The Sutra of the One who Prays

The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari

by Imam Bukhari
Translated by: Ustadha Aisha Bewley

Chapter 12. The Sutra of the One who Prays

I: The Imam's sutra is also the sutra for those behind him

471. It is related that Ibn 'Abbas said, "I came riding up on a donkey while the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was leading the people in prayer at Mina, and I was at that time nearing puberty. I passed in front of part of the row, dismounted, sent the donkey off to graze, and then joined the row, and no one rebuked me for doing so."  (Muwatta, Book 9, 41)

472. It is related from Ibn 'Umar that when the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came out on the day of the 'Id, he ordered a spear to be placed in front of him and prayed towards it with the people behind him. He used to do that on journeys. The amirs adopted this practice from that time.

473. It is related from 'Awn ibn Abi Juhayfa, "I heard my father say that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, led them in prayer at al-Batha' with a short spear in front of him - two rak'ats for Dhuhr and two rak'ats for 'Asr. Women and donkeys passed in front of him.

II: What should be the distance between the person praying and the sutra

474. It is related that Sahl said, "Between the place where the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, prayed and the wall there was room for a sheep to walk past."

475. It is related that Salama said, "There was just room for a sheep to pass between the wall of the mosque and the minbar."

III: Praying facing a spear

476. It is related from 'Abdullah that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to have a spear set up for him and would pray facing it.

IV: Praying facing a short spear

477. It is related that 'Awn ibn Abi Juhayfa said, "I heard my father say, 'The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came out to us at midday and was brought wudu' water and did wudu'. Then he led us in the Dhuhr and 'Asr prayers with a short spear in set up front of him. Women and donkeys were passing behind it.'"

478. It is was related that Anas ibn Malik was heard to say, "When the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, went out to relieve himself, I and a boy followed him. We had a staff, a stick or a short spear and a water container. When he finished relieving himself, we gave him the container."

V: The sutra in Makka and elsewhere

479. It is related that Abu Juhayfa said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came out to us at midday and prayed two rak'ats for Dhuhr and two rak'ats for 'Asr at al-Batha' with a shor spear set up in front of him. He did wudu' and the people rubbed themselves with his wudu' water.

VI: Praying facing a pillar

'Umar said, "Those who are praying are more entitled to the pillars than those conversing." 'Umar saw a man praying between two pillars and moved him up to a pillar and said, "Pray towards it."

480. It is related that Yazid ibn 'Ubayd said, "I used to come with Salama ibn al-Akwa' and he would pray behind the pillar where the Qur'an was kept. I said, 'Abu Muslim, I see that you are keen to pray by this pillar.' He said, 'I saw that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was keen to pray there.'"

481. It is related that Anas said, "I saw the greatest of the Companions of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, hurrying to the pillars at Maghrib."

Shu'ba added (in his variant from Anas), "until the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came out."

VII: Praying between the pillars outside the group prayer

482. It is related that Ibn 'Umar said, "The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, entered the House with Usama ibn Zayd, 'Uthman ibn Talha and Bilal. He stayed there a long time and then came out. I was the first person to enter after him and I asked Bilal where he had prayed. He said, 'Between the two front pillars.'"

483. It is related from Ibn 'Umar, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, entered Ka'ba with Usama ibn Zayd, 'Uthman ibn Talha and Bilal, closed the door and remained there for a while. When he came out, I asked Bilal, 'What did the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, do?' He said, 'He placed himself with one pillar to his left and one to his right and three pillars behind him (At that time, the House had six pillars supporting it) and then he prayed.'"

Malik related that there were two pillars to his right.

484. It is related from Nafi' that whenever 'Abdullah entered the Ka'ba, he would walk straight ahead when he entered, with the door directly behind him. He walked on until there was about three cubits between him and the wall in front of him where he prayed, seeking the place where Bilal told him that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had prayed. He said, "There is no harm in anyone praying in any part of the House he likes."

VIII: Praying towards a she-camel, any other camel, a tree or a saddle-bag

485. It is related from Nafi', "Ibn 'Umar said, 'The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to make his she-camel sit sideways and he would pray towards it.' I said, 'What would happen if the camel was startled.' He said, 'He would take the saddle, set it up and pray towards its end of it - or he said its back.' Ibn 'Umar used to do that.

IX: Praying towards a bed

486. It is related that 'A'isha said, "Do you equate us with dogs and donkeys? I once found myself lying on the bed when the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came, faced the middle of the bed and started praying. I disliked being in front of him, so I eased myself down towards the foot of the bed until I had slipped out from under my bedcover."

X: A person praying should push away someone who tries to pass in front of him

Ibn 'Umar pushed someone away while doing the tashahhud in the Ka'ba. He said, "If he will not stop without your using force, then use force."

It is related that Abu Sa'id said that the Prophet said: [the next hadith].

