Is the Prayer invalidated by a Passing Woman?
Question asked by .
Answered by Tariq Haashmi

Question: Please explain the following narrative regarding a woman passing in front of the one who is praying. Does it really nullify one’s prayer if a woman passes before them?

‘Abdullāh Ibn S*āmit reports on the authority of Abū Dharr that the Prophet (sws) said: ‘When any one of you stands for prayer he is covered [from the passers by] if there is a thing before him equal to the back of the saddle. In case there is no such thing before him, his prayer would be nullified if a menstruating woman, a donkey or a black dog [passes in front of him]. (Muslim, No: 510)


This H*adīth has been rejected by the learned among the companions of the Prophet (sws). The reason is that it offends common sense and does not conform to basic religious teachings. I will only mention the following comments of ‘Ā’ishah (rta) in this regard:

Do you make us [women] equal to dogs and donkeys? (She is referring to the saying ascribed to the Prophet quoted above). While I used to lie in my bed, the Prophet would come and pray facing the middle of the bed. I used to consider it not good to stand in front of him in his prayers. So I used to slip away slowly and quietly from the foot of the bed till I got out of my quilt. (Bukhārī, No: 486)

The things which annul the prayers were mentioned before me. They said: ‘The prayer is annulled by a dog, a donkey and a woman [if they pass in front of the praying people].’ I said, ‘You have rendered us (i.e. women) dogs. I saw the Prophet praying while I used to lie in my bed between him and the Qiblah. Whenever I was in need of something, I would slip away for I disliked facing him’.  (Bukhārī, No: 489)

I used to sleep in front of Allah’s Apostle with my legs opposite his Qiblah [facing him]; and whenever he prostrated, he pushed my feet and I withdrew them and whenever he stood, I stretched them. She added, ‘In those days there were no lamps in the houses’. (Bukhārī, No: 491)

The above Ah*ādīth evidently proves that the issue was raised before the Companions of the Prophet (sws) and the learned among them have opined that it does not hold water.

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