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Following the motions of the imam through a loudspeaker

Subject

    Is it permissible for the women to follow the imam through the loudspeaker, in which six-meter wide much frequented path separates their musalla from the rest of the mosque? What happens in the event of a power failure during prayers?

Opinion

 It is established in Islamic law that a group prayer is only valid if the congregation is able to follow the actions of the imam i.e. it must be aware of the motions of their imam either audibly or visually due to the contiguity of the rows. It has been reported that the Prophet [PBUH] used to pray in 'A`isha's room and people in the mosque followed him in prayer.    When necessary, it is valid to pray with a barrier interrupting the contiguity of the rows. Ibn Qudama said: "If a pathway or river where ships sail separates the imam from his followers, or if the imam and his followers are in separate ships, then there are two opinions on this matter:    The first is that it is invalid to follow the imam in prayer and this is the opinion of our fellow scholars (the Hanbali school) and Abu Hanifa. They reason that the path is not a place for prayer and that it separates the imam from his followers.
The second, which is my opinion (Ibn Qudama's) and that of the Maliki and Shafi`i schools, is that it is valid since there is no text or scholarly consensus on its impermissibility. This is because the situation does not interfere with the congregation's ability to follow the imam; rather what effects the prayer's validity is that which prevents the followers from seeing or hearing him" [al-Mughni, p.474].

The Ruling

    Women praying in the above mentioned musalla may follow the imam if the condition of the validity of following his motions, even if through loudspeakers, is met.

  1. The path is to be blocked off during prayers.
  2. The rows of women must be adjacent to the imam or behind him.
  3. If the women are unable to follow the imam's motions due to a power failure, they are to continue their prayer individually because this is considered a necessity.
  4. It is invalid for anyone to replace the imam except if he has been appointed as a successor.

    Allah the Almighty knows best

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