487. It is related that Abu Salih as-Samman said, "I saw Abu Sa'id al-Khudri praying on the day of Jumu'a towards something which was acting as sutra for him. A young man from the Banu Mu'ayt wanted to pass directly in front of him. Abu Sa'id pushed him in the chest. The young man looked round but saw no other way to go except in front of him. So he tried to pass again and Abu Sa'id pushed him harder than the first time. So he insulted Abu Sa'id and then went to Marwan and complained to him about what Abu Sa'id had done to him. Abu Sa'id came in behind him into the presence of Marwan who said, 'Abu Sa'id, what is this going on between you and your nephew?' He said, 'I heard the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, "When one of you is praying towards something using it as a sutra and someone tries to pass directly in front of him, he should push him away. If he persists, use force for he is nothing but a shaytan. (Muwatta, Book 9, 36)

XI: The wrong action of someone who passes in front of somebody else praying

488. It is related from Busr ibn Sa'id that Zayd ibn Khalid sent him to Abu Juhaym to ask him what he had heard from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, about someone passing in front of somebody else praying. Abu Juhaym said that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had said, "If the person passing in front of a man praying knew what he was incurring, he would find it preferable to wait forty rather than pass in front of him." (Muwatta, Book 9, 37)

Abu'n-Nadr said, "I do not know whether he said forty days, months or years."

XII: A man facing his companion or someone else in his prayer while he is performing the prayer

'Uthman disliked facing another man when he was praying if that distracted him. However, if he is not distracted by it, Zayd ibn Thabit said, "It does not matter. The man does not invalidate the other man's prayer."

489. It is related from 'A'isha that things which invalidate the prayer were mentioned in her presence. They said, "It is invalidated by dogs, donkeys and women." She said, "You have made us into dogs. I saw the Prophet, peace be upon him, praying with me between him and the qibla lying on the bed. I needed something and I disliked being in front of him, so I slipped away."

Something similar is related from 'A'isha by a different isnad.

XIII: Praying behind someone who is asleep

490. It is related that 'A'isha said, "The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to pray when I was lying asleep on his bed When he wanted to do the witr, he would wake me up and I would do the witr as well."

XIV: Superogatory prayers behind a woman

491. It is related that 'A'isha, the wife of the Prophet, said, "I used to sleep in front of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, with my feet in his qibla. When he prostrated, he nudged me and I pulled my legs up. When he stood up, I stretched them out again." She said, "At that time, the houses did not have any lamps in them."

XV: Someone who said, "Nothing invalidates the prayer."

492. It is related that the things which invalidate the prayer were mentioned in the presence of 'A'isha, and they were dogs, donkeys and women. She said, "You have likened us to donkeys and dogs. By Allah, I saw the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, praying with me lying on the bed between him and the qibla. I needed to relieve myself, and not wanting to to sit up and annoy the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, I slipped out next to his feet."

493. It is related the nephew of Ibn Shihab said that he asked his uncle about what invalidates the prayer and he said, "Nothing invalidates it. 'Urwa ibn az-Zubayr reported to me that 'A'isha, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to get up at night and pray with me in between him and the qibla on the conjugal bed.'"

XVI: A small girl being carried on the shoulders during the prayer

494. It is related from Abu Qatada al-Ansari that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to pray carrying Umama, the daughter of Zaynab, the daughter of the Messenger of Allah, and Abu'l-'As ibn Rabi'a ibn 'Abdu Shams. When he prostrated, he put her down. When he stood up, he lifted her up again. (Muwatta, Book 9, 84)

XVII: Praying towards a bed with a menstruating woman in it

495. It was related that Maymuna bint al-Harith said, "My bed was right next to the place where the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, prayed and sometimes his garment fell on me while I was on my bed."

496. It is related that Maymuna was heard to say, "The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to pray with me sleeping beside him. When he prostrated, his garment touched me and I was menstruating."

Sulayman ash-Shaybani added, "and I was menstruating."

XVIII: Is it permissable for a man to nudge his wife when going into prostration so that he can prostrate properly?

497. It is related from 'A'isha: see 486: first part plus, "When he wanted to prostrate, he nudged my legs and I pulled them up."

XIX: A woman removing something harmful from a person praying

498. It is related that 'Abdullah said, "Once while the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was standing in prayer at the Ka'ba, there was a group of Quraysh sitting there and one of them said, 'Do you not see this show-off? Which of you will go to so and so's butchered camel, get hold of its innards, bring them and then, when he prostrates, put them on his back?' The most wretched of them did it and when the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, prostrated, he put them on his back. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, remained in prostration and they laughed until they fell over one another laughing. Someone went to Fatima, peace be upon her, who was a young girl at the time. She came running. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, remained in prostration until she removed it from him. Then she turned to them and cursed them. When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, finished the prayer, he said, 'O Allah! Punish Quraysh! O Allah, punish Quraysh! O Allah, punish Quraysh!' Then he named them: 'O Allah, punish 'Amr ibn Hisham, 'Utba ibn Rabi'a, Shayba ibn Rabi'a, al-Walid ibn 'Utba, Umayya ibn Khalaf, 'Uqba ibn Abi Mu'ayt, and 'Umara ibn al-Walid.'"

'Abdullah said, "By Allah, I saw them all lying dead on the day of Badr and then they were dragged into the well of Badr and then the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'The people of the well have been pursued by the curse.'"