RNA – The Council of Shia Muslim Scholars in North America has translated Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Sistani’s ruling on congregational prayers during the Coronavirus pandemic.
In the Name of God, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
Dear believers in North America, peace be upon you.
As different states within the U.S. begin to reopen, I.M.A.M. has received many questions from Islamic centres and mosques about the rulings on practicing the congregational (jama’ah) prayers in the age of novel Coronavirus. It is important to reemphasize the importance of following the instructions of health officials and CDC guidelines.
Recently, the Office of His Eminence, Ayatollah Sayyid al-Sistani (may God prolong his life), was asked about his religious opinion on the distance between people participating in congregational prayers during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The question and answer may be seen below.
In order to [safely] hold congregational prayers in mosques and other places of worship, government officials in our country require congregants to keep a distance of two meters (approximately 6 feet) between adjacent individuals in any given row, and that a vacant row should be included between one row and another. Therefore, can congregational prayer take place under such conditions (i.e., is it valid) according to the rulings of His Eminence al-Sayyid al-Sistani?
May the peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you.
A [maximum] distance of 120 cm (approximately 4 feet) is permissible between a prayer congregant and the person standing next to them in the same row and between the place of prostration of a given row and where congregants stand in the row ahead of them. A distance of two meters [between congregants], as described in the question, is problematic for the establishment of a valid congregational prayer.