Get close to Sutrah so that Shaytaan cannot break prayer – Shaykh Muhammad Naasiruddeen al-Albaanee

“He (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) used to stand near to the sutrah, so that there was (a distance of) three cubits between him and the wall” [37] and “between the place of his prostration and the wall, (there was) enough space for a sheep to pass.” [38]

He used to say:

«Do not pray except towards a sutrah, and do not let anyone pass in front of you, but if someone continues (to try to pass) then fight him, for he has a companion (i.e. a shaytaan) with him.»[39]

He would also say:

«When one of you prays towards a sutrah, he should get close to it so that Shaytaan cannot break his prayer.»[40]

Sometimes “he would seek to pray at the pillar which was in his mosque.” [41]

When he prayed [in an open space where there was nothing to use as sutrah he would plant a spear in the ground in front of him and pray towards it with the people behind him” [42];

Sometimes “he would to set his mount sideways and pray towards it” [43] but this is not the same as prayer in the resting-place of camels [44], which “he forbade” [45], and sometimes “he would take his saddle; set it lengthways and pray towards its end.” [46]

He would say:

«When one of you places in front of him something such as the stick on the end of a saddle, he should pray and not mind anyone who passes beyond it.»[47]

Once “he prayed towards a tree” [48] and sometimes “he would pray towards the bed on which ‘Aa.ishah (radhi-yAllaahu ‘anhaa) was lying [under her sheet].” [49]

He (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), would not let anything pass between him and his sutrah, hence once “he was praying, when a sheep came running in front of him, so he raced it until he pressed his belly against the wall [and it passed behind him].” [50]

Also, once “while praying an obligatory prayer, he clenched his fist (during it), so when he had finished, the people said: ‘O Messenger of Allaah, did something happen during the prayer?’ He said:

«No, except that the devil wanted to pass in front of me, so I strangled him until I could feel the coldness of his tongue on my hand By Allaah! Had my brother Sulaymaan not beaten me to it[51], I would have tied him (the devil) to one of the pillars of the mosque so that the children of Madeenah could walk round him. [So whoever can prevent something intervening between him and the qiblah, he must do so].»[52]

He also used to say:

«When one of you prays towards something which is a sutrah between him and the people and someone intends to cross in front of him, then he should push him in the throat [and repel, as much as he can], (in one narration: he should stop him, twice) but if he refuses (to not pass) then he should fight him, for verily he is a devil.»[53]

He also used to say:

«If the person who passed in front of someone praying knew (the sin) on him, it would be better for him to wait forty than to pass in front. (Abu an-Nadr said: “I do not remember exactly whether he said forty days, months or years.”).»[54]

What Breaks The Prayer

He used to say:

«A man’s prayer is cut off when there is nothing such as the end of a saddle in front of him, by: a [menstruating][55] woman, a donkey or a black dog.» Abu Dharr said: ‘I said: “O Messenger of Allaah, why the black dog rather than the red one?” He said:

«The black dog is a shaytaan.»[56]

Footnotes :

[36] lit., “screen, cover”; in the context of prayer, it refers to an object just beyond the place of prostration, within which nothing should pass, as is detailed in this section.

[37] al-Bukhaaree and Ahmad.

[38] al-Bukhaaree and Muslim.

[39] Ibn Khuzaymah in his Saheeh (1/93/1) with a sound isnaad.

[40] Abu Daawood, Bazzaar (p. 54 – az-Zawaa.id) and al-Haakim, who declared it saheeh and adh-Dhahabee and an-Nawawee agreed.

[41] al-Bukhaaree. The sutrah is a must for the Imaam or a person praying alone, even in a large mosque. Ibn Haanee said in his Masaa.il from Imaam Ahmad (1/66): “Abu `Abdullaah (i.e. Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal) saw me one day when I was praying without a sutrah in front of me, and I was in a (large) congregational mosque, so he said to me: `Take something as a sutrah’, so I took a man as a sutrah.” This contains an indication that Imaam Ahmad did not differentiate between big or small mosques in taking a sutrah – and that is surely correct, but this is something neglected by most people, including imaams of mosques, in every land that I have visited, including Arabia which I was able to tour in Rajab of this year (1410), so the `ulamaa should tell the people and advise them of this, explaining its ruling and that it is also required in the Two Sacred Mosques.

[42] al-Bukhaaree, Muslim and Ibn Maajah

[43] al-Bukhaaree and Ahmad.

[44] i.e., their kneeling place.

[45] al-Bukhaaree and Ahmad.

[46] Muslim, Ibn Khuzaymah (92/2) and Ahmad.

[47] Muslim and Abu Daawood.

[48] an-Nasaa.ee and Ahmad with a saheeh isnaad.

[49] al-Bukhaaree, Muslim and Abu Ya`laa (3/1107).

[50] Ibn Khuzaymah in his Saheeh (1/95/1), at-Tabaraanee (3/140/3) and al-Haakim who declared it saheeh and adh-Dhahabee agreed.

[51] Referring to the following prayer of the Prophet Sulaymaan (‘alayhis-salaam) which was answered by Allaah, as described in the Qur.aan:

{My Lord! Forgive me, and grant me sovereignty not allowed to anyone after me, for You are indeed the Granter of Bounties. So we subjected to his power: the Wind, gently flowing to his order, wherever he wished; and the devils, every kind of builder and diver, and also others bound together in fetters.} (Soorah as-Saad 38: 35-38)

[52] Ahmad, ad-Daaraqutnee and Tabaree with a saheeh isnaad, and similar in meaning to this hadeeth is found in al-Bukhaaree and Muslim and others on the authority of several Companions. It is one of the many ahaadeeth which the Qadiani group disbelieve, for they do not believe in the world of the jinn which is mentioned in the Qur.aan and the Sunnah. Their method of discarding the texts is well-known: if it is from the Qur.aan, they change its meaning e.g. the saying of the Exalted:

{Say, it has been revealed to me that a group of jinns listened} (72:1); they say “i.e. a group of humans”! making the word “jinn” synonymous with “human”! Hence they play with the language and the religion; if it is from the Sunnah, then if it is possible for them to change it with a false interpretation they do so, otherwise they find it easy to declare it to be false, even if all the Imaams of Hadeeth and the whole ummah behind them are agreed on its authenticity, nay its being mutawaatir. May Allaah guide them.

[53] al-Bukhaaree and Muslim, and the additional narration is from Ibn Khuzaymah (1/94/1).

[54] ibid.

[55] i.e. mature, and what is meant by `cut off’ is `rendered futile’. As regards the hadeeth: “Nothing cuts off the prayer”, then it is a weak hadeeth as I have shown in Tamaam al-Minnah (p. 306).

[56] Muslim, Abu Daawood and Ibn Khuzaymah (1/95/2).

Source:  Excerpted from the Book “The Prophet’s Prayer Described – from the beginning to the end as though you see it”, by Shaykh al-Albaanee