“If he who passes in front of the one offering Ṣalāh, knew the repercussions of his actions, he would prefer to wait 40 than to pass in front of him. Abū Al-Nadhr says, “I am not sure whether he mentioned 40 days, 40 months or 40 years?”
(Al-Bukhārī 510, Muslim 507, Abū-Dāwūd 701, at-Tirmidhī 336)
This ḥadīth informs us of a matter which many people neglect, although being aware of it. This is due to our lack of concern for others and our unawareness of the grave consequences. This ḥadīth sheds light upon the extreme diligence one should adopt when passing the muṣallī. One should rather wait and exercise patience than pass in front of the muṣallī because during Ṣalāh one is in the court of Allah conversing with him and confiding in him. Hence, it is very important that one does not disrupt this ‘conversation’ by passing in front. This is supported by the ḥadīth, “When one of you stands to perform Ṣalāh, one is conversing with his Lord and indeed his Lord is between him and the Qiblah.”
بَيْنَيَدَيِالْمُصَلِّي(“in front of the one offering Ṣalāh”) “the front of the muṣallī” in a large Masjid (which is larger than 60×60 feet) is the distance within three rows from where the muṣallī is standing. However, in a small Masjid the entire area in front of the muṣallī will be regarded as ‘the front of the muṣallī.
لَكَانَأَنْيَقِفَأَرْبَعِينَ (“He would prefer to wait for 40”) in the ḥadīth, the number 40 has been mentioned vaguely without the specific mention of days, months or years. In the Arabic language, this type of ambiguity is used to emphasise the vastness of a particular thing. Therefore, in this instance Rasūlullāh ﷺis emphasising the severity of passing in front of a muṣallī. However, ʿAllāmah Ṭībī quotes ʿAllāmah Ṭahāwī saying that, “40 means 40 years.” Ḥāfiẓ Ibn al-Ḥajar mentions that in another ḥadīth it states, “He would rather wait for a 100 years than take the step he took to pass him”. The supposed disparity between the two figures (40 and 100) is removed by acknowledging that Rasūlullāh ﷺmentioned 100 after mentioning 40 to stress the severity of the matter even more. Ḥāfiẓ Ibn al-Ḥajar’s opinion is that, “The meaning of this ḥadīth is that if we were to assume that passing in front of a muṣallī is permissible then staying put for 40 years is better and more rewarding.”
خَيْرٌلَهُ(“it is better for him to wait”) ʿAllāmah Nawawī says, “This is evidence that passing the front of the muṣallī is forbidden.” Ḥāfiẓ Ibn al-Ḥajar says, “Thus this demands for it to be deemed from the major sins.”
مِنْأَنْيَمُرَّبَيْنَيَدَيْهِ(“prefer to wait 40 than to pass in front of him”) the aforementioned admonition is specific to the person who passes, not the one who stands in front, sits or lies down. Nevertheless, the one who is a cause of distraction would also be classified as passing and will come under the warning referred to in the ḥadīth.
(Mirqāt al-Mafātīh 3/448, Fatḥ al-Bārī 1/755, Fatḥ al-Mulhim 3/331)
Note: Detailed rulings will be posted shortly.