Contemporary issues, Prayer [Salat]

Does Islam permit the wearing of a face mask during prayer?

What is the verdict of the noble scholars on the following issues:
  1. Currently, because of the coronavirus, there is a government mandate to perform the prayer in the mosques whereby the prayer should be performed whilst necessarily wearing a face mask. In the current situation, is it then Islamic permitted to perform the prayer whilst wearing the face mask?
  2. It is a government order to pray in the absence of people in the mosque and that by distance as well. It means that there should be space between two people in one row. So, the question is then asked whether or not it is permitted to pray with such a gap given the aspect of the current situation? [CLICK HERE TO READ THE ANSWER]
  3. One of the precautionary measures to prevent the coronavirus is a liquid sanitiser that has been governmentally ordered to spray in the mosque. Can it then be sprayed in the mosque? [CLICK HERE TO READ THE ANSWER]

Questioner: Hazrat Mawlana Sayyid Arshad Iqbal Misbahi
Imam and Khatib of Anwar Khalid Shah Masjid, South Africa

(1) Covering the [area of the] mouth and nose in the state of prayer with a cloth and so on is called in the Ahnaf [Hanafi rules] Talatham [to be veiled].
It is stated in Hashiya al-Tahtawi,
“Talatham is mentioned as to cover the mouth and nose during the prayer.”
[Hashiya al-Tahtawi ‘ala Miraqi al-Falah: vol. 1, p. 350]
And Talatham without an excuse is sinfully disapproved [makruh tahrimi] according to the noble jurists based upon the blessed statement of the noble Prophet, upon whom be peace.
It is stated in Kitab al-Mabsut Sarakhsi,
“The hadith of Abu Hurayra in which the noble Prophet, upon whom be peace, forbade the performer of prayer to cover the face, making it makruh to cover the face in prayer. And also, because if you cover the face with your hand, your hand would then hang during prayer, and if you cover it with a cloth, then the noble Prophet, upon whom be peace, forbade covering the mouth and nose during prayer. And it resembles the Zoroaster’s fire worship.”
[Mabsut Sarakhsi: vol. 1, p. 31]
It is stated in al-Bahr al-Raiq,
“In prayer to do talatham and cover the mouth and face is makruh, for it resembles the doomed state of worship of the Zoroaster.”
[al-Bahr al-Raiq Sharh Kanz al-Daqaiq: vol. 2, p. 27]
But in the aspect of the current situation where a governmental enforcement is imposed to hide and cover the mouth and nose to protect against the coronavirus, performing prayer with a face mask will be an Islamic lawful excuse. And on the basis of necessity, it will be allowed to be worn whilst praying, just as the noble jurists [fuqaha] themselves have explained about Talatham’s allowance in times of need. And they declared the aversion [karahat] absent based upon an excuse.
It is stated in al-Bahr al-Raiq,
“It is forbidden to cover the face during prayer. Just as Abu Dawud and others besides him have said. Nevertheless, it is allowed in times of need.”
[al-Bahr al-Raiq Sharh Kanz al-Daqaiq: vol. 2, p. 27]
It is stated in al-Durr al-Mukhtar:
“It is makruh to cover the mouth and nose during the prayer without excuse.”
[al-Durr al-Mukhtar: vol. 1, p. 652]
It is stated in Radd al-Muhtar under the topic of makruhaat,
“Covering the nose and mouth without excuse is amongst the makruhaat.”
[Radd al-Muhtar: vol. 1, p. 654]
It is stated in Fatawa Tatar Khaniyyah,
“It is makruh for the performer of prayer to cover the mouth, and it is mentioned in Khaniyyah; ‘and [also] for the nose during prayer.’ And this what we have mentioned is apart from the condition of an excuse.”
[Fatawa Tatar Khaniyyah: vol. 2, p. 199]
The whole world is entangled in the affliction of coronavirus. There are restrictions on prayer within the mosques. In such regard, it must certainly be achieved if performing the prayer inside the mosque by wearing a face mask gets the government’s approval to recite the prayers within the mosques, and thus pray whilst wearing just the face mask. Based upon the certainty of a lawful excuse, prayer will be fulfilled without aversion [karahat]. Nevertheless, wherever there is no restriction or any kind of disclosure is occurring, if by performing the prayer without the face mask there is no harmful consequences by the government, it becomes the duty to perform the prayer only without the face mask. Because when the need ends, the excuse also ends, and when there is no excuse, the allowance is also ended. And performing the prayer whilst wearing a face mask without excuse will be sinfully disapproved [makruh tahrimi].
It is stated in al-Bahr al-Raiq,
“Talatham is allowed out of necessity. However, if there is an option to hold it off, it is then no longer necessary anymore.”
Abstract fatwa:
The face mask should be removed during prayer. But if there is fear of an investigation by the government, and it is certain that difficulties will also arise during prayer, then due to the lawful excuse in the current situation, it will be allowed to perform the prayer whilst wearing the face mask. Although, where there is no government restriction, but only on the basis of this idea so that the disease is not infected to others whilst the mask is worn, prayer is performed, the prayer is then sinfully disapproved [makruh tahrimi], it will be necessary to renew it [wajib al-iyadah]. And that opposite Islamic thinking is a separate ruin.
NOTE: The permission in these three aspects is based upon the excuse and necessity that cannot be fended off. If this excuse or necessity can be somehow ended, no aspect of the permission then remains.
It is stated in al-Bahr al-Raiq,

“Necessity is only when repulsion is not possible. If it is possible to repel, then that need does not persist.”

This is what I have, and the knowledge is with Allah Almighty.

Mufti Muhammad Zulfaqar Khan Naimi Kakralwi
Nuri Dar al-Ifta, Madina Masjid Ali Khan Kashipur, Uttarakhand
8-Shawwal-1441 || 31-May-2020
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