أَنْ يُعِيدَ

      “saw a  man praying alone in row, so he ordered him to redo his prayer.”[1]

  • The middle position between the two is if the row in front of him is complete, then prayer for this person is correct and acceptable. This is the position of Shyakhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and it’s correct. So , if you arrived at the masjid and found the right and left side of the row in front of you completed, then there would be no problem for you to pray by yourself and your prayer would be correct based on the verse, So keep your duty to Allah and fear Him as much as you can…”[Al-Taghabun 16] You have no ability to do anything else.

Why is Ibn Taymiyyah’s position the strongest for this topic:

You have four options in this incident:

1: Take someone from the row to pray alongside you.

2: Walk to the front of the masjid and pray next to the Imam.

3: Pray alone and not with the Jama’

4: Pray with the congregation in a row by yourself behind the followers of the Imam.

Possible dilemmas that can result from doing one of the three abovementioned actions:

1:  Take someone from the row to pray alongside you. Four difficulties can result with doing this act.

A: Moving someone out of the row leaves a gap and breaks the rank.

B: You take a person from a place that is superior in virtue to one less in merit.

C: You disturb the person trying to concentrate in his prayer.

D: You move the entire row, because usually whenever there is a gap in the prayer the people move to draw closer to each other. So, this causes the entire row to move without a legitimate reason.

2: Walk to the front of the masjid and pray next to the Imam.

A: This action is against the Sunnah. It’s legislated for the Imam to stand alone in his place in order to lead those who pray behind him. Therefore, if a person prays next to him it’s like there are two Imams leading the prayer.

B: You walk through the ranks of those praying in order to reach the Imam. If there are 2,or 3 rows and  you would have to walk through them all and this would create a serious disturbance for those praying behind the Imam. What’s more is, if we say you can go forward next to the Imam, then what about the person who comes in after you? He would proceed as well. This would carry on until there would a form an entire row next to the Imam, and certainly this isn’t the Sunnah.

3: Pray alone and not with the Jama’

A: By doing this a person misses the congregation and its virtue.[2]


Further supporting evidence for Ibn Taymiyyah’s opinion.

If a woman prays with a man she prays behind him alone by herself and her prayer is acceptable. The place a person stands doesn’t prevent the prayer from being valid, similar to if a person stood on the left of the Imam instead of his right.[3]


Translated and prepared by:

Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Battle

Doha, Qatar-The Blessed Arabian Peninsula




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[1] Collected Abu Dawud[682] graded as being authentic by shaykh Al-Albani

[2] Fatawa Nur Ala Darb # 2810, By Shaykh Muhammad ibn Salih Al-Uthaymeen

[3] [ Al-Ishraf ala Nukti Masa’il Al-Khilaf, # 353, By Qadi Abu Muhammad Abdul Wahhab Al-Baghdadi Al-Maliky [(422H)]


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