Answered by Shaykh Yūsuf Badāt
Is it permissible to pray at home, instead of the local mosque congregation, during an epidemic, plague or virus outbreak?
In the Name of God, Most Merciful, Most Kind
Jazāk Allāh Khayr/ Thank you for contacting us.
In general, Muslims should be punctual with their congregational prayers at the masjid. However, when there is a genuine threat or fear for danger (not a mere assumption), it is Islamicaly advised to take necessary precautions to stay safe, thus leaving the congregation at the mosque. It is best to keep the ill, sickly and those with symptoms of a virus or epidemic away from the general congregation rather than the general public halting the entire congregational prayer.
“A sick person should not be taken to one who is healthy [as a precaution].” – (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim)
“[As a safeguard,] one should stay away from the diseased, as one runs away from a lion.” – (Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī)
“Whoever hears the call to the prayer and does not come, his prayer is not valid, except for those who have a [genuine] excuse.” – (Sunan Ibn Mājah)
Imam Ibn ʿAbd Al-Barr writes,
“Anything that would inconvenience one’s fellow worshipers in the masjid such as anyone afflicted with diarrhea, insanity, misbehaviour, odour syndrome, virus epidemic or anything else that would inconvenience the public, it is permitted for the public to keep such an individual away, as long as the ailment is present. Once the condition ceases, they may return to the masjid.” (Al-Tamhīd Li-Al-Qurṭubiy)
During the outbreak of the Amwas plague in Palestine, ʿAmr Ibn Al-Ās (may God be pleased with him) announced,
“O people, when these plagues occur, they ignite like fire, therefore go to high grounds, away from the affected areas.” (Al-Bidāyah Wa-Al-Nihāyah)
ʿAbd Allāh Ibn ʿAbbās (may God be pleased with him) reported that he instructed the muʾadhin on a stormy day as follows,
“[During the adhān,] when you have articulated, “I testify that there is no god but Allāh; I testify that Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allāh” do not say, “Come to the prayer!” rather say, “Offer prayer in your houses”. [Upon hearing this,] some people disapproved of this instruction. Ibn ʿAbbās stated, “Are you astonished at this? the Prophet of God (peace and blessings upon him), who is better than I, did this himself. Jumuʿah prayer is no doubt mandatory, but I do not wish [to force] you [to] come out and walk in mud and slippery ground.” – (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim)
And Allāh Knows Best
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